Vegan Slow Cooker Chili with Barley Recipe

Crockpot chili with whole grain barley
Crockpot chili with whole grain barley.
  • 10 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins,
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Ratings (5)

This simple vegetarian and vegan chili recipe is made with healthy whole grain barley as well as beans which is a great way to stretch out your food budget since barley is a bargain at the check-out stand, particularly if you buy it in bulk.

Even better than being budget-friendly, this homemade barley chili recipe is super easy to prepare, too. All you have to do is dump everything into your crock-pot or slow cooker, and a few hours later you'll have a delicious and nutritious high-protein vegetarian chili ready to go for dinner. Just add a side green salad and maybe some dinner rolls, and you've got yourself a full home-cooked vegetarian meat-free meal, full of fiber, veggies and protein. 

What You'll Need

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cans kidney beans
  • 3/4 cup pearled barley
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 3 cups water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How to Make It

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a crockpot or slow cooker, and give it a quick stir just to combine well.
  2. Cover and cook on medium-low for 6 to 8 hours.
  3. Taste, and add more salt and pepper, to taste and adjust the other seasonings to taste as well. I almost always recommend using sea salt or kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper when cooking, as it will bring out the best flavors in your food. 

    Serve your crockpot barley chili with fresh, crusty bread or over plain white or brown steamed rice or your other favorite whole grain, such as quinoa


    • Cooking with a Crock-pot or slow cooker can be really easy and convenient, but it's important to follow certain safety precautions. For starters, always begin with a clean space and make sure your counter is free of any debris. Pay attention to the temperature on your slow cooker: If you're home and able, start on high for the first hour, then switch to low for the rest of the cooking time, especially if you're cooking with perishable food items that could collect bacteria. Make sure the slow cooker is filled no more than two-thirds of the way, and avoid the temptation to open the lid (which releases heat) until you're done!
    • Not only is this chili a delicious vegan alternative to meaty chili, but it's filled with barley, which has loads of health benefits. Research shows that eating barley can help with blood sugar control and that it lowers glucose levels, among other benefits. In addition, it's slow to digest, which could aid in weight control.

    Like vegan Crock-Pot chili? You may also like these other easy vegetarian slow cooker recipes:


    Han, E. (2009, September 29). What’s the difference? Hulled vs. Pearl barley. The Kitchn,

    Health Benefits of Barley. Oldways Whole Grains Council,

    Marcason, W. (2016, February 5). 10 food safety tips for the slow cooker. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,