This Vegetarian Chili might be meatless but it is just as hearty, flavorful, and comforting. Chili is loaded with fresh vegetables, three kinds of beans, and of course, flavorful and aromatic spices. This chili will satisfy even the biggest carnivorous, even though it’s gluten-free, vegan, and healthy!
The first time my husband watched me make this chili, his first words were: “where is the meat?” Well, this chili does not have meat but instead, it’s loaded with vegetables and beans. The look on his face was disappointed and understandably so, since he is the biggest carnivore I know. I have to trick him to eat vegetables like one of the kids.
The disappointed look on his face did go away after the first bite of this awesome chili. This dish maybe lacking in meat, but it does not lack in flavor and heartiness. A bowl of vegetarian chili is just a filling and comforting as a bowl of my classic chili.
The amazing flavor and texture of this chili lies in the perfect combination of several different vegetables, three types of bean, and seasoning. It’s a perfect ratio of vegetables and and beans, where neither one overpowers the other. Seasoning can also be customized if you want it more or less spicy, a little more smoky, and of course, more or less salty.
In my vegetable chili, I like using a combination of canned tomatoes and fresh tomatoes. Both ingredients add something special to the overall taste and I love the slight sweetness and freshness from the fresh tomatoes.
HOW TO MAKE VEGETARIAN CHILI
As always, I like to start by having all my ingredients ready before starting to cook. So dice the vegetables, measure stock and seasoning, and open all the cans, and drain the juices off the beans.
1. Sauté Veggies. Sauté onions, carrots, and celery first until it starts to soften. Add peppers, jalapenos, and fresh tomatoes to the pot and cook for a few minutes. Make a little well in the middle and add pressed (or minced) garlic. Let it sauté until fragrant and mix it all together.
2. Season. Sprinkle seasoning over the veggies, mix it well, and sauté for a couple of minutes. Pour in stock, tomato sauce, beans, and canned tomatoes. Add bay leaves and mix everything very well.
3. Cook. Bring the mixture to simmer and lower the heat to low. Cover the pot with a lid but leave a small crack for the steam to escape. Cook for about 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take out the bay leaves and mix in fresh minced cilantro and juice from 1 lime.
TIP: When chili is cooked, you can use a immersion blender and pulse it a few times. This will blend some of the beans and vegetables for a better, thicker texture. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can take out about half the chili, pulse it in a food processor, and return blended chili into the pot with the rest of it.)
How To Make It In Instant Pot
Prepare the ingredients first and set the pressure cooker to “sauté” setting. Add some oil and sauté onions, carrots, and celery first. Once those start to soften, add all peppers, tomatoes, and garlic. Sauté all the vegetables for a few minutes and mix in the seasoning.
Pour in vegetable stock, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and drained beans. Add bay leaves and mix everything very well.
Close the lid and make sure it’s latched, turn the valve to “seal,” and set the pressure cooker to cook on high for 10 minutes. It will take about 10 minutes to build up the pressure before it starts to cook. When it’s done, let it naturally release for 10 minutes and then carefully do a quick release. (Make sure to consult your pressure cooker manual for the exact controls.)
Discard bay leaves and stir in cilantro and lime juice. Pulse the chili a few times with an immersion blender to just blend some of it, not all of it.
How To Make It In A Crock Pot
When making vegetarian chili in a slow cooker, I like to take the extra step and sauté the vegetables first. So follow the steps to sauté the vegetables in a large pan, on stove-top, and transfer it into the slow cooker.
Add all remaining ingredients, mix well, and close the lid. Cook chili on LOW setting for about 6 hours or on HIGH setting for about 3 hours.
Discard bay leaves and mix in fresh cilantro and lime juice.
How long will chili last?
Properly stored, vegetarian chili will last 4-5 days in the refrigerator.
It’s best to store chili in an air-tight container and when getting chili out, it’s best to pour some out rather than use a spoon or ladle. If using a spoon or a ladle, make sure it is clean and dry.
Vegetarian chili is very good to freeze for later.
Cool chili as quickly as possible if you plan to freeze it. This will give bacteria less chance to build and will help extend the shelf life of food. The best way to cool food quickly is to place the pot of chili into a larger container filled with ice and make sure to stir it from time to time as it cools.
Once it’s cooled, portion it into zip-lock freezer bags, let all the air out, and close it tight. Remember to label and date. Lay the bags flat on the cutting board and freeze. Once frozen, it will be easy to stack bags of chili.
To thaw, take the bag out of the freezer and into the refrigerator to slow-thaw it overnight.
Best Toppings For Chili
- Sliced avocado
- Shredded cheese (substitute vegan if needed)
- Extra squeeze of lime juice
- Sour cream (substitute vegan if needed)
- Tortilla strips (check the label to see which ones are gluten free)
- Diced fresh vegetables like: onions, tomatoes, jalapenos, or green onions
- 3 tbsp canola oil
- 1 red onion
- 2 large carrots
- 3 celery ribs
- 2 tomatoes on a vine
- 2 bell peppers
- 1-2 jalapenos
- 6 garlic cloves
- 14.5 oz canned fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 15 oz can pinto beans
- 15 oz can black beans
- 15 oz can northern white beans or cannelini beans
- 8 oz tomato sauce
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp chipotle chili powder (more or less according to personal taste)
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp oregano
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 1/2 tsp white granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp salt more or less to taste
- 2 tbsp fresh minced cilantro
- 1 lime – juice
- Prepare ingredients ahead of time: dice the vegetables, measure stock and seasoning, and open all the cans, and drain the juices off the beans.
- Preheat a Dutch oven over medium heat and saute onions, carrots, and celery first until it starts to soften.
- Add peppers, jalapenos, and fresh tomatoes to the pot and cook for a few minutes.
- Make a little well in the middle and add pressed (or minced) garlic. Let it saute until fragrant and mix it all together.
- Sprinkle seasoning over the veggies, mix it well, and saute for a couple of minutes.
- Pour in stock, tomato sauce, beans, and canned tomatoes. Add bay leaves and mix everything very well.
- Bring the mixture to simmer and lower the heat to low. Cover the pot with a lid but leave a small crack for the steam to escape.
- Cook for about 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take out the bay leaves and mix in fresh minced cilantro and juice from 1 lime.
- Use a immersion blender and pulse the chili a few times. This will blend some of the beans and vegetables for a better, thicker texture. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can take out about half the chili, pulse it in a food processor, and return blended chili into the pot with the rest of it.)