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Vegetarian Chili

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.


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

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

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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 ourpantry.
  • 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


  • 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


  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
  • Calories228
  • Protein10 g
  • Carbohydrates38 g
  • Total Fat5 g
  • Dietary Fiber11 g
  • Cholesterol0 mg
  • sodium830 mg
  • Total Sugars8 g

Vegetarian Chili

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Donna Marie taylor

    I'm vegetarian and started became a vegetarian since Sunday 26th March 2023. I would like some vegetarian recipes

    Check out our post titled 60 Best Vegetarian Meals.

  • rachel

    Did anyone else find this crazy spicy? 1/3 cup of chili powder was waaay too much for us!

    Sorry to hear that, we don't find it too spicy but of course feel free to cut back!

  • 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!

  • Linda Lepone

    This is quite spicy and delicious! I added a can of stewed tomatoes and a drained can of corn. My plan is to eat this for lunches and freeze portions for later. I highly recommend this meatless chili.

    Thanks Linda, we are so happy you love this recipe!

  • Katie

    Fantastic recipe. This recipe won a chili contest compared to other meat chilis! The way I make it it's definitely a labor of love, but I prep the sweet potatoes, onions/peppers, and beans the day before so the day of I can throw everything in the crock pot.

    A few recommendations:
    - If you have the time, try roasting the sweet potatoes and getting those caramelized edges. I also sautéed the onions and peppers in a pan before I added.

    - I used dried beans for this - a great extra step if you have the time. I cooked the dried beans the day before (though I know there are some chili recipes where you can use dried beans).

    - The crock pot worked great for this dish - slow cooked it for 8 hours and was nice to set it and forget it.

    - Added a little bit of nutritional yeast for that depth of cheesy flavor, and the juice of a lime at the end. I'm curious if there are any other secret ingredients, like red wine/beer/bourbon, coffee, or chocolate would enhance the flavor even more (though I didn't try these).

    So excited to hear it won a contest! Thanks Katie, glad you loved it!

  • Marianne M.

    Amazing! We’ve been trying to add more vegetarian/vegan meals each week. Made this tonight and it was fantastic! Hands down one of the best chili recipes I’ve made.

    I used homemade enchilada sauce and replaced the water with some vegetable broth I had in the fridge. Cannot wait to have this for lunch tomorrow!

    Thanks Marianne, so happy to hear you loved it!

  • Marisa Messer-Belenchia

    Recipe is delicious! The amount of chili powder makes the flavors pop! Have made a few times and is always a hit. Super easy to make, definitely recommend trying! Thank you for sharing

    Thanks Marisa! We are so glad you enjoyed it!

  • 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!