Savory and sweet three bean chili

With winter in full swing and the weather unpredictable, on chilly Sunday’s I like to make my three bean chili. It’s hearty, fresh and a balance of sweet and savory has a kick.

What makes this recipe perfect for me is it’s made in the Crock-pot, so I chop up my ingredients, drain my beans, toss them in and let it cook while I relax. It’s also vegetarian friendly and can easily be made vegan.

I found this recipe a year ago when I was browsing Pinterest for meals to make in the new home I share with my fiance. The more I’ve made it, the more it feels it has become my own, such as adding in honey, using fresh tomatoes, adding a little more of this and a dash less of that, among other things.

The recipe calls for cumin and cayenne. The first time I made this I used a packet of chili seasoning. Using the cumin and cayenne adds a nice spice to the dish without becoming overwhelmingly hot. I highly recommend using cumin and cayenne as it makes the world of a difference.

I also like to add honey, a tip my fiance suggested as it adds a subtle sweetness. Previously, I have added the honey after the dish is made but I’ve started adding it into the mixture to let all the flavors cook together.

When you first try the chili, the vegetables are still crisp and have a nice crunchy texture but absorb the vegetable broth, garlic, spices and other flavors well.

Also a perk, this Crock-pot recipe makes a lot of food, four to six servings or more depending on how big of a bowl you use. As leftover chili, it only gets better. The beans and vegetables seem to self-marinate overnight and it makes for the perfect lunch over the next couple of days. If you’re one to meal prep, this is perfect.

No chili though is complete without a slice of cornbread or two. Add a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of freshly grated cheese of your choice, this is completely optional of course though, and this three bean chili will be devoured in no time.

Three Bean Chili

Four to six servings

15 ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

5 ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

2 diced large tomatoes

1 diced green bell pepper

15 ounce can corn, rinsed

1 small red onion, diced

2 cloves garlic

1 cup medium salsa

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon cayenne

3 tablespoons honey, optional

2 1/2 cups vegetable broth


Sour cream

Freshly grated cheese

Salt and pepper

Corn bread

First start by cutting up your vegetables — tomatoes, green bell pepper and onion. After your vegetables are chopped, add them in the pot.

For tomatoes, you can use a 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes if you prefer but I like the freshness of a crisp ripe tomato. The can however would add a thickness to the recipe.

When cutting the green bell pepper, I like to keep the seeds in as this pepper isn’t hot.

A tip I learned from a friend to easily dice the onion is to cut it in three directions. Create a checkerboard effect, similar to cross hatching, vertically along the onion. Do not cut all the way down. The onion should still intact after this. Next cut across horizontally and the onion will be diced into small bite size pieces.

Open your cans of pinto, black and kidney beans and corn. Drain the beans and rinse them a couple times, the extra liquid will make this chilli more runny. Add this to the Crock-pot.

Add in the spices — garlic, cayenne, cumin and the optional honey. Measure one cup of salsa, medium or mild, and also add this to the mixture.

Make sure to add the vegetable broth and gently mix all the ingredients together.

To cook this recipe on a low setting, it will need to cook for 7 hours. To cook on high, the three bean chili will be done in 3 to 4 hours.

To easily make this recipe vegan, opt out of honey and dairy products.


Find the original recipe at