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 91 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.

 

114 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Mindy
    05.31.2022

    5 stars
    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!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      06.03.2022

      Hi Mindy, I’m so glad the chili was a hit! I hope you enjoy more recipes!

  2. Kenzie
    05.22.2022

    Love this recipe, I’ve made it like 5 times now and it’s consistently great every time. I also have never left a review before on a cooking site lol but just had to cuz I love this one so much.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.23.2022

      I’m so glad you’ve loved it, thank you for leaving a review!

  3. Mary Laub
    01.21.2022

    Can I make this in a slow cooker?
    I love the Love and Lemons recipes and I make a lot of them.
    What would I need to change or add to make this in a slow cooker?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.22.2022

      Hi Mary, I think it would work in a slow cooker, but I don’t have one so I’m not sure of the instructions.

  4. Dominic
    01.08.2022

    4 stars
    I recently tried this recipe and wow I was blown away though I did add the chili Peppers in there I still had the adobe seasoning with everything else and still turned out well. P.s this will be used again

  5. Elisa
    11.11.2021

    HUGE difference in my opinion! But I’ve used regular diced tomatoes with a few dashes of smoked paprika to make up for it in a pinch… it still tastes great, but here is a certain smokiness of flavor with the fire roasted that adds to the “chilliness” and warmth of this recipe 😉 I’m not sure how else to describe it.

  6. Elisa
    11.11.2021

    5 stars
    If you are sensitive to spice or simply do not care for it, know that this recipe is good both with and without the chipotles and adobo. My son loves spice, but other family members do not, so I always split this recipe in two (or double it in separate pots!), adding the chipotle and adobo sauce to one and not to the other. It’s delicious both ways and goes great with the homemade cornbread by L&L. Enjoy!

  7. Gloria Conger
    10.30.2021

    This was very good. I used a can of chickpeas and Bush’s chili beans since that’s what I had on hand. I did puree about a cup to thicken it a bit. It was very spicy, but that added to the appeal for me.

  8. Jen
    10.05.2021

    Love all your recipes and trying this one tonight! I freeze chipotles in mini ice cube trays – you think that three of those would be equivalent to what the recipe calls for? (My husband loves spice). Would u add any smoked paprika or cumin? Lastly, would it be bad to blend half of it? I like more creamy soups

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.05.2021

      Hi Jen, it depends how many chilis fit in each ice cube (I do the same thing, my ice cube tray might be a little bigger – it holds 2 peppers per slot). I’d let them thaw and just see how many peppers you have and use their surrounding sauce. Since the chipotles are smoky, I don’t add other spices, but you certainly could if you wanted to. I think blending a portion would be great if you wanted it creamier. I hope you enjoy it!

  9. 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.

  10. 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!!!

  11. 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!

  12. 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

  13. 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…

  14. 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.

  15. Cait
    02.05.2021

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

  16. Scott
    01.01.2021

    5 stars
    Is there a nutrition overview for this recipe?

  17. 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.

  18. 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!

  19. 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.

  20. 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.