Vegan Chili Recipe, for Slow Cooker or Stovetop

Zoë's Vegetarian Chili, Guaranteed To Satisfy Starving Teenagers

Zoë's Vegetarian Chili

Vegetarian Chili is also perfect for serving to non-veg family or guests - it's so tasty, satisfying & colorful they don't notice it has no meat. And it can be dressed up with cheese or sour cream.

We adapted this recipe many years ago from 'The Moosewood Cookbook' by Mollie Katzen and it was an instant favorite.

Make Zoë's Vegetarian Chili on the stovetop or in a slowcooker. Either way, it's perfect for a hearty winter meal, or a side dish at a summer cook-out.

Questions? See How to Cook Crockpot Vegetarian Chili Like a Pro

Total Prep & Cook Time: 60 Min

6 Servings

Nutrition Data, 189g Serving: 293 cal, 52g carb, 6g fat, 291mg sodium, 12g fiber, 13g protein, low Cholesterol, good source Vit A, C, K, Folate, Potassium. Estimated glycemic load 22


  • 3 cups cooked kidney beans, with 6 cups cooking liquid (how to cook beans)
  • OR: 2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed, plus 6 cups water or soupstock
  • OR: Half and half kidney and black beans
  • 1 cup uncooked bulgar or cracked wheat
  • One 6 oz can unsalted tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
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  • Optional: 1 can crushed or chopped tomatoes
  • Optional: Hot sauce to taste
  • Optional: 1 medium red onion, peeled, quartered and diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced small
  • 1 jalapeño peppers, halved, seeded, and minced, about 1 Tbsp (for more heat use 2 jalapeño peppers)
  • 1 - 2 Tbsp fresh ginger (2 - 4 thin slices) peeled & minced, OR 1 tsp dried
  • 2 - 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (approx. 1 Tbsp)
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder to make it mild, 1 tsp to make it hot, more to make it fiery
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
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  • 2 tsp each: paprika, gr. cumin, coriander
  • 1 tsp each: dried thyme, basil, oregano
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1/2 c. minced parsley or cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp Braggs Liquid Aminos, or low sodium soy sauce
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Slow Cooker Chili Directions:

  1. Turn an 8 - 10 qt crockpot on high
  2. Add cooked beans, cooking liquid or water, bulgar or cracked wheat, tomato paste, bay leaves, and cinnamon stick to the crockpot
  3. After sautéing the veggies & spices, transfer them to the slow cooker
  4. Reduce crockpot heat to low, cover and cook 4 - 6 hrs
  5. Add corn, minced parsley or cilantro, Braggs liquid aminos or soy sauce to taste. Cover and cook for another 1/2 hr on high heat.

Stovetop Chili Directions:

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  1. Add bulgar & tomato paste to kidney beans + cooking liquid or water
  2. Add bay leaf and cinnamon stick
  3. Return to boil, cover and simmer
  4. Preheat sauté pan or frying pan on medium-low and add oil
  5. Prep veggies
  6. Sauté minced garlic, ginger and jalapeno on medium heat for 5 minutes
  7. Add remaining veggies and sauté 5 more minutes
  8. Add remaining spices, sauté another five minutes
  9. Transfer the veggies to the bean + bulgar mix, cook another 30 minutes
  10. Add corn, parsley or cilantro, and braggs or soy sauce to taste
  11. Cook for a few more minutes and serve

Cooking Kidney beans:

  1. Kidney beans take 12 - 24 hours soaking. They've had enough when they've doubled in size and have no wrinkles
  2. Beans have cooked long enough when they're soft enough to mash with your fingers, but still intact
  3. Beans are generally cooked without salt so they won't be tough, BUT a pinch of salt in the soaking and cooking water helps kidney beans to cook with skins intact. Adding salt adds an hour or so to the cooking time.
  4. Toxins and Crockpot Cooking: Red and white kidney (cannellini) beans, and black beans, contain the toxin phytohennagglutenin. Red kidney beans contain the highest amount. You can get rid of the toxin through long soaking (12 - 24 hours), with 2 or 3 changes of water, then boiling the beans for 10 - 15 minutes before adding to the crockpot. It's a good idea to preheat the crockpot on high before adding the beans.
  5. Get more info on phytohennagglutenin. Watch our video, Basic Bean Cooking (with Kidney Beans and Black Eyed Peas). See our basic bean cooking recipe for more tips.
  6. Slow Cooker: After soaking, boiling & skimming the foam, drain beans and add to cooker with cold water to cover. Cover and cook on low for 6 - 8 hours, just until tender.
  7. For pressure cooking or stovetop cooking, boiling first is not necessary, but beans should always be soaked so they cook more quickly and evenly.
  8. If you use a pressure cooker, consult the bean cooking chart on the basic bean cooking page for cooking times.
  9. 1 cup dried dark red kidney beans
  10. Soak 6 hours in hot water, or 12 - 24 hours in cold water
  11. Drain, rinse, add water to cover
  12. Bring to a boil, skim foam, cover and simmer 2 hours or more until soft but intact
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Recipe Tips:

Vegetarian chili is a great vegan meal by itself, or with salad and cornbread. Good with sour cream or parmesan cheese - non-dairy or dairy. You can also use black beans in this recipe, or a mixture of red chili beans & black beans, as pictured.

Note: If you're going to soak and cook beans, it's worth making extra, to freeze in small containers for future meals - such as quick easy Red Beans and Rice or Red Lentil Kidney Bean Stew.

More bean cooking tips and directions

Recipe Comments:

"I made your vegetarian chili last week. I made a couple of adjustments (as I always do), but it was terrific!" - Ellen F.

"Yum! I made this tonight and it is now my favorite Chili recipe. Thanks for sharing" - Stacey C.

"Made this last night...delish!" - Jessica B.

"Delicious! Tweaked the recipe just a bit by adding crushed tomatoes and hot sauce, even so, I think this is my new go-to recipe for chili. Everyone (even the omnis!) thought it both looked and tasted great." - Erica W.

Excellent!!! Better tasting than regular chili. I served this to a group of 10 (just double recipe)- all meat eaters- and everyone wanted a copy of the recipe. A friend made it for her family and they loved it. Thanks! - M. Harried

I just finished making vegetarian Chili. I added Zuchinni and some Salsa. Didn't have the Cilantro the recipe called for. I even added at least a TBS of lemon juice, not on purpose. I meant to put it in my glass of water and put it in the Chili instead. It might be cutting the heat a bit. Well, I tried a big soup spoon of it and then another spoon and then another so I must like it - Florence B.

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