Black Bean Chili

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.

Black bean chili

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

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.

Sautéed red peppers and onions in Dutch oven with wooden spoon

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.

Sautéed peppers, onions, garlic, and chili powder in Dutch oven with wooden spoon

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.

That’s it!

Two bowls of vegetarian black bean chili

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:

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.


Black bean chili recipe

More Favorite Chilis and Soups

If you love this black bean chili recipe, try one of these soups or chilis next:

Black Bean Chili

rate this recipe:
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Serves 4 to 6
This easy black bean chili is creamy, flavorful, and delicious - the perfect cozy meal on a cold day. It's vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free, and it will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days. It also freezes well.


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 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

Topping Options

  • Sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • Avocado
  • Sliced serranos or jalapeños
  • Cilantro
  • 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.


*Chili powders can vary in spice level. Use less if you’re sensitive to spice; use more if you like more heat or if your chili powder is very mild.


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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. Pamela Perrault

    Abfab! This went over a treat in my home and I’ve already made it twice. Thank you so, so much! Pam.

  2. Sabrina from

    great, thank you, always up for chili, all kinds too, black bean based chili works perfectly for me too

  3. Pamela Perrault

    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!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      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.

      • Pamela Perrault

        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

    • Kathy

      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.

      • Pamela Perrault

        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

  4. Stacie Merriman

    Hi! I love how you explain what each ingredient brings to the recipe. Can’t wait to try this chili!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.