Smoky Chipotle Vegetarian Chili Recipe

Chili is the ultimate gift to cooks in small kitchens. It requires only one pot, the result is a hardy, filling meal that can feed a fleet, and, in the case of this recipe, it’s also extremely cheap.

Though the dish has long been hailed as a meat-lovers’ favorite, we've found that if done correctly, the familiarity of the flavors is what makes people want to eat it all night long. In this vegetarian version, the chipotle compensates in flavor for the absence of slow-cooked beef brisket by giving the dish a down-home, rich smokiness.

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  • Two 15.5-ounce cans kidney beans
  • One 15.5-ounce can black beans
  • One 15.5-ounce can pinto beans
  • 2 medium zucchini, quartered and sliced
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 2 large sweet onions
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 orange pepper (if unavailable, double up on red)
  • Three 14.5-ounce cans fire roasted diced tomatoes, preferably Muir Glen Organic Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes in Adobo
  • ½ quart vegetable stock
  • One 7-ounce can mild green chilies
  • One-half 7-ounce can whole chipotles in adobo sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 bottle dark Mexican beer, preferably Negra Moderno
  • 1 bunch cilantro stems, saving the leaves for garnish
  • Shredded Monterey Jack cheese, for garnish
  • 2 limes, each cut into 6 thin wedges, for garnish
  • Crushed tortilla chips, for garnish
  • Diced avocado, for garnish


In a large pot over medium heat, sauté onions and peppers until beginning to caramelize, about 8 minutes. Add the zucchini and the squash and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and continue to simmer. Meanwhile, add garlic cloves, cilantro stems, green chilies, and chipotles to a small food processor.* Puree mixture. Add ½ cup of stock, and pulse to combine. Pour mixture into pot of simmering vegetables. Rinse beans thoroughly in a colander to get rid of the canning liquids, and then add to the pot. Add salt, chili powder, cumin, oregano, beer, and the remaining stock.

Simmer with the lid off, stirring frequently until the liquids begin to thicken and the vegetables have begun to break down. Serve with garnishes in bowls on the side, so guests can customize their own chili.

The chili is best if made the night before, and can keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

*Note: For the chili, if you do not have any type of blender or food processor, just make sure to finely mince the aforementioned ingredients.

For the chipotle stew

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, deseeded, cut into chunks
  • 1 medium sweet potato (approximately 300g/10½oz), peeled, cut into chunks
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp chipotle paste (available at larger supermarkets and delicatessens)
  • 400g tin cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 400g tin red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • vegan crème fraîche, to serve (optional)

For the coriander quinoa

  • 150g/5oz quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 ripe but firm avocado, halved, stone removed, flesh scooped out
  • 1 lime, juice only
  • 4 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1½ tbsp chopped fresh coriander, plus extra to garnish
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

How’s your February going? We’ve past Valentine’s day and it feels like we’re a million miles away from spring. We’re still on the cozy train, right?! Because I’ve got some ultra warming and delicious recipes comin at ya this week. Like some slow cooker baked potato soup and some honey garlic baked chicken.

But let’s get down to the chili talk, shall we?

This vegetarian chili hits all your bases for a cozy, delicious simmer-able soup/chili that’s perfect for meal prep (freezes like a dream), or a cozy weekend/weeknight in.

Smoky Vegetarian Black Bean Chili
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It’s healthy, packed with protein-filled beans and is perfect for serving a crowd. Because it’s vegetarian and naturally gluten-free, it’s perfect for when you’ve got a group of friends around that may all have different dietary needs. This chili is actually naturally vegan, but my love of cheesy toppings puts my version firmly in the vegetarian camp.

Smoky Vegetarian Black Bean Chili Shortcuts

You know I’m all about farmhouse tables and cozy food, but I’m also about fast prep time and simple cooking. So, of course, my love of a shortcut comes in handy here.

  1. Skip dried beans and go for tinned. They’re just as healthy and cut your cook and prep time by hours.
  2. Buy a tin of refried beans. You don’t need to make your own here. These ones are perfect!
  3. Use a jar of charred red peppers. I was going to make this recipe and roast my own pepper and peel them, but it did seem like a bit of a fuss when you can buy a jar of roasted peppers for a couple of bucks. Be sure to read the label though. We want the ones packed in brine, not oil.

Black Bean Chili Meal Prep

Can you freeze this chili and/or make it ahead of time?

  • Absolutely! This chili recipe is so versatile, it works for whatever your meal prep situation is. If you make it ahead to freeze it then skip adding the cheese and sour cream.
  • And if you make it ahead to serve on another night of the week, the flavors are only intensified and mingle so well when left in the fridge for a day or so.

What’s the deal with the cocoa powder in the recipe?

Good question! Cocoa powder in chili is like putting chili in your hot chocolate. All the flavors play off each other and create a balance and depth of flavor that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. The richness of cocoa powder complements the smokiness of the chipotle and the sweetness of the roasted red peppers.

Can I sub cocoa powder for something else?

You bet you can! Cinnamon and coffee also perform the same flavor bending job that cocoa powder does.

Black Bean Chili Topping Essentials

  • fresh avocados
  • crunchy tortilla chips
  • melty cheese
  • creamy sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • jalapeno peppers
  • tonnes of cilantro
  • limes, always limes

And then go forth and spread all the cozy black bean chili vibes!

Smoky Chipotle Vegetarian Chili with Parmesan-Black Pepper Beer Bread

Chili and I have had quite a few run-ins over the past year.

First-date-like encounters that leave you asking yourself, is this really the one? Or is it the one for right.now?

Can I see myself growing old with it? Feeding it to my kids, grandkids and (fingers crossed) great grandkids?

Will we survive the good, the bad? The better, the worse?

I can tell you from experience that you can’t know for sure until you do find it.

You take one bite and all of a sudden you’re picturing white houses with picket fences (and no darling boyfriend, this does not mean that I ever want to leave the isle of Manhattan. It’s a metaphor), a pie in the oven and a pot of chili…this chili…bubbling away on the stove.

Yes, really, when it all comes down to it. It’s as simple as that.

So what is so special about this chili, you ask? I can’t quite put my finger on it.

Maybe it’s the beans. Or the excessive(ly awesome) amount of veggies. Or the smoky heat from three different kinds of chiles and a heck of a lot of cumin.

Who knows. I don’t think it’s the kind of thing you can explain, or would want to even if you could.

All I can say is – make it. Pair it with this beer bread, which is fabulous on so many levels.

Recipe Summary

  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion (about 1)
  • 1 ½ cups chopped green bell pepper (about 1)
  • 1 ½ cups chopped red bell pepper (about 1)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups organic vegetable broth (such as Emeril's)
  • 1 cup beer
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
  • 1 (15 1/2-ounce) can small red beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15 1/2-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup preshredded reduced-fat Mexican blend cheese

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell peppers to pan sauté 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add chili powder and garlic to pan cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add broth and beer, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add chipotle, beans, and tomatoes to pan simmer 40 minutes or until thick. Stir in salt. Sprinkle each serving with cheese.

Chipotle Vegetarian Three Bean Chili

This chili is quite spicy. For a milder chili, use one chipotle pepper instead of two. If you want more smoky flavor, use smoked paprika instead of regular sweet paprika.

If you prefer a thicker chili, use 2 or 2 1/2 cups of broth instead of 3.

  • Author: Lisa Lin
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes (10 minutes inactive)
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6 1 x


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 rib of celery, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 chipotle peppers (in adobo sauce), roughly chopped
  • 1 14-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 15.5-ounce can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15.5-ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15.5-ounce can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed


  1. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté them for about 4 minutes. Add the celery, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Sauté for another 3 minutes.
  2. Add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, chipotle peppers and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir to combine the ingredients. Add the crushed tomatoes and broth, cover the pot and bring it to a boil.
  3. Remove the cover, add the beans, and reduce the heat to medium. Let the soup simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered.
  4. Turn off the heat and let the soup sit for another 10 minutes so that the beans absorb more liquid.
  5. Serve the chili in bowls with a dollop of sour cream and some chopped onions and cilantro.
  6. Refrigerate any leftovers. The chili tastes even better the next day!


NUTRITION INFORMATION: Amount for 1/6 of recipe: Calories: 270, Total Fat 6g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 1373.4mg, Total Carbohydrate: 43.3g, Dietary Fiber: 14.2g, Sugar: 7g, Protein 13.5g

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Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by USA Pulses & Pulse Canada. Check out their website for more easy ways to use pulses in your cooking!

What’s in a vegetarian/vegan chili?

  • Veggies: I love to use my basic soup and stew combo of veggies to start with - carrot, celery, onion, and garlic. Then I add some sweet peppers and jalapeños for some sweetness and a touch of heat. You can pretty much add whatever veggies you like - the veggie combo in this recipe is my go to for chili.
  • Stock or water: When given the choice I will always choose stock for extra flavour. Feel free to add in more/less according to how soupy/ or thick you like your chili to be.
  • Diced tomatoes: I love using fire-roasted diced tomatoes but any kind of diced tomatoes will do or whole tomatoes work too they just need to be chopped before going into the pot. I usually used canned but fresh tomatoes can be used in this recipe too - details and amounts below in recipe. I also add some crushed tomatoes or passata for an extra rich and saucy chili.
  • Beans: My favorite to use in chili are black beans and pinto but you can use whatever beans you prefer. Other options are red kidney beans, Great Northern beans or you can add Chick peas or even lentils too if you want your chili even more hearty. I tend to use good quality canned beans because they are so convenient but feel free to use cooked from dry beans. Exact amounts for cooked beans below in recipe notes.
  • Quinoa: For me, quinoa is the Ingredient that makes a vegetarian chili taste and feel a bit more “meaty.” Feel free to swap out the quinoa for another grain like farro, barley or bulgur making sure to add extra stock accordingly. Or you can also add in some very-finely-chopped nuts, like cashews, walnuts or pecans for that extra texture! If you wanted a grain free option - cauliflower rice would work well in this recipe too. The shredded carrot also plays a big textural part as well and adds a nice subtle sweetness to the chili.
  • Flavourings and Seasonings: The Chipotle peppers in adobo add so much flavour, a bit of heat and smoke to this chili. I love them! Feel free to use chili powder powder if you don’t have any Chipotle peppers - amounts listed in recipe below. I love adding smoked paprika, and ground cumin too.

Once all your ingredients are in the pot and have simmered away until they are tender and smelling amazing, the big decision will be what to top your chili with. The options are endless. I love to load mine up with the many options I have listed below in the recipe and I recommend you do the same. I also love a squeeze of lime juice in mine as well as a coupe of dashes of hot sauce. A warm bowl of chili with all the toppings or maybe a side of corn bread or even just some crusty bread a glass of wine and my night is made. Hope you enjoy this one you guys!

Smoky Chipotle–Kidney Bean Chili

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The great thing about this classic chili recipe is that you can have all the ingredients on hand in the cupboard, fridge, and freezer and whip it up at a moment’s notice.


  • 2 cups (7 oz.) Southwestern frozen vegetable blend, such as 365 Everyday
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 15-oz. cans low-sodium kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14.5-oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes with chipotle
  • 1 cup grated reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese


Spray large saucepan with olive oil cooking spray, and heat over medium heat. Add frozen vegetables and cumin, and sauté 4 minutes, or until softened, stirring occasionally. Add beans, tomatoes, and 1 cup water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 25 minutes. Serve topped with grated Cheddar.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 pound bulk hot Italian sausage
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 5 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14 ounce) can kidney beans (Optional)
  • 2 teaspoons minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste

Cook sausage and ground beef in a large pot over medium-high heat until lightly browned and crumbly. When the meat has released its grease, and has begun to brown, drain off accumulated grease, and season with chili powder, cumin, and coriander. Cook and stir for 1 minute until fragrant, then stir in the garlic and onion. Cook until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 4 minutes.

Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, kidney beans, chipotle peppers, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then pour the chili into a slow cooker. Cover, and cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours. Stir in tomato paste an hour before the chili is done.

Vegetarian Butternut Squash Chipotle Chili with Avocado

  • Author: Cookie and Kate
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1 x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Hearty, spicy and sweet vegetarian chili made with butternut squash and black beans. Top with creamy avocado for an easy meal that satisfies vegans, carnivores and gluten-free eaters alike. This recipes serves 3 to 4. This chili is very hearty, but feel free to add another can of tomatoes or more vegetable broth if you want to thin it out a bit. Double the recipe for a crowd.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 small butternut squash ( 1 ½ pounds or less), peeled and chopped into ½-inch cubes
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • ½ + tablespoon chopped chipotle pepper in adobo* (start with ½ tablespoon and add more to taste, I thought mine was just right with 1 tablespoon )
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained, or 3 cups cooked black beans
  • 1 small can ( 14 ounces ) diced tomatoes, including the liquid**
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (or one 14-ounce can)
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 Avocados from Mexico, diced
  • 3 corn tortillas for crispy tortilla strips (or substitute crumbled tortilla chips)
  • Optional additional garnishes: Chopped fresh cilantro and/or red pepper flakes


  1. In a 4- to 6-quart Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat, warm the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion, bell pepper and butternut squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are turning translucent.
  2. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the garlic, chili powder, ½ tablespoon chopped chipotle peppers, cumin and cinnamon. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the bay leaf, black beans, tomatoes and their juices and broth. Stir to combine and cover for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Taste about halfway through cooking and add more chopped chipotle peppers if you’d like.
  3. You’ll know your chili is done when the butternut squash is nice and tender and the liquid has reduced a bit, producing the hearty chili consistency we all know and love. Remove the bay leaf and add salt to taste.
  4. To make the crispy tortilla strips: stack the corn tortillas and slice them into thin little strips, about 2 inches long by ¼ inch wide. Warm a drizzle of olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat until shimmering. Toss in the tortilla slices, sprinkle with salt and stir. Cook until the strips are crispy and turning golden, stirring occasionally, about 4 to 7 minutes. Remove tortilla strips from skillet and drain on a plate covered with a piece of paper towel.
  5. Serve the chili in individual bowls, topped with crispy tortilla strips and plenty of diced avocado. I added a little sprinkle of red pepper flakes (optional). Cilantro would be nice as well. You might want to serve this along with some chipotle hot sauce (Tobasco makes one) for the spice addicts like myself.


*Chipotle in adobo sauce is usually found in the Mexican section of the grocery store. I never need a whole can at once, so I use what I need and then transfer the rest to a small freezer bag, pressing it flat before freezing it. Then, I can pull off as much as I need later. As a substitute, use smoked paprika (start at 1 ½ teaspoons, and add more if desired).
**Find BPA-free cans of diced tomatoes if possible. Muir Glen’s canned tomatoes are BPA-free.
On leftovers: This chili reheats great. Avocado and crispy tortilla chips should be added after reheating, just before serving. These tortilla strips tend to lose their crisp over time, so you can a) skip them altogether, b) make more just before serving or c) substitute a small handful of crumbled tortilla chips instead!
Want to make this in a crockpot/slow cooker? I haven’t tried, but commenters report that this chili turns out well after 4 hours on high or 7 to 8 hours on low.

Fun fact: If you’re looking for the butternut chili presented by a contestant on ABC’s The Chew, this is it!

▸ Nutrition Information

Disclaimer: This is a working partnership with Avocados from Mexico and Muy Bueno Cookbook and I was compensated for recipe development. Opinions expressed are my own, always. The truth is I love avocados!