Vegetarian Chili – Jessica Gavin

By Ghuman


Vegetarian chili is a hearty and flavorful dish that is perfect for a weeknight meal. It is packed with protein and fiber from beans, vegetables, and spices. This vegetarian chili recipe from Jessica Gavin is easy to make and can be customized to your taste. It is a great way to get your daily dose of vegetables and is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters. Enjoy this delicious and nutritious chili with a side of cornbread or tortilla chips.

Vegetarian Chili – Jessica Gavin

Vegetarian chili is a hearty and flavorful dish that is perfect for a cold winter night. This recipe from Jessica Gavin is packed with vegetables, beans, and spices, and is sure to be a hit with the whole family. The combination of flavors and textures make this chili a delicious and satisfying meal.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can corn, drained
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the bell peppers and jalapeno pepper and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the diced tomatoes, black beans, kidney beans, corn, and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Stir in the cilantro and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Serve warm with your favorite toppings.

A big bowl of vegetarian chili is the ultimate quick and easy comfort food. Multi-colored beans simmer in a mix of smokey, savory, and spicy seasonings. This recipe is about choosing the right pantry ingredients to maximize the flavor.

If you love chili as I do, you’ll want to try my slow cooker turkey chili, white bean chicken chili, and Instant Pot beef chili.

Vegetarian chili recipe in a bowl with sliced avocado and jalapeños on top.
Table of Contents
  1. Bean selection
  2. Add-in fresh ingredients for aromatics
  3. Selecting the right seasonings
  4. Use different types of tomato products
  5. How to make vegetarian chili
  6. Ways to adapt this vegetarian chili
  7. Chili toppings
  8. Serve this with
  9. FAQ
  10. Vegetarian Chili Recipe

A good weeknight vegetarian chili recipe must be both flavorful and easy to make. That’s why this recipe uses convenience products and seasonings that you likely already have in your pantry. From start to finish, dinner is served in under an hour.

I like to make beans from scratch on the stovetop or instant pot for the best taste and texture. However, most often, reality hits, and busy days call for quicker options. Canned beans and fire-roasted tomatoes are the base of the recipe. I’ll show you how to turn bland legumes into a delicious, hearty bowl of chili. Serve this chili with cornbread, biscuits, or crunchy chips to dip!

Three varieties of colorful beans being washed in a colander.
Step 1. Rinse the beans and drain

Bean selection

Any type of bean can be used in this chili. An equal combination of red kidney beans, pinto beans, and black beans makes for a colorful mix. I also like the different shapes and textures, from super creamy to tender bites that pop between your teeth. A hearty blend of beans provides a nutritious vegan protein option and is fiber-rich. I use canned beans as a quick cooking option.

Dried seasonings placed in a dutch oven with diced tomatoes and onions.
Step 2. Saute the aromatics

Add-in fresh ingredients for aromatics

The first step is building a flavorful chili base using fresh ingredients. Diced onions, bell pepper, spicy jalapenos, and garlic all provide a hint of spice. They release volatile flavor molecules that make your mouth water as they cook together.

As the onions cook, they also get a little sweeter and caramelize in the pan. The sweetness is enhanced with corn kernels. If fresh corn is available, that is the best. Otherwise canned for frozen work too.

Selecting the right seasonings

A hearty amount of chili powder, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, black pepper, and chipotle adds earthiness and a lightly charred taste. Since there is no meat in this chili, like pork, bacon, or beef, we need to compensate with these spices.

The water-soluble and fat-soluble flavors are dispersed and melded as the chili simmers. Over time, the spices are even more pronounced. That’s why they typically taste better the next day, which is perfect for meal prepping!

Use different types of tomato products

Canned fire-roasted tomatoes have already been charred, which adds a smokier flavor to the chili. I like to buy pre-diced tomatoes to save on prep time, providing a chunkier texture to the chili. Adding canned tomato sauce thins out the chili without diluting its flavor.

How to make vegetarian chili

I like to grab my trusty dutch oven to make the chili. The heavy bottom prevents the spices from scorching. The onions, bell pepper, salt, and jalapenos, are sauteed in olive oil until softened. To elevate the taste and aromas of the dried spices, saute them in the hot fat.

Add the corn, beans, fire-roasted diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and vegetable broth, then stir to combine. Bring to a boil to warm the chili quickly, then reduce heat to simmer until slightly thickened. The cooking process only takes about 30 minutes.

Close up of a pot of vegetarian chili simmering on the stove top.
Step 4. Simmer the chili

Ways to adapt this vegetarian chili

  • Stir in some quinoa for extra plant protein.
  • Farro adds some nuttiness and ancient grains to each bowl.
  • Crumble up some firm tofu for a different texture and hearty servings.
  • Add diced sweet potato, butternut squash, or pumpkin for fall-inspired flavors.
  • For a tangy taste, add some fresh lime juice

Chili toppings

Feel free to have fun with the toppings! I like to serve various ingredients in bowls to make a chili bar for guests, especially on game day. Top with shredded cheese like sharp cheddar, sour cream, green onions, sliced spicy peppers, diced onion, creamy avocado, or crushed tortilla chips for a gluten-free crunch.

Vegetarian chili inside a dutch oven with sliced jalapeños on top.

Serve this with


What is the best meat substitute for chili?

Add extra protein sources to the vegetarian chili, tofu, tempeh, seitan, quinoa, or plant-based ground options like Impossible or Beyond meat are available at major grocery stores.

What veggies can you put in a chili?

Any legumes make the base of the chili. Kidney, black, and pinto are colorful additions. Corn, zucchini, and green beans are tasty. Make the chili heartier with diced potatoes, sweet potatoes, or butternut squash.

How can I thicken my vegetarian chili?

Simmer the chili until the starches in the beans help to thicken the mixture. A cornstarch slurry can also be added at the end of cooking. Mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water. Stir into the chili, and boil until thickened, about 1 minute.

Close up photo of a pot of chili with beans, corn, and tomatoes.

Bloom the spices

The fastest way to elevate the flavor of jarred spices is to “bloom” them in the cooking oil before adding the beans. That’s because they contain fat-soluble flavors that can only be fully experienced when cooked first in oil. This process helps to release the flavor before incorporating other wet ingredients that would mute the spice’s potential.

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  • Prepare Beans – Place the beans in a colander and rinse them with water. Drain thoroughly and set them aside.

  • Saute Aromatics – Heat a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, once hot, add the onions, bell pepper, jalapenos, and salt. Cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, paprika, chipotle chili powder, and black pepper, and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.
  • Add Beans and Vegetables – Add corn, kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and vegetable broth. Stir to combine.

  • Simmer Chili – Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the chili is slightly thickened, about 20 to 25 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

  • To Serve – Portion chili into bowls and add desired toppings.

  • Recipe Yield: About 8 cups
  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Topping Suggestions: Sliced chili peppers, green onions, cilantro, cheese, sour cream, or avocado.
  • Storing: Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Freeze in a resealable bag for up to 3 months, and defrost before using. 
  • Reheating: Cover and microwave on high in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until hot. Alternatively, reheat on the stovetop over medium heat. 

Nutrition Facts

Vegetarian Chili

Amount Per Serving

Calories 228
Calories from Fat 45

% Daily Value*

Fat 5g8%

Saturated Fat 1g5%

Sodium 1204mg50%

Potassium 728mg21%

Carbohydrates 38g13%

Fiber 12g48%

Sugar 7g8%

Protein 11g22%

Vitamin A 1068IU21%

Vitamin C 11mg13%

Calcium 101mg10%

Iron 4mg22%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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