Recipe: Slow Cooker Black Bean Chili

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

One bite of this ultra-hearty chili and you just might question if it’s really vegan after all. After a full day of simmering in the slow cooker, the chili takes on a deep and rich reddish-black hue, emitting that distinct fragrance you know can only be a batch of chili. And the flavor that follows is just as you’d expect. The medley of tender black beans, tomatoes, and warm spices create a one-pot meal with some serious flavor.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Use Cocoa Powder for a Rich, Meaty Flavor

Cocoa powder is the baking staple with big chocolatey flavor we rely on for brownies, cakes, and cookies, but it also has a very welcome place in savory dishes. Here it’s the superstar ingredient, partnered with a mess of spices and toothsome black beans that bring an even deeper, richer, heartier flavor to this meat-free chili. This recipe calls for unsweetened cocoa powder, so while you’ll pick up subtle notes of chocolate in the warm broth, there’s no added sweetness to be found.

93 Ratings

Slow Cooker Black Bean Chili

Serves6 to 8


  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 1

    large onion, diced

  • 1

    medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced

  • 3

    cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 tablespoons

    unsweetened natural cocoa powder

  • 2 tablespoons

    chili powder

  • 2 teaspoons

    ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    cayenne pepper

  • 1 pound

    dried black beans

  • 1

    (28-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes

  • 5 cups

    (40 ounces) low-sodium vegetable broth

  • Green onions, green parts only, thinly sliced

  • Chopped fresh cilantro



  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cocoa powder, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Stir until combined and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer to a 6-quart or larger slow cooker.

  2. Add the beans, tomatoes and their liquid, and broth, and stir to combine. Cover, and cook on the LOW setting until the beans are tender, 8 to 10 hours. Stir to combine. Ladle into bowls, and top with scallions and cilantro.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Make ahead: The onions, peppers, and spices can be sautéed up to a day in advance, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, then added directly to the slow cooker.