March 20, 2021

Vegan Slow Cooker Chana Masala

One of my family's favorite recipes! Chickpeas slow-cooked in a fragrant, spiced tomato sauce.
Serves 4-6

Vegan Slow Cooker Chana Masala. Chickpeas cooked in a fragrant, spiced tomato sauce. Make in the morning for dinner at night! Vegan and Gluten-Free. 

This recipe was first published in 2016 and updated in 2021. 

Slow Cooker Vegan Chana Masala

Your favorite Indian take-out, made in the slow-cooker. Which, I’m convinced was invented by a woman. An incredible device that makes dinner happen while you are literally doing anything else? My busy-day-dream-come-true. Even though I work from home, I love the ability to assemble dinner in the morning so it’s ready the moment BL walks in the door.

I rely on my slow-cooker butter chickpeas recipe to get my through the cold months and it was only a matter of time before I created a masala version. As vegetarians, we rely on Indian (and Thai) take-out all. the. time. We have two Indian restaurants within walking distance of our house, which makes it all too easy to pick up the phone on a night I’m feeling less-than-inspired to cook. After years of forcing it encouragement, I’m so thankful that BL has finally embraced the cuisine. Now, we can bond over a love of chickpeas, ginger and garam masala. 

Slow Cooker Vegan Chana Masala

As easy and delicious as take-out is, I wanted to create an at-home version. Mostly for leftovers, which I could eat for days on end of this stuff. I have included a step to fry the onion, ginger and garlic in a saucepan before adding to the slow-cooker. While this might not make the dinner entirely effortless, it adds another layer of flavor that can’t be achieved in the slow-cooker alone. That magical caramelizing of onions and garlic has to happen on the stove.

Then, add the chickpeas, tomato paste and your favorite broth and let the entire thing simmer for hours in the slow cooker until you are ready to eat. 

Slow Cooker Vegan Chana Masala


I really love basmati rice and think it’s the perfect pairing for this masala. While I usually recommend brown rice for extra fiber and nutrients, I’m OK using the white version in this dish. The chickpeas provide enough protein and fiber. I know I’m a dietitian, but I really prefer the flavor of white rice to brown. Especially when mixed with a handful of cilantro, salt, pepper and olive oil.

Hope you love this slow cooker chana masala as much as our family does! 

Slow Cooker Vegan Chana Masala

If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag your Instagram photos with #delishknowledge . I absolutely love seeing your creations. Happy cooking! 

Slow Cooker Vegan Chana Masala

Slow Cooker Channa Masala

  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 6 hours
  • Total Time: 6 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 -6 servings 1x
  • Category: chana masala, vegan, glutenfree, healthy, slowcooker


Slow Cooker Vegan Chana Masala. Chickpeas cooked in a fragrant, spiced tomato sauce. Make in the morning for dinner at night! Vegan and Gluten-Free.

  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 6 hours
  • Total Time: 6 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 -6 servings 1x
  • Category: chana masala, vegan, glutenfree, healthy, slowcooker
  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 6 hours
  • Total Time: 6 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 -6 servings 1x
  • Category: chana masala, vegan, glutenfree, healthy, slowcooker


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 large onion, very finely chopped (you can use a food processor to finely chop it, if needed)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced into a paste (mince garlic cloves with a microplane, then use the back of your knife to press into a paste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 Thai chilis (red or green), diced (omit or reduce for mild version)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons chana masala seasoning (or garam masala if you can’t find chana)
  • 3 ounces tomato paste (roughly half a 6 ounce can)
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • Chopped cilantro, for garnish
  • Basmati Rice, for serving
  • Naan, for serving


  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil, ginger and onions over medium heat. Cook until onion is very browned and reduced, about 15 minutes. Stir in the garlic, salt, pepper, chilis, turmeric and chana masala seasoning. Cook another 2-3 minutes until chilis are soft and mixture is fragrant.
  2. Pour the mixture into the base of a slow cooker along with the tomato paste, chickpeas and vegetable broth. Cook over low heat for 4-6 hours until thickened.
  3. If you’d like a thinner sauce, thin with more vegetable broth.
  4. Serve with rice and naan, garnish with cilantro.

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Slow Cooker Vegan Chana Masala. Chickpeas cooked in a fragrant, spiced tomato sauce. Make in the morning for dinner at night! Vegan and Gluten-Free |

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, Plant-Based Chef and Yoga Instructor. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.


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  1. I just made this and it is lovely! I used chicken stock instead of vegetable because I did not have any but will see if I can start to stock that too. It is a wonderful budget stretcher and on top of that is full of fibre and so good for you, thank you!

  2. Thank you for sharing a great recipe! I swapped Thai chilis for a can of diced tomatoes with green chilis and it still turned out delicious. Also, I used dried chickpeas that had been soaked overnight and simmered for 1 hour prior to adding them to the crockpot, which I set to low for 7 hours; the chickpeas are nice and meaty. I made my own garam masala which I highly recommend for anyone willing to take the 5+ minutes to make it. Thank you again for sharing a great recipe!

  3. Hi Alex,
    Trying to prep meals as a soon to be momma! How would I make this ahead of time to freeze? Cook the onions and everything? Thanks!

    • Hi Jen- congrats! Yes, I’d cook it as is, then let cool and freeze. I’ve popped this one in the freezer when I have extras and it thaws/reheats well. Just might need to add a little broth as you warm it.

  4. I made this last night and it tasted amazing. I cooked it on high heat tho and it came out kinda watery. Is it because I used high heat ? I cooked it 4 hours.

  5. I don’t think you can say that the prep time is 10 minutes when you have to cook the onions for at least 15 minutes in step 1. Other than that, absolutely delicious!

  6. Hey Alex,

    How long should I cook this on the stovetop and in an instant pot? I don’t have a slow-cooker and my instant pot acts up sometimes so it would be nice to know how to cook this dish using both. Thanks!

  7. Hi! Getting ready to make this dish…was wondering if you had an idea for substitute on tomato paste? Pretty sure my toddler is allergic and need it to be friendly for him to eat. Thanks!

    • Hi Maria, shoot- I don’t know what would mimic the tomato pasta with the same purpose and flavor. What about a pumpkin puree? I’d start with just a little and add from there to taste. The paste helps to thicken the sauce, so the puree might help with that.

  8. The Slow cooker was invented by Irving Naxon, a Jewish man who wanted to recreate the bean dish his grandma used to make that took several hours to cook.

  9. Hi there – I cook with canned chickpeas quite a lot but on the stovetop. So, I was quite surprised to see that this slow cooker recipe used canned chickpeas instead of dried chickpeas. Isn’t there a risk that the whole dish will just be too mushy? And couldn’t this dish just be cooked on a stovetop instead of in a slow cooker especially as the canned chickpeas are so soft?
    Cheers Joanne

    • Hi Joanne, you can make this in either the slow cooker or on the stove top. I’ve made this several times and canned chickpeas won’t be mushy overtime.

    • Hi Jasmine, I think both are great- but they are different recipes! Personally, I think they are both great. The chana masala has a bit more spice, and then butter chickpeas are a little creamier. If you were going to add potatoes, I’d add them in the last hour on high, and 2 hours on low. Let me know how it turns out and what you think!

  10. This is one of the best recipes I’ve found on Pinterest! Tastes exactly like our local Indian restaurant and now I can make it at home (and probably much healthier too!). Big thumbs up for me!

  11. Prep time 10 minutes? To wash, peel, chop , mince, and fry onions, garlic, and ginger with an instrument I’ve never even heard of? Us truly lazy cooks need more time than that! Sounds good but too much prep for frazzled mornings.

    • Hi Sheri, if you are looking for faster prep, you can prep the ingredients ahead of time and place in the fridge or use pre-chopped onions and garlic. The microplane is a tool that easily grates garlic (and other items) but you don’t have to use it if you don’t have one. Minced is fine. You can also buy garlic paste for ease!

    • Hi Kim- if you’ve already soaked the chickpeas, then you might try cooking them directly in the crockpot with the seasonings, knowing that you’ll need to increase the time by at least a few hours. I haven’t made this one with dried chickpeas, so I can’t guarantee that it will come out, but I have made dried beans in the slowcooker and it works.

  12. I tried this a few weeks ago and LOVED it! I am making it again tonight–do you think adding cauliflower would work? I’m worried it might get too soggy.

    • Hi Colby- glad you liked it! It might not get soggy, but it will likely break down as it cooks. Why don’t you add it the last hour or so of cooking? Let us know how it turns out!

  13. I made this last week and it was amazing! I followed the recipe exactly! I’m making it again tonight! My significant other and I love this so much! I’m going to make it in my instant pot this time and see how it comes out. Thanks for an amazing recipe!

    • Awesome! So glad you liked it! I’m currently working on updating my slow-cooker recipe instructions to include Instant Pot directions; let me know how it works using it!

  14. Yum! I love Indian food but always feel like I can’t get the spices just right when I make it at home. I’m definitely pinning to give this one a shot!

  15. I LOVE Indian food, but never make it at home. This would be such a comforting meal to make 🙂