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Easy Vegetarian Chili - you won't miss the meat with this crowd pleasing recipe!

Easy 3 Bean Chili

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x


This 3 bean chili is easy and healthy, leaves meat lovers begging for the recipe, and wins awards at chili cook-offs. How’s that for impressive?


  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 15-ounce cans beans or 4 1/2 cups cooked dried beans (black, pinto, and kidney), drained
  • 2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 4-ounce cans roasted green chilies
  • 1 cup bulgur wheat (for gluten free, see below*)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/3 cup chili powder (standard, not spicy)
  • 3 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • Hot sauce, sour cream, cheese, cilantro, or chives for garnish (for vegan, garnish with cashew cream or vegan sour cream)


  1. Chop the onions. Mince the garlic.
  2. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and saute, stirring, for about 1 minute.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients: beans, tomatoes with their juices, green chilies, bulgur wheat, frozen corn, chili powder, oregano, garlic powder, kosher salt, black pepper, maple syrup or honey, and chipotle powder. Mix to combine. If necessary, add a bit of water to make sure everything is covered (we added about 1 cup).
  4. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the bulgur is soft, about 20 to 30 minutes. Taste and add additional seasonings as desired. Add hot sauce to taste; and serve with sour cream, shredded cheese, and cilantro or chives. For a vegan chili, garnish with our Vegan Nacho Cheese.


*For gluten free, you can also substitute quinoa: however, use 3/4 cup quinoa and use the instructions listed in Step 1 of our Quinoa Vegan Chili to cook the quinoa separately. Then add 2 cups of cooked quinoa to the final step when simmering (save any leftover quinoa for future use).

The chipotle powder is a bit of a hard to find, but it adds great complexity and flavor; we recommend using it if at all possible. Ancho chile powder also can add a nice bit of smokiness.

If 1/3 cup chili powder seems like a typo, it’s not! While it’s a large quantity, it did bring the flavor we were looking for to the dish. The resulting chili is not overly spicy (though it would be if you use spicy chili powder, jalapeños, or more chipotle powder than specified below); we like our chili with moderate spice and then adding spiciness at the table with hot sauce.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Vegetarian Chili, Chili, Healthy Chili, Vegetarian, Vegan, Chili Recipes, Healthy Recipes