Ultimate Vegetarian Chili
Updated Feb 10, 2023
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This is everything a vegetarian chili should be with warming spices and aromatics, good-for-you vegetables, hearty beans, and whirls of comfort with every bite. It’s truly a dinner sensation loved by vegetarian and non-vegetarians alike!
Don’t let the word vegetarian fool you, because this vegetarian chili competes with the classics (like my best ever chili, white chicken chili, or turkey chili). With the combination of diced vegetables, assorted beans, and a smoky, rich broth, you won’t even realize there’s no meat involved. Now that’s the beauty of vegetarian recipes!
Vegetarian chili is the kind of meal I love to make when I’m craving comfort food, but with a bit of reassurance that I’m eating a super healthy meal brimming with vitamins, protein, and fiber. It’ll fill you up without weighing you down. Plus, it’s a perennial meal prep idea that freezes well. Can’t beat that!
Vegetarian Chili Ingredients
What makes this recipe a perennial winner is that it’s a great time and money saver. Two things we love to hear right? It’s one of the easiest one-pot meals to make, and the majority of it requires simple pantry ingredients, with a handful of fresh veggies. Here’s what’s in it.
- 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 really amp up the smokey, roasted flavors, while adding texture to the broth.
- Vegetable broth: Just 2 cups are needed for this, and I’ll usually grab a low-sodium broth. It’s a naturally thick chili, but you can always add more broth (or water) for a more liquidy chili.
Find the complete recipe with measurements below
How To Make Vegetarian Chili
Once you’ve got the veggies prepped, beans drained, and cans opened (what the French like to call “mis en place”), all you need to do is cook everything together in a large pot. That’s it! I love to use my Le Creuset Dutch Oven for meals like this, but any large pot will work.
- 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 soft.
- 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. This means 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 to a medium-low heat. Let it simmer for 30 minutes uncovered, while stirring occasionally.
- Serve it up! Remove the bay leaf, ladle the chili into bowls, and add your favorite toppings (I’ve included some ideas below!).
Ingredient Substitutions & Changes
Feel free to tweak this vegetarian chili (and recipes in general) to your liking. If you’re not a fan of a few ingredients, or 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 jalapenos or serrano peppers when you cook the bell peppers.
- Want it more liquidy? Add another cup of vegetable broth (or water) to make it thinner and more brothy.
- Want it thicker or smoother? Use an immersion blender to spot blend, or blend up a small portion in a blender and stir it back into the chili.
Fun Ways To Serve
A warm bowl of this vegetarian chili is honestly so good straight out of the pot. But you can never go wrong with toppings and garnishes. I’m talking chopped herbs (like cilantro or parsley), diced avocados, sliced green onions, chives, or even seeds like pepitas!
Here’s a few more unique ways to serve up this chili:
- Ladle a serving over rice, cauliflower rice, broccoli rice, or quinoa for a veggie or healthy carb boost!
- Add a refreshing and simple side salad such as a massaged kale salad.
- Serve the chili in small bowls for large parties or gatherings! They’re great for a quick and easy appetizer or side dish – especially for Super Bowl.
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 up 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.
Easy Vegetarian Chili Recipe Video
If you need some visual inspiration, cook along with me here in this chili video!
More Vegetarian Dinner Ideas!
Whether you’re opting for lighter meals or need to increase your veggie intake – these tasty vegetarian dinner ideas will hit the spot.
This big pot of 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!
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon paprika (or smoked paprika)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 (15oz can) black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (15oz can) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (15oz can) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (28oz can) fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 (4oz can) roasted and diced green chilies, undrained
- 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 bay leaf
- For garnish: chopped cilantro, diced avocado, sour cream, and/or grated cheese.
- 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.
- Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, paprika, salt and tomato paste. Stir for another minute, until fragrant.
- Add the black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, diced tomatoes, diced green chilies, vegetable broth, and bay leaf. Give it a stir, increase the heat to high to bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally. If you prefer a more liquidy chili, add another cup of vegetable broth.
- Before serving, remove the bay leaf.
- Ladle servings into individual bowls. Top with your favorite garnishes.
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