Homemade vegetarian chili is extra flavorful with fresh roasted chilies. But if you don’t have time do this, an 8 0z can of diced green chilies will be tasty too. It’s a satisfying bowl of plant based chili and loaded with flavor. It you’re looking for a vegan chili recipe, you found it!

Vegetarian Chili in bowl

Inspiration for Vegetarian Chili Recipe

Memories from my vegetarian days were coming back and reminded me of my college years. In fact, my days of being vegetarian lasted from 1990 until 2009. For 19 years, I lived a meatless life where I nourished my days with vegetables, tofu, legumes and occasional dairy products. Then I stumbled upon what was called a “food blog” and I slowly started eating meat again, leaving behind my nearly two decades of eating meat free.

I’ve been missing those vegetarian days, where I was often called a “veg head” by my circle of carnivores and herbivores. It never bothered me one bit when I was surrounded by meat and my choice back in college to start being a vegetarian wasn’t for political, social or religious reasons. I just didn’t like eating meat any more. Vegetables, legumes and whole grains satisfied me and nourished me completely. I was a happy eater and that was all that mattered.

vegetarian chili bowls

Easy Meatless Chili

Recently I’ve been craving meatless dishes more often and turning to beans and tofu has put my body back in balance. An occasional meat dish is plentiful for me and I kept finding myself wanting to dive head first into a salad or brown rice bowl.

Recipes from my vegetarian past keep coming back to me and I always remember how much I loved and now miss eating a hearty bowl of chili. A rich collage of meaty beans, scents of cumin and garlic always brought a huge, hungry smile to my face.  My version of chili always had extra vegetables and a zest of fresh chili. I always love me some spice and if it’s roasted or charred to bring out that earthy flavor, I’ll have second or even third helping.

roasted chiles and bowl of chili

Tips on How To Make Vegetarian Chili

  • Make sure to dice all vegetables to be about the same size. This will ensure that they’ll be cooked around the same time. The only exception are carrots because they take a little longer to cook. So cut the carrots a little smaller than the rest of the veggies.
  • Also when it comes to the carrots, we cook them first alongside the onions and fresh garlic. This will allow the carrots to cook a little longer and become more tender.
  • If you don’t have fresh garlic you can certainly use garlic powder.
  • We like adding soy sauce for extra umami flavor. You can also use vegetarian worcestershire or liquid amino acids.
  • All vegan chili recipe details are in the recipe box below.

Types of Green Chiles: Canned or Fresh

When it comes to making vegetarian chili, I always go the extra step to roasting fresh green chilies. The zest of spice and depth of roasted flavor always make my chili extra flavorful. I never, ever miss the meat part. And if you don’t have time to roast fresh chilies, canned green chopped chilies will be tasty too.

Extra Vegetables for Plant Based Chili Recipe

Sometimes chili recipes have more meat than beans, but in my case, I’ve replaced the meat with hearty vegetables and extra helpings of spice. Each bowl has a happy bite of vegetables, beans and flavor. I’ve added sweet bell peppers, celery, carrots and onion. But here’s more vegetable options to add in this vegan plant based chili:

  • Chopped kale
  • Cauliflower or broccoli
  • Diced fresh green beans
  • Sugar snap peas or snow peas
  • mushrooms



Vegetarian Chili Recipe with Green Chilies

To finish this recipe in 30 minutes, use a 8 oz can of diced green chilies. If you have more time and want to roast yoru own chilies, instructions are below.
Beware! not all chilies are alike. Normally I use anaheim chiles, but their spice level varies. Proceed with caution and add the roasted chiles to your personal taste and spice level. Also, when handling chiles, use plastic gloves.
4.78 from 9 votes


  • 1-2 anaheim chilis , or 1 (4 oz) can of diced green chiles
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion , minced, about 1 cup
  • 2 cloves garlic , finely minced
  • 1 large carrot , small dice, about 1/2 cup
  • 2 stalks celery , cleaned & ends trimmed. Small dice, about 1/2 cup
  • 1 red bell pepper , small dice, about 1 cup
  • 15 oz canned beans (red, black, pinto) , drained and rinsed
  • 15 oz canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water , or more if needed
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce , Or vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt , or to taste


  • Preheat oven to 325°F. Wash chili pepper, pat dry all outside moisture. Rub with bit of olive oil to coat the chili pepper. Put on sheet pan and roast in oven for about 15 minutes, turning frequently for even roast. Roast chili pepper until the skin starts to bubble and char. Then remove pepper from oven and place in plastic bag for about 15 minutes. The steam will release the skin from the meat of the pepper. Using gloves, remove skin and seeds, discard. Dice the chili pepper, set aside.
  • In heated medium saucepan, add olive oil until hot. Then add onion, garlic and carrots and cook until they are soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  • Add celery, red bell peppers , chili, beans, crushed tomatoes, water, soy sauce, cumin, chili powde and salt. Stir pot well and let simmer on low heat for about 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  • We like our chili on the thick side. But add more water if needed to get the chili to your preferred liking. Serve warm.
  • For best flavor, the chili tastes better the next day, once the beans absorbs all the spices. Add more water if it thickend overnight.

Nutrition Information per Serving

Calories: 195kcal, Carbohydrates: 32g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 984mg, Potassium: 855mg, Fiber: 11g, Sugar: 11g, Vitamin A: 4863IU, Vitamin C: 54mg, Calcium: 107mg, Iron: 4mg

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