I’ve tried many, many variations of vegetarian chili over the years, but this Slow Cooker 3-Bean Chili is really the very best. With three kinds of beans for heft, tangy tomatoes, full-of-flavor spices, and just the right touch of heat, this slow cooker vegetarian chili delivers.

A bowl of 3-bean chili in a white bowl on a red plate with avocados, red onion, and cilantro on top and a Crock Pot in the background.

I tried super simple chili, chili with a gazillion ingredients, chili with “secret ingredients” like unsweetened cocoa or brewed coffee (both very good, actually) … but this 3 bean chili – slow cooker style – rules them all.

Table of Contents

The Story Behind the Recipe

This slow cooker 3-bean chili recipe is the one that’s been floating around on a piece of paper with the title of “THE Chili.” My guy took a bite of his version (with meat, option for carnivores is in the recipe) and said, “This is it. You can stop at this one. It’s perfect.”

I feel the same way about the vegetarian/vegan version.

A bowl of 3-bean chili in a white bowl on a lime green plate with avocados, red onion, and cilantro on top.

Why You’ll Love 3-Bean Chili Slow Cooker

Readers say …
I’ve made this recipe both ways and it’s really versatile and delicious even when you don’t have all the ingredients or substitute anything. This is the recipe I send to everyone that asks how I make my chili.

– Olivia

This recipe is simple! This Slow-Cooker 3-Bean Chili is super simple to throw together, and takes next to no work to cook. It bubbles in the Crock Pot all day, simmering to dinnertime perfection.

It’s versatile too. You can stick with the vegetarian chili, or if you want it one-dish-two-ways style, just brown some ground beef, simmer some of the chili together with the meat for a bit, and dinner’s ready.

A bowl of 3-bean chili in a white bowl on a lime green plate with avocados, red onion, and cilantro on top along with another version with meat added in a white bowl on a red plate.

Crock Pot 3-Bean Chili Ingredients

As-is without the Tabasco, this is a nice, mild, family-friendly chili – not much heat at all. Add the Tabasco at the end, offer it up as a topping, or omit it altogether, depending on your preferences.

  • Chili beans in sauce – I like using chili beans in sauce for an added boost of flavor.
  • Black beans – love black beans in chili!
  • Kidney beans – larger than chili beans or black beans for hearty bites of chili.
  • Fire-roasted diced tomatoes – I really like fire-roasted tomatoes for the added smoky bit of flavor.
  • Onions, green peppers, and garlic – Aromatic veggies that make this vegetarian chili sing!
  • Chili powder, cumin, and oregano – Classic chili spices; a must! Use a milder chili powder if you’re not wanting much heat, or a hotter chili powder if you like it spicy.
  • Tabasco sauce (optional) – A finish with a few dashes of Tabasco makes this chili extra good!
A bowl of 3-bean chili in a white bowl on a lime green plate with avocados, red onion, and cilantro on top.

More Crock Pot chili recipes

4.58 from 7 votes

Slow-Cooker 3-Bean Chili

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 8 hours
Total: 8 hours 20 minutes
Author: Kare
Yield: 6
THE Chili recipe around here. Three kinds of beans + onions, green peppers, fire-roasted tomatoes, and spices bubble in the Crock Pot while you go about your day. Ground beef can go in the carnivores' portions if you like. Chili two ways=a happy home!


  • 30 ounces chili beans in sauce (2 [15-ounce] cans)
  • 15 ounces kidney beans, drained (1 [15-ounce] can)
  • 15 ounces black beans, drained (1 [15-ounce] can)
  • 30 ounces fire-roasted diced tomatoes (2 [15-ounce] cans; crushed tomatoes are also good)
  • 2 medium green peppers (diced [about 3 cups])
  • 2 medium yellow onions (diced [about 3 cups])
  • 2 medium cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder*
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 20 dashes Tabasco sauce (optional)


  • Add all ingredients except the Tabasco (if using) and the ground beef to the slow-cooker/Crock Pot. Stir. Cook on low for 8 – 10 hours or on high for 5-6 hours. Taste and add Tabasco if desired. If serving an all-vegan chili, skip to “Serve with toppings.”
  • Serve with assorted toppings such as diced avocado, fresh cilantro, chopped onions, sour cream (or vegan sour cream), grated cheddar or jack cheese (or vegan cheese), and some Tabasco or Tapatio sauce.


Meat option for vegetarians & non-vegetarians eating together:

Add meat to half the chili: In a medium or large saucepan, brown 1 pound ground beef over medium heat with a little salt and pepper for flavor, if you wish. Drain off any fat. Add five cups of the chili to the browned ground beef. Stir, continuing the medium heat, and heat until boiling. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes.
Add meat to all the chili: Follow directions above but with 1 pound ground beef. Add to Crock Pot at beginning of cooking time. 
Nutrition info does not include ground beef. 

* Chili powder note

Chili powders can really vary in heat. If you have a milder chili powder, use the full two tablespoons – if you have a more extreme chili powder, you may want to start with less then add more to taste. 

Freezer notes

This chili freezes really well. I scoop leftovers into freezer bags, label, and stick in the freezer for super-easy future meals or even to top nachos. Double the recipe to ensure lots of extra – just make sure you’re using a big Crock Pot!

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 463kcal, Carbohydrates: 30g, Protein: 57g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 141mg, Sodium: 406mg, Potassium: 1493mg, Fiber: 10g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 1116IU, Vitamin C: 48mg, Calcium: 115mg, Iron: 10mg

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