Easy Vegetarian Chili

Warm up with a steaming bowl of this easy vegetarian chili! I add fire-roasted tomatoes and chipotle peppers to give it a delicious smoky kick.

Vegetarian Chili

Vegetarian chili is one of the first things I crave when the weather starts to get cold. Hearty and smoky/spicy, it’s the perfect way to warm up on a cold night. I particularly love this recipe. It’s made with simple pantry ingredients like beans & canned tomatoes, which I always have on hand. This chili recipe is low-fuss, and it’s perfect for nights when you want something simple, quick, and comforting!

Best Vegetarian Chili Recipe Ingredients

Aside from olive oil, pepper, and salt, this recipe comes together with a few simple ingredients:

  1. Yellow onion and garlic. They make the aromatic base of this easy chili recipe.
  2. Green bell pepper. A vegan chili essential!
  3. Canned fire-roasted tomatoes. I love the complex, charred flavor they add.
  4. Black beans and chickpeas. I chose these beans because they were what I had on hand, but feel free to swap in your favorite chili beans. Pinto beans or kidney beans would be excellent.
  5. Canned chipotles in adobo. These guys add a delicious smoky kick, and I love them here. But if chili powder is what you have on hand, feel free to use 1-1 1/2 tablespoons of it in their place.
  6. Corn kernels. Fresh or frozen corn is fair game!
  7. Lime juice. I add a big squeeze at the end for a bright, tangy finish.

Easy Vegetarian Chili recipe ingredients

How to Make Chili

This vegetarian chili recipe is a breeze to make. Just follow these 3 easy steps:

  1. Heat olive oil in a pot and sauté the onion for 5 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes.
  3. Season to taste and serve!

That’s it!

Homemade Vegetarian Chili Serving Suggestions

No bowl of homemade chili is complete without toppings. You can garnish yours however you like – I topped Jack’s bowl with grated cheese and mine with diced avocado. (It’s vegan without the cheese!) Sliced green onion, diced red pepper or serrano, cilantro, or a dollop of Greek yogurt would also be delicious.

Serve your chili with spicy cornbread or a baked or stuffed sweet potato. Alternatively, pair it with a big batch of sweet potato fries, or top it onto sweet potato wedges to make chili fries!

This recipe makes about 4 servings, but you could easily double it and freeze some for later or pack leftovers for lunch.

Vegan chili fries

If you love this vegetarian chili recipe…

Try my curried lentil soup, roasted red pepper soup, tomato soup, or vegan corn chowder next!

4.7 from 15 reviews
Easy Vegetarian Chili
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Warm up with a steaming bowl of this easy vegetarian chili! I add fire-roasted tomatoes and chipotle peppers to give it a delicious smoky kick. Vegan and gluten-free.
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 4
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 (14-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 chipotle peppers from canned chipotles in adobo, diced, plus 3 tablespoons sauce*
  • 1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice, plus wedges for serving
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup water, if needed
serve with:
  • Chopped green onion
  • Avocado
  • Jalapeño or serrano peppers
  • Grated cheddar or jack cheese (optional)
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, a few pinches of salt and pepper, and stir. Cook until the onion is slightly translucent, and then add the garlic and green pepper. Stir and cook until soft, 5 to 8 minutes, turning the heat down as needed.
  2. Add the tomatoes, black beans, kidney beans, chipotles, adobo sauce, corn, salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the chili becomes too thick, add water as needed. Stir in the lime juice and season to taste with more salt and pepper, as desired.
  3. Serve with desired toppings.
*Chipotle peppers can vary in spice level. If you’re sensitive to spice, start with less. If you love spice, add more to taste. If you’ve made your chili too spicy, add more lime juice and a bit of olive oil to tone it down.



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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. I did grow up in Texas with chili, but I’m not too conventional so I like your version. 😉 Black bean chili is one of my favorite cold weather dishes to make and I always enjoy it most with tangy and smoky chipotle in adobo. I’ve not put chickpeas in it before though, but I like this addition.

    • jeanine

      Ha, thanks 🙂

  2. Lauren from lavenderandvine.com

    This sounds delicious, and perfectly comforting. I love meals, like this, that take a bunch of ordinary ingredients that I always have in my pantry and creates something wonderful. I’ve been looking for a new chili recipe and this might be just the one to try out this week!

  3. Jackie from Myladleoflove.com

    This looks yummy…I’m no chili expert either but I’m always looking for recipes for it. My husband really likes it, but he prefers healthier options so this might be a hit! Looking forward to trying it!

  4. Liisa

    My mom always put chickpeas in chili. This is traditional to me. Your recipe looks great. Thanks!

  5. Kristin from tastyjoy.net

    This looks simple yet delicious. Definitely worth a try one busy weeknight!

  6. Ale from Piloncilloyvainilla.com

    And I thought my obsession for chili ended last week!!! I think this recipe will make it come back

  7. This looks so delicious! Nothing like a great black bean soup to warm up cold winter nights 🙂

  8. Theresa from underhonesttrees.com

    This would be a great recipe to sub any kind of beans for! I prefer chickpeas raw, but swapping them for white or red beans would be great.

    • jeanine

      definitely – I had intended to use all black beans, until I realized I only had 1 can of black beans and 1 can of chickpeas on hand… Pinto beans, red beans, etc, would all be great here 🙂

  9. I love it when you have something so good that you just have to recreate it the next night. Those are the best meals! Excited to try making this in my own kitchen. Perfect for getting me through the rest of winter!

  10. Hahaha I have hit up that Hinsdale Whole Foods a time or two on the way into the city from the burbs! Small world. It’s so cold here still! And I’m being a baby because most Chicagoans think 30 is warm ha! This bowl of goodness will keep me and my belly warm!

    • jeanine

      Ha, I know all about how 30 feels “warm” :). I sure don’t miss those winters!

  11. I absolutely love your site and your food. It is such an inspiration for me and what I do. As another native Texan (no longer living there though), I appreciate you bringing your take on food to the culture…I know how hard that can be.

  12. Brian from kitchendomination.com

    What are your thoughts about adapting this kind if chili for the crockpot?

    • jeanine

      Hi Brian, I don’t do a lot of crockpot cooking so I’m really not sure. Maybe someone else in this comment thread will have some suggestions?

      • FaithWalker777

        I made this my crockpot and it was perfect just throw it all in wait 2-3 hours and bam dinner is done

  13. jenn from girlontherange.com

    This looks so yummy and perfect for the grey weather outside!! Can’t wait to try it!

  14. dojethro

    This looks so delicious and so healthy.. I also love the ingredients, definitely try this!

  15. This sounds sooo good! If anything, it does when paired to such a freezing cold! Although it is nowhere near Illinois weather where I am (yay 50 Fº Italy!!) I am definitely pinning it for later. I hope adobo powder can be a good replacement for the sauce.

    • jeanine

      thanks Valentina 🙂 Adobo powder should work (I would just add it to taste – 2 tablespoons might be too much).

  16. i just had a chili party over the weekend for the foodball games. this recipe looks so good! I love simple but meaningful recipes. thanks for sharing!

  17. Isabelle from headredandblondi.blogspot.com

    That looks wonderful!
    I love Chili and this sounds simply delicious!

    Isabelle <3

  18. I can hardly wait to try this chickpea chili!!! It looks fabulous and so many other things on your blog do too!

    • jeanine

      thanks Caryn, let me know if you give it a try!

  19. Jessica

    Sooooo happy I found your website!!! Forever grateful for your yummy vegetarian recipes

  20. Jennifer

    Made this tonight for dinner and even my v. picky father made it through a bowl! So hearty, great flavor, perfectly spicy. I’ll certainly return to this recipe!

  21. Jill F.

    Oh my goodness, for the past few years I’ve been wondering how to re-create Whole Foods’ veggie chili (an Illinois resident, I know the exact black bean, chickpea and stew-ey goodness of which you speak!) I think the missing ingredient was the adobo sauce. Thanks so much for the recipe — can;t wait to make this!

  22. Stephanie from globalspicedblog.tumblr.com

    Hej hej from Sweden,

    your pictures look amazing. May I ask for your camera/ settings/ light etc? Maybe you can share some ideas. Thanks. Happy cooking.

  23. Chelsew

    Made this tonight and it was a hit! I’ve been using a tweaked version of your sweet potato chili for some time now so this recipe is a nice change up. My boyfriend even went back for seconds and he was skeptical of meatless chili. So thank you!

    I did add a teaspoon or two of cumin because we like a little more heat. Seemed to work out great.

  24. Autumn

    OMG sooooooooooooo good!!! Made this last night and was in heaven!!! I was able to get 6 servings out of this and put it in containers to take to work for lunches. I topped mind w/ avocado, scallions, cheese and a few tortilla chips ..mmmmm I can’t wait for lunch today! 🙂 Another winner by you! Love your recipes 🙂

    Oh question… maybe it was just the brand I bought but found it extremely difficult to get the adobe sauce out of the can… I had to scrape it off each pepper and barely got 2 Tbsp out of it

    • jeanine

      Ha, I’m so glad you liked it!! Interesting about the adobo – I usually have almost more sauce than actual peppers – do you mind if I ask what brand you used?

      • Autumn

        Oh man! haha I don’t remember the brand but I could check again the next time I go to Publix…. but I just googled it and by the pictures of cans I think it was Embasa LOL 😛 It was chuck full of peppers!

        and BTW I’m eating it for lunch right now! YUM

        • jeanine

          Ha, no worries – also next time, I think you could just chop up and toss in a few chipotles in lieu of the sauce 🙂

  25. Catherine Davis

    I made this tonight and the consistency was much more like a soup than a chili. I’m surprised no one else mentioned this. I turned up the heat at the end but next time I would definitely reduce the amount of water. The flavor was nice though.

    • jeanine

      Hi Catherine – thanks for the feedback – you’re the second to mention, so I’ll reduce the water a little bit in the notes since it’s always easier to add more if things get thick.

  26. Amelia

    Delicious chili!

    I made this for my mother (who eats meat – I do not) and she totally loved it! She said that she didn’t miss the meat at all! It was perfectly spicy and so warm and yummy on a chilly evening! This is definitely my new easy go to recipe.

  27. E.

    Since you first posted this recipe, it has become a staple in my house, and my go-to crowd-pleaser dish at a potluck. It is, quite simply, the best vegetarian/vegan chilli.

    • jeanine

      I’m so glad to hear! It’s one of my favorites too 🙂

  28. FaithWalker777

    I made this and tweaked a little according to my favorite vegetables and it was so good I made mine spicy and it was even better the next day I’m making this again tomorrow love it

  29. Ellen from collingwoodellen.com

    WOW. Had cans of black beans and chickpeas to use up and after a quick Google search this heavenly solution landed right in my lap. Extremely simple, (fool-proof for an amateur in the kitchen like me!) incredible flavor! I added a roasted poblano pepper to the mix and some chipotle seasoning. Absolute perfection.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Ellen – I’m so glad you liked it!!

  30. Madeline

    Do you think this recipe could be applied to a crock pot?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Madeline – yep, I think it would be great in a slow cooker. One reader (a few comments above) said 2-3 hours in her crockpot was perfect.

  31. April

    Just made this soup! So delicious. I really like the flavor of the adobo sauce. I added a teaspoon or two of cumin because it just doesn’t feel like chili without cumin 🙂 in my opinion. Thank you for the delicious and easy recipe!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi April – yay, I’m glad you loved it! I’ll never say no to a little more cumin 🙂

  32. Kendra Borowski

    Hi Jeanine! You mention kidney beans in the instructions, but not in the ingredient list – can you clarify whether that extra can of beans is needed? Thanks!

    • Kendra Borowski

      Just figured it out – I think you meant to say “chickpeas” where you wrote kidney beans 🙂

      • Jeanine Donofrio

        Oops, thanks for pointing that out!

  33. Abby

    Made this soup for dinner tonight. It came out delish! I added some tortilla chips as toppings, yum!

  34. Maxine

    This is a great veggie chili recipe even for meat eaters, it also scales well. I doubled the recipe and four batches later fed a crew of 70 production workers. It pairs well with hot dogs. Thank you for sharing.

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.