Table of Contents
  1. Watch how to make this vegetarian chili
  2. Vegetarian Chili Recipe

Basic chili is a tall order because there are hardly two chili recipes alike. Some people use chocolate, beer, or even coffee to flavor their soup. We’ve all grown up thinking of “chili” in a certain way. And whether you like it or have ill memories of the soup, it is one that I have found to be a basic. A cozy warm bowl of chili during these cold winter evenings (especially here in Iowa) warms not just the body, but I think the soul as well.

It’s hard to say what a true and basic chili is, but this one lets the real natural flavors come through, from a quick, homemade chili powder to dried beans that give so much texture. I hope this chili helps you forget about those mushy and drab chilis you may be used to. Simple and fresh ingredients give way to a basic and delicious soup that you’ll love!

Top down view of red Dutch oven filled with vegetarian chili with white bowl with single serving topped with cheese
I love to serve this chili with my cheese and jalapeño cornbread!

I won’t claim this is the best or only chili you should make. For me, it’s a staple and a basic that, once you try it, I think you’ll find out why I love it. I find this is best served with warm cornbread or for me growing up, a large stack of saltines and peanut butter with a pickle (I told you we all have our personal traditions). Whatever your toppings, this chili will be a great base for them!

More soup recipes

Watch how to make this vegetarian chili

YouTube video
White bowl filled with vegetarian chili topped with sprinkling of cheese sitting on wood surface with red Dutch oven in background

Vegetarian Chili

5 from 1 vote
Sometimes, a nice meatless option is a great alternative, especially when you want something a bit lighter. This vegetarian chili, although it has no meat, is still a classic with tons of flavor. Plus, the addition of a homemade chili powder really brings all the spicy flavors that chili deserves!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Soaking Time 1 hour
Total Time 3 hours
Servings 12 servings


For the beans

  • ½ cup dried cranberry beans
  • ½ cup dried pinto beans
  • ¼ cup dried kidney beans
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 8 cups water

For the homemade chili powder

  • 3 dried chiles de árbol
  • 2 dried ancho chiles
  • 3-4 dried hot red chiles
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

For the chili

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 qts tomato juice
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 3-4 jalapenos, minced (with or without seeds for heat)
  • 3 tbsp white rice
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • prepared chili powder (above)
  • prepared beans (above)
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp vinegar


For the beans

  • Look over the beans to ensure there are no stones or bad-looking contaminants. Rinse the beans and place them in a kettle with the water and salt. Bring to a boil, cover and set aside to let soak for one hour. While the beans are soaking, prepare the chili powder.
    ½ cup dried cranberry beans, ½ cup dried pinto beans, ¼ cup dried kidney beans, 8 cups water, 2 tbsp salt

For the homemade chili powder

  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Using hands, open peppers, clean out seeds, and remove stems. Place dried peppers on the baking sheet and into the hot oven. Let toast 4-6 minutes until slightly puffed and crisp. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Break into smaller pieces and place them into a food processor or spice grinder. Add oregano and grind to a fine powder.
    3 dried chiles de árbol, 2 dried ancho chiles, 3-4 dried hot red chiles, 1 tsp dried oregano

For the chili

  • Heat oil in a large Dutch oven. Add onion when the oil begins to shimmer. Let onion sauté and turn translucent. Then add tomato paste and stir to cook out the raw flavor, 30 seconds to one minute. Add the tomato juice, red pepper, jalapeños, and prepared chili powder. Stir in rice and brown sugar. The rice helps to slightly thicken the soup and the sugar balances the acidity of the tomatoes. Bring the chili to a simmer. Then drain the beans and add them to the Dutch oven along with the bay leaves.
    2 tbsp vegetable oil, 1 medium onion, minced, 2 tbsp tomato paste, 2 qts tomato juice, 1 red pepper, diced, 3-4 jalapenos, minced (with or without seeds for heat), 3 tbsp white rice, 2 tbsp brown sugar, prepared beans (above), 3-4 bay leaves, prepared chili powder (above)
  • Place on lid and let simmer until beans are cooked through, about 1 to 1 ½ hours. Stir every so often to ensure nothing is burning or sticking to the bottom. This shouldn't be a problem if using a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven.
  • To finish the chili, add vinegar. This helps brighten or "wake up" the flavors after a long simmer. If the chili is too thick for personal preference, thin it down with a little more tomato juice.
    1 tbsp vinegar


Serving: 1servingCalories: 151kcalCarbohydrates: 25.9gProtein: 6.9gFat: 3.3gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.5gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.4gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1361.2mgPotassium: 794.5mgFiber: 8.5gSugar: 8.3gVitamin A: 91.8IUVitamin C: 71.4mgCalcium: 93.9mgIron: 2.8mg
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Difficulty Intermediate
Method Cooking

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I’m Kaleb! I'm not a chef, professional baker, landscaper, or designer, but I like to play each on Knollgate Farm. Come join me on my journey and let's learn together!

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5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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