Back in the day, if you wanted to make chili, you needed to plan on some serious time in a hot kitchen while the stew simmered on the stove. Now, thanks to slow cookers and multicookers like the Instant Pot, that’s no longer the case. These ultra-dependable small appliances mean you can get all the goodness of a long-simmered chili with minimal time in the kitchen. Summer bonus: the kitchen stays cool. What’s more, the slow heat lets you combine the soaking and cooking steps for the chili beans, so everything can be done all at once. You won't be sorry you tried this slow cooker chili.

This recipe is ideal for busy weeknights when you want to come home to a hot meal. It’s also open to endless variations when you doctor it up with spices or add other vegetables.

Recipe from

By Heather McDougall,


  • 2 cups dried pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14.5-ounce can no-salt-added fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 1-ounce packet vegetarian chili seasoning, such as Simply Organic, or chili seasonings of your choice
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups unsalted vegetable stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen whole kernel corn
  • Toppings such as chopped bell pepper, sliced green onions, and/or snipped fresh cilantro


  • In a 4- to 5-quart slow cooker, combine the beans, tomatoes, onion, seasoning, and garlic. Add the stock and water.
  • Cover and cook on high heat for 4 to 5 hours; stir in the corn for the last 15 minutes. Serve with toppings.

Comments (24)

(4 from 3 votes)

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I made this yesterday and the only thing I think I did differently was I used 1 can of pinto beans and 1 can of black beans so it turned out like soup. But that's OK because this was so delicious and flavorful. I will definitely make this again.


Too liquidy. I drained out 2 and 2/3 cup liquid and added 1/4 to 1/2 cup tomato paste to pot to thicken what was left in pot. Maybe I'll freeze the liquid for next time I cook chili!


I used my instant pot, and the 38 minutes someone suggested previously was not quite enough...some of the beans were a bit firm yet. VERY liquidy. I drained out 2 and 2/3 cup liquid, then added about 1/4 to 1/3 cup tomato paste. That fixed it up! Now I'll use that liquid next time I cook chili. Maybe I'll freeze it!

Amanda Johnson

I use kidney beans and add bell peppers as it cooks. My family loves it. I'm making some today to get canned for the pantry.


The flavor was decent but a little too liquid for my preference and my beans were not cooked all the way despite following the exact instructions.

Dana Galloway

Old beans.


This chili tends to be a bit watery, so I'm going to make another batch with slightly less water.

Susan Wright

Thank you because I want to make it plant based


What are you changing? I can only see your response

Marites Reboredo

Can I use red kidney bean instead of pinto bean? I dont think if pinto beans is available in our place. and if so, it must be expensive. fr the Philippines.


Use whatever dried beans are available! It's chili, it isn't meant to be exact.

Karen mcgrail

Can you use cannelli or red kidney beans


You can use whatever beans you want bro

Diane Bassett

It is very important to NOT use dry kidney beans in the slow cooker. You can used CANNED (precooked) kidney beans but not dry. The slow cooker does not get hot enough to disable a substance found in kidney beans that will harm you if the beans are not cooked at a high enough temp.

Janel Barthe

Can I use canned pinto beans, and if so, how many cans to equal dry bean amount?


No on the can beans, unless you use less liquid. I tried with can beans and its more of a soup then a chili

Esther Davis

Yes used canned beans for sure! Just remember that you don’t need the amount of water called for. Add maybe 1/4th of the water and some added tomato paste if still too liquidy.


Could this be cooked in a pressure cooker?


Yes, 38 minutes on high pressure

Julie Carlson

Can this be cooked on low for longer (the length of a workday)?


i should think so, put it on medium and then crank it up on high for an hour or 2??


Julie Carlson - I wondered about cooking on low too, but because the beans are dry, the temperature might not be high enough to cook the beans.


Could you please also provide amount of individual spices to use in place of chili seasoning packet?


When I make chili I sort of go by taste. Add a bit, stir, and taste it to see how you like it. I personally go heavy on cumin and paprika and add a decent amount of dark chili powder. You can also add a bit of unsweetened cocoa powder for depth :)

About the Author

Headshot of Heather McDougall, director of the McDougall Program

About the Author

Heather McDougall

Heather McDougall is the director of the McDougall Program in Santa Rosa, California. Heather also develops healthy, family-friendly recipes for the McDougall Newsletter. For more from her, follow the McDougall Program on Instagram.
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