Vegetarian Bean Chili

By Alexandra Caspero on February 27, 2022
Ready in less than an hour, this chili beans recipe is healthy, vegan and gluten-free. 
Serves 4

Vegetarian Bean Chili! This 3 bean chili recipe is so hearty and delicious, you won’t miss the meat! 

Pretty sure that chili season is the best season. I landed in St. Louis from Omaha yesterday afternoon and the chill in the air almost took my breath away. We’ve had a wild winter of 60 degree weather in between snow and ice storms but I was immediately greeted with bone chilling wind when I stepped off the plane. So of course I headed straight to the store from the airport to grab all of the ingredients for this vegetarian bean chili.

I adore soup season, especially when the weather outside is cold enough to wear sweatpants and fuzzy slippers, be under a big blanket on the couch, and have some type of cornbread or no-knead bread to dunk into my bowl. Now that we are officially here, I’m planning a batch of chili at least every few weeks until spring shows up. 

While I have several chili recipes on my website, I wanted to make a classic. Something that everyone, both vegetarians and meat-eaters could appreciate. A 3-bean chili that packs in the best of the best: black beans, pinto beans and kidney beans with lots of spices, aromatics and a little sweet potato to round out the spicy heat.

This is the chili beans recipe that I come back to over and over again. It’s simple, it’s effortless and it’s always a winner.

Vegetarian Bean Chili

Ingredients for this 3-Bean Vegetarian Chili Recipe 

Here’s what you’ll need to enjoy this healthy, 3-bean vegetarian chili. It may seem like quite aa few ingredients, but most of them are pantry staples like spices and canned goods. 

  • Olive oil
  • Diced white or yellow onion
  • Minced garlic cloves 
  • Celery stalks
  • Yellow, green and red bell peppers
  • Sweet potato
  • Jalapeño pepper, you can seed the pepper for less heat or keep it in for more.  
  • Chili powder. I usually start with 4 tablespoons of spice but you can go with less for less heat. 
  • Additional spices like dried oregano, salt, ground cumin and ground black pepper
  • Canned beans! Black beans, pinto beans and kidney beans are my picks. 
  • Can of diced tomatoes
  • Vegetable broth
  • Splash of white vinegar, apple cider vinegar or fresh lime juice; the addition of acid to chili helps to brighten the overall flavor. Don’t skip it! 

Bean Chili

What kind of beans for chili?

Pinto beans and kidney beans are a must in vegetarian chili, though I also like to add in black beans. Garbanzo beans can be an additional add, though I personally think they weigh down the soup too much and aren’t as good as pinto, kidney or black. That’s why this is a 3 bean chili and not 4!

How to make this Easy Vegan Chili Recipe

Start by heating the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened and lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Next, stir in the garlic, celery, peppers and sweet potato and cook until vegetables are very soft, stirring often, about 15 minutes.

Add in the spices, beans, tomatoes and broth then reduce heat to low. Stir to combine, then cover and simmer for at least an hour. Right before serving, stir in the vinegar and let simmer another 10 minutes.

Divide into bowls and top! My favorite toppings are sour cream, scallions, cheddar cheese, crushed tortilla chips and chopped cilantro.  

Vegan Chili with Vegetables and Beans

Vegetarian chili storage tips

To freeze, place cooled chili in airtight containers and place in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. To freeze, place in a freezer bag or airtight container and store in the freezer for up to 4 months. 

When ready to eat, let thaw overnight in the fridge then reheat in a saucepan over low heat or in the microwave until warmed through.

3 Bean Chili with Sour Cream, Cheese and Tortilla Chips

Are beans good for you?

Beans are incredibly good for you, and it’s something that I’m always encouraging my clients to eat more of. They are a fantastic source of plant-based protein and fiber and rich in both iron and zinc- two nutrients that are sometimes low in a plant-based diet. Additionally, beans are also a good source of the amino acid lysine, which can also be limited in a plant-based diet. It’s one of the reasons I recommend a source of beans (or lentils/soy products) daily.

As an added bonus, a 2013 meta-analysis found a clear connection between eating beans and reduced risk of heart disease and bean consumption has also been associated with a lower risk of some types of cancer, specifically colon cancer.

If that’s not enough reason for you to eat mo’ beans, they also taste amazing! Especially in this rich and hearty chili sauce.

Healthy Vegetarian Bean Chili

If you’re looking for more chili beans recipe, then you’ll also want to consider my:

Instant Pot Vegetable Lentil Chili
Vegan Indian Dal Chili
Black Bean and Bear Chili  
Vegan Pumpkin Chili 
White Bean Vegetarian Chili
Chili Beans with Creamy Polenta
One Pot Vegan Chili Mac
Tempeh Chili 

Vegan Bean Chili with Toppings

Make sure to make a batch of my pumpkin cornbread muffins to pair with this chili! Like regular cornbread muffins, but more moist and with added pumpkin for a boost of vitamin A. 

Hope you love this vegetarian bean chili as much as we do! Don’t forget to pile on the toppings, I love sour cream, avocado, cheddar cheese and a few pickled jalapeño slices on mine. If you want to keep this 3-bean chili dairy free, then simply use your favorite dairy-free options.

If you make this recipe, make sure to come back to rate the recipe and leave a comment. Your feedback helps other readers and seeing you make my recipes makes my day! 

Print
Vegetarian Bean Chili

Vegetarian Bean Chili

  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 servings 1x
  • Category: dinner, stew, chili
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American, Vegetarian, Vegan
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Vegetarian Bean Chili! This 3 bean chili recipe is so hearty and delicious, you won’t miss the meat! Ready in less than an hour, this chili beans recipe is healthy, vegan and gluten-free.


  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 servings 1x
  • Category: dinner, stew, chili
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American, Vegetarian, Vegan
  • Diet: Vegan
  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 servings 1x
  • Category: dinner, stew, chili
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American, Vegetarian, Vegan
  • Diet: Vegan
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups diced white onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 celery stalks, diced
  • Yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • Green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • Red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • Small sweet potato, peeled and finely diced
  • Jalapeño, seeded and minced (optional, depending on heat preference)
  • 4 tablespoons chili powder (can go with less if you don’t want it very spicy; you can always add more. I find that 4T is perfect)
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons white or apple cider vinegar
  • Toppings of choice (I like sour cream, cheddar cheese and scallions)

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened and lightly golden, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add in the garlic, celery, peppers and sweet potato and cook until vegetables are very soft, stirring often, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add in the spices, beans, tomatoes and broth and reduce heat to low. Stir to combine, cover and simmer for at least an hour. Stir in the vinegar and let simmer another 10 minutes.
  4. Divide into bowls and top!

Notes

Can also be made in the slow cooker; sauté vegetables as directed. Then transfer to the base of a slow cooker and add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer on low for 6-8 hours.

did you make this?

Tag @delishknowledge on Instagram and hashtag it #delishknowledge

This recipe was first published in 2019 and updated in 2022. 

Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, Plant-Based Chef and Yoga Instructor. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

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    1. Ashley
      March 10, 2022 AT 6:11 pm

      We really enjoyed this recipe! Left us full and loaded with veggies!

      1. Alex
        March 11, 2022 AT 8:21 am

        So glad to hear, thanks Ashley!

    2. Alexis Lee
      November 26, 2019 AT 7:21 am

      I LOVE chili, I make it about 2 times a month lol! I have always used ground turkey as a healthier alternative for beef. However, I am trying to eat less meat so I am definitely going to try this recipe out. Thank you!