This easy black bean chili is thick, creamy, tangy, and delicious. Served with cornbread or tortilla chips, it's the perfect hearty meal on a cold night.
The first time I made this black bean chili recipe, I found myself standing at the stove, eating spoonful after spoonful straight from the pot. In all honesty, I think it’s the best chili I’ve ever tasted. It’s thick, creamy, tangy, and complex, with depth from green chiles, fire-roasted tomatoes, and a good amount of chili powder. If you’re able to, I highly encourage you to make my homemade chili powder for this recipe, as it really takes this black bean chili to a whole new level. Its flavor is more nuanced, with savory notes from the fennel and garlic, earthiness from the cumin, coriander, and allspice, and subtle, smoky heat from the toasted chiles.
That being said, if using store-bought chili powder works best for you, this black bean chili recipe will still come out great. Load it up with your favorite toppings and serve it with cornbread or tortilla chips, and you’ll have a perfect cozy meal for a cool fall night.
Black Bean Chili Recipe Ingredients
To make this vegetarian black bean chili recipe, you’ll need these basic ingredients:
- Black beans, of course! You’ll need the beans as well as 1 cup of their cooking liquid. Cook your own on the stove or in the instant pot, or use the beans and liquid from 2 (14-ounce) cans.
- Extra-virgin olive oil – For richness.
- Onion and garlic – For savory depth of flavor.
- Red bell pepper – A chili essential! Its crisp-tender texture contrasts perfectly with the creamy black beans.
- Chili powder – I highly recommend making your own.
- Diced fire-roasted tomatoes – I always pick them over regular diced tomatoes. They have a smokier flavor, which adds so much depth to this vegan black bean chili.
- Canned green chiles – They make the chili deliciously tangy.
- Maple syrup – A little goes a long way here. It helps balance the chili, taming the tang of the green chiles and lime.
- Fresh lime juice – It gives the chili a nice bright finish.
- Cayenne pepper – Optional, for heat. Make sure to taste the chili before adding it. Chili powders vary in spice level, so I only recommend using the cayenne if you have a mild chili powder and you want your chili to be spicy.
- And salt and pepper – To make all the flavors pop!
Find the complete recipe with measurements below.
How to Make Black Bean Chili
This black bean chili recipe is SO easy to make! Here’s how it goes:
First, sauté the onion and red pepper. Cook them over medium heat for 5 to 8 minutes, or until they soften.
Then, stir in the garlic and chili powder. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds, or until the spices are fragrant.
Next, simmer! Add the black beans and their liquid, tomatoes, green chiles, and maple syrup. Stir to combine. Then, simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, until the chili thickens.
Finally, season to taste. Squeeze in the lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. If you like, add more chili powder and the cayenne to create a blend of flavors you love.
Black Bean Chili Serving Suggestions
This black bean chili is delicious on its own, but it’s even better with toppings. Here are some of my favorites:
- Diced avocado or guacamole
- Greek yogurt, sour cream, or vegan sour cream
- Sliced serranos, jalapeños, or pickled jalapeños
- Shredded cheese
- Pickled red onions
And don’t forget lime wedges for squeezing! An extra pop of lime really takes this chili over the top.
Round out the meal with tortilla chips, homemade cornbread, or jalapeño cornbread. If you’re craving something more, my sweet potato salad, broccoli salad, or homemade coleslaw would be great on the side. Roasted sweet potatoes, butternut squash, broccoli, or a baked potato would be good too.
More Favorite Chilis and Soups
If you love this black bean chili recipe, try one of these soups or chilis next:
- Easy Vegetarian Chili
- Black Bean Soup
- Creamy Potato Soup
- Vegan Broccoli Soup
- Creamy Tomato Soup
- Best Lentil Soup
- Sweet Potato Soup
- Or any of these 33 Best Soup Recipes!
Black Bean Chili
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium white onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1½ teaspoons sea salt
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons chili powder*
- 3 cups cooked black beans, plus 1 cup of their liquid (amount in 2 cans beans)
- 1 (14-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1 (4-ounce) can green chiles, no need to drain
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus wedges for serving
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne, optional
- Sour cream or Greek yogurt
- Sliced serranos or jalapeños
- Pickled onions
- Tortilla chips
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and chili powder and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds, until fragrant.
- Add the beans, bean liquid, tomatoes, green chiles, maple syrup, and a few grinds of pepper. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chili has thickened.
- Stir in the lime juice and season to taste with more salt, pepper, chili powder, and cayenne, if desired. Serve with lime wedges and desired toppings.
i love this chili. wanted to know the calories and carb etc. couldn’t find it. can you tell me? i will make this again and again. delicious
Hi Janice, so glad you love it! We don’t calculate nutrition info for our recipes, so the best way to get an estimate is to use an online nutrition calculator like MyFitnessPal.
Can this or the veggie chili be made in a slow
cooker/crockpot? on high or low and for how long? thks
Hi Sandy, we haven’t tested these recipes in a slow cooker, so I’m not sure.
I just made this today after seeing my favorite canned version almost double in price. I was in the store and looked up the recipe and yours popped up. I used 2 cans of beans and I didn’t measure the spices and skipped the bell pepper and used roasted red pepper in a jar that i happened to have at home. I like it much better than the can and for about $6 made several servings for my lunch this week. I can’t wait to try your other recipes!
I’m so glad you loved the recipe!
Can this be made ahead and frozen?
Yes, it freezes perfectly!
This has to be the best chili I have made! I always rinse the bean juice … only rinsed one of 3 cans. I used a green pepper — I never measure spices — I used some chili powder, a splash of cumin and some taco spice (the packet). I also added 1/3 of a can of jalapeño sauce(small can, Mexican isle) …. so good!!
I’m so glad you loved it!
Will definitely be saving this recipe! I think adding the bean liquid is key to giving it that creamy richness that is often missing from veggie chili; ive made several variations that are a bit watery, with less depth of flavor. Just made this on a cold winter’s night and it’s the perfect stick to your ribs comfort food 🙂
Abfab! This went over a treat in my home and I’ve already made it twice. Thank you so, so much! Pam.
great, thank you, always up for chili, all kinds too, black bean based chili works perfectly for me too
Are green chilis hot? Or, on a scale of one to ten, ten being hottest, how hot are they please? My husband doesn’t do hot! 🙂 Thanks for the help!
Hi Pamela, look at the side of the can – they’ll usually say “mild” or hot.” The mild ones are not very spicy, especially in a big pot of chili.
Thank you Jeanine! I’ve never bought them and never made vegetarian chilli so this is a week of firsts for me. Thank you for helping! xx
You may want to consider adding just a portion of the green chiles to start. You can also cut back on the amount of chili powder and omit the cayenne. Add spice ‘to taste’ and offer the ‘extra’ chiles and powder at the table for the others to add themselves.
Thank. You Kathy! I got a tin that has “heat” rated by number of peppers and I chose the mildest. I’m going to take your advice and add half and put the rest in a ramekin on the table in case anyone wants extras. Great tip! Thank you so much for helping! Pam. xoxox
Hi! I love how you explain what each ingredient brings to the recipe. Can’t wait to try this chili!