This healthy slow-cooker pinto bean stew recipe is bursting with veggies--onion, bell pepper, celery and corn--and topped with crunchy bits of radish and chile- and lime-flecked cornbread dumplings. If you're pressed for time, skip the dumplings and serve this pinto bean stew straight out of the crock pot, topped with crushed tortilla chips and a sprinkling of Monterey Jack cheese. Make sure to soak your dried beans before using them in the slow cooker to ensure even cooking. Source: EatingWell Magazine, March/April 2013

Carolyn Malcoun


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Drain the soaked beans. Combine the beans, water, onion, bell pepper, celery, corn, garlic, chili powder and cumin in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Cook on High for 4 hours (or on Low for 8 hours).

  • To prepare dumplings: Just before the end of the 4 (or 8) hours, whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add butter and use a pastry blender, two knives or a fork to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add jalapeno and lime zest and toss to coat. Add buttermilk and stir to form a dough.

  • After the stew has cooked for 4 (or 8) hours, stir in lime juice and salt. Using generous tablespoonfuls of dough, drop 8 dumplings on top of the stew. Cover and cook on High for 1 hour. Serve each portion of stew topped with a dumpling. Garnish with cilantro and radish.


Make Ahead Tip: Soak beans; prep vegetables, cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day; measure seasonings.

Equipment: 5- to 6-quart slow cooker

Before using beans in a slow-cooker recipe, soak them to ensure even cooking. Start by sorting beans to remove any pebbles; rinse well with cold water. To soak overnight: Place beans in a large bowl, cover with 3 inches of cold water and soak at room temperature for 8 to 24 hours. To “quick soak”: Place beans in a large saucepan with enough cold water to cover them by 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour.

For easy cleanup, try a slow-cooker liner. These heat-resistant, disposable liners fit neatly inside the insert and help prevent food from sticking to the bottom and sides of your slow cooker.

Nutrition Facts

317 calories; total fat 4.8g 7% DV; saturated fat 2.2g; cholesterol 8mg 3% DV; sodium 647mg 26% DV; potassium 814mg 23% DV; carbohydrates 55.9g 18% DV; fiber 14.9g 60% DV; sugar 4g; protein 15.3g 31% DV; exchange other carbs 4; vitamin a iu 1287IU; vitamin c 27mg; folate 276mcg; calcium 126mg; iron 4mg; magnesium 95mg; thiaminmg.

Reviews (21)

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22 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 3
  • 4 star values: 5
  • 3 star values: 5
  • 2 star values: 5
  • 1 star values: 4
Rating: 5 stars
I followed the recipe but I did add a little water towards the end of the cook time My husbands favorite meal is beans and cornbread and he loved this recipe he did add salt to his bowl but I loved it just the way it was this is definitely a keeper! Read More
Rating: 5 stars
I made the recipe exactly as the recipe states. The only thing I did not do is add the garnishes neither of which I had on hand. Most of the items in this recipe I keep stocked my kitchen anyway. The recipe came out glorious and I would not change a single thing. It is easy enough if your soup/stew is not the right consistency is to add more chicken/vegetable stock. This was one of the easiest recipes I have used and is a part of my regular rotation. I simply love the fact that I typically have everything in my pantry/fridge. Thank you Eating Well! Read More
Rating: 3 stars
After reading the reviews I used half the beans and half the water - everything else stayed the same. I don't think it would have had any flavor had I used the full amount of beans and water. Read More
Rating: 1 stars
Undercooked beans no flavor! The picture looks so good but I made this recipe two times in a row--both were fails even though I tweaked it the second time to try to save the recipe. I am an experienced cook and I have to say this was a big waste of effort and ingredients. Beans were undercooked even though I presoaked them 23 hours and cooked longer than recipe called for to try to get them done. I've never had trouble with pinto beans in the crockpot I make them all the time! But something about this recipe left them with a bite. And the broth was so bland! The second night to compensate I used canned beans and chicken broth. Still terribly bland only this time it was soupy as well--I guess you need the starch from dried soaked beans to make it into a stew. The dumplings were pretty good the first night cooked up beautifully (although didn't have a ton of flavor) but the second night in the soupy broth they just didn't stand a chance and disintegrated a bit. I might still play around with this recipe but please don't waste your ingredients and time making it as written. I will be adding tomatoes slow cooking on the stovetop (which kind of defeats the purpose of a quick recipe) and upping the spices. Pros: healthy slow cooker Cons: bland undercooked Read More
Rating: 5 stars
Tasty recipe! After reading some of the reviews I was a little hesitant to taste this but I'm so glad I didn't judge until I tasted. The stew looked just like the picture and both my husband and I enjoyed it. I used Hatch Medium Chili Powder so maybe that made a difference since so many said it was lacking flavor. I did add a little more salt and instead of plain frozen corn I had some frozen roasted corn from Trader Joe's but other than that I didn't add anything else spice wise. The jalapeno corn dumplings complimented the spice of the stew. I will definitely make this recipe again. Pros: Easy to make Read More
Rating: 2 stars
Bland I read the reviews and decided to add a lot more seasoning. I also swapped the water for chicken broth & I had already put in a chopped anaheim chile & a poblano pepper. Even with the added seasoning (a lot more cumin & some cayenne) I thought it was really mediocre. I did like the dumplings however. I would make those again. Pros: Healthy Cons: Has to be drastically altered to have any real flavor Read More
Rating: 4 stars
I really liked this recipe though I did make a few substitutions (yeah I'm gonna be one of those people haha). First I used vegetable broth instead of water (I never use water in anything if I can add more flavor with broth). I also added more spices than the recipe called for. I just kept adding until it tasted good to me. Finally at the last minute as I was about to put the lid on and let the stew cook I added a little chopped turkey bacon for extra smokiness. All of these additions were really simple and really I find cooking is more about finding the flavors you like than following a recipe to the letter but I digress. The only complaint I have is I feel the dumplings had a little too much lime flavor and little else. I followed the instructions for the dumplings exactly so next time I make this I might half the amount of lime and increase the amount of salt in the dumplings. Overall this recipe turned out a delicious hearty stew that you can make even in the summer and not worry about heating up the kitchen by turning on the stove. It's very filling too - my boyfriend who eats like a horse lol was stuffed after one bowl. I will definitely make this again. Read More
Rating: 4 stars
Tweaked and Spicy This was my very first crock pot dish. After reading the reviews I decided to take their negatives and make mine better! It worked! Instead of the chili powder (I didn't have any) I used 2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper powder I doubled the garlic amount(because I love garlic) used a small red onion only used 5 cups of water added a half cup of reduced sodium chicken broth and added three diced Roma tomatoes( although next time I'll use spicy Rotel). With the dumpling I cut out the lime all together and added cheese before adding the buttermilk. It turned out great! Very spicy but not melt your face hot just how we like it. I will be making it again! Read More
Rating: 3 stars
Tasty Filling Kind to Your Diet My husband and I liked this a lot. I did not make the cornmeal dumplings; instead I used Heart Healthy Bisquick mix using skim milk as directed on package and putting lime rind and jalapenos into that dough. The soup got better on its second (and even third) time on the dinner table -- storing it with the dumplings in it helped to thicken it a bit and it seemed that the flavor of the fresh lime juice really matured (in a good way!) over several days. I'm planning to make it a second time at my son's home. I follow Weight Watchers and this meal was extremely points friendly -- I could even have seconds! Read More
Rating: 3 stars
Uses lime cook dumpl right in pot wld half Read More
Rating: 2 stars
Not Great as Written I didn't have the problem others did with the beans getting done but I did a quick soak method - boiling them to soften then I mixed everything the night before and put the crock from my crockpot in the fridge overnight. The next morning I put it on low for about 8 hours and then added the dumplings turning to high for the last hour. The beans were cooked through and had a good flavor but the flavor was very weak and watery. The dumplings weren't terrible but they weren't good either. They tasted strongly of the lime zest and I couldn't taste the jalepenos at all. I followed everything as written except I doubled the beans (I wanted it to be more like bean soup plus I have a large family to feed). When I did this I increased all the other ingredients by half in addition to what was called for in the recipe. Everything was still very bland. I gave this 2 stars because it has potential. I plan to make this again but next time with the following changes: Add either bacon/turkey bacon/ham or vegetable boullion to give more depth of flavor Use 2lb of beans Triple the spices called for (except the chili powder as we don't like heartburn:) Increase the liquids by half plus what was originally called for Make the jalepeno cornbread from another recipe separately in the oven and serve it as a side dish The beans had such a wonderful smell I think if they just had more spice they would have been very good. I recommend tripling the spice only Read More
Rating: 4 stars
This was easy flavorful and healthy. The only change I made was adding one chipole pepper in adobo sauce. I will deffinitely make this again. Read More
Rating: 1 stars
Don't use this recipe! I liked the idea of pinto beans and cornbread but I had to do a lot of doctoring to get this to taste good. Also wound up using jiffy mix mixed with jalapenos instead of the dumplings. Those weren't good either. I added a can of diced tomatos and next time i'll start from the bottom up by caramelizing the onions first and try to build it up instead of dumping everything in at once. I transferred it into a pot on the stove to boil it more. I had it in the crock pot all day and the flavors just weren't coming together. Cross your fingers I can it from the trash! Pros: healthy Cons: no flavor Read More
Rating: 3 stars
Slow cooker Pinto bean stew w/Jalapeno corn dumplings I soaked the beans overnight and after 7 hrs in the crockpot they still were not done so I transferred the whole thing to a large stockpot and finished cooking it on the stove. To the stew recipe I added: 2 diced Jalapenos 7 diced Roma tomatoes 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes 1/2 tsp cayenne 1/2 tsp black pepper and 1 tsp mexican oregano and 1 small can of El Pato sauce I used fresh corn cut from the cob. We like things on the hot side and this turned out delicious!! The family loved it. =) Read More
Rating: 2 stars
Bland and Boring I'm always looking for new yummy slow-cooker recipes. Sadly this one is not a keeper. The stew turned out bland. After adding a lot more chili powder to each dish we ended up with something that at least had some flavor. The dumplings were even disappointing. I could taste lime in a few of the bites but otherwise the dumplings were about as tasteless as the stew. Pros: easy Cons: tasteless bland Read More
Rating: 1 stars
Not much taste This sounded so good but ended up pretty disappointing. Too watery too many onions not much taste. I even added more veggies and chicken but it wasn't really salvageable. Cons: watery mostly beans and onions Read More
Rating: 2 stars
Beans beans beans! Mostly beans. No much taste otherwise. Maybe the 1 lb was a typo? Fine with enough hot sauce but I'd turn it into something chile-like with tomatoes and more spices next time. Pros: Fun dumplings healthy Cons: Bland and beany Read More
Rating: 4 stars
Good on the stovetop I wouldn't have made this in a crock pot but it turned out really well on the stove and was quick to prepare. I cooked the veggies first in some olive oil together with the garlic and spices. I then added a couple of cans of beans rather than using dried and a can of diced tomatoes. I used chicken broth instead of just water and added some grated extra-sharp cheddar to the dumplings. It was really delicious. I don't think it would have turned out very well to just throw everything in a pot and turn on the heat so I understand the other reviews (plus a pound of dried beans makes a LOT of beans I wonder if that was a typo?) Read More
Rating: 2 stars
Glorified beans and cornbread I never do beans in the crockpot because they don't seem to get done. I made this in my cast iron dutch oven on top of the stove. It was just OK. The dumplings which were the reason this appealed to me in the first place were easy to make but weren't as good as I expected. The beans were just a pot of beans crying out for some more flavor. Maybe a can of tomatoes or Rotel would have helped. I won't be making this again. On the plus side after I drain out the liquid the chickens are gonna love the leftovers! Cons: Pretty blah Read More
Rating: 3 stars
More of a Soup Made it in a crockpot and after 8 hours on low beans were edible but not done. Turned it up to high for a couple hours more. Was not an issue because I was making it ahead of time but if it were from dinner it would not of been done. Calories are high for 1 1/4 cup so will not do the dumplings for myself and will recalculate the calories. Was a good 'soup' though and great leftover. Read More
Rating: 1 stars
Not making it again. It smelled amazing but sadly it didn't live up to it's promise. It had a LOT of beans and after a 24 hour soak and 9 hours of cooking they still were not cooked through. The dumplings were very doughy and even with a whole jalapeno didn't have any flavor. All in all I would not recommend it. Read More