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Vegetarian Chili

  • Serves: 10
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 1 hr 15 min
  • Calories: 228
A big bowl of vegetarian chili with avocado and sweet potatoes with a spoon

Colorful and warming, vegan chili is a dairy-free, gluten-free, one-pot, wallet-friendly wonder that freezes well and (oh yeah) is also very, very delicious.

Is it Meatless Monday Yet?

Whether you’re just dipping a toe into the world of plant-based eating, are a die-hard vegetarian or a proud vegan, this sweet potato-studded, slightly smoky vegetarian chili is guaranteed to more than satisfy. Since this recipe relies heavily on canned ingredients, if you’ve got a decently well-stocked pantry, congratulations! You’re 75% of the way to making vegan chili. Swipe a couple of sweet potatoes from your Thanksgiving stockpile (or are we the only ones who start stockpiling turkey day ingredients weeks ahead?) and make this easy vegetarian chili tonight—no grocery run needed!

vegan bean chili with sweet potatoes and avocado in a bowl with green onions

3 Reasons This Is the Best Vegetarian Chili Recipe, Ever.

If you’re still reading this, you may not need convincing. But, just in case you need a few reasons to try this glorious vegan sweet potato chili, we’ve come up with three REALLY good ones.

  1. Vegetarian chili is easy. As in, open a few cans, dump and simmer—it’s that kind of easy.
  2. It’s ridiculously nutritious. Brimming with three kinds of beans, this simple vegetarian chili recipe has more than its share of tummy-filling fiber and plant-based protein. Sweet potatoes add vitamin A and potassium, and even the cooked, canned tomatoes are super nutritious—did you know that cooked tomatoes are healthier than raw? Cooking tomatoes dramatically increases their concentration of cancer-fighting phytochemicals.
  3. Vegan chili is ideal for freezing, and keeps for longer than a meat-based chili. In other words, it’s ideal for meal trains, meal prep, and loading your freezer so that someday when you just don’t have the energy even to order take-out, a frozen brick of vegan chili will be lurking in the back of your freezer, waiting to save the day.
onions and bell peppers sautéed in a pot
ingredients for sweet potato chili
Vegetarian Chili in a soup pot
vegan sweet potato chili in a soup pot with a wooden spoon

Everything You’ll Need to Make the Ultimate Vegan Chili

A little chopping—but not too much—a few cans to open, and that’s it! Our easy vegan chili recipe is just that—EASY. Here’s what you’ll need to make it:

  • Onions and garlic.
  • Bell peppers! For a jolt of color, we like the combo of one red pepper and one green but really, whatever kind you like best will work just fine.
  • Sweet potatoes.
  • Beans! Black beans, kidney beans and pinto beans.
  • Canned tomatoes.
  • Red enchilada sauce—not exactly a “secret” ingredient, but definitely a “bang-for-your-buck” trick. Canned or jarred enchilada sauce is a flavor-giving powerhouse, adding a complex, smokey, spicy richness to this meatless chili. We always have it in our pantry.
  • A few simple herbs and spices! Chili powder, cumin and bay leaves.
gluten free vegetarian chili in a soup pot with a spoon
vegan chili in a bowl with a spoon

How to Make Vegetarian Chili

  1. Grab your favorite Dutch oven or soup pot—just anything big and simmer-y, really. Sauté onions, bell peppers, sweet potatoes until the onions begin to soften, about 4-5 mintues. Add garlic and saute for 2 minutes longer.
  2. Add all the rest of the ingredients, and pour in just enough water to cover the beans.
  3. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for about an hour. Almost everything is cooked, but this simmer will do a few things; it cooks the sweet potatoes, and it merges all of these complementary flavors into a cohesive whole.
  4. When the sweet potatoes are soft, and you just can't wait any longer, kill the heat and dish up! We love to lay out a toppings bar of avocado, sliced scallions and cilantro so that everyone can customize their own bowl to suit their own tastes. Sometimes we’ll put out sour cream and shredded cheese, too, for the non-vegans.
vegetarian chili in a bowl with a spoon

Tools You’ll Need:

Other Easy, Weeknight-Friendly Vegan Recipes to Try!

You don’t have to be officially vegan to enjoy plant-based meals any night of the week. Healthy and quick, here are four of our go-to vegan soups and stews:

A big bowl of vegetarian chili with avocado and sweet potatoes with a spoon

Congrats! Now You’ve Got the Best Vegan Chili Recipe On Earth.

Give yourself a pat on the back, and then show us your handiwork! Snap a photo of your vegan chili and maybe even a video of the beautiful people you feed it to. Tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Happy eating!

Vegetarian Chili

  • Serves: 10
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 1 hr 15 min
  • Calories: 228

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1-inch pieces, roughly 4 cups
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely diced (roughly 1 1/2 tbsp)
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained, rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained, rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, drained, rinsed
  • 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (20 oz) can red enchilada sauce
  • 1/3 cup chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp salt
  • cilantro
  • green onions
  • avocado

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large dutch oven or or soup pot. Sauté onions, bell peppers, sweet potatoes until the onions begin to soften, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 2 minutes longer.
  2. Add the beans, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, chili powder, cumin, bay leaves and salt, stir to combine. Cover with just enough water to cover beans. (About 1-2 cups.)
  3. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 1 hour, stirring often to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom.
  4. Serve topped with cilantro, green onions and avocado.

Note: This soup freezes well.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories 228
  • Protein 10 g
  • Carbohydrates 38 g
  • Total Fat 5 g
  • Dietary Fiber 11 g
  • Cholesterol 0 mg
  • sodium 830 mg
  • Total Sugars 8 g

Vegetarian Chili

Questions & Reviews

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  • Colin

    I’m thinking of making this but am wondering if you think it would be good with a chili Arbol added? Was thinking I could toast a dried one and then rehydrate and put it in with the bell peppers.

    Hi Colin, don't see why that wouldn't taste good. Let us know how it goes!

  • Brandon T

    If I used 28 oz of enchilada instead of the 20 oz, should I just let it simmer longer? Or not worry about it

    It shouldn't need to simmer longer. It will probably come out a bit thinner than expected though.

  • Joshua

    Can we make this in a croc pot or ahead of time?

    Sure can!

  • Kathleen Harriman

    The picture looks like yams, not sweet potatoes. Please clarify for me.

    You can use yams or sweet potatoes!

  • Lorraine

    Can I change out enchilada sauce for something else?

    The enchilada sauce is so heavily seasoned that it gives the chili a lot of its flavor, so we wouldn't recommend swapping in anything else. Sorry about that!

  • Benjamin Hough

    Made this yesterday and can honestly say it was one of the tastiest vegetarian meals I've made! I added some fresh chillies and used dried black beans instead of canned. The sweet potatoes were an inspirational addition as they gave more depth to the overall flavour and contrasted very well with the spice of the chili. So happy I made double portions so I've got plenty of leftover.

    Thanks Benjamin, we are so glad to hear you loved it!

  • Howdy Jones

    I consider myself a chili expert and aficionado (and I’ve won local awards for several recipes). I typically use 3-5 different meats in the chili I make, but last week, I bought steak at my butcher and cooked it to perfection, but the meat was old and my mental state / shock has turned me into a temporary vegetarian, which led me to this recipe. Talk about bad things happening for a good reason/outcome! I love this as much as my all-meat chili and my wife loves the sweet potatoes! We’re going pseudo-vegetarian, not vegan, so instead of water, we used beef broth - not sure what impact that makes… Also, if you’d like a bit more spice, just add some red pepper flakes to the pot or Tabasco to your serving (cayenne would distort the flavor profile), but it’s not necessary. Also, when/if my wife and I add meat back to our diets, we’ll definitely keep this recipe, but subtract one sweet potato and add a pound of ground turkey sausage to give it the meat aspect but keep it healthy. Bravo and kudos to the recipe’s creator!

    Thank you so much! We are so happy we could please a chili aficionado, thanks so much for trying it!

  • jude goldstein

    divine velvety texture. the best chili i've ever made and tasted. the chunks of sweet potato held together, gave it so much form and added beautifully to the fullness factor. i tossed in some corn near the end. thank you so much!

    Thank you Jude! We are so happy that you loved it so much!

  • Ramona

    LOVED. enchilada sauce seemed strange, but it totally works. Also, I added some chili seasoning instead of the different chili powder and seasoning and it really amped up the spiciness. Thank you for this recipe!

    You're welcome, Ramona! We are so happy that you enjoyed it! Thanks for taking time to leave a review, we love to hear the feedback and hear about people's experiences with the recipes!

  • Michelle

    Loved this recipe! Never thought to use enchilada sauce in my chili. But that is the secret ingredient I’ve been missing! Making it for this weekend again with some corn bread. Thanks for all the amazing vegetarian recipes!

    You're so welcome! Glad this was a hit!