Best Vegetarian Chili
This Vegetarian Chili recipe is loaded with so much goodness, you’ll never miss the meat! We’re using a combination of hearty, good-for-you ingredients and delicious seasonings for an easy recipe that comes together with very little effort in one pot. The perfect bowl of comfort and yumminess to enjoy all season long! Slow cooker and pressure cooker instructions too!
Yum. Actually, the best vegetarian chili I’ve eaten. Will definitely be a regular in my meal planning. I love the addition of the cinnamon stick! Thank you for sharing.— Dib
This wonderfully hearty Vegetarian Chili is packed with quinoa, sweet potatoes, black beans, kidney beans, corn and incredible flavor! It’s healthy comfort food at its finest!
If you’re a regular reader of Kim’s Cravings, you know that I’m pretty much obsessed with chili. A piping-hot bowl of chili is probably my favorite meal to enjoy during the winter months. There are so many variations and delicious ways to change it up. Plus, a chili dinner is a great excuse to enjoy crumbly corn bread! If you haven’t tried my SUPER delicious Mexican Cornbread, add that to your menu asap!
I know you guys love chili too because my dad’s award-winning beef chili is super popular and my white chicken chili always gets rave reviews. And, actually, this quinoa chili has been a reader favorite since it was first posted in January of 2017. Because it is such a reader favorite, I thought it was time for a little facelift! We’re updating this post with more detailed explanations, helpful tips and gorgeous photos.
This easy vegetarian chili recipe is made with nourishing ingredients that you might already have on hand. Not only is there no meat in this recipe, but there’s also no dairy, so this recipe is completely vegan too. To make vegan chili here’s what you’ll need:
- Onion. Diced onion adds delicious savory flavor.
- Sweet potatoes. Not only do they add amazing flavor, but they also make this super satisfying.
- Seasoning mix. Cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, salt and pepper create the perfect blend of flavors. If you’d like a little kick of heat, add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
- Vegetable broth. Use more or less veggie broth, depending on how thick you like your chili.
- Quinoa. Adds such a fun texture, soaking up all the flavors and goodness.
- Beans. The recipe calls for black and kidney beans, but feel free to use any beans you’d like. Pinto beans or chili beans would also work great.
- Corn. Corn adds a bit of crunch and sweetness. You can use fresh, frozen, or canned corn for this dish.
- Cinnamon stick. My secret ingredient that makes the flavor really pop! You can leave this out, though, if you don’t have a stick of cinnamon available.
Don’t forget the toppings! We love this topped with diced avocado, fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice. It would also be great with shredded cheese and a spoonful of sour cream or Greek yogurt. If I don’t make cornbread to crumble over the top, I like to crumble tortilla chips over the top. Yum!
How to make this recipe
Making this cozy vegetarian chili recipe is such a breeze! I love that everything is cooked in one pot and the only chopping you have to do is for the onion and sweet potato. Here’s a quick rundown of the instructions:
- Sauté veggies. In a large pot or dutch oven, start by sautéing the onion in a bit of olive oil and then add in the sweet potato and seasonings to cook until tender.
- Cook all ingredients. Add in the broth and all other ingredients and bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer and continue to cook for about 30 minutes and until sweet potato is fork tender and chili is thick.
- Enjoy! Stir once more, remove cinnamon stick, taste and adjust seasonings as needed. At this point you can add in an extra cup of vegetable broth, if needed. Ladle into bowls and serve with your favorite toppings.
Slow cooker option
You can totally make this in a slow cooker instead of on the stovetop! I love that you can just throw everything into the crockpot and let the magic happen!
- Add all the ingredients to your slow cooker. You can sauté the onion before adding it to the crockpot for a little extra flavor, but it isn’t necessary.
- Cook. Stir and cook on low for 4-5 hours or on high for 2-3 hours.
- Enjoy! Stir once more, remove cinnamon stick, taste and adjust seasonings as needed. If your chili is too thick, add an extra cup of broth. Serve with your favorite toppings.
Instant Pot option
Do you have a pressure cooker? Make this in a flash using your Instant Pot!
- Sauté veggies. Start by sautéing the onion and sweet potato in the Instant Pot (with seasonings) until soft.
- Cook all ingredients. Stir in all other ingredients, cover, seal, and cook on manual high pressure for 8 minutes. Immediately release the pressure, then open the Instant Pot.
- Serve. Stir, remove cinnamon stick, taste and add spices or salt & pepper, as needed. Also, if needed add more vegetable broth. Serve with desired toppings.
This recipe really is so simple, but here are some tips to make sure your chili cooks up awesome every single time!
- Rinsing quinoa. Quinoa is naturally coated with saponins, a bitter-tasting outer coating to the seed. Unless your package of quinoa specifically states that it is pre-rinsed, you’ll need to wash the saponin off your quinoa. Place the quinoa in a fine mesh seive and rinse well for a minute or so. When the water runs clear, you can proceed with the recipe.
- Change it up. This recipe is super versatile and easy to customize. Feel free to add the amount of spices and other ingredients that you prefer. Many enjoy diced tomatoes in their chili, feel free to add a can of regular or fire-roasted tomatoes, if you’d like.
- Chop the sweet potatoes into small bite-sized pieces; this ensures they’ll cook evenly and at the same rate as all of the other ingredients.
- For turkey quinoa chili, add in some browned ground turkey. If adding in ground turkey, you may want to increase the spices as well. Also, be sure to season the ground turkey with salt and pepper.
Frequently asked questions
Some common substitutes for meat to make a vegetarian chili include: lentils, black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, and soy crumbles. To provide the same hearty and filling texture as meat, this recipe calls for black beans, kidney beans and quinoa.
Surprisingly, many people like to add unsweetened cocoa powder or a cinnamon stick. Both of these bring complexity and depth of flavor to the dish. They also combine well with other flavors commonly found in chili (like tomatoes and chili powder). Don’t worry these won’t make your chili taste like dessert!
Yes! This is packed with nourishing, wholesome ingredients like sweet potatoes, beans, and quinoa that contain numerous health benefits. It’s also low in calories and fat, but high in protein and fiber, which makes it perfect for satisfying lunches and dinners.
Storing & freezing recommendations
This recipe is perfect for meal prep or as a make ahead meal, and reheats very well. In fact, I think it’s even tastier the next day!
- Leftovers. Store leftovers in an airtight container in your fridge for up to about 5 days.
- Freezing. Once it’s completely cooled, place it in freezer-safe containers or resealable gallon-sized freezer bags. It can be frozen for up to 3 months. To thaw, transfer the chili to the refrigerator and store overnight.
- Reheat. When ready to serve, reheat it on medium heat on the stovetop. You can also pop individual servings in the microwave. You will most likely need to add more liquid because the quinoa will continue to absorb liquid as it sits.
If you are new to quinoa, this is an excellent way to try it for the first time because it doesn’t require cooking ahead of time. Just throw everything into a large pot and your meal is ready in just over 30 minutes! This chili is warm and satisfying on a chilly day!
If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and if your family loves this recipe as much as mine does, be sure to give it a five star ⭐️ rating! Also, tag @kimscravings on Instagram with a picture of your creation. Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.
Best Vegetarian Chili
- 1 medium yellow or white onion, diced
- 3 small or 2 large sweet potatoes, diced (about 1 pound)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt + more to taste
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 3 teaspoons cumin
- 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth, divided
- 1 cup quinoa, uncooked and rinsed as needed
- 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 1/2 cups corn kernels, frozen or canned and drained
- 1 cinnamon stick, optional
Optional for serving:
- lime juice, avocado, fresh cilantro, sour cream and/or cheese, as preferred, and plenty of corn bread
- In a large pot over medium heat, sauté diced onion in about 2 teaspoons oil until translucent and soft. Add diced sweet potato and spices (all are optional). Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add 3 cups vegetable broth and bring mixture to a low boil on medium high heat, then lower heat to medium-low and simmer. Add quinoa, beans, corn and cinnamon stick; cover and cook for 30 minutes more and until the sweet potatoes are fork tender and the chili is thick. Once chili is done cooking, stir in additional cup of vegetable broth. Taste and add more seasonings as needed.
- As with all chili and soup recipes, this is best when prepared the night before or has time to sit before serving for a few hours so the flavors can really shine.
- Remove cinnamon stick and serve with fresh cilantro, lime juice, avocado slices, guacamole, chips, sour cream and/or cheese, as preferred.
- Make ahead. This is a great recipe for meal prep or as a make ahead meal, and reheats very well. In fact, I think it’s even tastier the next day!
- Leftovers. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to about 5 days.
- Freezing. Once it’s completely cooled, place it in freezer-safe containers or resealable gallon-sized freezer bags. It can be frozen for up to 3 months. To thaw, transfer the chili to the fridge and store overnight.
- Reheat. When ready to serve, reheat it on medium heat on the stovetop. You will most likely need to add more liquid to the chili because the quinoa will absorb the liquid.