Easy Vegetarian Chili with Mushrooms

With a well-stocked pantry, this Vegetarian Chili is an easy weeknight meal! Let it simmer while you set the table, unload the dishwasher, or relax on the couch. Loaded with beans, tomatoes, and spices, it's a good one to add to your chili rotation.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings


For the chili:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces baby portabella mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mild chili powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 (15-ounce) can fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 3 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1/2 cup bulgur wheat
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke, optional
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans (light or dark or a combination), drained

For the toppings:

  • 1 handful cilantro, minced
  • 1/2 small red onion, minced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • Lime wedges


1 Prep and begin cooking the mushrooms: Put the mushrooms in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse for about 30 seconds until they are smaller than a pea.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add mushrooms to the pot with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 3/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper.

Cook for about 7 minutes until the mushrooms release some of their liquid and turn a darker color.

How to Make Vegan Chili load the mushrooms into the food processor Vegan Chili with Bulgur Wheat process the mushrooms How to Make Vegan Chili cook the mushrooms

2 Cook the veggies and spices: Add the onion to the food processor (no need to clean) and pulse about 6 to 8 times until the onions are the size of a small dice. Add the onion, along with the chopped green bell pepper, minced jalapeño pepper, garlic, chili powder, oregano, cumin, smoked paprika, and cinnamon to the pot.

Cook for about 8 minutes until the onions are translucent and the green peppers just begin to soften. Stir in the brown sugar. Cook for about 1 minute just to incorporate it.

Vegan Chili with Bulgur Wheat process the onions Best Vegan Chili add the peppers

3 Simmer the chili: Add the fire roasted tomatoes (and all their juices), tomato sauce, and three cups of stock or water. Stir to combine.

Cover the pot and bring the chili up to a boil. This should take about 4 to 5 minutes.

Once the chili is boiling, stir in the bulgur, then reduce the heat to medium low. Let the chili simmer for about 12 minutes until the bulgur is cooked through. It should be chewy and tender.

Add the drained beans to the beans and liquid smoke to the pot. Stir to combine. Let it simmer on the stove for about 10 minutes.

How to Make Vegan Chili add the bulgur

4 Season and serve: Stir. Taste, and add salt or pepper as you see fit. Ladle into bowls, and top with the cilantro, red onion and avocado. Serve the lime wedges alongside the bowl.

Vegetarian Chili with Mushrooms

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  • Anastasiya

    Absolutely amazing! My fiance is a self-proclaimed carnivore.. Refusing to believe vegetarian chili would appeal to him.. It’s now in his top 3 of favorite dishes!!! I minced everything by hand since we don’t have a blender and replaced the fresh jalapeno with a dash of Humboldt hot sauce instead, right when adding the liquid smoke for a little extra zest!


    • Summer Miller

      Hi, Anastasiya! I’m married to a serious carnivore as well! I know what it takes to get them to the vegetable side! I’m glad you both enjoy the chili! Thanks for letting me know!

  • Suzanne

    Fantastic! I’m eating a bowl now. I didn’t have bulgur so I used quinoa. A little cheddar and sour cream on top and it’s delicious. Great recipe. Thank you!


  • Susan

    How much brown rice?

  • Rebecca Blood

    Liquid smoke *is* smoke!

    • Summer

      Hi, Rebecca! You are correct. Liquid Smoke is made, in part, with smoke infused condensation. We were trying to let people know the experience of using liquid smoke is pouring liquid rather than releasing smoke from a bottle. We did change the subhead of the section to avoid confusion. Thanks for your comment!

  • GB

    What about barley as a sub for the bulgur? Would it need to be cooked some first? There is indeed a wheat allergy in our household…

    • Summer

      Hi, GB! It’s Summer, the recipe developer. Great question! Yes, you can substitute barley for bulgur. Barley is chewier so the texture of the chili won’t be quite the same but I think it will still be delicious. Barley also takes longer to cook. Par boil the barely first until it’s almost completely cooked through then add it to chili when the recipe says to add the bulgur. You can also leave the bulgur out and not bother with the barley either. If you go in that direction, just reduce the vegetable stock or water from 3 cups to 2 cups.