Vegetarian Chili

Pin RecipeJump to Recipe

You won’t miss the meat in this hearty Vegetarian Chili. Along with classic chili ingredients like beans and southwestern spices, this chili uses walnuts to achieve the perfect taste and texture.

Meatless dinners are some of our all time favorites. For more vegetarian meal ideas, check out this easy veggie quiche and this Lentil Tortilla Soup.

Vegtetarian chili made in a dutch oven.

Why this Recipe Works

Whether you’re a vegetarian or not, everyone needs a few good meat free recipes up their sleeve! Our zucchini “meatballs” are the perfect example of a flavorful meatless dinner.

Today’s vegan chili is one of our go-to family meals. It’s so nourishing and filling that everyone at the table walks away satisfied!

  • Customize your vegetarian chili by adding all your favorite toppings.
  • It’s delicious served over baked potatoes or as a base for vegetarian Frito pie.
  • You can make this recipe on the stove top or in the Instant Pot!

Embrace meatless mondays and whip up a batch of our Instant Pot lentil soup next!

Ingredient Notes

Ingredients needed to make vegetarian chili.
  • Kidney and pinto beans. These are my preferred beans in this chili. However, you can swap them out for black beans, chickpeas or any beans you like.
  • Walnuts. Chopped walnuts add a surprising “meaty” element to the chili.
  • Crushed tomatoes. I use plain crushed tomatoes to control the spice level and flavor profile.
  • Toppings. Try this chili topped with plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream), shredded cheddar cheese and chopped green onions.

Easy Instructions

Step by step photos showing how to make meatless chili.

Saute the vegetables.

Cook sliced zucchini, onion, green pepper and garlic in olive oil for about 3 -5 minutes. Vegetables should be soft and fragrant.

Simmer the chili.

Now, add the remaining ingredients and stir. Cover the pot and let the chili simmer for 90 minutes.

When read to eat, ladle the chili into bowls. Top with your desired garnishes and enjoy!

Instant Pot Instructions

Vegetarian chili made in the Instant Pot.

Short on time? This vegetarian chili in the instant pot is ready in minutes.

Add all the ingredients to the Instant Pot. Lock the lid and cook on HIGH pressure for 5 minutes.

After letting the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes, remove the lid, stir and serve! You’ll love how the flavors mingle under pressure!

Tips and Tricks

  • Topping ideas: corn chips, baked tortilla strips, pico de gallo and salsa are amazing on vegetarian chili too!
  • Storing: Transfer leftover chili to an airtight container. Keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove top.
  • Stir. As the chili simmers, give it an occasional stir. This helps the ingredients combine and cook evenly.
Chili in white bowls topped with sour cream and green onion.

Recipe FAQs

What side dishes are good with vegetarian chili?

You can’t go wrong with thick slices of Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread on the side! Or try whipping up a loaf of Beer Bread to serve with your chili.

Do I need whole walnuts or pieces for this recipe?

I start with whole walnuts and chop them up. You don’t want crumbs but they should be fairly small bits to achieve the right texture.

Can I swap the zucchini for yellow squash?

Yes, you can substitute yellow squash, more bell peppers or any other veggie that sounds good to you!

Is this recipe vegan?

The chili itself is vegan because it contains no meat or animal byproducts. If you add cheese and Greek yogurt, it is no longer vegan. If you need this meal to be vegan, you can use vegan alternatives for the toppings or simply leave them off.

Can I make vegetarian chili in the slow cooker?

Yes, you can! I would saute the veggies as directed then transfer to a slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients, cover and cook on low, stirring every so often.

Bowl of chili with cheese and sour cream.

More Delicious Dinner Recipes

Favorite Soups and Stews

See all Soups and Stews recipes

Pin this now to find it later

Pin It

Vegetarian Chili Recipe

4.84 from 6 votes
By: Aimee
Hearty Vegetarian Chili recipe packed with flavor! You won’t miss the meat in this vegetable chili, and the addition of walnuts gives the perfect texture and flavor!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings: 6 servings


  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 zucchini diced
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 green pepper seeded and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic pressed
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes 28 ounce
  • 32 ounce vegetable stock
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed 15 ounce
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed 1 pound & 13 ounce
  • 1 can tomato paste 6 ounce
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 cup walnuts chopped
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • green onion, shredded cheddar cheese, plain greek yogurt (optional), for garnish
Save this Recipe?
Enter your email and we’ll send the recipe straight to your inbox!


  • In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add zucchini, onion, green pepper, and garlic. Saute for about 3-5 minutes, until softened.
  • Add in remaining ingredients (except garnish options). Stir and cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Serve with desired garnishes. ENJOY!


  • Topping ideas: corn chips, baked tortilla strips, pico de gallo and salsa are amazing on vegetarian chili too!
  • Storing: Transfer leftover chili to an airtight container. Keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove top.
  • Stir. As the chili simmers, give it an occasional stir. This helps the ingredients combine and cook evenly.
For the Instant Pot:
  1. Add stock with vegetables, seasoning, beans, paste, and nuts to the pressure cooker. Lock the lid and select HIGH PRESSURE. Add a cook time of 5 minutes.
  2. Allow to naturally release for 10 minutes. Remove lid, stir and enjoy!


Serving: 1bowl, Calories: 325kcal, Carbohydrates: 30g, Protein: 13g, Fat: 20g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 16g, Cholesterol: 6mg, Sodium: 1080mg, Fiber: 7g, Sugar: 12g
Course: Soups and Stews
Cuisine: American
Did you make this recipe?Mention @shugarysweets or tag #shugarysweets!

Delicious, nutritious and hearty vegetarian chili is a meatless meal the whole family will love!

Avatar photo

About Aimee

Aimee is a dessert lover (specifically rice krispie treats), workout enthusiast, self-taught foodie, and recipe creator.

Learn more about Aimee.

Affiliate Disclosure:**There may be affiliate links in this post! By clicking on them, or purchasing recommended items I may receive a small compensation. However, I only recommend products I love! Thank you for supporting Shugary Sweets! See my disclosure policy for more info**

Learn How To Become a Better Home Baker
Sign up for the Shugary Sweets FREE Email Course Today—soon you’ll say, "I made it from scratch!"

Categories: ,

Posted on March 23, 2017

Comments & Reviews

  1. I have seen pictures of vegan/vegetarian power weight lifters and they don’t look like they are missing any protein to me. So I don’t think you have any worries if you do this right.

  2. I am not seeing the suggested quantity of walnuts to add to this recipe. Is it 1 cup and do you suggest whole walnuts or walnut pieces? Thanks.

  3. I could sure use a bowl of this right about now, Aimee 🙂 Love the addition of nuts in chili…a thought that had never crossed my mind but it looks absolutely wonderful!

  4. I’ve been adding nuts to everything these days – soups, salads, lots of different pestos, and desserts. I love the idea of nuts in chili. Giving this one a try very soon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating