This vegetarian chili recipe is the best: loaded with hearty flavor and good-for-you ingredients! Even better, it’s quick and easy.

Vegetarian Chili

It’s easy, it’s tasty, and it’s good for you, too: introducing our favorite Vegetarian Chili! It’s full of hearty flavor, with a smoky tomato base, loads of beans and corn, and an array of satisfying spices. The best part? It’s sooo simple. Basically dump and stir! It’s hard to make a vegetarian chili recipe that doesn’t taste like bean soup: but this one delivers. Here’s how to make it!

Ingredients in this vegetarian chili recipe

This vegetarian chili recipe is the tried and true standard we make on repeat for weeknight meals and entertaining, especially in the cooler months. It was originally inspired by open fire cooking – we first made it over a firepit during a kitchen reno! Because of that, it’s seriously easy to put together, a combination of great ingredients that bring massive flavor with little effort. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil and butter
  • Quinoa
  • Black beans
  • Canned fire roasted tomatoes
  • Corn
  • Mustard, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce
  • Chili powder, oregano, garlic powder, cumin, smoked paprika, and salt

Look familiar? This recipe used to be called “black bean chili,” but we’ve rebranded it because it’s really our favorite vegetarian chili. (This was a request of a friend of ours who loves the recipe so much, she thought it needed a more fitting title!)

Vegetarian chili

Why it works

What makes this vegetarian chili more than bean soup? Part of it is the garnishes (because chili is all about that!) But here are a few of the flavor secrets:

  • Butter adds the richness you crave in a vegetarian chili.
  • Fire-roasted tomatoes make a smoky sweet, developed flavor.
  • Mustard, ketchup and Worcestershire add tangy and savory notes.
  • Stirring in smoked paprika at the end helps to emulate that smokiness of campfire chili.

Fire roasted tomatoes are key

This vegetarian chili recipe is great with any type of canned tomato, but the very best option is fire roasted tomatoes. Why? This type of tomato is roasted over an open flame, which infuses a sweet and smoky flavor to the tomatoes. They taste much better directly from the can than any other type of canned tomato, which can taste flat and bitter.

Can’t find fire roasted tomatoes? San Marzano tomatoes can work in a pinch: this Italian type of tomato has a sweeter flavor right out of the can too. Or, simply use the best canned tomatoes you can find.

Vegetarian chili

Toppings for vegetarian chili

The best part of a good chili recipe? The toppings! This vegetarian chili is perfect loaded up with chili toppings. Here are a few great vegetarian chili toppings:

  • Shredded cheese: Try cheddar, Mexican blend or Monterrey Jack.
  • Sour cream: Required, in our opinion! For vegan, use Cashew Cream or Vegan Queso.
  • Green onion: Onion adds just the right savory flair.
  • Cilantro: Fresh cilantro adds an herby nuance.
  • Hot sauce: Try a Mexican hot sauce like Cholula.
  • Crushed tortilla chips: Add a crunch with chips.
  • Roasted pepitas: Pumpkin seeds also add a salty crunch.
  • Pickled onions: If you think ahead, pickled onions are a favorite: they add bright color and tangy flavor.
  • Pickled peppers: Try pickled jalapeños for a kick!

Make it a vegan chili

Want to make this vegetarian chili into a vegan chili? It’s easy: simply use vegan butter in place of the butter. You can also substitute olive oil (use half the quantity), or refined coconut oil. Either way, these ingredients add richness and fat, which is important in making a meatless chili taste satisfying.

More chili recipes

And that’s it! This vegetarian chili is a family favorite that’s a delicious meatless dinner idea. Here are a few more chili recipes you might enjoy, many of them meatless:

This vegetarian chili recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

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Vegetarian Chili

Favorite Vegetarian Chili

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x


This vegetarian chili recipe is the best: loaded with hearty flavor and good-for-you ingredients! Even better, it’s quick and easy.


  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ⅓ cup dry quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 15-ounce cans black beans, drained (not rinsed)
  • 2 28-ounce cans diced fire roasted tomatoes*
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter (or vegan butter)
  • 1 15-ounce can corn (or 1 ½ cups frozen corn)
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons each chili powder and dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon each garlic powder and cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika


  1. Dice the onion. Mince the garlic.
  2. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender.
  3. Add all other ingredients except for the smoked paprika. Simmer for 25 minutes, then stir in the smoked paprika. Serve immediately with toppings of your choice. Store leftovers refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for 3 months.
  4. Campfire chili instructions: Follow the instructions above, but remove the smoked paprika (the fire will add smoky flavor). If you’re taking it camping, prep the minced onion and garlic and place in a sealed container. Place the ingredients from water through kosher salt in another large sealed container (keep out the dry quinoa and add when cooking). Keep everything cool until making the chili.


*Fire roasted tomatoes are key for the flavor here. If you can’t find them, use San Marzano tomatoes or best quality canned tomatoes. 

**This recipe is easy to cook over an open fire. If you’re taking it camping, prep the minced onion and garlic and place in a sealed container. Place the ingredients from water through kosher salt in another large sealed container, but keep out the dry quinoa and add it when cooking.

  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Chili
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Vegetarian chili, vegetarian chili recipe

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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  1. Can you please add the sodium content to the nutrition facts. I’m watching my sodium intake, so this would be helpful. Thank you.