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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali Shah

The Best Vegetarian Chili EVER!

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My husband has always been a bit skeptical of vegetarian chilis.

The classic response from him when I make a vegetarian chili recipe is: *taste* *pause* “this is pretty good. but it’s not chili.”

My theory is that he responds this way because he used to eat meat (he turned vegetarian at age 15) and probably never got used to the non-meat flavor in veggie chili. I think most veggie chilis don’t have that smoky, thick, meaty consistency, which also makes it hard for chili-lovers to get on board.

making the very best vegetarian chili. quick easy healthy recipes, healthy food for picky eaters kids, healthy delicious food recipes, healthy meal ideas for kids, healthy food recipes for

BUT: This recipe blew my husband, the veggie-chili-skeptic, away. He no longer responded with “this isn’t chili,” but instead said “this is really good!” He even went back for seconds. It’s got the deep flavor of traditional meat chilis, but is much healthier and vegetarian friendly.

The smokiness in this dish came from a recipe I found on Kath Eats. The secret is adding a bit of unsweetened cocoa powder to the recipe, and honestly it makes a big difference. I made quite a few modifications to Kath’s recipe, and added a few other ingredients to enhance the smokiness (like smoked paprika – so good!)

making the very best vegetarian chili. quick easy healthy recipes, healthy food for picky eaters kids, healthy delicious food recipes, healthy meal ideas for kids, healthy food recipes for

I also served my chili with fun toppings like Greek Yogurt (tastes just like sour cream!), shredded cheese, green onions, diced tomatoes, and crushed tortilla chips.

Oh and did I mention, this is SUPER kid friendly too? Layla gobbles up this dish every time I make it, and she will be happy eating it for dinner for literally four days in a row. This recipe freezes really well too – so sometimes I’ll make a double batch and freeze half for an easy weeknight dinner when I’m in a rush!

Kitchen Tools I Used for This Recipe: 

The Ingredients

  • (1) 15oz can Kidney beans, drained and rinsed (if you like a chunkier chili, use 2 cans here)
  • (1) 15oz can Black beans, drained and rinsed
  • (1) 15oz can Pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 heaping tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp Ghirardelli cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp (or a bit less) cayenne pepper
  • A couple splashes of soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp regular paprika
  • Optional toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, green onions, diced tomatoes, o% Greek Yogurt (or Low Fat/Fat Free Sour Cream), tortilla chips

making the very best vegetarian chili. quick easy healthy recipes, healthy food for picky eaters kids, healthy delicious food recipes, healthy meal ideas for kids, healthy food recipes for

The Directions

Step 1: Chop the garlic, onion, and bell peppers. Saute lightly over medium high heat in 1-2 tsp olive oil. Meanwhile, wash the beans until all of the canning liquid is gone. 

making the very best vegetarian chili. quick easy healthy recipes, healthy food for picky eaters kids, healthy delicious food recipes, healthy meal ideas for kids, healthy food recipes for

making the very best vegetarian chili. quick easy healthy recipes, healthy food for picky eaters kids, healthy delicious food recipes, healthy meal ideas for kids, healthy food recipes for

Step 2: Once the veggies have sauteed for about 5 minutes, add everything else into the pot (tomatoes, beans, spices, etc.). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 min or longer as needed.

making the very best vegetarian chili. quick easy healthy recipes, healthy food for picky eaters kids, healthy delicious food recipes, healthy meal ideas for kids, healthy food recipes for

Step 3: Once the chili is done cooking, you can top it with anything you like: 1 Tbsp cheese, fat free sour cream or 0% greek yogurt, or tortilla chips.

The nutritional info for this chili is pretty great. This recipe makes 12 ladles of soup, and each ladle has ~150 calories, 9g protein and 10g fiber. So you could go back for seconds and even thirds, completely guilt-free! And I promise, you will feel totally full and satisfied after (the meat eaters will love it too!)

making the very best vegetarian chili. quick easy healthy recipes, healthy food for picky eaters kids, healthy delicious food recipes, healthy meal ideas for kids, healthy food recipes for

Print Recipe
4.75 from 4 votes

The Best Vegetarian Chili EVER!

This recipe blew my husband, the veggie-chili-skeptic, away. He no longer responded with “this isn’t chili,” but instead said “this is really good!” He even went back for seconds. It’s got the deep flavor of traditional meat chilis, but is much healthier and vegetarian friendly.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 300kcal

Ingredients

  • 15 oz Kidney beans, drained and rinsed (if you like a chunkier chili, use 2 cans here) 1 can
  • 15 oz Black beans, drained and rinsed 1 can
  • 15 oz Pinto beans, drained and rinsed 1 can
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 1 green bell pepper diced
  • 1 red onion diced
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes 1 large can
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 5 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 heaping tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp Ghirardelli cocoa powder unsweetened
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp or a bit less cayenne pepper
  • A couple splashes of soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp regular paprika
  • Optional toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, green onions, diced tomatoes, o% Greek Yogurt (or Low Fat/Fat Free Sour Cream), tortilla chips

Instructions

  • Chop the garlic, onion, and bell peppers. Saute lightly over medium high heat in 1-2 tsp olive oil. Meanwhile, wash the beans until all of the canning liquid is gone.
  • Once the veggies have sauteed for about 5 minutes, add everything else into the pot (tomatoes, beans, spices, etc.). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 min or longer as needed.
  • Once the chili is done cooking, you can top it with anything you like: 1 Tbsp cheese, fat free sour cream or 0% greek yogurt, diced tomatoes, green onions, or tortilla chips.

Notes

Adapted from KathEats.com

Nutrition

Serving: 2ladles | Calories: 300kcal | Carbohydrates: 61.8g | Protein: 18.1g | Fat: 1.7g | Sodium: 800mg | Fiber: 20.2g | Sugar: 4.3g
making the very best vegetarian chili. quick easy healthy recipes, healthy food for picky eaters kids, healthy delicious food recipes, healthy meal ideas for kids, healthy food recipes for

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Entrees ·

From healthy versions of favorites to cozy curries, these main courses are sure to bring some new recipes to your family’s table.

278 responses to “The Best Vegetarian Chili EVER!”

  1. This is a crowd pleaser! I doubled the recipe for 8 adults and 8 kids, and everyone loved it. I will definitely make this again.

  2. This is DELICIOUS! I added dark chocolate instead of the cocoa because I love to see it melt. Tastes great immediately and even better the next day. Love your recipes – THANK-YOU!

    • Ooooh love the idea of the dark chocolate – I’m sure that was delicious! So glad you liked this recipe, thanks for letting me know!

  3. This was delicious! It was even a hit with my daughter who hates chili. I sauteed the vegetables then cooked everything in the slow cooker on low all day. Thanks for the great recipe!

  4. Can this recipe be adapted for the slow cooker?? If so do you still saute the veggies or do you put in slow cooker as is???

  5. Hi Anjali! I have used this chili recipe a couple of times already and the family loves it! My wife (who doesn’t like chili) really likes the way it turns out and is the one requesting for me to make more! Thank you so much for sharing this!

  6. Hi Anjali, what is the true yield? How many cups, vs. servings? If I made it in a crock pot, what size crockpot should I use? Thanks.

    • Hi Dave! This should make about 12 cups of chili (one ladle-full being one cup). So if you use a crock pot, make sure you use one that can fit 12 cups! Hope that helps!

      • Hi Anjali! Just wanted to drop you a quick note to say that your chili recipe was the first of many that I’ve used from you… It’s become my “go-to” chili recipe…made it so many times I don’t even have to refer to the instructions anymore! Thanks so much and keep up the good work!

  7. Hi! I just wanted to say that I found this recipe about a year ago here. I was nervous about making Vegetarian Chili. This is my favorite dish to make at home. We have it for dinner at least twice a month. My kids, husband, dad and friends love it. I’ve used it as examples in a Power Point Presentation for my Biology Class and shared samples with the class. I’m planning on making it tomorrow for my mother in law that is visiting from Mexico.
    Thank you for this amazing recipe.

    • Hi Cyn! Omg! That is so wonderful to hear 🙂 Love that you made it for your biology class too — how cool! Thanks so much for letting me know!

  8. Hey I want to make this tomorrow but I was hoping to use a crockpot, how long should I let it cook for? I’m not super familiar with crockpot cooking. (:

    • Hi Danielle! You can actually just put everything in the crockpot and let it simmer for as long as you want (on low). At a minimum it will need about 30 minutes to cook through. Hope that helps!

  9. Wow – this is the best vegetarian chili ever! My chili usually turns out…OK…but this was AMAZING! This will be the only chili recipe I ever use – thank you so much for sharing it! I can’t wait to try out some of your other recipes.

    Thanks!
    Bonnie

  10. Hi, just wanted to say thanks for this awesome recipe! I have been on a chili kick and after having a good vegan chili and an ok vegetarian chili from two local restaurants this past week, I thought I’d try making a pot of chili myself. Found your recipe and I do agree it is the “Best Vegetarian Chili EVER!” I added a jalapeno for a little extra kick. Looking forward to trying more of your recipes! Thanks!!

    • Oh yay!! So happy to hear that Shelly! Adding jalapeño sounds delicious as well 🙂 Thanks for letting me know!

  11. Hello! This recipe looks amazing…going to whip it up for tonight’s dinner. As I’m counting calories I’m hoping you can tell me how many cups a “ladle” would be. I’m guessing probably 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup but would appreciate if you could kindly share this. Thanks!

    • Hi Laura! Thanks so much! I’m sure you will love this recipe 🙂 I think each ladle is probably about 3/4 of a cup – but I can’t be too sure since I haven’t measured it exactly. However, if you divide up the chili into 6 equal bowls that should give you the right portion size per person. Hope that helps!! Let me know how it turns out!

  12. I will be honest when I saw the cocoa powder and soy sauce I was very skeptical, but seeing that the recipe had good reviews I decided to give it a try and I am glad that I did. This made for a delicious meal! I made a few changes (gluten free tamari sauce instead of soy, decreased the cayenne for my 4 y.o., and added carrots and sweet potatoes). We ate it for dinner tonight w/my gluten free cornbread. Thanks again!

    • Haha yes I can see how the cocoa powder and soy sauce would seem weird! But I’m glad you gave this recipe a try and liked it Danielle! Love the idea of adding carrots and sweet potatoes too — that must have been delicious 🙂 Thanks for letting me know how it turned out!

  13. I made it the first time without coriander and smoked paprika and it was just okay. I couldn’t find those 2 ingredients until today. I will try making it again, but what type of smoked paprika did you use? I thought there would only be one smoked paprika but they had sweet, bittersweet, and hot smoked paprika. I bought sweet, but now I am thinking I should have bought hot.

    • Hi Turah — hmm I used spicely organic’s smoked paprika — they only have one kind as far as I know. Make sure you are using ground coriander seed too (not fresh coriander leaves). Feel free to increase the amount of spice (heat-wise) in the recipe too if you like your food really spicy! I’d recommend increasing the amount of cayenne if that’s the case. Let me know how it turns out the second time around!

  14. I’m going to try this this week. Lately meat’s been turning my nose up so I prefer to cook without it. (My poor husband who makes poor food choices most of the time…the only raw vegetable he eats is carrots and they’re better for you if you steam them for 4 or 5 minutes. If it were his choice, he’d skip them all together all the time. I don’t know if he’ll like this (I some how doubt it) but it looks like something nice I can freeze in portions and eat for lunches.

    Hey, what’s the recipe for your corn bread??

    Hannah M.

  15. WOW! This really is the best vegetarian chili ever. I am always skeptical of self titled best Evers! You are not exaggerating. I am a 54 year old who is used to searching for recipes in my many printed cookbooks which I have collected over the years. So glad that I decided to also look online. Cannot wait to try more of your recipes. I grew up eating chili over rice. My healthier solution was to serve this great, chunky chili over Trader Joes tricolor quinoa! Delish! Btw….what on earth did we do before Trader Joes came into our lives…..oh yeah, I remember. We went to the “co-op”!!

    • Awwww yay!! Thank you so much Barbara — I am so happy to hear that you loved this recipe 🙂 And yes! Chili over rice or quinoa is absolutely delicious — sometimes I serve it that way too 🙂 Trader Joe’s is amazing I agree!

  16. Well, I made it with ground corriander seed. It was terrific! Everyone loved it! Thanks for sharing your recipe. This one is a keeper!

    • Hooray! I’m glad you ended up picking the right spice 🙂 So glad you liked this recipe, thanks for letting me know Claire!

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