Easy Vegetarian Chili

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The best vegetarian chili recipe made with three different beans, veggies and lots of spices. It’s thick and hearty, comes together quickly and has such a rich, robust flavor thanks to a few secret ingredients.

Are you ready for the best vegetarian chili recipe?!

This recipe has a base of onion and garlic, three different beans, corn, seasonings and two secret (but not-so-secret now) ingredients.

Vegetarian chili in a bowl with tortilla chips and a spoon. The chili is garnished with cilantro, sour cream, and avocado.

Chili recipes are known for having secret ingredients! Many folks swear by adding beer, honey, brown sugar, chocolate (I’m a big fan of this one), masa flour, cinnamon or lime juice (another one I’m a fan of). I recently read somewhere that peanut butter can also be a great addition to chili. As a peanut butter lover this was pure music to my ears. Obviously, I had to try it. I mean, peanut butter makes everything taste better, right?

I’m so glad I tried adding peanut butter to my vegetarian chili because as it turns out the peanut butter didn’t add a strong peanut flavor, but instead a rich and robust flavor (that is oftentimes lacking in vegetarian chili). It also added a bit of fat and helped to thicken the sauce.

Of course, I still added my normal secret ingredients, cocoa powder and lime. Cocoa powder enhances the flavor of chili, adds a deep tone and a bit of richness. And adding a splash of lime juice after cooking adds a hint of tang and makes the spices pop.

Ingredients measured out to make Easy Vegetarian Chili: fire roasted tomatoes, olive oil, onion, red bell pepper, garlic, red pepper flakes, carrots, black beans, chili powder, oregano, cocoa powder, basil, corn, cannellini beans, lime, chili pepper, tomato sauce, peanut butter, kidney beans and vegetable stock.

Ingredients Needed

  • olive oil – to sauté the vegetables in. Avocado oil would also work.
  • yellow onion – pack in flavor right off the bat with onion!
  • red bell pepper – add a little bit of sweetness and a lot of flavor with a red bell pepper. Feel free to use any color bell pepper.
  • garlic clove – a necessary ingredient for chili… helps make the perfect savory base!
  • carrots – I used grated carrots for this soup to add nutrients and flavor! Feel free to use pre-grated carrots for a shortcut or you can dice up carrots.
  • fire-roasted tomatoes – I love the flavor that fire-roasted tomatoes adds to this chili! If you’re in a pinch you can use crushed tomatoes as well.
  • tomato sauce – add more tomato flavor and thicken the soup a bit with tomato sauce.
  • canned beans – I used cannellini beans, red kidney beans and black beans, but feel free to use your favorite combo of beans. Pinto beans would be another great option. Use canned beans for a shortcut and make sure you drain them and rinse them well before adding to the chili. Beans are our main source of protein in this vegetarian meal.
  • frozen sweet corn – no need to thaw the corn first, just add to the soup and it will cook as it heats. Canned corn works as well.
  • vegetable stock – I recommend using low-sodium vegetable broth so you can control how much salt is added.
  • chili pepper – add a little heat and flavor with a fresh chili pepper!
  • cocoa powder – enhances the flavor of the chili and adds a deep tone and a bit of richness. I promise your chili won’t taste like chocolate!
  • peanut butter – one of the “secret” ingredients! Make sure you grab creamy, natural peanut butter. If you have a peanut allergy feel free to use almond butter or sunflower seed butter instead.
  • lime juice – another key ingredient that might be unexpected. Lime juice adds a hint of tang and makes all of the flavors and spices really pop!
  • seasonings and spices – chili powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, basil, sea salt and black pepper.
Collage of four photos showing how to make Easy Vegetarian Chili: sautéing veggies in a pan with spices, adding broth, tomatoes and beans, and then finishing the chili off with fresh lime juice.

How to Make Vegetarian Chili

This recipe can be made in one pot! You can use a Dutch oven or a large pot. Here’s how to make it:

Step 1: Start by sautéing the onion, pepper, garlic and carrot in olive oil over medium heat until the onion is soft and translucent.

Step 2: Stir in the red pepper flakes, sea salt and black pepper. Cover and cook on low for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so the vegetables don’t burn. This step makes a really flavorful base for the chili!

Step 3: Add all of the remaining ingredients except the lime juice. Stir well to combine all of the flavors. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Step 4: Remove from the heat and squeeze in the lime juice. Serve immediately!

Recipe Tips

  • Adjust to taste: Everyone prefers different levels of spice and sodium, so feel free to adjust the seasonings as needed.
  • Make kid-friendly: If you’re serving this chili to kiddos I recommend skipping the red chili flakes and chili pepper.
  • Let chili rest: Let the chili sit for a while after cooking as it allows the flavors to meld together even better.
Vegetarian chili in a large pot with a wooden spoon.

Can You Make This Chili in Your Slow Cooker?

I haven’t tried making this chili in my slow cooker, but I think it would turn out just fine! I would just add all the ingredients, except for the lime juice and toppings to your slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours until the beans and veggies are tender and chili has thickened up. Once cooked, stir in the lime juice and serve with desired toppings!

Vegetarian chili in a bowl with tortilla chips and a spoon. The chili is garnished with cilantro, sour cream, and avocado.

Chili Toppings

There are so many options when it comes to chili toppings!

  • Greek yogurt: I like using plain full fat Greek yogurt in place of sour cream for a cool, tangy topping, but sour cream is a great option as well.
  • Shredded cheese: Can’t go wrong with shredded cheese like cheddar cheese or Mexican cheese. Use freshly grated cheddar for the best flavor. Of course you can skip the cheese or use a dairy-free option to keep this as a vegan chili
  • Nutritional yeast: A great option for anybody who wants a cheesy flavor without the dairy.
  • Avocado: I love adding sliced avocado to my chili for some healthy fats.
  • Tortilla chips: Adds some crunch and can be used to scoop up chili!
  • Fresh herbs: Parsley and cilantro would be my top choices for fresh herbs.
  • Peppers: If you’re looking to add some heat you could top your chili with sliced jalapeno peppers.
  • Onions: Chopped fresh yellow onion or green onions add great flavor as a topping.
  • Lime juice: Serve your bowl of chili with a squeeze of fresh lime juice to brighten up the dish.
Vegetarian chili in a bowl. The chili is garnished with cilantro, sour cream, and avocado.

What to Serve with Chili

This chili is hearty enough to be enjoyed as a meal on its own, but it’s also delicious served with some sides. Here are some serving ideas:

How to Store Leftovers

I love making a big batch of chili for meal prep because it stores so well! Let the chili cool slightly before storing in an airtight container. The chili will last 5-7 days when stored in the refrigerator. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months. If storing in the freezer, make sure to thaw in the fridge overnight before serving.

You can reheat in a pot on the stove over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes or in the microwave for 1-2 minutes if you’re in a rush.

More Chili Recipes to Try

More Soup Recipes to Try

Be sure to check out all of the soup recipes here on EBF!

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4.48 from 57 votes

Easy Vegetarian Chili

The best vegetarian chili recipe made with three different beans, veggies and sweet corn. It's thick and hearty, comes together quickly on the stovetop and has such a rich, robust flavor thanks to a few secret ingredients.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 6

Ingredients  

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 28 ounce can fire-roasted canned tomatoes
  • 1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 15 ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15 ounce can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup frozen sweet corn
  • 1 ½-2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 chili pepper, halved, seeded and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • ½ Tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 Tablespoons creamy natural peanut butter
  • Juice of one fresh lime
  • toppings: avocado, Greek yogurt or sour cream, shredded cheese, fresh cilantro

Instructions 

  • In a Dutch oven or large pot, warm oil over medium heat. Add onion, pepper, garlic and grated carrot and sauté until onion becomes soft and translucent. Stir in chili powder, red pepper flakes, sea salt and black pepper. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    Grated carrots, pepper, onion and garlic in a large pot with a wooden spoon.
  • Add all remaining ingredients except lime juice. Blend well. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat,  squeeze lime juice into the pot and stir. Serve immediately.
    Vegetarian chili in a large pot with a wooden spoon.
  • The chili can be served over brown rice or quinoa and topped with cheese or greek yogurt for a hearty variation.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1/6 of recipe without toppings | Calories: 306kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 1480mg | Potassium: 609mg | Fiber: 15g | Sugar: 13g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Lunch/Dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: vegetarian chili
Did you make this recipe?Mention @eatingbirdfood and tag #eatingbirdfood!

About Brittany

Hey there, I’m Brittany, the creator of Eating Bird Food, cookbook author, health coach and mama of two littles. Here you’ll find quick and easy recipes that make healthy fun and enjoyable for you and your family!

More about Brittany
Chicken fajita filling on a sheet pan with a wooden spoon. Tortillas are resting on the bottom of the sheet pan.
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Recipe Rating




79 Comments

  1. Yum!! This looks delicious. I was actually looking up chili recipes all weekend on pinterest to try one out this week. I found a pumpkin chili I THOUGHT I had made my mind up on, but now you have me thinking maybe this one is the way to go 🙂

  2. This looks like the perfect chili recipe for those cold Fall night! Which we are actually having right now…well, it’s not night yet but you know what I mean;)
    I love adding almond butter to chili but haven’t tried peanut butter yet! This is definitely happening this week!

  3. I would never think to put peanut butter in chili! I’ve used cinnamon in mine and I really like that. Good recipe!

  4. Do you realize you never posted your reception recap??? I’ve been waiting for more lovely pictures since July! 🙂

    1. Yes!! I didn’t know if people were really interested, but now that I know you are, I will get to it and post it soon. 🙂 Thanks for the reminder.

  5. Veggie + peanut butter is a match made in heaven. Unfortunately, I can’t do beans…but I think the peanut butter would be a great addition to a sweet potato or lentil chili as well!! Thanks for the idea! 🙂

  6. Yes!!!!!!!! I’ve been using cocoa powder in my chili for awhile now, but never thought of pb. I can’t wait to try it!

  7. Peanut butter and chili! Could it get any better than that? This looks so tasty and with the cooler weather, I have been craving a warm bowl of chili.

  8. I am totally on board with your PB philosophy – it DOES make everything taste better. I have never tried it in chili though and I can’t wait! Thanks!

  9. I love your creativity!!! im allergic to peanut butter (sad i know) but sunbutter will work just as well! i love trying “weird” food combos.. thanks!!!!

  10. I must say I was immediately skeptical of peanut butter chili! But given my obsession with peanut butter and your track record of incredible recipes, I’m going to try this out!

  11. I’ve never though of adding nut butter to chili but it totally makes sense that it would add that fatty depth of flavor. I’m totally trying this! Vegetarian chili is a staple over here in the fall 😉

  12. 5 stars
    peanut butter… how interesting! that actually sounds delicious — I have to try it! I think I’ll add it to my meat version of chile though 😀

  13. Peanut butter makes the world go round. I’ll have to try adding it to my chili next time. Looks amazing!

  14. I just made this for football Sunday…can’t taste the peanut butter at all and honestly the chili tasted pretty amazing! Everyone in my house was happy with it :). Thanks for another wonderful recipe!!

    1. Woo-hoo! I’m so glad that you tried the recipe and enjoyed it Jenni. Thanks for posting the photo to instagram as well. 🙂

  15. 5 stars
    I just made this and it was fantastic! Delicious, best chili ever, you don’t miss the meat at all! I’ve always preferred meatless chili anyways, this recipe is definitely a keeper!

  16. 5 stars
    I just made this with Jason’s honey almond butter with a side of vegan corn muffins and it was amazing! The nut butter, cocoa and lime were new ingredients for me and you’re right, the flavors are undetectable but really add a nice richness and kick – thanks so much for the recipe!

  17. Oh wow this look so good. I am so making this for dinner this week. I especially love that it’s all veggies! Best of all is there will be left overs so can freeze some for another day.

  18. Oh my gosh – and I was going to make some kind of veggie soup this weekend! Perfect! AND the peanut butter too?? OH yessss!

  19. This sounds amazing! I’ve been perusing veg chili recipes all morning, and this is the most unique recipe yet! Adding it to my list!

  20. 5 stars
    Just tried this out and it’s amazing! Thanks very much for posting – it would never have occurred to me to put peanut butter in it!

    J.

  21. Can’t wait to make this!! Planning to use a slow cooker though – any thoughts on that? Maybe 6 hours on low? Thanks!

  22. 5 stars
    Don’t be overwhelmed by the number of ingredients. This delicious chili is easy to make and has a wonderful depth of flavor. The best part is you will have leftovers for lunch tomorrow as well as a future dinner in the freezer.

  23. This is now my go-to recipe any time I make chili! I’d like to attempt it in the crock pot. Do you have any suggestions for adapting the recipe to the slow cooker?

    1. Woot woot! I’m so glad you loved this chili recipe. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment and star rating. It means the world to me. <3

  24. 5 stars
    I made this recipe tonight. I could not add the nut butter due to allergies but it is still just amazing! Robust flavor and very filling! Will make again 🙂

    1. Woo! So glad this chili was a hit. Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I so appreciate it, Crystal.

  25. 5 stars
    Made this 2 weeks ago! tossed it all in the crockpot and it really melded the flavors. Froze it and then reheated tonight and it tasted even better than I remember. Will be making it again!

    1. Woo! So glad this chili was a hit. Thanks for making it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating, Cassandra. I really appreciate it. <3

  26. 5 stars
    Made this recipe tonight for Halloween and having people over. Was hoping it would come out good and it far exceeded my expectations!! Best chili I’ve ever had!! Everyone loved it and it will now be my go to chili recipe. I’m obsessed with all your recipes. Everything I’ve tried so far has been so delicious! So happy I found your blog!! 🙂

    1. Ahh, that makes me so happy to hear!! I’m so glad this chili was a hit. Thanks so much for trying it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I so appreciate it, Crystal. 🙂

  27. 2 stars
    Surprisingly bland. I’m pretty sure I did it right, but maybe I missed something. I added three extra tbsp of peanut butter, 11/2 key limes, cheddar and parmesan cheese, and salt to bolster the flavor and it ended up good. The flavor reminded me more of Italian tomato sauces than chili. The recipe looked really good, so I’m not sure why it turned out so bland

    1. Oh no! So sorry to hear that. I’m wondering if something got missed as you were making it? You can definitely always add more spices and seasonings until it reaches your desired taste, but it definitely shouldn’t have come out bland!

      1. I think I realized what changed the flavor so much for me. I left out the chili powder and red pepper flakes because we are spice wimps here, but I think that is what made it come out bland. To others I suppose I would just suggest doing less if you’re worried about spice and not cutting it out entirely.

        1. Ahh yes, that is likely why yours turned out a bit bland. The chili powder adds a ton of flavor. Chili powder is typically mild so if you’re not a spice fan I would still suggest using the chili powder and skipping the red pepper flakes.

  28. 5 stars
    Made it today and was delicious. I added 1/2 cup green split peas just because I had some kick in around. We love cilantro so I added some as well.
    Thanks for sharing.

  29. 5 stars
    This chili was so delicious! A crowd-pleaser for sure. Didn’t use much of the chili pepper to go light on the spice, and it still definitely had a kick. Will be making it again!

  30. 1 star
    I looked forward to making this for lunch.I was curious because I’ve never tried PB in chili before. Sadly, it was just OK. Maybe even a little off. Perhaps I just didn’t like it with the cocoa powder. Anyway, I will not be making it again.

    1. Sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy this chili, Susan. It must just be a taste preference, but I appreciate you making my recipe and for the feedback!

  31. 5 stars
    Easy and delicious! As the only vegetarian in the house and the only one that cooks, I’m always looking for an easy, healthy vegetarian recipe. This was a hit with my husband and toddler! I personally don’t love chili but I loved this one enough to make it for the second week in a row! I found it less time consuming to just chop the carrots and I add mushrooms as well!

    1. Yay!! So thrilled that you and your family enjoyed this vegetarian chili, Lydia! Thanks so much for trying it out and coming back to leave a review. I so appreciate it!

  32. 5 stars
    Best vegetarian chili recipe I’ve made so far! Just the right amount of heat and spice and it’s very filling. Subbed almond butter for the peanut butter and it turned out great!

    1. Yay!! So happy to hear you enjoyed this vegetarian chili, Sarah. Thanks so much for letting me know! I so appreciate the feedback :).

  33. 5 stars
    I make this recipe All the time and I love it ! Only thing I add zucchini and the morning star vegetarian crumbles for a meat like texture that tastes just like regular chili.

    1. Happy to hear this chili has been a hit, Monet. I love your substitutions! Thanks for trying out this recipe and coming back to leave a review. It means so much to me!

  34. 4 stars
    Made this and WOW! My new favorite chili. Good enough to throw out all my other chili recipes, hah. This is definitely a winter staple for me.

    1. Yay! So glad you love this recipe, Emily! Thanks so much for making it and for coming back to leave a review. I really appreciate it!

  35. 4 stars
    We really loved it! But I didn’t read the ingredients well and forgot to buy a chile. I threw a half can of mild green chilies into the chili instead. And no corn because my husband hates corn. SPICY!! I do love spicy, but after having my last baby, I’m SUCH a wimp. Regardless, I’m not complaining. I will make it again for sure! For my leftover bowl today, I threw in some leftover canned coconut milk to try to tone the spice down. It didn’t work, but it did make it a little creamier. Which was also super yummy!

    1. Oh no! I’m sorry to hear it was too spicy, Melissa. You can definitely omit the chilis next time. Thank you so much for coming back to leave a review, I really appreciate it!

  36. 5 stars
    Thanks Brittany for the best chili recipe! Up until now I haven’t been a big chili fan. I found out I get less acid reflux if I don’t eat much meat. So since your recipe is vegetarian my tummy is happy and the added peanut butter and cocoa powder make it over-the-top Delicious!
    Two questions: If I tweek it a bit to make it my own can I have your permission to make this basic chili recipe for our church’s 1ST Annual Chili Bake Off?
    If so, about how many cups of chili does this recipe make?

    1. Hi, Amma! Sure, that’s fine. Let me know how the chili does, especially if you end up placing! As far as how many cups the chili makes, I am not sure. I’d suggest making it one time as is and measuring. Good luck!

  37. 5 stars
    Thanks Brittany for this Perfect Chili Recipe!
    My family liked it very much.
    If I tweek it just a bit to make it my own, may I have your permission to make it for a Chili Cook-off?

  38. I can’t remember if I already commented on this recipe lol, but it’s absolutely the best!! We use this ALL the time and it’s so quick and easy. Thanks so much!!

    1. Oh yes! This is one of the best fall meals. I am happy to hear you and your family are loving this recipe, Nancy! Thank you for sharing your review & star rating, I so appreciate it!

  39. 5 stars
    Excellent recipe! We are wimps on the spice so we omitted the chili peppers and halved the amount of Chilli powder and red pepper. It was delicious. This is the first time I have used peanut butter and cocoa powder.

    1. Ahh yay! I am SO glad you’re loving this recipe and it turned out great for you, Amanda. Thank you for your review + star rating, I so appreciate it!

  40. 5 stars
    This is my new favorite soup! It was so tasty and filling. It didn’t take too long to make, and even my picky kid who doesn’t like veggies ate it up. Those secret ingredients really made it next level. Thank you!

    1. WOO! This is so great, Abby! I am happy you and you kiddo are loving this chili and it turned out amazing for you. Thank you for sharing your review & star rating, I really appreciate it!