This Slow Cooker Bean Chili with Easy Cornbread Muffins is so delicious and filling, you won’t even notice it’s a meatless meal!
If you love chili recipes as much as I do, be sure to also try my Taco Ranch Chicken Chili recipe and my White Chicken Chili.
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Hearty Vegetarian Chili & Fluffy Cornbread Muffins
The first time I made this vegetarian chili recipe, my meat-loving husband gobbled up a big bowl and couldn’t believe how flavorful and filling it was. He didn’t even realize he was missing the meat! It was monumental. I was so excited that I bragged about it for two days.
This easy chili recipe is filled with lentils, a medley of beans, and tons of tomato-y, smoky flavors. The slow cooker makes this chili a breeze for weeknight dinners, potlucks, or even game-day tailgates!
My favorite way to serve this hearty bean chili is with my best hack for quick and delicious cornbread muffins. I use Jiffy cornbread mix and doctor it up just a little! The girls devour these muffins whenever I make them. My husband and I need to take turns as a distraction just to have a couple of the muffins for ourselves!
What You’ll Need
This chili uses common ingredients, but the results are loaded with flavor! Here is everything you’ll need for both the slow cooker chili as well as the cornbread muffins.
For the Vegetarian Chili
- Beans: I use two cans of Bush’s pinto beans for this recipe, along with one can each cannellini beans and black beans, rinsed and drained.
- Tomato Sauce: From a can is perfect, otherwise homemade also works.
- Rotel: One can of diced tomatoes and chilis. I like Rotel because they have both spicy and mild options!
- Lentils: Dried lentils make this vegetarian chili recipe extra hearty, with added plant-based protein and nutrients.
- Vegetable Stock: You can also use beef stock or broth if you’re making this chili non-vegetarian.
- Seasoning: Chili powder, chili seasoning, garlic salt, and bay leaves for the bold flavor.
- Garnish: Sour cream and shredded cheese are chili essentials in this house!
For the Cornbread Muffins
- Corn Muffin Mix: Boxed Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix or similar.
- Sour Cream: For a bit of added moisture and tanginess.
- Cheddar Cheese: Shredded sharp cheddar really brings a delightful cheesy flavor to this recipe.
- Corn Kernels: Either fresh or frozen. Both work great for this easy cornbread!
- Vegetable Oil
Can I Make This Chili Vegan?
Yes! The chili recipe itself is naturally vegan. Simply swap out the garnish of regular sour cream and shredded cheese for vegan sour cream and cheese.
The cornbread muffins can also be made vegan. In addition to vegan sour cream and cheese, you can replace the milk with a vegan alternative and the egg with ¼ cup applesauce.
How to Make Slow Cooker Bean Chili with Cornbread Muffins
This vegetarian chili recipe could not be any easier – especially if you have an immersion blender. Of course, blending is optional. But I do prefer the final texture if I blend about 1 1/2 cups of the chili and stir it back in. I’ve included this in the how-to below:
To Make the Bean Chili: Simply combine all the ingredients in a slow cooker. Set it to cook for eight hours on low, and walk away. Did I not promise the world’s most hands-free chili?
For Chunkier Chili: If you’d prefer this chili with a more traditional texture, about 30 minutes before it’s done cooking, discard the bay leaves and transfer 1 ½ cups of the chili into a blender. Puree and stir it back into the rest of the chili.
For Thicker Chili: Create a slurry of cornstarch and water, then add it into the chili and let it continue to cook.
Once your vegetarian chili is ready, serve it with a generous dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cheese.
While your chili is slow cooking away, you can preheat the oven and prepare the Cornbread Muffins:
- Stir together the cornbread ingredients and then transfer the batter into a muffin tin lined with cupcake liners. Fill each muffin about ¾ of the way full, to leave space for expansion.
- Bake the muffins until they’re cooked through.
- Smother them with butter while they’re still warm and serve.
Tips for Success
- Adjust the Heat: You can adjust the seasoning (particularly the chili powder) to fit your desired heat level if you’d prefer a milder bean chili or one that’s spicier.
- Make Stovetop Chili: You can adapt this slow cooker chili to a stovetop version by combining everything into one pot and bringing the chili to a low boil. Cover it with a lid and then simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until the lentils have softened.
Easy Chili Add-Ins & Toppings
This chili is perfect to serve for easy dinners, on game day, or at potlucks! You can dress it up with your favorite chili toppings and really make it a meal. Here are some suggestions for add-ins and add-ons:
- Fresh chopped cilantro
- Red bell peppers
- Minced onions
- Diced tomatoes or tomato salsa
- Corn kernels
- Avocado slices or guacamole
- Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
This chili and muffin combo makes wonderful leftovers the next day, or easy lunches throughout the week.
Store any leftover bean chili airtight in the fridge, for up to 3-4 days. Reheat the chili in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stove until it’s hot and steaming. (If you’re using the stove, remember to stir often!)
Storing the Cornbread Muffins: The cornbread muffins can be stored airtight inside a resealable bag or container at room temperature. They should stay fresh for up to 4 days.
Can I Freeze Chili and Cornbread Muffins?
Both the chili as well as the cornbread muffins are perfect for freezing, too!
Freezing the Bean Chili: Freeze the chili in individual portions or in one large portion in a freezer-safe container(s). Thaw the chili in the fridge overnight before serving.
Freezing the Cornbread Muffins: I like to pre-freeze the muffins in a single layer on a baking sheet before transferring them to a freezer bag. Thaw them at room temperature whenever you’re ready to serve them!
More Healthy Slow Cooker Dinner Ideas
- Slow Cooker Turkey Taco Soup
- Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja
- Crockpot Chicken And Rice
- Tender Pot Roast
- Crispy Pork Carnitas With Corn Salsa
Slow Cooker Bean Chili with Easy Cornbread Muffins
Slow Cooker Bean Chili with Easy Cornbread Muffins is so delicious and filling, you won't even notice it's a meatless meal!
- 2 (16 oz) cans Bush's chili beans (the pinto bean version)
- 1 (15 oz) can cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
- 1 (10 oz) can rotel
- 1 cup dried lentils
- 1 cup beef broth (or vegetable stock)
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 package (1.25 oz) chili seasoning
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt, or to taste
- 2 bay leafs
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch & 1 tablespoon water, optional
- sour cream, for garnish
- shredded cheese, for garnish
Cornbread Muffins (makes 8 muffins)
- 1 box (8.5 oz) jiffy corn muffin mix
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 tablespoon sour cream
- 1 cup frozen/fresh corn
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
To make the Bean Chili
In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients. Cook for 8 hours on low.
The following two steps are optional:
- For a traditional chili texture: 30 minutes before serving, remove bay leaves and throw away. Take 1 1/2 cups of soup and puree smooth in a blender. Add back into chili and stir to combine. You can also do this with an immersion blender if you have one.
- For thicker chili: Whisk together cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Stir into chili and let cook for 30 more minutes.
Serve with sour cream and cheese! Enjoy!
To Make the Cornbread Muffins
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a cupcake pan with muffin liners.
- In a medium bowl, stir together all ingredients. Fill each muffin tin 3/4 cup full.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes, until cooked through. Serve warm with butter!
Serving Size:1 bowl
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 356Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 53mgSodium: 1281mgCarbohydrates: 47gFiber: 10gSugar: 8gProtein: 18g
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Making this for about the 4th time! Sorry I haven’t reviewed the recipe sooner. We all love this chili!! It tastes so delicious that we don’t miss the meat and
is super easy to make. I have some all ready in my crockpot tonight for plugging in on my way out the door to work tomorrow morning. Those yummy muffins are in the oven now so we can warm them up with tomorrow’s dinner. Didn’t make them with the chili the last time and my daughter missed them! Definitely a great addition to the meal. Thanks for sharing!!
Let me just say this is a keeper! Loved, loved, loved this chili. And the cornbread was to die for! Thanks!
So excited you made it and loved it!! We have been making it every week! :-)
I LOVE cornbread and chili. Absolute wonderful pair… This bean chili also looks fantastic! Will have to try!