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.

Carolyn Malcoun
Source: EatingWell Magazine, March/April 2013




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; protein 15.3g; carbohydrates 55.9g; dietary fiber 14.9g; sugars 3.5g; fat 4.8g; saturated fat 2.2g; cholesterol 8.3mg; vitamin a iu 1287.1IU; vitamin c 26.7mg; folate 276.4mcg; calcium 126mg; iron 4.2mg; magnesium 95.5mg; potassium 814.3mg; sodium 646.7mg; thiamin 0.4mg.

Reviews (8)

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23 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 4
  • 4 star values: 5
  • 3 star values: 5
  • 2 star values: 5
  • 1 star values: 4
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: 5 stars
Don t believe the reviews on this one. Mine came out great. I added a can of tomatoes and added WAY more seasoning but it s a great jumping off point for a recipe. Next time I m going to add more veggies! Also I don t ever soak my beans and they came out fine. They need at least five hours on high and enough liquid to cook I would say add an extra half cup of water. Super tasty and I served with brown rice instead of dumplings. Topped with avocado and vegan sour cream and vegan cheese. Amazing! 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: 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: 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: 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: 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
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