Warm up with a bowl of this thick, hearty Vegetarian Chili ... it's easy to make and packed with healthy veggies!
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There's nothing better than a steaming hot bowl of chili on a cold day, am I right?
Vegetarian Chili is one of my favorite comfort foods, and I'm on a never ending quest to perfect my recipe. And I think I finally did it!
If you're a chili lover, too, then you have to try this amazing Bean and Veggie Chili. It's thick, hearty, and totally mouthwatering. Best of all though, it's actually pretty good for you.
Keep reading for all the delicious details, then make your own batch tonight!
About This Chili
Okay, let's discuss why this is the BEST Veggie Chili ever!
First of all (and most important), this recipe is super tasty. This Vegetable Chili is full of bold flavors, it's packed with fresh veggies, and it's just all around classic vegetarian comfort food.
But even better, it's good for you! This delightful dish is made from healthy ingredients like beans, tomatoes, and vegetables, and as a result, it's full of protein, fiber, and essential nutrients. It's also vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free. (Make sure to double check all product labels if you have any gluten or other allergies, obviously).
Don't you just love a delicious + healthy recipe like that?
Another thing I like about this Bean Chili is that the recipe makes a lot. It's great for feeding a crowd at winter parties (football, basketball, etc.) and big family get togethers.
Even if you're not serving a crowd, don't let that stop you from trying this recipe. Leftovers are even better the next day, and this recipe is ideal for meal prep. Enjoy part of the recipe now, then eat the rest for lunch or freeze it for later!
This amazing Meatless Chili recipe uses simple, convenient ingredients that are easy to find ... here's what you'll need:
- Olive Oil (or Vegetable, Canola, etc.)
- Veggies: Onions, Carrots, Yellow Pepper, Corn, Zucchini
- Fresh Garlic
- Spices: Chili Powder, Cumin, Oregano
- Beans: Black, Kidney, Pinto
- Diced Fire-Roasted Tomatoes
- Tomato Sauce
- Vegetable Broth
- Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
- Salt (I prefer Kosher salt.)
- Cilantro (Optional)
This chili is fairly quick cooking, but it has a simmered-all-day flavor. That rich flavor and thick consistency are achieved by a few things: the perfect blend of spices; minimal cooking liquid; and the tomato sauce, which helps thicken the chili and adds extra flavor.
There are a few ways to customize this recipe. I used a combination of black, pinto, and kidney beans for this recipe. Feel free to use these same beans or substitute your faves. It's also possible to adjust the heat level (up or down) ... see my tips below.
You can add your fave veggies to this chili, as well. Just remember to saute longer cooking vegetables along with the onions and carrots, so they'll have enough to get tender. Anything that cooks more quickly should be added with the zucchini and corn. And if you do add extra veggies, then you'll need more liquid, too.
As far as the vegetable broth goes, I pretty much always make my own from bouillon. I love Knorr Vegetable Bouillon ... it's super convenient to keep on hand, and I think it tastes much better than the canned / boxed stuff anyway.
Of course, the best part about this yummy dish is the toppings. I'm sharing all my favorite ideas after the step-by-step details.
Adjusting the Heat Level
Are you spicy food lover or hater ... or somewhere in between? I love spicy food (the hotter the better!), and I'd say this chili is moderately hot. The good news is that you can easily adjust the heat level according on your preference:
- For Milder Chili: If you prefer chili with minimal heat, leave out the chipotles and make sure to use regular / mild chili powder. To keep that smokey flavor from the chipotles, try adding a couple teaspoons of smoked paprika instead.
- For Spicier Chili: Like things smoking hot? Use hot chili powder and / or add extra chipotle peppers. Then, serve it with your fave hot sauce ... I LOVE this Secret Aardvark Habanero Sauce (yum)!
You'll Also Need
How to Make Vegetarian Chili
Ready to start cooking? Let's go!
You'll start by sauteing the onions, carrots, and bell pepper in a large soup pot or dutch oven. Season the veggies with a little salt after you add them to the oil. The salt will enhance the veggie's flavor, as well as help them cook faster.
Cook the veggies, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent. The veggies should be just starting to brown and almost tender. It will take about 10 minutes.
Take your time here. If you don't cook the vegetables enough, they won't be tender, and it will take the chili longer to cook later.
Next, you'll add the fresh garlic and spices (chili powder, cumin, and oregano) to the veggies.
Cook this mixture just until the garlic and spices are fragrant. It should take about one minute. Garlic burns easily, so make sure to stir constantly ... you don't want to brown it.
Toasting dried spices this way really makes their flavors come alive and pop, so don't skip this step.
Once the spices are fragrant, it's time for the remaining chili ingredients.
Add the beans, fire-roasted tomatoes, tomato sauce, chipotle peppers and adobo sauce (from the canned chiles), broth, zucchini, and frozen corn to your pot, then mix everything really well.
The chili will be really thick at this point! Take your time stirring everything together.
Even though it may seem too thick, resist adding extra liquid at this point.
Cover the pot, then bring this mixture to a boil over high heat. After it starts boiling, remove the lid. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook the chili uncovered until the veggies are tender.
Make sure to taste the zucchini (which takes the least amount of time to cook) and the carrots (which take the most) when testing the chili. You'll know it's done when both are tender, but not mushy.
Once you start simmering the Veggie Chili, it should only take about 20 to 30 minutes to finish cooking. This chili is super thick, which I prefer. You can always add a little extra broth though, if you'd like.
Stir in the fresh cilantro, if you're using it, and season the chili to taste with salt. And then it's time to eat ... but not before you add your favorite toppings!
Toppings are always the best part of any bowl of chili! It's just so fun to customize your chili depending on what you're craving that day.
While I tend to go straight for the cheese, onions, and sour cream, there are so many creative chili topping ideas. Here are a few options to inspire you:
- Shredded Cheese - Try sharp cheddar or pepper jack.
- Sour Cream
- Chopped Onions - Rinse the onions under cold water after chopping them to take some of the bite away.
- Sliced Green Onions
- Diced Avocado
- Chopped Tomatoes
- Sliced or Chopped Olives
- Pickled or Fresh Jalapeño Slices
- Lime Wedges
- Chopped Cilantro
- Corn Chip
- Tortilla Chips
- Hot Sauce - Like I mentioned above, I'm all about the Secret Aardvark Habanero Sauce.
Am I missing anything? What are your favorite chili toppings?
How to Store Chili
One of the things I love most about chili is that it's even better the next day! Preparing the chili in advance gives the spices and other flavors a chance to meld and become even tastier.
So if you're in a time crunch, feel free to make the recipe a day ahead. You can also refrigerate any leftovers, and they'll keep for about four days ... make a big batch on Sunday, then enjoy it all week!
It's also possible to freeze leftovers. Just store the leftovers in air-tight containers, then freeze, and it will keep for a couple months or so. I use glass containers like these for storing leftovers and for meal prep ... they're so handy and much sturdier than plastic.
When you're ready to eat, simply reheat the chili in the microwave or warm it slowly over medium-low heat.
What to Serve with Chili
This easy Vegetarian Chili recipe is basically a meal in a bowl ... super hearty, filling, and nutritious! So feel free to keep things simple and serve it on its own.
If you want to fill out the meal though, I love serving this chili with a simple salad. Try this easy Kale Salad or this quick Chopped Salad. It's also delicious paired with some sort of bread for dipping, like Cornbread or Garlic Bread.
If you enjoyed this yummy chili, then make sure to try some of my other chili recipes, too!
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 1 large yellow pepper, diced
- 4 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 (14.5-ounce) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 2 ½ cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups cubed zucchini
- 1 ⅓ cups frozen corn
- 1 to 2 chipotle peppers, minced
- 1 tablespoon adobe sauce (from canned chipotle peppers)
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- toppings of choice (such as shredded cheddar, chopped onions, or sour cream), optional
- Heat olive oil in a dutch oven (or large soup pot) over medium heat.
- Add onions, carrots, and yellow pepper to pot, then season with salt. Cook until onions are translucent and veggies are just starting to brown, stirring frequently (about 10 minutes).
- Mix garlic, chili powder, cumin, and oregano into veggies. Cook, stirring constantly, until garlic and spices are fragrant, stirring constantly (about 1 minute).
- Add beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, broth, zucchini, corn, chipotles, and adobo sauce to veggies.
- Stir everything together, then cover pot and bring to boil over high heat. Remove lid, then reduce heat to a simmer.
- Cook chili until veggies are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Mix cilantro into chili and season to taste with salt.
- Serve chili hot with your favorite toppings. Enjoy!
- Saving Leftovers: This recipe serves a crowd. Leftovers can be refrigerated up to four days or frozen for about two months.
- Cutting the Recipe in Half: If you'd prefer to make a smaller batch, simply cut the recipe in half. You'll get about four servings.
- Adjusting the Heat Level: The chili powder and chipotle peppers give this chili a moderate heat level. If you don't like spicy foods, use a mild chili powder and leave out the chipotles. To retain some of the smokiness of the chipotles, add a couple teaspoons of smoked paprika instead. For spicier chili, use hot chili powder and add more chipotles. Serve with your favorite hot sauce.