slow cooker vegan mole chili

Slow Cooker Vegan Mole Chili Recipe -- just 25 mins prep (via #vegan #recipe #glutenfree #chili #crockpot

Slow Cooker Vegan Mole Chili Recipe -- just 25 mins prep (via #vegan #recipe #glutenfree #chili #crockpot
Let me tell you what I did this weekend. I pushed around strollers for three hours and then ate a sandwich the size of my face.

I mean, we also did the Valentine’s Day thing and all that jazz (panna cotta for all!), but sandwich the size of my face was pretty much the highlight. And in case you’re wondering, we are no closer to choosing a stroller than we were before. Namely because there’s apparently no such thing as chic and multipurpose and affordable and joggable and schlep-all-your-shittable without tipping over and knocking your newborn in the dome.

I’m about THIS close to just poaching a cart from the Target parking lot and calling it a day.

And now I’m done talking about baby stuffs.
For this post, at least.
Because I feel like there are maybe three reactions to these kinds of rants, and they’re either:

  1. Current Parents: Suck it up, porkchop.
  2. Hip Young Singles or Not-Yet-Even-Trying-To-Be-Parents: SNORE TIMES A MILLION.
  3. My Mom: Tell me everything.

Since most of you probably aren’t my mom (hi mom! are you reading this on your new smart phone? proudsies!), I’ll try to rein it in. No promises, though, because babies babies everywhere and not a drop to drink.

Wait, a minute.

Slow Cooker Vegan Mole Chili Recipe -- just 25 mins prep (via #vegan #recipe #glutenfree #chili #crockpot

So my take on chili is that it kinda shouldn’t have beans. Like, it can have beans, but then it’s really more of a chili-inspired bean stew thingie and less savory meatiness to pour over all the things. Which is kinda where I feel like things can get a little tricky with vegan chili. Beefing things up without dat beef (or turkey) (or chicken) (or bacon). But how?

My previous go-to vegan chili has been this little diddy — which I maintain is a really, really satisfying bowl of chow if you’ve got the time to steep and shop. Between the sweet potatoes and soyrizo, it leaves very little to be desired, even for die-hard meaties. But all that complex flavor comes from layering one umami-rich element over another, and sometimes, you’re in more of a throw n’ go mood.

I feel you, boo.
Letz slow-cooker this B.

Slow Cooker Vegan Mole Chili Recipe -- just 25 mins prep (via #vegan #recipe #glutenfree #chili #crockpot
Here’s where I admit that I’m still kind of a failure because you DO have to steep and process the dried chilies before they go into the pot. You’ve also got to toast some spices — but I hear there are fancy slow-cookers where you can do that right in the insert, so maybe hook yourself up with that situation.

And lastly, I kindamaybeaddedchickpeas.
Did you get that?
Chickpeas. In the chili.
Shit, do those count as beans?


Here’s the takeaway: spend 25 mins getting yer goods ready for the slow cooker, and you’ll be putting down a vegan chili that’s warm and hearty, rich and satisfying, pleasantly spiced and substantially textured. There’s tofu, yes, but it’s nearly unrecognizable thanks to a little freezer trick that turns it into a literal sponge for all those slow-simmered flavors.

Even with the chickpeas, I fink you’re gonna like it. 🙂

Olé for molé!

Also: no joke, please send all stroller recommendations my way.
Also also: Happy Chinese New Year tomorrow, friends! Wear red! Eat rice! Don’t wash your hair! Kbye!

Slow Cooker Vegan Mole Chili Recipe -- just 25 mins prep (via #vegan #recipe #glutenfree #chili #crockpotSlow Cooker Vegan Mole Chili Recipe -- just 25 mins prep (via #vegan #recipe #glutenfree #chili #crockpot

Slow Cooker Vegan Mole Chili
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Makes: 6 servings
  • 3 oz dried ancho chilies
  • ¼ cup light cooking oil, such as avocado
  • 3 T chili powder
  • 1 T cacao powder
  • 1.5 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 14 oz block tofu, frozen, thawed, drained and finely diced (see note)
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1.5 oz good, dark chocolate (at least 70%)
  • 3 cups mushroom stock
  • cilantro for serving (optional)
  • Greek yogurt for serving (optional; omit if vegan)
  • quinoa, rice, or other grain for serving (optional)
  1. Remove stem and seeds from chilies. Place in a bowl, cover with very hot tap water, and allow to steep, covered, for 20 mins.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a small saucepan or skillet. Add chili powder, cacao, oregano, cinnamon, cumin and paprika and heat until bubbling and very fragrant, about 60 seconds. Remove from heat and set aside. (Now is a great time to dice/prep your veggies and tofu.)
  3. When chilies have completed steeping, drain, reserving ¼ cup liquid. Add chilies and reserved liquid to food processor and blend until almost smooth.
  4. Combine all veggies, tofu, chickpeas, processed chilies and spice paste to slow cooker. Add bay leaves, coconut sugar, salt, chocolate and stock. Stir to mix well and cook on High for 5 hours, or until veggies have all but disintegrated. Adjust with additional salt to taste, if necessary. Serve with grain and toppings of choice. Enjoy!
I know the extra step of browning the spices and soaking the chilies seems to fly in the face of slow cooker ease, but even with those items, the hands-on time is still just around 20 minutes. (If you have a neato slow-cooker like this one, you can even brown the spices right in the insert.)

Regarding the tofu: Freezing and thawing tofu removes much of its moisture and almost turns it into a little sponge, ready to absorb moisture -- and flavor! In dishes like this, it's just about perfect. To prep tofu: freeze entire tofu block until firm. (I just throw the whole package in the freezer overnight. In fact, I've almost always got a block or two in there!) Thaw tofu in refrigerator, then drain it from the package as usual. Slice the block into about 4 or 5 slabs and gently wring the additional moisture from the slabs. (Gently pressing them between two plates works well. Don't be overly aggressive; it doesn't have to be completely dry.) Finely dice tofu per the recipe.
Slow Cooker Vegan Mole Chili Recipe -- just 25 mins prep (via #vegan #recipe #glutenfree #chili #crockpot


OH! before you go…

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cantina laredo carne asada nachos
"his n' hers" panna cotta (coconut cream w/ cinnamon-bourbon whip + strawberry-sesame w/ matcha whip)

31 Comments on “slow cooker vegan mole chili”

  1. This. All of this. I’ve been wanting to make something like it for so long and you just wrote out the recipe and the steps and I love you! Can’t wait to try! And hey, I’ve never tried freezing tofu but now I know I really, really should. I don’t have any stroller suggestions, wahh! But I do really like hearing about all that baby stuff and I want to know when you find ‘the one’ and what kind it is and what color and blah, blah, blah! 😉

    1. YES, Grace, freeze tofu!! Not just for this recipe, but for any recipe where you really want the tofu to maintain its shape and absorb sauciness. It’s also especially good if you fry up little nuggets; they end up crispy on the outside and kinda pillowy on the inside. Lots of salt and pepper and chili sauce and…well, it’s pretty noteworthy snacking. (Might even make it to the blog one uh these days!)

  2. Whoa, this looks seriously mouth-watering! I definitely don’t mind the chickpeas – I basically put them in everything else, but somehow never thought to put them in chili. Yum!

  3. I actually originally discovered your blog through that soyrizo chili recipe, when I had a bunch of leftover soyrizo and was trying to find a tasty way to use it. I can only imagine that this mole chili totally takes it to the next level. It looks amazing!!

    1. Thanks Shannon! So glad you found your way over here through that soyrizo chili — it really IS one of my favorites. This is kiiinda similar in that I can’t leave well enough alone and not put cinnamon and crap in my chili, apparently — but it’s just a little less tedious. If you get the chance to check it out, you’ll have to let me know what you think compared to the ol’ standby. 🙂 Thanks for hanging out!

  4. I really like mole. My “Cristela” friends introduced me to it when I worked in downtown L.A. and I was hooked, but they also told me that it was hard to make a good mole. Yours looks so yummy, and has all the ingredients I love, so I will not hesitate to use your recipe when my friends come to visit. Thanks Em.

    Btw, as a brand-new aunty, my reaction would be the same as your mom’s. Though I totally understand your pain. My sis gave birth about a month early, and I practically went out and bought all necessary things for her nursery as soon as I landed in Thailand. Baby products companies want us to buy anything & everything for every occasion for (almost) every month of baby’s growing up. Who am I? A Kardashian? Hang it there, Em. I am with you 🙂

    1. So true, Pang! I feel like babies and weddings are kind of part of these super commercialized industries where you suddenly become convinced you need to spend a buttload more cash than you intended or you’ll somehow become a miserable failure. Which means some fatty, rich marketer somewhere is doing their job really, really well. 😉 You sound like the sweetest aunt ever — and I bet it was such a huge help to have you there!

      And re: the chili — it’s definitely mole-inspired, but I’m not sure how true-blue authentic it is, so hopefully your friends appreciate a little creative freedom! If you get the chance to make it for them, you’ll have to let me know how it goes. Enjoy!

  5. Such a cool idea with the tofu! I have never thought of that, but now I really want to try it. I love it when the tofu soaks up all the goodness and spicy tastiness in dishes. Thanks for the inspiration:)

    1. Seriously, it’s like a little army of sponges! (Uhhhh, just pretend that sounds about 19 times more poetic/appetizing…) You’ll dig it, Laura!

  6. This recipe looks great! I am thinking of making this next week when we have some friends over for dinner. Having the slow cooker doing the work and leaving me free to prep other parts of the meal is a must for a dinner party on a weekday! Thinking of serving with some quinoa and mini corn muffins. One question: I love chickpeas and all, eat them almost every day, but how do you think black beans or kidney beans would do in this dish?

    1. I think black or kidney beans would be awesome, Emily! They’re a little softer so they might break down a bit more, but I think the flavor would be awesome. Do it do it!!!

    1. How chilly can you really be down there in warm ol’ LA, Gaby? Ohhhh CHILI you say. Got it. So then yep, this is probs your jamalamadingdong! 🙂

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  9. Did you find a stroller? We ended up getting a used Bob (which we washed the begeessus out of because used baby things are gross and your baby is new and beautiful and perfect). But soap is cheap and Bob’s are frigging expensive.

    Stroller systems are only good if you have that life- urban, multi-public transport, multi-road surface lives. If you’ve got that life- get that stroller system! I totally envy you.

    If you don’t have that life- just get one really nice stroller BUT multiple baby wearing devices. I loved a soft modified wrap for the first 4 months or so, then the basic ring sling is good, and when that kiddo hits about 18lbs, an Ergo or similar will save your back!

    Oh and those car seat come stroller things are really hard on your back. If you don’t have one already, make sure you’ve got a good chiropractor/acupuncturist/massage therapist. Or possibly a Doula with massage training. I still see my Doula every month, and my babycakes is 9 mo old.

    It’s gonna be a great adventure! ENJOY!

    1. Wow wow wow — such great advice, Katie – thank you! Soooo…we DID finally buy a stroller. I suppose it’s a system of sorts, since the seat comes off when the carseat goes on, but we skipped the fancy pram and stuff. (We went with the Baby Jogger City Versa with the optional all-terrain wheels and the Britax Elite carseat.) It’s not the lightest, but it folds up super simply while still being more robust than some of the more compact three-wheel systems we were checking out (big storage area, nice and stable, turns on a dime…). And then we intend to add a used Bob a few months down the line if I intend to actually jog ever again. And that’s it! I am committing to being, at most, a 2-stroller household for the duration of our stroller years, especially since we’re both game to wear her a large majority of the time (we got the Ergo 360 and a bamboo wrap – now to learn how to use them…) As you said — it will MOST DEFINITELY be an adventure!! Can’t wait! Thanks again. 🙂 <3

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  11. This was SO good and I will definitely be making it again (although we had to pick the chickpeas out for our small human who doesn’t like them). On the stroller front, we like our Britax B-Motion 4: not a jogging stroller but I’ve run a few miles with it, and the 4 wheels keep it from tipping. Have you looked at Uppababy’s line (biiig baskets)? Can you find Red Castle strollers where you are (good jogging+multipurpose mix)?

    1. So glad you enjoyed it! My kiddo devours this too — anything with beans, really. And you know what we ended up going with? The Baby Jogger City Versa, which they sadly no longer make. Basically the City Select but with only one seat, huge cargo area, nimble as can be. And we tricked it out with all-terrain wheels. Worked like a charm, and I’d buy it over and over again. (And then, haha, we still ended up buying a giant bulky BOB for running. Which I’d also buy over again. Two-stroller family now, never thought I’d say it…)

  12. This looks so delicious and much easier than traditional recipes – can’t wait to try it! I’m currently in SE Asia so dried ancho chilies aren’t available. But I do have a Mexican chili dried blend that’s paprika, chili, cumin, oregano, and garlic (made by Masterfoods). I noticed your recipe calls for 3T chili powder plus the 3 dried ancho chilies. Any suggestions on what I can do instead of ancho chilies? Perhaps I can add 1-2 tablespoon of the Mexican dried blend I have? Or perhaps dried paprika (I’ve read that paprika can substitute for ancho chilies). Thanks so much!

    1. I would try the Mexican dried blend before I would try the paprika. In my experience, the paprika wouldn’t have the same depth of spice (not that it would be bad but just a different profile from the mole vibe we’re after). Please let me know what you end up trying! Good luck – hope you enjoy!

    1. Hi Megan! Sorry for the delay – your favorite veggie stock will do the trick, or you can rehydrate dried mushrooms and use the water from rehydrating them as stock (might need to add a little salt!). 🙂

  13. Amanda,who is in SE Asia, or anyone really, if you were looking for dried ancho chilies and getting no response, ancho chilies are dried poblano peppers so, an understanding produce person would go the extra step and point you the right way. Sometimes dried poblano peppers are also labeled “pasilla” .Dried and fresh, same, but, definitely different. I envy your opportunity to experience and experiment with what must be a dizzying array of Asian chilies!

  14. It would be nice to see comments from those who have actually tried this recipe. ‘Reviews’ saying that ‘it looks delicious’ are not very helpful.

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