Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili Mac
See my guide on how to use an Instant Pot.
This Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili Mac is a healthy meatless meal that the whole family will love! With a make ahead freezer to crock pot option.
One of my goals here at Kristine’s Kitchen is to share lots of easy dinner recipes so you will always have a go-to list of what to cook for your family on busy days. My list of Easy Family Dinner Recipes includes many of the meals that I routinely make for my family because my kids love them.
Today I’m sharing this Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili Mac as a quick dinner that you can prep earlier in the day. That way, when you’re busy running kids from place to place or helping with homework in the evening you won’t have to take the time to cook.
I like to use my slow cooker year round, so even in the spring and summer months I can prep dinner ahead of time.
I based this Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili Mac recipe off of another easy dinner recipe – my One Pot Vegetarian Chili Mac. This one pot meal is a reader favorite, for good reason. Everything cooks together in one pan and it’s ready in just about 30 minutes.
Do you LOVE THE CONVENIENCE OF SLOW COOKER PASTA RECIPES?
Try my Healthier Slow Cooker Baked Ziti next!
I took my one pot recipe and adapted it for the slow cooker, so that you can enjoy chili mac for dinner even on nights when you don’t have time to cook. With this recipe, you won’t have to precook any of the ingredients so it’s really fast to get into the crock pot. You’ll add the dry pasta during the last 15 minutes of cooking and it cooks right in the slow cooker, absorbing lots of flavor along the way and making this a true one pot meal!
If you want to save even more time during the week, you can prep the ingredients for this meal ahead of time as a freezer pack. Then, all you have to do is thaw, transfer to your slow cooker and add the vegetable broth. So quick and easy! (You can get the handy freezer bag holder pictured below here.)
Along with the pasta, this Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili Mac has beans (use your favorites), bell pepper, onion, tomatoes, seasonings, and cheese. Use as much cheese or as little as you like, or omit the cheese to make this a vegan recipe. The leftovers are delicious for lunch the next day!
More Slow Cooker Recipes:
- Slow Cooker Chili Recipe
- Crockpot Chicken Tacos
- Slow Cooker Pot Roast
- Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken
- Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili Mac
- 1 onion, medium, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 15 ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- 15 ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 28 ounce crushed tomatoes
- 1 ½ tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 8 ounces whole wheat elbow macaroni pasta, uncooked
- 1 ½ cups cheddar cheese, about 6 oz, divided (or Monterey jack or mozzarella)
- chopped green onions, for serving
- Place all ingredients except for pasta, cheese, and green onions in slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on high heat for 4 hours or low heat for 6-8 hours.
- Stir in pasta and continue cooking on high for 15-20 minutes, until pasta is cooked through. Stir in 1 cup of the cheese.
- Serve topped with remaining cheese and green onions.
- To make this a freezer to crock pot meal:
- Place all ingredients except for broth, pasta and cheese in a heavy duty zip-top bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible and seal. Freeze for up to 3 months.
- When you are ready to cook, thaw and transfer bag contents to your slow cooker. Add the broth (you can pour some of the broth into the empty bag to get all of the spices, etc. out) and cook as directed above.
I love how easy this chili mac is, Kristine! It’s one of my favorite dishes to make, so I’m loving that you made it in the slow cooker and a vegetarian version! How perfect is this?! I bet your house smelled amazing when this was cooking, too!
When I saw this on IG on was dying to try it! I love using my slow cooker and it’s been a few weeks — I need to get it back in action with this meal. I’m adding it to my weekly meal plan!
I just made this for dinner tonight and it’s SO good! My boys even like it so I’m putting this on repeat. I love how easy it is!
Yay! I’m so glad your family liked this, Marcie! Thanks for letting me know. 🙂
I love having meatless Mondays so I’ll need to add this to the menu ASAP!
Easy and tastes great!
We are a vegetarian family on the go and loved this recipe. I added a bag of Morningstar crumbles to it and it was perfect! Thanks for posting!
Does the pasta get fully cooked from just 15-20 min? I’ve had other recipes that call for uncooked pasta and it doesn’t cook.
I used whole wheat elbow pasta and it was fully cooked in 15-20 minutes. Slow cookers do vary, so if you think yours cooks more slowly/lower heat it could take longer.
I’m not a vegetarian, but this recipe looks amazing, thank you for sharing this chili mac.
I used Gardein meatless ground, GoVeggie Mexican style cheese, no salt added tomatoes, beans, & broth, and omitted the salt. It turned out great. We will definitely be making this again.
I’m glad you enjoyed this Kris! Thanks for taking the time to let me know. 🙂
Excited to make this! Any idea how many calories per serving?
I hope you like it! I haven’t calculated the nutrition information for this recipe. You can use an online calculator, such as myfitnesspal, to find it.
Excellent dish. Easy to make and flavourful. All you need is a salad on the side. The pasta did take a little longer to cook for me, maybe 5 more minutes, but otherwise the recipe was spot on. Thanks for a great recipe!
Thanks, Vivian! I’m glad you liked it!
I made this last night and it’s a safe, fool proof deal! I used a can of chili beans and a can of hominy because I LOVE hominy. I also added some leftover roasted corn kernels I had sitting in the fridge, there is a lot of freedom in this recipe!
Your additions sound delicious! I’m glad you enjoyed this recipe!
I made this today, added a jalapeño and an extra cup of broth and cheese and it was great!
Very excited to make this but on the stovetop! This is a great recipe, I will comment on how it comes out!
I have a one pot stovetop recipe for a dish that’s really similar to this one. You can see it here. Enjoy!
Any idea how long this lasts in the fridge/whether it’s freezable? It looks amazing but I usually only cook for me
I’d feel comfortable keeping it in the fridge for 3-4 days. I also think it would freeze ok. You could freeze individual portions and then thaw and reheat.
This was absolutely delish! I used black instead of kidney beans, added lots of cayenne pepper and extra cheese. Would totally recommend to others.
Yum! Those adaptations sound delicious! I’m so glad you enjoyed this. It’s one of my family’s favorites.
Can I use a 4 quart slow cooker?
Yes, that should work! Enjoy!
I plan on making this this week and praying my toddler (who loves Mac and cheese and beans.. separately) eats it! Question.. If I cook everything on low, then should I turn the cooker to high before adding the pasta? Is the pasta cook time assuming the cooker was already on high?
Hi Michelle, those are great questions! Yes, turn the cooker to high before adding the pasta. The pasta may take a little longer to cook since the slow cooker will need to heat up from low to high. The pasta cook time really varies by slow cooker, so just watch it closely. I hope your toddler likes this!
How do you think gluten free pasta would perform in this recipe?
I haven’t tried this with gluten free pasta so I’m really not sure. If you try it, let me know how it works.
I have made this probably 20 times and I always use the banza gluten free chickpea mac noodles and everyone loves it !
I am wondering if canned beans will get really mushy by cooking for 4 to 8 hours.
They don’t! The beans do get soft, but they keep their shape. You can cook this on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8.
I made this with 1 can of mexi-corn and kidney beans that I cooked the night before, didn’t use the can beans. I also made hot water cornbread. It was so awesome! Will be one of my favorites.
Yum! I bet it was so good with the cooked from scratch beans!
hi there i was wondering what other beans might work well with this recipe?
Hi Jodie, I think you could use any kind of canned beans.
This recipe looks great! I look forward to trying. I’m new to my slow cooker – any chance you’d know how to adapt to use dry beans instead of canned?
Hi Julia, thank you! I can’t give a good recommendation for how to use dry beans without testing. You would have to increase both the cook time and liquid in the recipe. If you want to go to the effort, you could cook your beans from dry and then add to this recipe.
I plan on making this recipe for 20 people. Can you speak to how I would triple or quadruple this recipe? I have a 6 quart crock pot. I see this recipe serves just six.
Thank you very much,
Hi Trish, you would need at least two large crock pots to make this for 20 people. It fills my 5 quart crockpot as written. I wouldn’t recommend making more than a single recipe in a 6 quart crock pot. You might try making it on the stove in a large pot? I have this stovetop chili mac recipe that is similar.
Hi, Kristine…another question:
Is this meal served best on a plate or in a bowl?
You could really do either! Most of the time I serve it on a plate because I’m serving broccoli or some other veggie on the side.
Do you think black beans and lentils would be OK as substitutions for pinto and kidney beans?
Canned black beans will definitely work. I’m not sure about the lentils – if they are added dry they would need some extra liquid added since they will absorb some as they cook. Cooked, canned lentils might work but might get too mushy?
My kids don’t care for wheat pasta. Do you think cooking regular pasta requires the same cooking time?
I just looked at the boxes of pasta in my pantry, and the white elbow noodles take a few minutes longer to cook than the whole wheat elbow noodles. I would just start checking on the pasta after 15 minutes and cook until it’s done to your liking. I hope your family enjoys this!
I made this recipe tonight for dinner. Everyone loved it! Thank you for sharing.
Yay! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
If I cook this tonight, but won’t be serving until tomorrow, do you think I could just refrigerate it over night and reheat in the crock pot in the AM? I don’t use it often so am not sure!
If possible I would cook this the day you plan to serve it. You can chop/prepare the ingredients ahead of time to make it fast to prep the day of. I’m not sure if this would reheat evenly in the crockpot, and would worry that the pasta might get mushy. If you need to cook and reheat, I recommend reheating it in the microwave and then putting it in the crockpot on keep warm for serving.
Tastes yummy but word to the wise: Don’t use the ‘hot’ chilli powder, this stuff is spicy!!
Good tip, Sara! 🙂
Any idea on how to convert this to an instant pot recipe?
I have not tested this in the Instant Pot, but here is my best guess. If you try it, please let me know how it worked. 🙂 I would saute the onion and bell pepper in a little olive oil using saute mode. Then I would add the seasonings, broth and pasta and give it a good stir. I would add the tomatoes and beans on top and not stir them in. To figure out the pressure cook time, take the cook time on your box of pasta, divide it in half and subtract one minute. After the cook time ends, carefully do a quick release, stir and add the cheese. Hopefully that will work!
I have been making this for my hubby’s lunches. I use Banza chickpea pasta to add some more protein. He loves it! I pack it on mason jars. Thank you for this easy, healthy recipe.
That’s good to know that the chickpea pasta works well! Thanks for sharing that tip!
This was a hit! Printing it off right now to have it again.
I’m so happy to hear that! 🙂
Loved this! Accidentally used pepper jack because I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing and it was so good! Probably never gonna use a different cheese. I also used chicken broth because it’s what I had on hand and it was awesome. Great for meatless Mondays and when our flexitarian friend comes over!
The pepper jack sounds delicious! I’m going to try that!
I made this today for an office lunch. I used 1 can of kidney beans & 1 can of black beans. I also added jalapenos. It was delicious!
The jalapenos are a great idea!
Lol, tastes good but it turns out ‘Chilli powder’ in Australia is not the same as ‘Chili powder’ in the USA. Chilli powder in Australia is pure ground chillies, so it was very spicy! I’ll try it next time with the ‘Mexican chili powder’ which is a spice blend.
Oh no! I didn’t know that either, but that is good to know for the future. 🙂
Hi! Do you think I could use dairy free cheese and gluten free pasta? My boyfriends family is having a sunday dinner and the theme is pasta bar. A few are dairy and gluten free!
I haven’t tried that so I’m not sure. With the gluten free pasta, I would be careful about not overcooking it because some gf pastas can fall apart/get mushy if overcooked. I’m really not sure about how dairy free cheese melts, but you could serve it on the side for sprinkling on top?
Hi! I followed this recipe exactly, except for one substitution: gluten-free pasta, and it was a hit! For all those wanting a GF version, I used 1/2 box (6 oz) of Barilla-brand elbows and cooked on high for 9 minutes, then took the crockpot out of its heater shell to stop any more heat transfer/cooking and served. Thank you for the recipe! I look forward to lunch leftovers:)
I’m glad it worked out so well! Thank you for sharing about the gluten free pasta!
Perfect for 3 days after Christmas, easy and a change from all the holiday foods. My vegetarian guests couldn’t get enough and my “meat and potatoes” hubby loved it. Can’t thank you enough and will be checking out your other recipes.
I’m so happy to hear that! Thank you for leaving a comment. 🙂
This was so delicious!! Thank you for posting. I substituted vegan cheese for a perfect dairy free, meat free meal. Super flavorful and easy. Everyone loved it!!
I’m glad you enjoyed it, and that the vegan cheese worked well!
Delicious! We’re pretty new to meatless meals and this is definitely one that will become part of our rotation!
I made this today and it is SO GOOD! It turned out perfect. I followed the instructions but I turned up the heat by using 1 can original ,1 can hot, 1 can Serrano hotel diced tomatoes. Perfect!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment with your modifications. 🙂
What is the serving size? I saw that it feeds 6. I’m making this tonight but I’m also on Weight Watchers. Can’t wait to try it!
I haven’t measured the serving size. You could measure out the finished dish and divide by 6 if you need that information.
Hi! Just want to make sure that I do this properly- does HALF of the cheese go in the slow cooker with everything else and the other half goes on afterward?
Making this today and adding vegan soy chorizo. So excited!
I usually stir about 1 cup of cheese into the pasta and put the other 1/2 cup on top. I never measure though, and you really can’t mess it up with the way you decide to do the cheese. 🙂 Enjoy!
Can you make this recipe in the insta pot?
Sorry, instant* pot
I haven’t tested this one in the Instant Pot yet, but it could probably be done. I can’t offer advice on cook times or other adaptations that would be needed without testing it myself. Both pasta and beans can be tricky because they are starchy, which can lead to a burn warning, so you would have to be careful in the way you layered the ingredients in the pot, too.
This is a go-to in my house. I have to make sure we don’t have it too often, and have even brought the crockpot and made this on a ski weekend (and even meat eaters loved it). I like to add 1c frozen corn, and a frozen tbsp of adobo sauce that I keep on hand, but truly this is perfect as is. Simple, adaptable, delicious.
Thank you so much for sharing!!
Equally delicious as it is simple to make
This is SO good and super easy to make. In fact it’s so easy and filling that we have the ingredients on hand to use as an easy meal once we bring our new baby home from the hospital. Thank you for sharing this!
Can you make this on a crockpot?
Yes, slow cooker and crockpot are used interchangeably.
Easy and delicious! This is a redo for sure!
For those who added veggie crumbles like from gardein or Morningstar etc., when did you add them? So exited to make this tomorrow!
I made this today and it was great! I don’t like bell peppers so I substituted a poblano pepper instead. It added a little bit of spice but still had the slightly sweet taste of a bell pepper (just less sweet). I will definitely be making this again!
Made this tonight and it was fantastic! I would love to add meatless crumbles into it next time, can you tell me at what point I would do that?? I hope you see this because I want to make it again soon, thanks!
Check the package of your meat substitute, if it only needs to be reheated then I would just stir it in at end of the cook time until hot.
My whole family was impressed! I was initially nervous about cooking the noodles, but your instructions were perfect. We loved the seasoning too – a splash of flavor but not too spicy.
This was so delicious! I made a few additions to suit my families taste. I added fresh mushrooms, jalapeno and some frozen corn and I used chicken broth because that is what I had. The cooking time you gave was perfect for my crockpot. It really did only take about 20 minutes for the pasta to cook and that was on low. Thanks so much for this awesome recipe!
Googled and found this recipe. Made it for my family (including my 9 year old and 12 year old) and everyone LOVED it. My children demanded I add this to my list of recipes we will continue to make. So tasty.
So excited to try this! Are there any concerns or special instructions for banza pasta? I couldn’t find elbows so planning on using cavatappi
I personally have not tried this with Banza pasta or another type of gluten-free pasta, so I can’t say how it will turn out. With the gluten free pasta, I would be careful about not overcooking it because some gf pastas can fall apart/get mushy if overcooked. Another commenter tried the recipe with gluten free pasta (not banza) with good success. You can read through the comments for specifics of what they did. Enjoy!
This is a fantastic recipe! I forgot to put it in the slow cooker in the morning, so when I came home I made it in the InstantPot. I just sautéed the onions and peppers and then added the beans, slices, broth, and pasta, then stirred it up before adding the tomatoes to the top (did not stir to avoid the burn notice). I took the lowest cook time on the box the pasta came in and divided it by two and subtracted a minute to get the manual pressure time (for my pasta it was 2 minutes). It was lovely!
Thank you for sharing how you made it in the Instant Pot! I’m glad you enjoyed it!
What size slow cooker are you using for this recipe?
I used a 5 quart slow cooker.