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 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!

Recipe ingredients on countertop—pinto beans, kidney beans, diced tomatoes, corn, lime, red bell pepper, and onion

How to Make Vegetarian Chili

This vegetarian chili recipe is easy to make! It starts with these simple ingredients:

Recipe Ingredients

  • Onion, garlic, and red bell pepper – These savory veggies build delicious flavor. For an even bigger veggie punch, toss in a chopped carrot or celery rib too!
  • Fire-roasted diced tomatoes – A chili essential! I prefer fire-roasted tomatoes to regular diced ones because they add smoky depth to the chili.
  • Pinto and kidney beans – Canned beans make this recipe SO simple to prepare, but you could also cook your beans from scratch. Feel free to change up the types of beans if you like. Black beans are also delicious here.
  • Water or vegetable broth – It helps the chili cook down to a stewy, saucy consistency.
  • Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce – These canned peppers are the star ingredient in this vegetarian chili recipe. They add AMAZING smoky, spicy flavor. For even more depth, stir in a teaspoon each of chili powder and cumin, but these spices are optional. The chipotles and adobo sauce add plenty of flavor on their own!
  • Corn kernels – For color and crunch. Fresh and frozen corn both work well.
  • Fresh lime juice – For bright, tangy flavor.
  • And salt and pepper – To make all the flavors pop!

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Vegetarian chili recipe in pot with ladle

Process

Once you prep your ingredients, making this veggie chili is a breeze! You can find the complete recipe with measurements at the bottom of this post, but for now, here’s an overview of how it goes:

Start by sautéing the aromatics. Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it softens, about 5 minutes. Then, add the pepper and cook for another 5 minutes or so, until it’s also soft. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, and cumin and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant.

Next, simmer. Add the diced tomatoes, beans, chipotles, adobo sauce, corn, water, and salt and pepper. Cover the pot and simmer for 25 minutes, until the chili thickens. Give it a good stir every 10 minutes or so.

Finally, season to taste. Add the lime juice and more salt and pepper as desired.

Top the plant-based chili with your favorite fixings, and dig in!

Bowl of veggie chili with sour cream and pickled onions

What to Serve with Vegetarian Chili

The toppings are half the fun of this vegetarian chili recipe! Load up your bowl with flavorful fixings such as these:

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!

Pot of vegetarian chili

How to Store Vegetarian Chili

This vegetarian chili keeps well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The flavor improves as it sits in the fridge, so I actually like the leftovers better than the freshly cooked chili!

Freezing

This recipe also freezes well for up to 3 months. Allow the veggie chili to cool to room temperature and transfer it to freezer-safe containers or jars, leaving an inch for it to expand at the top. Seal and freeze.

Allow frozen chili to thaw in the fridge before reheating it on the stove or in the microwave.

vegetarian chili recipe

More Favorite Soup Recipes

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

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vegetarian chili

Vegetarian Chili

rate this recipe:
4.99 from 87 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Serves 4 to 6
You'll LOVE this easy vegetarian chili recipe! Made with fire-roasted tomatoes, beans, and flavorful veggies, it's spicy, smoky, and packed with plant-based protein. This recipe is gluten-free; skip the cheese or sour cream on top to make it vegan.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder, optional
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin, optional
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 (14-ounce) can kidney 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, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus wedges for serving

serving suggestions:

Instructions

  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, a pinch of salt, and several grinds of pepper and stir. Cook until the onion is translucent, 5 minutes, then add the red pepper. Stir and cook until soft, 5 to 8 minutes, turning down the heat as needed.
  • Add the garlic, chili powder, and cumin, if using, and stir for 30 seconds, until fragrant.
  • Add the tomatoes, beans, water, chipotles, adobo sauce, corn, salt, and several 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.

 

112 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Debbie
    02.25.2024

    5 stars
    Excellent flavors and textures! I served it over brown rice and had an incredibly filling meal.
    Didn’t even feel the need to top it with anything. This recipe is a keeper. Thank you!

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      03.01.2024

      Hi Debbie, I’m so glad you loved the chili!

  2. Bevin
    02.11.2024

    Looks wonderful! Could this be made in a slow cookie or pressure cooker? What would the times be if so? Thank you!

  3. Becky
    01.06.2024

    Delicious! My meat-eating family did not miss the meat. Love the smoky flavor and the heat the adobo provides.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.09.2024

      I’m so glad it was a hit!

  4. Laura Weber
    10.22.2023

    5 stars
    So quick and easy. Made no changes except to back off on the adobo amount slighty. Will play with other ingredients in the future but this one is great as is. Thank you.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.23.2023

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

  5. Luci
    10.19.2023

    5 stars
    Made this for dinner tonight (along with cashew cream and pickled onions) and it was perfect for this rainy chilly fall evening! I added 1 tsp of cinnamon powder and it complemented the chipotle flavor so well. I also added 1 stalk celery, some baby Bella mushrooms for a meaty texture, and some farmer’s market zucchini. So good!

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      10.20.2023

      Hi Luci, so glad you loved it! Those additions sound delicious.

  6. Christina
    10.16.2023

    5 stars
    Delicious. Very impressed with this recipe! Simple, but packed with flavor, and easy to adjust.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.18.2023

      Hi Christina, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  7. Liza Craig
    09.17.2023

    I didn’t cover when I let it simmer because I was worried it would end up being too watery and it turned out well for me! Alternatively you could add some cornstarch or nutritional yeast to thicken it up a little bit.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.20.2023

      I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  8. Christy
    02.13.2023

    5 stars
    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!

  9. Jodi Arcega
    01.06.2023

    5 stars
    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!

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      01.13.2023

      So glad you enjoyed it!

  10. Andrea T
    01.01.2023

    5 stars
    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 !

  11. VT cook
    12.07.2022

    If this is chili why isn’t there any chili and cumin spices

  12. erika forshee
    11.06.2022

    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!

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      11.11.2022

      Hi Erika, We’re so glad you love the recipe! Thank you for your comment.

  13. Terry rosenthal
    10.09.2022

    Can you recommend InstaPot instructions?

  14. Ariana
    07.20.2022

    5 stars
    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.

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.