Ultimate Vegetarian Chili

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Looking for your next meatless dinner? This vegetarian chili is loved by vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike for its layers of warming spices, good-for-you vegetables, hearty beans, and whirls of comfort with every bite.

A bowl of vegetarian chili next to diced avocado.

What Makes This Vegetarian Chili So Darn Good

Don’t let the word vegetarian fool you, because this vegetarian chili recipe holds its own with the classics like my beef chili, white chicken chili, and turkey chili. Here’s why you’ll love it:

  • It’s just as flavorful as other chilis. Many of you have said that with the combination of diced veggies, assorted beans, and smoky, rich broth, you don’t even realize there’s no meat involved. Amazing! That’s the beauty of vegetarian recipes done right! 
  • It’s healthy and fiber forward. This is the kind of meal I love to eat when I’m craving comfort food, but with a bit of reassurance that I’m eating a healthy meal brimming with protein, vitamins, and fiber. In other words, it’ll fill you up without weighing you down. 
  • It’s a great budget-friendly meal. Given that most of the ingredients are pantry-staples, it automatically makes this a one-pot money saving meal. And who doesn’t love that?
Ingredients for vegetarian chili on a table.

Vegetarian Chili Ingredients

  • All the veggies: To beef up this chili, you’ll need an assortment of onion, carrots, and celery (a mirepoix mix) plus bell peppers. I’m using green and red bell peppers, but you can use any color.
  • Beans galore: As with most chili recipes, a combination of black beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans is a must. But if you’re not a fan of one of these types of beans, swap it for another can of beans you love.
  • An array of spices: A blend of chili powder, ground cumin, dried oregano, paprika, and kosher salt gives this chili a super rich flavoring.
  • Tomato-y things: Tomato paste, fire-roasted diced tomatoes, and diced green chilies amp up the smokey, roasted flavors while adding texture to the broth.
  • Vegetable broth: Just two cups are needed for this (though you can always add more if you’d like), and I’ll usually grab a low-sodium broth. 

Find the complete recipe with measurements below

A big pot of vegetarian chili.

How To Make Vegetarian Chili

  • Cook the veggies. In a large pot with olive oil, saute the diced onion, bell peppers, carrot, and celery for 4 to 5 minutes, until the veggies are slightly softened.
  • Add the seasonings. Stir the minced garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, paprika, kosher salt, and tomato paste with the veggies for an additional minute, until fragrant.
  • Add in the rest and simmer. Add the black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, diced tomatoes, diced green chilies, vegetable broth, and bay leaf. Stir it up, bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Let it simmer for 30 minutes uncovered while stirring occasionally.
  • Serve or store away. Remove the bay leaf, ladle the chili into bowls, and add your favorite toppings (I’ve included some ideas below). And if you have leftovers, I’ve got storage options below as well.
A white pot of vegetarian chili.

Ingredient Substitutions

Feel free to tweak this vegetarian chili (and my recipes in general) to your liking. If you’re not a fan of a few ingredients, or if looking for other ways to give it some oomph, give these substitutions a try!

  • Want less beans? Sub one type of bean for more diced veggies! Just make sure to use the same quantity to keep the volume consistent.
  • Switch up the veggies. Mirepoix vegetables are a chili staple. But you can also use diced sweet potato or butternut squash.
  • Add some heat! This can easily be done by sauteing diced jalapeno or serrano peppers when you cook the bell peppers.

Common Questions

My chili thickened up a bit, can I make it thinner?

Absolutely. Just add another cup of vegetable broth (or water) to make it thinner and more brothy. Additionally, if you’d like a smoother, less chunky chili, you can use an immersion blender to spot blend, or blend up a small portion in a blender and stir it back into the chili.

Can I make this in a Crockpot or slow cooker?

While I haven’t yet made this recipe in a slow cooker, other readers have and reported success on low temp for 6 to 8 hours. If you try it, let us know in the comments below what worked for you!

Scooping a lade of vegetarian chili from a pot.

Serving Suggestions

  • Top it with the good stuff. You can never go wrong with toppings on chili! I love to add chopped herbs (like cilantro or parsley), diced avocados, sliced green onions, chives, fresh lime juice, or even seeds like pepitas.
  • Add a healthy carb boost. Ladle a serving over rice, cauliflower rice, broccoli rice, or quinoa.
  • Serve for a party. I love to serve these in small bowls for Super Bowl, or any other party where communal food is involved. Plus, you can make it a day in advance and reheat it on the stovetop just in time for any festivity.

Storage Tips

Let me emphasize again how amazing this chili is when it comes to meal prepping. It only takes 45 minutes to make and creates a good amount of servings. If you don’t eat it all for dinner, store it for future meals!

  • To Store: Let the chili cool to room temperature before placing in an airtight container. It can be stored for 4 to 5 days in the fridge. 
  • To Freeze: Store in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months in the freezer. 
  • Reheat This: Reheating the chili is a cinch. Thaw it in the fridge overnight, then reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave until warmed through.
Bowls of vegetarian chili on a table

More Vegetarian Dinners

This big pot of vegetarian chili will surely satisfy all your comfort food cravings. If you make it, I’d love to hear what you think in a comment below!

Vegetarian chili in a small bowl with diced avocado.

Vegetarian Chili

4.89 from 44 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan

Description

My favorite vegetarian chili that's easy to make and filled with warming spices, good-for-you ingredients, and whirls of comfort with every bite. Watch how I make this in my kitchen in the video below!

Video

Equipment

Ingredients 
 

Instructions 

  • Cook the vegetables. Heat the oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add the diced onion, bell peppers, carrot and celery. Stir and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened.
    Sauteing vegetables in a pot for vegetarian chili.
  • Add the aromatics. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, paprika, salt, and tomato paste. Stir for another minute, until fragrant.
    Adding spices into a pot for vegetarian chili
  • Let it simmer. Add the black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, diced tomatoes, diced green chilies, vegetable broth, and bay leaf. Stir it, increase the heat to high to bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally. If you prefer a more liquid-y chili, add another cup of vegetable broth.
    A large pot of vegetarian chili ingredients
  • Serve. Before serving, remove the bay leaf. Ladle servings into individual bowls and top with your favorite garnishes.
    A vegetarian chili bowl next to chopped cilantro.

Lisa’s Tips

  • To Store: Let the chili cool to room temperature before placing in an airtight container. It can be stored for 4 to 5 days in the fridge. 
  • To Freeze: Store in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months in the freezer. 
  • For reheating: Reheating the chili is a cinch. Thaw it in the fridge overnight, then reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave until warmed through.

Nutrition

Calories: 409kcal | Carbohydrates: 69g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 680mg | Potassium: 1171mg | Fiber: 22g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 5668IU | Vitamin C: 51mg | Calcium: 161mg | Iron: 8mg
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chili recipe, easy chili recipe, Vegetarian Chili
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

Recipe originally posted January 2022, but updated to include new information for your benefit!

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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93 Comments

  1. This is sooo delicious recipe to follow. The family loved it …. Even the meat lovers loved it. Have made it several times now, on their request!
    Thank you!5 stars

  2. It is simmering now and I tried a small ladle sample, it is SO good! Thanks for sharing this recipe with us.

    I did use bagged beans, soaked overnight, takes about an hour longer to simmer I’d say. Good spice combo though, very flavorful and I used some extra Chili Pepper for a kick.