Chili at its most basic level is a stew of various ingredients made with chili peppers and various spices.
Traditionally, meat is a part of it as well, but for those of us who exclude that food group from our diet, there are many alternatives to use instead that will give you a super tasty bowl of vegetarian chili.
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Versatility of chili
The list of ingredients that go into an award-winning chili dish are as unique as each person’s palate.
If you’re open to melding different flavor combinations together to make exquisite variations of chili, then you’ll appreciate this round-up.
In fact, the beauty of chili's flexibility mean that you can basically toss in or leave out virtually any of the ingredients from these recipes and still come out with a delicious dish.
Vegetarian chili is very much like vegetarian pizzas in that there are so many other awesome ingredients that can pack flavor and nutrition that even meat lovers can get on board with.
There are two kinds of people in this world: die-hard traditionalists who feel strongly that a good chili cannot have beans, and the rest who don’t mind the extra protein in their dish.
If you’re part of the latter, the most common types of beans you’ll find in chili recipes include:
- And other types
Just keep in mind that you’ll probably want to go for firmer beans to prevent their disintegration during the cooking process.
These sides go superbly with chili:
- French fries
The heat of the chili is complemented by dairy-based garnishes like:
- Shredded cheese
- Sour cream
- Greek yogurt
Other toppings that can bring your chili dish to the next level include:
- Avocado or guacamole
- Shredded lettuce
Vegetarian chili recipes
If you do want to follow a tried and true chili recipe, here is a roundup of the best vegetarian chili recipes on the web.
This basic chili recipe includes typical ingredients you’ll find in your pantry and takes less than an hour to make. (via Chowhound)
If you’re after a fun-looking extra-healthy vegetarian chili, then this one takes the pot. The addition of quinoa keeps you full while packing in more protein. (via Peas and Crayons)
How about a vegetarian chili that beat out the rest of its meat-filled competitors?
This colorful dish has lots of beans and flavor that really made it stand out from the rest of its meatier counterparts. (via Running in a Skirt)
Turn up the heat with a chili recipe like this.
If you want to pack more heat, feel free to add more chili pepper flavor (but be careful if serving to kids and others who aren't as into such spiciness). (via Divas Can Cook)
Easy vegan chili
For those who omit all animal products, here’s a go-to recipe. It even includes a recipe for homemade vegan sour cream, the perfect topper. (via Oh She Glows)
Skinny slow cooker
The four hours that your ingredients sit and marinate in the slow cooker for really create a depth of bold flavors that's hard to match.
What’s even better about this dish is that it’s hearty, healthy, and isn’t packed with a lot of calories. (via Tasteful Venture)
With meat substitute
If you don’t mind a vegetarian chili that incorporates fake meat, then try this recipe, which contains Morningstar crumbles.
It’s also a pretty convenient recipe, since it features lots of canned ingredients that most people have in their pantries. (via Family Fresh Meals)
Believe it or not, you can use tofu in chili without anyone noticing.
Freeze and then defrost a block of firm tofu, and the texture will change dramatically, making it very easy to crumble into an end product that is the perfect substitute for ground beef.
The tofu will soak up the flavor of your stew and can really be a game-changer for your vegetarian chili. (via Connoisseurus Veg)
If you’re a Texan or otherwise stand firmly in the no-bean camp, then here’s a recipe that rivals the best of the best that’s completely meatless. (via Brand New Vegan)
With butternut squash
Here is a great autumn recipe. We thought the use of apple cider vinegar was a unique twist we never would have thought of including in a chili. (via Love and Lemons)
With sweet potato
Sweet potato is not the only unique ingredient in this chili recipe. It also features chickpea as the bean of choice, which is pretty atypical. (via Two Peas and Their Pod)
Throwing quinoa into your chili recipe ensures that it's high in protein and will be sure to keep the hunger pangs at bay for many hours. (via Damn Delicious)
Another ingredient that packs lots of nutritional value and helps keep you uber full is lentils!
Plus, they’re really budget-friendly. But the best part about using lentils in a chili recipe is that you don’t need to presoak them like you might have to do with other types of legumes. (via The Kitchen Girl)
With butternut squash
If you like a thicker type of chili, try this one with chipotle style chili spiced with cumin and cinnamon. (via Cookie and Kate)
Three bean [kidney, black & pinto]
Not only does this unique recipe pack a lot of protein, it also includes a hint of cocoa to add depth to the flavor. (via The Simple Veganista)
This kid-approved dinner is easy to make in busy weeknights. It’s basically a one-pot dinner that can be made with just your slow cooker. (via Kristine's Kitchen Blog)
Chili con carne
Although chili con carne technically means "chili with meat," you can try this vegan version that uses cauliflower and walnut for the "meat." (via Connoisseurus Veg)
These hearty, healthy vegetarian chili recipes make for some of the best comfort foods. Don’t be fooled by these meatless chilis - they can totally keep you so full and satisfied.
More Vegetarian Recipes to Try
See all easy plant-based recipes →