vegetarian chili recipe

Few things can warm you up on a blustery Winter day like good, old fashioned chili and cornbread. I remember eating my  mom’s chili growing up, which I would classify as more of a “Cincinnati-style” chili. It was a rich and spicy tomato-based chili with ground beef, kidney beans, and short spaghetti noodles. The noodles were my favorite part. I didn’t care much for the beans, so I would ask my mom to make a small pot of chili for me without beans. Being the loving person she is, she would oblige without complaint. If my kids asked me to do that, I’m not sure I would!

Like me, legumes are hit or miss with my own children, but they have grown on me over the years (let’s say I’m a fan). It’s a good thing, too, because this easy vegetarian chili recipe has 3 different types of beans! I first discovered this recipe in a Betty Crocker Christmas Cookbook. For the life of me, I can’t remember how I came by this cookbook. I do know that it was one of my very first cookbooks, however.

This recipe is sooooo simple – you throw everything into one big pot and let it go. It’s almost hard to believe it’s worth trying, but I assure you, it is!  I’ve adapted the recipe over the years, playing with the spices and add-ins. Everyone I have served it to has asked me for the recipe (super flattering!).  I love to serve this chili with a side of savory cheddar cheese cornbread with a buttery, salty crust from being cooked in a skillet. YUM!

I added a note to the recipe below re: adding chorizo or shredded rotisserie chicken as a topping if you have meat lovers at your dinner table. When meat is served on the side, everyone (including vegetarians) wins!

Easy Vegetarian Chili

Easy Vegetarian Chili


    Vegetarian Chili Basics
  • 1 can (28 oz) whole tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (15.5 oz) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 chickpeas/garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
  • 2 bell peppers - orange and yellow bell peppers, cut into 1/2" strips (poblano or cubanelle peppers are also delicious!)
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded, chopped
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chili powder (1 for mild, 2 for medium)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Optional
  • Noodles (parboiled in salted water) - I like elbow noodles, and they can be served on the side.
  • Toppings
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro mixed with 2 tbsp. diced yellow onion and a 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • Guacamole
  • Sour Cream
  • Cheddar Cheese


  1. First, before removing from the can, blend the whole tomatoes (in the can) slightly with an immersion blender or mash to break up the whole tomatoes, until you reach the consistency you like best in your chili.
  2. Into a large pot, pour can of tomatoes. Stir in remaining "Chili Basics" ingredients Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 30 to 35 minutes or until bell peppers are tender.
  3. Serve in individual bowls and top with your choice (or all) of the toppings and enjoy!


If you have meat-lovers in your family, add rotisserie chicken or chorizo sausage as a topping so it can be served on the side!