How Have You Bean?

Jack and the Beanstalk

Jack and the Beanstalk

I have a little Slow Cooker cooking magazine by Betty Crocker. One of the recipes in it that I’ve tried is for a Three Bean Chili (you can find Betty’s recipe at this link on their website and my take on it here). It’s a tasty recipe and I’ve made it a few times, but I’ve been wanting something a bit different.

So, inspired by another bean chili recipe I read in one of my old Diabetic Cooking magazines, in combination with the Bean and Lentil chili, I decided to try making Four Bean Chili in my CrockPot yesterday.

Peoples, this makes for an easy, yummy, hearty, low-calorie, fat-free dish that is incredibly affordable! You can enjoy it with tortilla chips, rice, pasta, crackers — any accompaniment you normally enjoy with chili. I made some cornbread for ours, which was quite yummy with it.

While this dish is perfect for the slow cooker, you cam make it on the stovetop, as well.

When making in the slow cooker, I recommend using a liner for easy clean-up.  This packed my 3 1/2 quart CrockPot to the top, but it didn’t overflow!

Important Food Safety Tip: This recipe uses tinned beans, both for convenience and for safety. As Betty Crocker points out, “Tomatoes and tomato products keep dry beans and other legumes from softening even after hours of cooking.” Furthermore, as Wikipedia tells us:

Some kinds of raw beans, especially red and kidney beans, contain a harmful toxin (lectin phytohaemagglutinin) that must be removed by cooking. A recommended method is to boil the beans for at least ten minutes; undercooked beans may be more toxic than raw beans. Cooking beans in a slow cooker, because of the lower temperatures often used, may not destroy toxins even though the beans do not smell or taste ‘bad’ (though this should not be a problem if the food reaches boiling temperature and stays there for some time).

Draining and rinsing the beans not only reduces the sodium, but it also reduces the gas-causing impact that legumes and other healthy, fresh vegetables often have. Additionally, on those occasions when I do use a chili seasoning mix (such as for this recipe), I like to get Williams Chili Seasoning, as it has no added salt.

Don’t have a good chili seasoning mix on hand? Season to taste with chili powder, garlic powder, red (cayenne) pepper, paprika, and cumin. I typically like to “boost” the flavor of the chili seasoning with these spices, anyway.

Dress each serving of Four Bean Chili as you would any other chili: grated cheese, oyster crackers or tortilla chips, diced onion, dollop of sour cream, sliced jalapeños — whatever makes you happy.

I used four different types of beans for contrast in color, flavor, and texture, but you can make it with all pinto beans, all black beans, or a mix of just two types of beans.

However you make it, you’ll likely be finding yourself singing “The Bean Goblin” song. 😉

Four Bean Chili (Serves 8 to 10)

  • 1 can (15-16 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15-16 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15-16 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15-16 ounces) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 packet (1.25 ounces) chili seasoning mix (see note above if you don’t have a good chili seasoning mix on hand)
  • Bay leaf (one or two)
  • 2 cans (14 -15 ounces EACH) diced tomatoes, UNDRAINED (I used fire roasted tomatoes with garlic)
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • 1 medium to large onion, chopped
  • 2 jalapeños, chopped or sliced, if desired (NOTE: Wear disposable gloves when handling fresh jalapeños, as they can burn or blister your skin when raw)
  • Hearty splash of vinegar (suggest white or apple cider vinegar)
  • Healthy squirt of ketchup
  • Additional seasonings to taste, as desired: Chili powder, cumin, garlic powder or minced garlic, paprika, red pepper flakes, onion powder or onion flakes, and splash of Worcestershire sauce (Vegetarians: leave out Worcestershire or use a substitute)


  1. If desired, place a slow cooker liner in your Crock Pot to make cleanup easier. Place all  ingredients into your slow cooker. (I placed the onions in first, then one of the tins of tomatoes, then the jalapenos, two tins of beans, another tin of tomatoes, the seasonings, the remaining beans, and spread the tomato paste on top). Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.
  2. Gently stir to combine all the flavors and ingredients. (NOTE: You can give it a gentle stir before it starts cooking, as well, but my slow cooker was packed too tightly for me to be able to stir it until after it had cooked.)
  3. Dress each individual serving as you desire: grated cheese; oyster crackers, saltine crackers, or tortilla chips; diced onion; dollop of sour cream; sliced jalapeños, cornbread — whatever makes you happy.
  4. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers.


Place all ingredients in a large Dutch oven, soup pan, or other cooking pot. Add in liquid (water or beer) as desired — I’d probably start with about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of water or beer. You can add in more liquid if it’s too thick; or simmer it uncovered to cook it down if it’s too thin. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until heated through — it can be ready in as few as 10 or 15 minutes of simmering, but the longer it simmers, the better the flavor.

Refrigerate or freeze leftovers.


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About MissieLee

I love tasty food prepared in a healthy way with a budget in mind.
This entry was posted in Chili, Main Dish, Soup/Stew, TexMex, Vegetarian/Meatless and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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