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Chunky Vegetarian Chili

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Its almost fall, and I’m constantly craving comforting favorites like this vegetarian chili. It’s a personal favorite of mine, and leftovers are even delicious the next day as the chili thickens. Serve with a variety of toppings, including southern-style cornbread.

vegetarian smoky chili with tortilla chips, sour cream and avocado toppings

Because it’s a yummy, meatless, comfort food alternative that both carnivores and omnivores will appreciate, this chili is ideal for watching fall/winter games with a crowd.

grabbing a chip for dipping in chili beans
so versatile, this chili may be served as a dip or appetizer

Plus, if you pick your toppings wisely, this one-pot recipe can be made gluten-free. This chili is sure to please and even customizable for vegans and dairy-free diets.

vegetarian smoky chili ingredients including black beans, chickpeas, peppers, kidney beans and spices
flavorful, rich chili ingredients

Ingredients for smoky chili

  • kidney beans
  • black beans
  • chickpeas
  • crushed tomato
  • chipotle sauce
  • red onions
  • red bell peppers
  • carrots
  • cloves garlic
  • jalapeno pepper
  • chili flakes
  • dried oregano
  • smoked paprika
  • ground cumin
  • water
  • ground beef or chicken (optional, for non-vegans)

How to make a smoky chili

adding carrots to a large pot
carrots + oil to start
adding garlic to large pot
tomatoes + garlic
added beans and chickpeas
adding spices
adding water to pot
water or broth
simmering chili beans in pot

Step 1: Bring a big saucepan of hot olive oil to a boil. Chop up carrots and sauté them for a minute or two, then add to the broth to cook. Chop red bell pepper and onion and sauté until the pepper softens and the onion is transparent.

Optional: Slice the jalapeño and dice the garlic and then add both to the pot (veins and seeds out). Allow the sauce to cook for one more minute to develop its fragrance.

Step 2: Crush chipotle peppers and add them together with crushed canned tomatoes, canned chickpeas, and crushed beans. Continue to cook for about 20 minutes, until the liquid has been reduced and the flavors have melded.

Step 3: Use the chili beans as a filler for Mexican tortillas, burritos, or enchiladas, or serve them in separate bowls.

view of chili from above with toppings such as sour cream, avocado, and cilantro
top with everything from sour cream to avocado


This chili recipe is dairy-free and vegan as-is. Vegan-friendly toppings like sliced avocado and tortilla go great with this chili. Some other topping options include:

  • Grated cheddar cheese or cheese crisps
  • crackers
  • Lime juice
  • Sliced jalapeños
  • Sliced avocado
  • Sour cream
  • Shredded cheese
  • Fresh cilantro or parsley
  • Tortilla chips
chili in a large pot with several types of beans
leftover chili is even better the next day

Have leftover chili?

The leftovers from this chili store nicely in the refrigerator for four days. Simply reheat chili in a bowl and serve.

This chili is also delicious as a protein-packed topping for baked potatoes, fries, or with grilled cheese. My son loves it for chili mac.

bowl of chili with limes slices and golden tortilla chips
chili is the easiest autumn comfort food

FAQ/ Tips

  • Starting with aromatics like onion, carrot, celery, and garlic, makes these simple ingredients taste extraordinary.
  • For a flavorful, smoky touch, simply use chili spices and smoked paprika.
  • In a rush? If you enjoy a thicker chili, blend a bit. It gives the appearance and flavor of a chili that has been boiling all morning, but it only takes minutes to prepare!
thick and rich smoky chili topped with cilantro avocado and served with golden tortilla chips

Smoky Chili

Original or vegan, this smoky chili is thick and full-flavor! Made with an array of yummy veggies and spices and perfect for sweater weather!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 19 minutes
Total Time: 34 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 162kcal
Author: Amber


  • 2 carrots
  • 1 15 oz can kidney beans
  • 1 15 oz black beans
  • 1 15 oz chickpeas
  • 2 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 red onion
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 cup water *add a little at a time, depending on your thickness preferences
  • ½ lb ground meat of choice *for non-vegans


  • Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add chopped carrot and sauté for a minute or two until lightly golden. Add chopped onion with chopped red bell pepper and sauté until onion is translucent and the pepper is tender. Then add chopped garlic and sliced jalapeno (veins and seeds out). Stir for one more minute to be fragrant.
  • Add canned beans and chickpeas, crushed tomato, chipotle sauce, spices, and water. Stir to combine and simmer for 20 minutes until liquid is reduced and flavors are well combined.
  • Serve these chili beans into individual bowls or use them as a filling for Mexican tortillas, burritos, or enchiladas!


Toppings/ serving suggestions:
  • Lime juice
  • Sliced jalapenos
  • Sliced avocado
  • Sour cream
  • Shredded cheese
  • Fresh cilantro or parsley
  • Tortilla chips
  • Make this recipe in advance and freeze it in portions to have a meal ready when needed. You can store it for up to four months in a sealed bag. Thaw it in the fridge for 8 hours and then reheat it in the microwave or over the stove.
  • For a spicy version, add extra chili flakes, peppers, or hot sauce.


Calories: 162kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 32mg | Potassium: 337mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 6974IU | Vitamin C: 83mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 1mg

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