Basic Sprouted Bean Chili

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Because the pinto beans in this chili are sprouted prior to cooking, they digest as vegetables. That’s a good thing for people who are watching their carbs. For more information on that, and to see other uses for sprouted beans, see 5 Yummy Ways to Use Sprouted Beans.

Rest assured, those who normally shun sprouts won’t know the difference. 😉 The beans become part of the soup when barely sprouted and they don’t taste any different.

With the exception of sprouting the beans for about three days prior to making the chili, you can use any favorite chili recipe. This is my general recipe for making sprouted bean chili. Adjust the seasonings however you’d like. This isn’t a spicy chili, so if you use my suggestions, you’ll end up with a mild chili that everyone will like.

See all basic recipes.

I routinely double this amount.

  • 2 cups dry pinto beans
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 pound grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 4 cups homemade stock or water + additional as desired for consistency
  • 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon sea salt, plus additional to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus additional to taste
  • 1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons cumin, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon paprika, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • garnishes: sour cream, diced onions, chopped cilantro, shredded cheese, etc.

First through third day (approximately). Soak the dry pinto beans in water overnight, or for 8 to 12 hours. A stainless steel pot with a lid makes a good sprouting container. After 8 to 12 hours, use the lid to help drain the water without spilling the beans. Leave the pot out at room temperature, with the lid partway off, so the beans have plenty of airflow while they begin sprouting. Now for the next two to five days, rinse the beans well each morning and evening. If the temperature is warm (higher than room temperature – 72 degrees), add a mid-day rinse, or additional rinses as necessary to keep beans fresh. Watch for the beans to sprout. When most of them have 1/8″ to 1/4″ sprouts, they’re ready to become part of the chili. If it has been awhile (like half a day) since the last rinse, give them a good final rinse and drain.

When beans are sprouted and ready. Brown together in a medium or large stockpot over medium to medium-high heat: ground beef, onions, and garlic. I leave the meat somewhat chunky – this way everyone gets a few decadent-sized pieces in their bowl, rather than a million miniscule pieces. That’s what we like.

Combine the tomato paste and stock (or water) in a 4-cup measurer, and whisk until smooth. Add to the meat mixture. Add the beans and all spices. Bring to a simmer, then turn down heat and let simmer for 20 to 30 minutes to cook the sprouted beans and develop flavor. Adjust seasonings.

Serve with desired garnishes.

© Copyright 2009 by Wardee Harmon.

The Gallery of Thanksgiving Sides is coming up on Thursday, November 19 – think about what Thanksgiving side dish you’d like to contribute!

This post is part of Fight Back Friday! at FoodRenegade.

This post may contain affiliate links. We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. Thank you for supporting Traditional Cooking School by GNOWFGLINS with your purchases. Our family thanks you!


  1. LeGay says

    I like to can my pinto beans so I have a supply in my pantry. On busy days, I just grab a jar and dump it into the blender to make refried beans. Can sprouted beans be canned?

    • says

      LeGay – That’s great that you do that! I would think sprouted beans can be canned – however, I’m not sure what the cooking time would be. These cook about 1/3 faster than soaked dry beans.

  2. Faith says

    Thanks… you answered my question about taste! I’ve been looking into increasing sprouting even for our cooked items more lately. Any other benefits you’re aware of besides carbs?

    • says

      Faith – if uncooked, you get the benefit of enzymes – that’s great to take a load off our bodies from having to produce digestive enzymes, freeing us up to make metabolic enzymes. I’m unsure how many of the increased vitamins last through the cooking; certainly the enzymes do not. So really, the greatest benefit is the easier digestion, which I think would translate for most people into less gas, too. :) If there are other benefits, free free (anyone) to chime in…

  3. Renée says

    I am going to try making this week so I soaked my beans 2 nights ago but didn’t forget to drain the water for approx. 14-15 hours after I’d started soaking them! I drained them and have left them in the strainer in a big pot with the lid over top (it isn’t sealed tight). I’ve been rinsing them but I’m worried that they are not going to turn out because I soaked them for so long. Do you think that matters? I’ve never sprouted beans before so I am not sure. They are super soft and they smell a little. Are they supposed to smell since they’ve been sitting out for awhile?

    • says

      Renee – That is not too long to soak. They should be fine. They should smell earthy, maybe even a bit like dirt. If the smell is foul, then they did spoil. The lid shouldn’t be on all the way – perhaps they need more air. Give them some additional rinses, some more air, and smell them frequently. I hope they work for you! If they don’t, give it another try. Also, how old are the beans? Old beans may not sprout. Let me know what happens, please?

  4. Cari says

    Just wondering if its ok to sprout the beans more then 3days?? I lost count of my days! I am sprouting kidney beans and I think Im going on 4 days. I was going to use them in chili tonight would they still work?

  5. says

    I have this on my menu plan later this month-I think I will make a double batch so I have leftovers for those days when plans just don’t work out, and/or to have for lunches also. Thanks for more great stuff!

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