Easy Vegetarian Chili

Meet the best vegetarian chili recipe I've tasted! Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and fire-roasted tomatoes give it a delicious smoky kick.

Vegetarian chili

Once the temperature starts dropping, I start craving comfort food. Lasagna, Mac and Cheese, Eggplant Parmesan, you name it. But while I love love love all of those things, some nights I want to get my comfort food fix with as little work as possible. That’s where this easy vegetarian chili recipe comes in.

Like any good veggie chili, it’s hearty, warming, smoky, and spicy. Made with a short list of pantry ingredients, it packs in a hefty amount of veggies, but it’s so yummy that even a meat lover will fall for it (just ask Jack!). To make it, you only need to do a few minutes of hands-on prep. Then, let it simmer away on its own – you can check back in 30 minutes later to dish up a delicious vegetarian chili dinner.

Easy and satisfying, this is a great recipe for busy weeknights, game day, or any time you’re craving something cozy. Enjoy!

Vegetarian chili recipe ingredients

Vegetarian Chili Recipe Ingredients

My vegetarian chili recipe is filled with the chili essentials: onion, garlic, red bell pepper, pinto and kidney beans, lime, olive oil, salt, and black pepper. For a colorful twist, I add in corn kernels. Fresh or frozen corn works equally well, adding pops of yellow and a little crunch.

Then, instead of stirring in regular diced tomatoes, I add fire roasted diced tomatoes. A pantry staple in my kitchen, fire roasted tomatoes are my first pick anytime I use diced tomatoes in a recipe. They have the same concentrated tomato flavor, but they also add an irresistible smokiness to whatever you’re making, which is really delicious in this chili recipe.

Finally, in lieu of chili powder, I use canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. They’re super smoky, spicy, and savory, which makes for one darn good bowl of veggie chili. If you’ve never used them before, you can find them in the Mexican section of most grocery stores. Use any leftovers in my favorite chipotle sauce, BBQ sandwiches, or vegan nachos!

Chili Recipe

Once you prep your ingredients, making this recipe is easy! Just sauté the onion, garlic, and peppers, stir in the remaining ingredients, and simmer until the chili thickens to your desired consistency. Finish it off with a big squeeze of lime, and dig in!

Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 4 days (they get more flavorful with time!), or freeze them for even longer.

Best Chili Recipe

Vegetarian Chili Serving Suggestions

My favorite part of making vegetarian chili is loading it up with toppings! I especially love this recipe with a dollop of Greek yogurt to cool the heat from the smoky chipotles. I like to finish it with pickled onions, sliced chiles, and cilantro. Feel free to get creative with your toppings – shredded cheese, sour cream, pickled jalapeños, avocado, guacamole, or charred corn kernels would all be great.

Enjoy a bowl of this chili on its own, or pair it with tortilla chips, cornbread, or a baked sweet potato for a heartier meal. Or, for a fun game day snack, top it onto sweet potato wedges to make sweet potato chili fries!

Bowl of vegetarian chili

Easy Vegetarian Chili Recipe Variations

I love this recipe as written, but if you’re particular about your chili, change it up to suit your preferences! Here are a few easy variations:

  • Use your favorite beans. I’ve been known to make this recipe with everything ranging from black beans to chickpeas, and it always comes out great. Use your favorite beans (or whatever you have in your pantry) instead of the pinto and/or kidney beans.
  • Add extra veggies. Do you love a veggie-heavy chili? Add a stalk of celery or carrots to the pot along with the onion.
  • Spice to your level. Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce can vary in spice level, so if you’re sensitive to spice, start with less than the recipe calls for. You can always add more!

How do you like your vegetarian chili? Let me know in the comments!

If you love this vegetarian chili recipe…

Try my lentil soup, butternut squash soup, or many-veggie soup next, or check out this post for more of my favorite soup recipes!


5.0 from 17 reviews

Easy Vegetarian Chili

 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
You'll LOVE this easy vegetarian chili recipe! It's gluten-free, and without yogurt or sour cream on top, it's also vegan.
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 6 to 8
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 (14-ounce) can red beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup water or broth
  • 3 chipotle peppers from canned chipotles in adobo, diced, plus 3 tablespoons sauce*
  • 1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice, plus wedges for serving
serving suggestions:
Instructions
  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 translucent, 5 minutes, then add the garlic and red pepper. Stir and cook until soft, 5 to 8 minutes, turning the heat down as needed.
  2. Add the tomatoes, beans, water, chipotles, adobo sauce, corn, salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chili has thickened.
  3. Stir in the lime juice and season to taste. Serve with desired toppings.
Notes
* Chipotle peppers vary in spice level, so if you’re sensitive to spice, start with less. If you love spice, add more to taste. If your chili is too spicy, add more lime juice and a bit of olive oil to tone it down.

61 comments

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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.

  2. Lauren from lavenderandvine.com
    01.19.2015

    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
    01.19.2015

    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
    01.19.2015

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

  5. Kristin from tastyjoy.net
    01.19.2015

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

  6. Ale from Piloncilloyvainilla.com
    01.19.2015

    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
    01.19.2015

    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
      01.19.2015

      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
      01.20.2015

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

  11. Brian from kitchendomination.com
    01.20.2015

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

    • jeanine
      01.21.2015

      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
        08.14.2016

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

  12. jenn from girlontherange.com
    01.20.2015

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

  13. dojethro
    01.20.2015

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

  14. 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
      01.21.2015

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

  15. 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!

  16. Isabelle from headredandblondi.blogspot.com
    01.21.2015

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

    Isabelle <3

  17. Jessica
    01.29.2015

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

  18. Jennifer
    02.02.2015

    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!

  19. Jill F.
    02.04.2015

    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!

  20. Chelsew
    02.10.2015

    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.

  21. Autumn
    02.26.2015

    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
      02.26.2015

      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
        02.27.2015

        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
          02.27.2015

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

  22. Amelia
    12.07.2015

    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.

  23. E.
    12.30.2015

    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
      12.30.2015

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

  24. FaithWalker777
    08.14.2016

    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

  25. Ellen from collingwoodellen.com
    10.24.2016

    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
      10.25.2016

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

  26. Madeline
    11.19.2017

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

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.19.2017

      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.

  27. April
    09.22.2018

    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
      09.23.2018

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

  28. Abby
    01.14.2019

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

  29. Maxine
    09.12.2019

    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.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.23.2019

      Hi Maxine, wow, I’m so happy to hear that the recipe was such a hit with everyone!

  30. Gil
    10.11.2019

    This dish was so easy to prep.
    Added a fire roasted Poblano pepper and a hit of smoked New Mexico chili powder.
    Served with Corn Tortillas.
    Def a keeper.
    Yum.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.18.2019

      Thanks Gil, I’m glad you loved this one!

  31. Scarlet
    10.12.2019

    I love trying new chili recipes. I haven’t tried it with corn before. It sounds delish and looks so fresh, colorful, and pretty!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.18.2019

      I hope you enjoy the chili! I like it with the corn, it just adds a nice texture in my opinion 🙂

  32. Barbara
    10.15.2019

    Thank you for this recipe! I made it this week and am still enjoying the leftovers. I am serving it over roasted yams. So healthy and delicious! I couldn’t get any avocados this week so I’m putting a little cheddar cheese on top. I don’t like smokey/spicy-hot foods so I left out the chipotle peppers and adobo and put in a couple teaspoons of chili powder instead. Turned out just the way I like it!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.18.2019

      Hi Barbara, I’m so glad you enjoyed the chili!

  33. Meg
    10.15.2019

    Made this tonight, and we loved it! I added more sour cream to calm the spice, but it was excellent. We’ll keep making it!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.18.2019

      Hi Meg, I’m so glad you all loved it!

  34. Lauren Neciuk
    10.28.2019

    I’ve had chili so many times and it would never come out looking this good or colorful! Good job! Will try this recipe soon.

  35. Jen
    11.06.2019

    Yummy! I added more chipotle peppers for an extra kick!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.08.2019

      Hi Jen, I’m so glad you loved it!!

  36. Mary Beth
    11.12.2019

    My husband loved it!

  37. Anduena
    11.26.2019

    was delicious, however I would have knocked down the chipotle peppers in adobo, plus the 3 tablespoons of sauce if you aren’t a fan of super spicy things. overall great I will make it again.

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.