Spicy Vegetarian Chili

The BEST Vegetarian Chili! Make it with eggplant, plum tomatoes, onion, garlic, zucchini, bell peppers, jalapeños, white beans, kidney beans, and cilantro. You won't miss the meat!

Spicy Vegetarian Chili
Elise Bauer

Vegetarian Chili Even a Committed Carnivore Will Love

Those of you who have been reading Simply Recipes for a while probably sense (rightly) that my father is a committed carnivore.

Thus, you may appreciate that Dad, spending an afternoon making this vegetarian chili with vegetables that he had bought at the farmers market that morning, would only put so much care into a meat-free chili, his dinner, if that chili were darn good.

This vegetarian chili is that good.

Spicy Vegan Chili in serving dish
Elise Bauer

Vegetarian Chili Success

It's excellent! Spicy, flavorful, delicious.

Of course, my mother did have to convince Dad that no, we didn't need steak in addition to the chili, it was to remain a meatless chili—the beans were full of protein. And no, neither did we need potatoes. We served our vegetarian chili with French bread.

We used canned beans, but of course you can always make your beans from scratch on the stove or in the pressure cooker.

How to Store and Freeze This Chili

Like many chilis, this one is just as good the next day. It will keep in the refrigerator for three to four days and can be reheated over low heat on the stovetop or in the microwave.

To freeze, let it cool completely, then transfer to freezer storage containers. Freeze for up to three months. Thaw in the fridge overnight, or reheat straight from the freezer over low heat on the stovetop.

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Spicy Vegetarian Chili

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 70 mins
Total Time 90 mins
Servings 8 to 10 servings

The level of spiciness in this vegetarian chili will depend on how much chili powder, and how many jalapeños you put in the chili. If you like things on the mild side, start with the smaller amounts of both, and add to taste.


  • 1 1-pound (450g) eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes

  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 yellow onions, chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped

  • 2 large red bell peppers, cored, seeded, diced

  • 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded, finely minced (Taste and check the heat of the jalapeños. If very hot only use one, if mildly hot, use two. Wash hands with soap and water after handling. Do not rub eyes.)

  • 1 28-ounce (794g) can Italian plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped, including liquid (or 2 pounds fresh plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped)

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chili powder

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano or 2 teaspoons dried

  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans (1 15-ounce or 425g can), drained and rinsed

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans (1 15-ounce or 425g can), drained and rinsed

  • Zest from one lemon

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon sugar (use raw, beet, or coconut sugar for vegan version)

  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro (can sub parsley if you have an aversion to cilantro)

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Roast the cubed eggplant:

    Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Scatter eggplant cubes in a shallow roasting pan and slather with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for about 30 minutes, stirring once during the cooking. Remove from the oven and set aside.

  2. Sauté the onions, garlic, peppers:

    While the eggplant is roasting, start on the rest of the vegetables. In a large (5-6 quart) thick-bottomed Dutch oven, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute more.

    Add the red bell peppers, zucchini, and jalapeño chili peppers. Cook for about 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Add the tomatoes, spices, chili, and roasted eggplant:

    Add the tomatoes to the pot along with any liquid that may have been in the can (if using canned). Add oregano, cumin, and fennel seeds. Add chili powder to desired heat. Stir in the eggplant cubes (carefully as to not break them up), and simmer for 20 minutes over low heat.

  4. Add the beans, lemon, sugar, cilantro, salt, pepper:

    Add the white beans and kidney beans, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, and chopped cilantro. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Simmer for 5 minutes.

  5. Serve with garnishes:

    Serve with sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, and chopped green onions.


Vegetarian Chili with Smoked Spices from Sally Cameron

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
194 Calories
8g Fat
27g Carbs
7g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8 to 10
Amount per serving
Calories 194
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 1g 6%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 65mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 27g 10%
Dietary Fiber 8g 27%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 43mg 213%
Calcium 88mg 7%
Iron 3mg 18%
Potassium 750mg 16%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.