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Vegetarian Chili –

    A bowl of hearty vegetarian chili

    “Chili” and “chilly” weather get along so famously, the twin pronunciation could scarcely be a coincidence. This homemade Vegetarian Chile made with sweet potato, beans, and a thick, deeply spiced tomato broth will warm you to your core on even the dampest day.

    A bowl of hearty vegetarian chili

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    Although this chili is meatless, don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s wimpy or weak.

    Filled with plant-based protein and fiber, alive with smoky spices, and so thick your spoon can practically stand up straight in your bowl, this award-worthy chili will please even the staunchest of carnivores.

    One of my favorite things about chili is how many different, delicious personalities it can take.

    Chile Aplenty!

    Truly, there’s a chilli for every need and mood.

    But what about when you need a go-to chili that appeals to different dietary needs (gluten free, vegetarian, vegan), tastes great leftover, feeds a crowd, AND doesn’t require any special appliances?

    That’s where this chili comes in!

    It’s hands down THE BEST vegetarian chili recipe I’ve had and one of my favorite (meat or meatless) chili recipes to date.

    A bowl of hearty and healthy chili

    5 Star Review

    “I made this last night. We’re trying to have fewer meals with meat. Well I gotta tell you: This was so delicious I may never make chili with meat again!”

    — Beth Patterson —

    How to Make Vegetarian Chili from Scratch

    Say goodbye to vegetarian chili that’s canned!

    Homemade vegetarian chili is simple to make and will blow the store bought stuff away.

    My best secret ingredients for chili are cinnamon, chipotle chili powder, red wine vinegar, and a touch of honey. Each plays a special role in making this chili unforgettable.

    The Ingredients

    • Bell Peppers. A mixture of green and red bell peppers add beautiful color, fresh flavor, and nutritional value to the chili.
    • Sweet Potatoes. Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite vegetables to add to meatless chili. They make it filling and add wonderful texture. Plus, sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A and fiber.
    • Chili Powder + Cumin. Classic chili spices that add hallmark flavor and depth.
    • Chipotle Chile Powder. Adds a delightful smokiness.
    • Cinnamon. Adding cinnamon is a trick I discovered when developing the chili for my cookbook. It adds a rich warmth that makes the chili especially memorable.
    • Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes. To give the chili that simmered-all-day flavor. This is a pantry staple of mine.
    • Beans. I used a combination of black beans and pinto beans. Both add a scrumptious creamy texture and heartiness to the chili.

    Market Swap

    Feel free to swap in your favorite bean, such as red kidney beans or garbanzo beans.

    • Red Wine Vinegar. Adds vibrancy and pop! You can’t taste it specifically, but it’s truly transformative. Taste the chili before and after; you’ll be surprised.

    Substitution Tip

    You can substitute sherry vinegar for red wine vinegar. I recommend avoiding other kinds of vinegar such as balsamic or white vinegar, since they can be too strong.

    • Honey. Balances the acidity of the tomatoes and makes the chili more well-rounded. To make vegan chili, use granulated sugar or maple syrup instead.

    The Directions

    Chopped vegetables in a pot
    1. Sauté the vegetables over medium heat.
    Vegetables and spices in a pot
    1. Add the spices.
    Tomatoes, beans, and vegetables in a pot
    1. Add the tomatoes, beans, and broth. Let simmer, stir occasionally.
    Pureed beans in a blender
    1. Puree a couple of cups of the chili in a blender then return it to the pot. THIS IS KEY!
    2. Stir in the vinegar and honey. Serve with desired toppings and DIG IN!


    Blending a portion of the chili makes it ultra thick and helps marry the flavors. It’s an easy step that is 1,000% worth the effort.

    Topping Your Vegetarian Chili

    • Avocado. Creamy avocado slices are a scrumptious addition to your bowl of chili.
    • Cheese. A crowd-pleasing, classic chili topping is shredded cheese such as cheddar cheese. To make the chili vegan, you can skip the cheese and load up on other hearty toppings.
    • Tortilla Chips. Crunchy, salty, and oh so delicious! If you need to make this chili gluten free, be sure to use gluten free tortilla chips.
    • Greek Yogurt. Instead of sour cream, we love to add a dollop of cool and tangy nonfat plain Greek yogurt to our chili.
    • Fresh Cilantro. A beautiful, fresh green topping.
    Vegetarian chili served in two bowls

    Storage Tips

    • To store. Refrigerate chili in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
    • To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat. You can also rewarm leftover vegetarian chili gently in the microwave.
    • To Freeze. Freeze leftover chilli in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

    Meal Plan Tip

    Chop all the vegetables up to 1 day in advance and refrigerate.

    Vegetarian chili in a jar

    Leftover Ideas

    Leftover chili served over a bed of whole wheat spaghetti noodles makes for a hearty and Cincinnati Chili-style meal. Or, take a note from this One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese, and mix leftovers into your favorite mac and cheese. Leftovers would also be delicious served over a slice of Cheesy Jalapeno Cornbread.

    What to Serve with Chili

    View all recipes

    A bowl of vegetarian chili with avocado

    Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe

    High-Quality Dutch Oven

    A heavy-duty, long-lasting Dutch oven like this one is a must-have in your kitchen. It’s versatile and will quickly become a favorite cooking tool.

    A bowl of hearty vegetarian chili

    Did you make this recipe?

    Let me know what you thought!

    Leave a rating below in the comments and let me know how you liked the recipe.

    The next time you are looking for a hearty plant-based main, a cool-weather warm up, or a stellar healthy meal that will delight your taste buds and your belly alike, give this vegetarian chili a spin.

    It’s the lift I’m loving lately, and I think you’ll adore it too!

    For even more satisfying meatless main, check out this list of popular Vegetarian Dinner Recipes.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What’s a Good Substitute for Meat in Chile?

    Adding beans in lieu of meat for protein, the right combination of spices, and my trick of pureeing part of the chili will deliver a vegetarian chili that is satisfying and rich in flavor.

    What Vegetables Should I Use in Vegetarian Chili?

    I especially love sweet potatoes in vegetarian chili. The sweetness of the potato balances the chili spices and adds to overall consistency of the chili. Onions build the base of flavor, and then bell peppers add fresh flavor and additional nutrients. If you want additional veggies in your chili, I think carrots and/or corn would be good.

    Is Vegetarian Chili Healthy?

    Absolutely! Vegetarian chili is packed with both protein and fiver, and made with multiple veggies to deliver many nutrients. It’s a filling and healthy lunch or dinner.

    • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 medium yellow onion chopped
    • 2 red bell peppers chopped
    • 1 bell pepper chopped
    • 1 large or 2 medium sweet potatoes peeled and ¼-inch diced (about 1 pound)
    • 4 cloves garlic minced (about 4 teaspoons)
    • 1 tablespoon chilli powder
    • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt more additional to taste
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 2 (15-ounce) cans fire roasted diced tomatoes in their juices
    • 2 (15-ounce) cans low sodium black beans rinsed and drained
    • 1 can pinto beans rinsed and drained (15 ounces)
    • 2 cups low sodium vegetable brother or water
    • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon honey
    • For serving: crushed tortilla chips avocado, non-fat plain Greek yogurt, chopped cilantro, cheese

    • In a large Dutch oven or similar large, sturdy pot, heat the olive oil over medium. Once it is hot, add the onion, red bell peppers, green bell pepper, and sweet potato. Cooking, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 8 minutes.

    • Reduce the heat to medium low. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, chipotle chile powder, salt, and cinnamon. Cook and stir until very fragrant, about 30 seconds.

    • Stir in the tomatoes, black beans, pinto beans, and vegetable broth. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Continue cooking for 30 minutes, stirring periodically and adjusting the heat as needed so that you maintain a gentle simmer.

    • Remove from the heat. Transfer 2 cups of the chili to a blender and puree (be careful, as hot chili will splatter!), then stir the blended portion back into the chili. (You also can puree the chili slightly with an immersion blender; be sure to leave it very chunky. The blending is just meant to thicken it up and it improves the flavor too.)

    • Stir in the vinegar and honey. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired. Enjoy hot with desired toppings.

    • TO STORE: Refrigerate chilli in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
    • TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat. You can also rewarm leftover vegetarian chili gently in the microwave.
    • TO FREEZE: Freeze leftover chilli in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

    Serving: 1(of 6)calories: 359caloriesCarbohydrates: 65gprotein: 16gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gPotassium: 1088mgfiber: 19gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 13160UIVitamin C: 77mgCalcium: 171mgIron: 6mg

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