Meet the best vegetarian chili recipe I've tasted! Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and fire-roasted tomatoes give it a delicious smoky kick.
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
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!
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!
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!
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:
- Best Lentil Soup
- Butternut Squash Soup
- Many-Veggie Vegetable Soup
- Creamy Potato Soup
- Carrot Ginger Soup
- Or any of these 25 best soup recipes!
Easy Vegetarian Chili
- 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
- Avocado or Guacamole
- Greek yogurt or sour cream
- Jalapeño or serrano peppers, diced or sliced
- Pickled Onions
- 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.
I have probably made this chili 15 times in the last year and ended up being a perfect superbowl dinner last night!
It’s so versatile and easy to change up based on what you have on hand or what you’re craving. Some modifications we have made in the past:
-Add a spicy/lime-y bloody mary mix for the additional liquid.
-Frozen onions, peppers, pearl onions, carrots, sweet potatoes, jalapenos, butternut squash, green beans etc.
-Use roasted garlic and double up the quantity
-Canned diced chilies
-Fresh sliced lacinato or purple kale
-Quartered Impossible brand meatballs
Freezes and pressure cans well (with some modifications for the liquid-veg ratio). Great recipe, thank you!
Spicy! My husband and I love it. The only thing I changed was no lime and I used 1 cup of vegetable stock instead of water. It was thick, spicy and delicious all on its own!
So glad you enjoyed it!
Spice, texture, satisfying. You ticked all the boxes with this chili recipe. And so quick to prepare. This is the perfect meal when you are tired or short on time after work. My changes were:
#1 – Tossed all ingredients in Instant Pot and cooked 5 minutes, natural release.
#2 – Took another commenter’s advice and added a sweet potato (small dice)
I just wrote “frozen onions & peppers” and “frozen cubed squash or carrots” on my shopping list so assembly will be extra fast on work nights.
Thank you !
If this is chili why isn’t there any chili and cumin spices
Hi, the chipotle peppers and adobo sauce give it a wonderful smoky chili flavor. If you prefer to cook with dry spices, check out this Instant Pot Chili Recipe that uses chili powder and cumin: https://www.loveandlemons.com/instant-pot-chili/
Jeanine, I am so grateful for this easy chili recipe. I have made this several times and it is such a huge hit with my family. I made it two nights ago and just finished the leftovers. I love that I only have to chop an onion, a bell pepper, and smash up some garlic and the adobo sauce soaked chipotle peppers. This is probably like the 12 the time I cooked it, and I bulked it up with carrot. I appreciate your wonderful blog! Keep up the amazing work!
Hi Erika, We’re so glad you love the recipe! Thank you for your comment.
Can you recommend InstaPot instructions?
So this chili took *way* longer than 25 minutes of simmering to thicken – more like 1.5 hours before I just gave up anyways – and yesterday at midnight after 2 hours of exhausted cooking in sweltering heat I was all ready to leave a disappointed review. But I just had the chili for lunch and WOW it’s actually incredible and absolutely worth the mildly traumatic late-night cooking experience it took to produce. Five stars.
To future cooks, I would recommend starting cooking at a more reasonable time of the evening, and also adding less liquid if you prefer a denser result.
I have recently started trying to eat more plant-based and was craving chili. I googled vegetarian chili recipes and this came up. It turned out SO good. We (my husband actually) made it mostly as written but subbed black beans for the pinto. We also left out the cumin (I dislike cumin) but it still had plenty of flavor. It definitely had a kick but we like spicy food. We used fresh corn leftover from our Memorial Day cookout. Topped with light sour cream, shredded cheese, and crushed multigrain tortilla chips. Like another commenter, ours was a little soupy so we just took the lid off and let it simmer for a few more minutes to let it reduce a bit. This will definitely go into our recipe rotation and I’ve already pinned several of your other recipes and followed you on Instagram!
Hi Mindy, I’m so glad the chili was a hit! I hope you enjoy more recipes!