There was a point in time when vegans were considered that picky dinner guest due to their plant-based diets, making it hard to shop for animal-free ingredients and dairy alternatives. But thanks to today's easily accessible health food stores and the ever-widening options at regular markets, following a vegan lifestyle no longer requires a full-on scavenger hunt to check off the items on your grocery list. Whether you're looking to simplify mealtime or you're not familiar with cooking cruelty-free cuisine, we've gathered some of the best vegan crockpot recipes that are exploding with a variety of flavors and satisfy your stomach—and best of all, they can be tossed into a slow cooker, freeing you up from being tethered to the stove and allowing for more time to socialize with guests or catch up on your Netflix queue.
Ready to turn the dial to low and let these veggie-packed dishes do all the hard work? Keep reading as we round up eight meatless crockpot recipes—from an Italian dish to a South Asian–flavored soup to a game day–ready chili and more—that even your carnivore friends will devour.
Lentil Soup with Coconut, Spinach, and Lime
This full-flavored vegan lentil soup is the kind of dish that's so hearty that your carnivorous friends will hardly believe it's meat-free. Recipe creator Laura Wright of The First Mess says that the lentils "keep their shape in this recipe, despite the long cooking time," giving the citrusy dish plenty of texture to balance out the coconut, sweet potatoes, and onions. Bonus: "It's a big batch," says Wright, which "will feed you well for a while."
Crockpot White Bean Ragu with Gnocchi
The original version of Half Baked Harvest's mouthwatering crockpot white bean ragu with gnocchi recipe calls for sausage, Parmesan cheese, and butter—all of which can be easily swapped for meat and dairy alternatives like cashew cheese and your favorite vegan sausage, for instance. When paired with homemade gnocchi or even a store-bought, vegan-friendly option (many prepackaged options are made of potato, flour, oil, and salt, but be sure to check the ingredient list), the rich Italian flavors will certainly please any palate.
Chipotle Black Bean Tortilla Soup
"At nearly 11 grams fiber and 12 grams protein per one cup, you can't go wrong" with this savory chipotle black bean tortilla soup, says Minimalist Baker's Dana Schutz. Packed with protein and fiber, all you need to finish off this filling meal is to "add a little avocado on top for some healthy fats and you're all set."
Golden Chana Masala
Many South Asian dishes tend to be vegetarian-friendly, and this Golden Chana Masala's chickpea-filled dish will deliver in the deliciousness department. It's flavored with traditional Indian spices like curry, turmeric, and cumin, which combine with the rest of the spicy stew's ingredients to create "sour, earthy, herbal, and even meat-y" perfection.
5-Ingredient Black Bean Chili
Minimalist Baker's five-ingredient black bean chili recipe boasts a Southwest-inspired kick that can be whipped up in less than an hour. You can really draw out the savory flavors by cooking it in a crockpot on low for several hours—simply sautée the onions and sweet potatoes with the spices in a pan prior to throwing everything in the slow cooker.
Springtime Crockpot Minestrone
Omit the grated romano cheese or replace it with a dairy-free swap to make this "embarrassingly easy" minestrone soup vegan-friendly. You really can't go wrong with this classic soup, which uses asparagus to give it a little crunch.
Vegan Coconut Curry
We never met a coconut curry we didn't like, and this vegan option by Minimalist Baker hits all the right notes: It's easy to make, strikes the perfect balance between spicy and sweet, it's rich but not too heavy, and it warms the soul.
Game Day Beer Chili
Beer and maple syrup make quite the savory power couple in How Sweet Eat's game day beer chili recipe, another meat-heavy dish that can easily be veganized by subbing with vegetarian sausage.
Got any vegan crockpot recipes that your meat-eating friends admit to loving? Share them with us in the comments.