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

This vegetarian chili is the ultimate cold weather comfort food. Once the temperature starts dropping, I start craving all sorts of cozy recipes. Lasagna, mac and cheese, eggplant Parmesan, you name it. But while I 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.

Healthy and delicious, 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. I also add corn kernels for a colorful twist. 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, they’re 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 plant-based 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 black bean burgers!

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. For more freezer-friendly dinner ideas, check out this post!

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 or cashew cream 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. You can also cook your beans from scratch instead of using canned ones.
  • 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!

More Favorite Soup Recipes

If you love this veggie chili, try one of these delicious soups next:

Easy Vegetarian Chili

rate this recipe:
4.98 from 34 votes
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Total Time: 45 mins
Serves 6 to 8
You'll LOVE this easy vegetarian chili recipe! It's gluten-free, and without yogurt or sour cream on top, it's also vegan.

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

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

 

76 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Kati
    05.07.2021

    Thank you so much for sharing this incredible recipe! I have just started to limit my meat consumption and I have to say I LOVE THIS. I don’t even miss the meat in it and more importantly I have felt so good this week with tons of energy. It takes no time at all to prepare – your time count is accurate.

  2. Kristen
    04.01.2021

    5 stars
    This is so yummy. Thanks for providing yummy plant based options
    The lime is great flavor that complements other profiles
    Thanks!!!

  3. Elisa Stewart
    03.22.2021

    5 stars
    I’ve made this 3 times now and it has been absolutely delicious every time.
    Side note: I have altered this from the original since hot spiciness doesn’t like me… so I cut out the chipotles and use fire roasted tomatoes with green chilies instead… still has a little kick, but not nearly as much as the chipotles did! I also add a couple tablespoons of sugar so that it doesn’t speak to me all night 😉 When I made this on Saturday, I was craving greens, so I added some pretty finely chopped spinach at the end, (about 1 cup packed). It really doesn’t change the flavor, but it does boost its overall nutrient level. I would imagine that kale would serve the same purpose, as long as you don’t use the thicker stems or else massage or chop it quite fine.
    The thing I love most about this recipe is how versatile it is. Thank you!

  4. Shawn'ee
    03.02.2021

    5 stars
    Made this to ight came out soooooooo good! Iam sensitive to spice soi used 1 chili pepper and I did use the 3 tbs of the sauce. Maybe 2. But it was PERFECT

  5. Quia
    03.02.2021

    I really want to know, what prep time means bc it takes at least 30mins to prep. Why do you put prep time as 10 mins on several recipes that require chopping, dicing & mincing? Gathering and preparing to follow the the recipe as you set it all up takes takes 30 mins…so I am curious as to where the 10 mins for prep time comes from exactly???

    • Elisa Stewart
      03.22.2021

      This takes me less than 10 minutes to prepare. Maybe it’s an organizational thing, or perhaps more kitchen experience?The only Prep is chopping an onion, mincing garlic and chopping a red pepper… the rest is opening cans and sprinkling a bit of this and that. This recipe is super easy and fast to make…

  6. Quia
    03.02.2021

    I really want to know, what prep time means bc it takes at least 30mins to prep. Why do you put prep time as 10 mins on several recipes that require chopping, dicing & mincing?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.02.2021

      Hi Quia, since this recipe just has 4 simple things to chop, we’ve timed our prep to be about 10 minutes. Others might take a bit longer depending on what’s involved, but this chili is super simple.

  7. Sibyl
    02.15.2021

    4 stars
    Made this tonight and paired with your pickled jalapenos. delicious! I’m such a sucker for the chipotle in adobo flavor profile. This has a great heat and was very straightforward to put together.

  8. Cait
    02.05.2021

    chickpeas and chopped sweet potato …for an extra hearty, yet still super healthy veggie version 🌶

  9. Scott
    01.01.2021

    5 stars
    Is there a nutrition overview for this recipe?

  10. Meredith
    12.07.2020

    Hi there! Happy holidays! This link used to take me to a chickpea chili recipe. It was similar to this, but just different enough and one of our FAVORITE veggie meals. Do you happen to have the previous recipe archived somewhere? Thanks!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      12.07.2020

      Hi Meredith, it’s actually the same recipe (new photos) if you use chickpeas instead of the beans listed.

  11. Kristen Berry
    09.23.2020

    I would like to add zucchini and yellow squash and maybe a few diced peppers as I have so many in my garden. What do you think?

    Thank you!

    Kristen Berry

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.23.2020

      I think that would be great!

  12. Anduena
    11.26.2019

    5 stars
    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.

  13. Mary Beth
    11.12.2019

    5 stars
    My husband loved it!

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.