Slow Cooker Black Bean Chili with Kahlua

A slow cooker black bean chili for the weeknight win. This version is Kahlua-spiked with chili powder and good dose of chipotle.

Slow Cooker Black Bean Chili with Kahlua

This black bean chili is a little bit naughty, but mostly nice as we round the corner into the new year. Quite honestly, I'm not sure the world needs another chili recipe, but this one checks a number of boxes that are sometimes tricky to check.

Slow Cooker Black Bean Chili - The Details

It's vegan. But don't let that scare you off! It's flavor-forward. It's hearty, and feisty, and easy to tweak (more heat, less heat, etc). It's perfect for a slow cooker, and it has a wild card ingredient - Kahlua. But don't worry, the alcohol cooks off, and the liquor just leaves a nice bass note of sweet coffee-ness. Not too much sweet, just a kiss, and I think it gets balanced out by the cumin and cayenne in most chili powders, and the smokiness of the chipotle. Slow cooker black bean chili for the weeknight win. I've also include notes for a stovetop version, and Instant Pot (pressure cooker) version, so everyone can join along.

Slow Cooker Black Bean Chili with Kahlua

I know, black bean chili is pretty much the Birkenstock of slow cooker staples, but I wanted to take a fresh look at it, and lock down a good go-to version with pay-off. Also, to write a recipe that doesn't have thirty ingredients, but tastes like it does. ;)

Shout out to my friend Chris at Bi-Rite Market, who always listens to me thinking out loud about what I'm working on. I was running through all the typical black bean chili wildcard ideas - pumpkin, orange juice, espresso, etc...We landed on Kahlua (before flirting with a whisky version)....and it turned out NICE!

Slow Cooker Black Bean Chili with Kahlua

Slow Cooker Black Bean Chili with Kahlua

Here's a shot of the Breville Fast Slow Pro. It was the multi-cooker I originally purchased. Unfortunately, it was damaged during shipping, and I replaced it with the Instant Pot DUO Plus 6 Qt 9-in-1. Then, Breville kindly sent me a new one to work with. Long way of saying, I've been testing, and experimenting with both now, and have a bit of a strengths/weaknesses chart going. I'm not going to do a product review at this point, just know, the recipes work in both.

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Slow Cooker Black Bean Chili with Kahlua

4.06 from 18 votes

The only active, time-intensive part of this recipe is chopping the aromatics (onions, garlic, etc.). You can do this a day before, and store in an airtight container, refrigerated, until you're ready to cook. If you don't have Kahlua (or other coffee liqueur), it's fine to substitute beer, broth, or even coffee. Use a favorite chili powder - I call for a range here, use more if you think you can handle it, less if you like a milder chili.

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 5 stalks of celery diced
  • 2 medium carrots diced
  • 2 chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (~1/4 cup)
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt or to taste
  • 1 pound of black beans soaked 4-6 hours or overnight
  • 1 28- ounce can of whole tomatoes in juice
  • 3 1/2 cups water / broth
  • 1/3 cup Kahlua or other coffee liqueur
  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, sauté for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, celery, and carrots, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 7 minutes. Add the chipotle, chili powder, and salt. Stir until combined and cook for another minute or so. Transfer to a 6-quart (or larger) slow cooker.
  2. Add the beans, tomatoes, breaking them up with your hands as you add them, their liquid, the water, and Kahlua. Stir to combine, cover, and cook on the LOW setting until the beans are tender, 5- 6 hours. Stir occasionally, if convenient. Adjust seasoning, ladle into bowls, and top with any of the suggested toppings you like.
  3. Store leftover in the refrigerator for up to a few days, or freezer for a month or two.

Instant Pot Pressure Cooker method: If you don't have 5-6 hours for the slow cook, you can use the Instant Pot to pressure cook this chili. Use the SAUTE function, to start, and once you've made it to the point where you've added all the ingredients, press CANCEL. Close the pot, secure the lid, set the pressure release valve to SEALING. Press MANUAL for 15 minutes at high pressure (bump up to 25-30 if you think your beans might be old). When cooking is complete, carefully QUICK RELEASE. Gently shake or tap the pressure cooker, and THEN carefully open away from you.

Conventional stovetop method: Bring everything to a simmer (after all the ingredients have been added). Cover, and cook, over the lowest heat (while still maintaining a low simmer), until the beans are tender. If you need to add more broth or water at any point, do so, and re-season. I think you could likely cook this in a Dutch oven in a 300F for a long stretch as well.

For reference, this recipe was tested in this Instant Pot DUO Plus 6 Qt 9-in-1, as well as this Breville Fast Slow Pro (Breville sent me one after I received a damaged one purchased through Amazon). It's great, because I can experiment with both now, and at some point I'll try to write a review/comparison.

Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
5 hrs
Total Time
5 hrs 15 mins
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4.06 from 18 votes (17 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating


Hi Heidi! We absolutely loved this chili recipe! I didn’t have any dried black beans, so subbed Rancho Gordo Domingo Rojo beans that I bought last year. Being that they were a year old, and seeing other reviews about older beans, I not only soaked them but also boiled them for 30 minutes (I don’t own an IP) before putting them in the crock pot along with everything else. The chili turned out fantastic with well balanced,hearty and full bodied flavor. Might try Donald’s whiskey and espresso powder suggestion next time. Thanks for another terrific no fuss recipe!5 stars

Ceejay Young

    Thanks for the comment Ceejay! Happy to hear that you enjoyed it.

    Heidi Swanson

Another tasty recipe! I used Rancho Gordo black beans that had been sitting in my pantry for about a year. I cooked them using the low setting of the slow-cooker function of my Instant Pot. It took almost 12 hours for them to become tender, although they were edible by the 8 hour mark. I suspect the early addition of tomatoes might have contributed to the long cooking time; I find that when I add acidic ingredients to beans before they are fully (or almost fully) cooked, they tend to take a long time to soften. Next time I will cook the beans for a while before adding tomatoes.
Given the potential extra cooking time needed, and the fact that like most chili recipes, this one tasted better the next day, I would suggest preparing it at least one day before you plan to eat it.


I had a horrible time trying to get the beans soft. I started in my instant pot and thought the “Low” setting on the IP was the same as the slow cooker. After 2 hours I noticed it wasn’t warm enough so I googles problems and found out the “normal” setting was equal to “low” on the slow cooker so for 5 hours I cooked it on that setting and my beans were still crunchy. By this time it was 7:00pm so I bumped it up to “More” for 3 more hours and they were STILL crunchy! I’m sure it’s all human error in never using my IP for slow cooking. I then transferred it to the stove top and brought to a boil then simmered it for 3 more hours! Thank goodness it wasn’t for dinner! LOL It was starting to turn out like it should with only a few beans still chewy but I gave up and went to bed. What did I do wrong? I follow the recipe and soaked the beans over night before assembling the chili. The taste is fabulous!

HS: Hi Sue – a lot of times this sort of trouble comes from ending up with older beans. Try it again using beans that are dried, (but as fresh as possible), I like to buy Rancho Gordo, or from sources where you know there is a lot of turnover. Gamechanger on the bean front.

Sue B

Tried this chili and I like the way it turned out. One of the first recipes I used with my new Instant Pot. I’m not a spicy girl, so I cut the chili pepper to 1T and only used 1 of the chipotle peppers in adobe sauce rather than the full amount. I did turn it back on for an additional 5 minutes to get the beans a bit more tender. I served it with chopped cilantro and sliced avocados. The recipe is a keeper!

HS: Thanks Sue!


I made your Black Bean Chili with Kahlua this past week – it was delicious! Thank you! I made it in my Instant Pot, sautéing first, then pressure for 20 minutes (I have the 8 qt pot). I soaked the beans for about 2 hours before cooking and they were perfect, tender but not mushy. (Don’t soak black beans in a white bowl – now I have a purplish and white ombre bowl…I’m working on it.) The only change I made was using about 1 teaspoon of dried chipotle chile instead of the canned with adobo. Again, thanks!

Tami in Ruidoso

This recipe is spectacular! Started this last night, rounding out our airplane bottle of Kahula with Frangelico. I also botched the bean prep (old beans , I’m learning,!) so this cooked for a while and melded over night- but the result is phenomenal and worth the wait! Thank you for sharing!

HS: xo for the feedback Cat! And props for winging it with the Frangelico! Switch up the beans next time and let us know how it goes!


This recipe is spectacular! Started this last night, rounding out our airplane bottle of Kahula with Frangelico. I also botched the bean prep (old beans , I’m learning,!) so this cooked for a while and melded over night- but the result is phenomenal and worth the wait! Thank you for sharing!


I made this last night and it was sooo delicious! Since I didn’t have Kahlua I used equivalent coffee with a dash of maple syrup. My husband wouldn’t stop raving about it. Will make this again and often. Thank you Heidi!


My husband and I loved this recipe! I used Rancho Gordo black beans (bought in the Ferry Building when I was there just after Christmas) and I didn’t soak them. Instead, I added about 4.5 cups of water and cooked them in my new InstantPot for 40 minutes of pressurized cooking and let the pressure naturally release for 25 minutes. I used the Kahlua and everything else as directed and the beans were perfect! I served them with a bit of shredded cheddar cheese and some corn bread. Thank you for the delicious recipe!


This was super delicious and even better the next day. Thank you!

Katja West

The best chili I’ve ever made. Thank you. It made me love my slow cooker again.


I love chili but found out several years ago that I’m allergic to tomatoes. Can you think of any other liquid base I could use for this recipe? (I don’t think chicken broth would not add the same richness.)


I made this in the Instant Pot for dinner tonight, and it was amazing. I was looking forward to leftovers tomorrow, when my husband informed me that after serving our family of 7, the pot was empty. Oh, but what I did want to mention is, even though I soaked the black beans for a good 12 hours, they were not quite cooked after the 15 minutes, so I gave them another 7 minutes, which got them tender enough to pass the doneness test, but had I not been crunched for time, I probably would have given them a full second round of 15 minutes (so 30 total).

HS: Thanks Claudia! – I’m going to note the added time in the IP notes – I’m getting the sense that the beans people are using generally need more time than the ones I’m testing with (I often use Rancho Gordo and they’re amazing.)


Great recipe; perfect flavor. But – I substituted the Kahlua with the same amount of whiskey and added a tablespoon of espresso powder from King Arthur Flour that I’ve been waiting to try. Really seriously the best black bean recipe I’ve tried.

HS: Nice swap Doug!


I’m not necessarily drawn to coffee anything, but this recipe is the exception. After reading your description of the dish I get how kahlua works here. Love the smart pairing of only a few ingredients. Thanks Heidi, as always, for your recipes and inspiration!

HS: Thanks Katie!

Katie | Whole Nourishment

I’ve been cooking this for over 8 hours the beans still are hard and the veggies are just now becoming the right texture. I’ve tried and loved many recipes online and this is a first. The timing on this is inaccurate but the flavor is good but instead of enjoying it for dinner I will be eating it for lunch tomorrow. A word for the wise.

HS: Hi Dove! It’s definitely important to source dried beans that aren’t old, or you’re likely to run into this problem. I always look for sources with a high turnover, or go to Rancho Gordo, or a smaller producer. You’re far less likely to run into this sort of issue. Hope this helps for next time!

Dove Welch

A) This looks great. We’ve only recently had ready access to cans of chipotle in adobo sauce here in Aus and I’ve very much enjoyed the recipes I’ve made with them. Love the big impact something so easy can give.
B) Thanks to your note “the cumin and cayenne in most chili powders” I have just learnt that chili powder does not mean dried and ground chillies, which is what we mean in Australia by chilli powder. Useful knowledge!!

HS: Thanks for the heads up Ella!


Could you just add a little bit of coffee if you don’t have Kahlua and don’t use alcohol?

HS: hi Laura – you could certainly try it!

Laura Wilder

This was the most delicious black bean soup we’ve ever had – and it was a success the first time I used an Instant Pot. The flavor is so wonderful we plan to eat it regularly for lunch.

HS: Thanks Jeannie! 🙂


I love the chili but it was the stroganoff that really got my attention‼️

Francy Matson

Thank you, Heidi! I always look forward to postings and recipes. great inspiration! And I’d love to hear your thoughts re Instant Pot v. Breville, since I’ve been debating that very thing.


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