Best Vegetarian Chili

January 6, 2024   30 Comments

Are you looking for the best vegetarian chili? Of course you are! Who wants to settle for second best?

Best Vegetarian Chili

I luv chili and make it a lot during the winter. It is my go-to meal on a snowy day to heat myself from the inside out. My former favorite chili recipes include chili with cocoa powder and slow cooker quinoa chili. The chili with cocoa powder is made with beef and it is really good.

A new chili has stolen my heart. My daughter has turned vegetarian on me and will not eat my chili with cocoa powder so I had to come up with something new. This chili also has a secret ingredient - smoked paprika. You can find it next to the regular paprika in the spice section and it is worth every penny you will pay for it.

Because you don’t have meat, you need something to give the chili that umami or meaty flavor. The smokiness of the paprika is the perfect substitute and makes this the best vegetarian chili that I have ever had or made.

You saute the onions and other vegetables and then toast the spices and garlic. This step deepens the flavor and makes this chili taste much richer than it is.

I learned from an Indian chef that you should always toast your spices because the flavor is deepened. This step takes the dish from “okay” to “magnificent”. Do not skip it!

You don’t need sour cream, cheese, or anything else to eat it. I do like to add jalapeno slices and hot sauce because I like to sweat when I eat. Cilantro and avocado slices are a nice touch and if you like Greek yogurt, add a dollop.

My daughter complained about the carrots when I made this. What? How does a vegetarian not like carrots? Oh well.

What to you put in your best vegetarian chili?

Best Vegetarian Chili Recipe

2.3 from 32 reviews

Makes 6 servings
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 30 min

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1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 yellow, orange, or red pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1-28 ounce can whole or diced tomatoes with juice
2-15 ounce cans black beans, rinsed
1-15 ounce can pinto beans, rinsed
1 cup vegetable broth or water


Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium high heat. Add onion, pepper, celery, and carrots and saute for about 5 minutes until the onion is softened. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, and oregano and stir for one minute to toast the spices. Add tomatoes with juice, black beans, pinto beans, and vegetable broth. Simmer for 30 minutes and serve.

This recipe freezes well and remains edible in the refrigerator for 1 week.

Nutrition Facts

For one serving (about 1 ¼ cup) = 155 calories, 4.2 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 23.2 g carbohydrates, 3.8 g sugar, 7.5 g protein, 7.6 g fiber, 478 mg sodium, 1 Blue, 1 Green, 1 Purple SmartPts

Points values are calculated by Snack Girl and are provided for information only. See all Snack Girl Recipes

Other posts you might like:

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Lighter Chili With Cocoa Powder

What is the key to great tasting chili? (cocoa powder) Many would suggest that you put a lot of meat and sausage to make it delicious….

Slow Cooker Quinoa Chili: Healthy, Inexpensive, and Delicious

This slow cooker quinoa chili is for right now. Can't afford meat? No problemo.....

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First 20 Comments: ( See all 30 )

Looks really good. I just started making chili this morning and I'm doing a quick switch to use your recipe.

I luv veggie chili-hubbs doesn’t like it as well but will eat it, (esp if I put some meat in it.) he doesn’t like the way the carrots make it taste, so guess broccoli is out too😜 zucchini is not easily detected when grated n tossed in! I usually put more cumin in than chili powder, gives more depth, as well as the Smokey paprika. Great suggestion!

Looks awesome! I like to use dried beans unsoaked in chili, how many pounds of dried beans can I substitute? Thanks, xoJoy

I went into the Belchertown Stop&Shop just now to pick up the smoked paprika for this, and all the other paprikas were there, but there was an empty spot above the smoked-paprika spot. Just one lonely jar, way far back, still there--I grabbed it. Must have been a lot of other B'town readers planning on making your recipe ;-)

I’m excited about this one. I also have a veg child whose college dining hall thinks vegetarian food is the daily pasta bar and side dishes to the meat entrees. Just yesterday, we were making a list of meals she could freeze to reheat or cook in a crockpot.

I am a vegetarian too & the recipe I use calls for lentils. It is so good.

Did I miss something? May be a dumb questiion but how do you toast the spices?

Yep...This is getting made! 1 ww pt? Awesome thanks

I just got an Instant Pot. Do you think it would work for this? Do you have any idea for the length of time?

Please tell your kid I love her because your veg recipes are soooooo good! I made this one with dried beans and lentils (boiled up separately first of course) and added .5t oregano. The lentils taste rich and "meaty" for some reason. And I totally agree with the chef: toast spices. Especially for something like this or Harissa.

I put leftover quinoa in my vegetarian chili and it was delicious!

I'm with your daughter on this. No carrots (or celery) in chili. I'll be looking for substitutes.

This looks delicious! I'm a hugeeee fan of chili and make it often. For those of you looking to add more veggies to your diet, or sneak some in for picky eaters, I can't recommend riced cauliflower enough!! Literally takes on the flavors of anything you add to it and I'd bet money on it that no one would ever guess it's in this chili!

I will try it but add mushrooms for a meaty texture. And maybe a bit of cayenne pepper?


Could you please share how to toast your spices? I thought it might be included in your blog. I am very interested in this idea but I have never heard of it. Thank you! Love your work and your honesty!

I've added chunks of butternut squash. It adds a meaty kind of feeling.

I too do not know how to toast spices I can’t make this recipe until I get your directions on toasting please

In converting dry beans to canned, I use this number: 1 pound of dry beans cooked equals 3 cans of beans.

This looks great and I love knowing why to toast spices and how to get richer flavor. This could just be the thing to enjoy on this last month of winter!! Thank you, Lisa!!!!

Re-read the recipe. It clearly says to add the garlic & spices to the onions etc. that you've cooked and the stir them for one minute to toast the spices.

Basically to toast spices is to cook them for a minute or 2 before you add any liquid. Some recipes have you warm/toast spices in a separate pan before adding to other ingredients.

I am a very long time vegetarian and make vegetarian chili often, usually in the slow cooker. Of course, I always have to make a seprate one with meat for the fam! My recipe is very much like yours but I have to agree with your daughter, even though I like carrots I do not like them in chili. I will try this when I want it more quickly then the slow cooker and will try toasting the spices. I have never done that.

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