Vegetarian Chili

Bowls of chili with shredded cheddar, cilantro, and sour cream.

Chili chili chili, can’t you see? Sometimes your ways just hypnotize me and even when you’re made without meat?!

Yes, that’s right. I’d like to introduce to you a really good, really “meaty” and satisfying vegetarian chili that, in fact, does not have meat in it at all.

Let’s Talk Vegetarian Chili “Meat”

This vegetarian chili features a hearty mixture of walnuts, mushrooms, and carrots that can beautifully stand in place of your ground beef and absorbs the big flavors of sautéed onion and garlic, diced green chiles, and all those spices. When scooped and topped with some avocado or cheese, sour cream or tortilla chips, it’s just warming and so satisfying in that chili-specific way. And, bonus, it’s totally meatless.

I have some requirements for my vegetarian chili and the first is that I want it to be really on-point texturally. I want it to scoop like a real chili. I don’t want soup, okay? I want a thick and meaty-like chili texture. The “meat” mixture in this recipe is going to ensure that texture.

My second requirement for my veg chili is equally as important: LOW-TO-NO BEANS. I love beans as much as the next person, but sometimes I feel like they are overused in vegetarian lookalike recipes (like vegetarian chili, for example) where we could easily use vegetables more creatively instead of defaulting to 27 types of beans as the base of the recipe.

I don’t know, I have opinions, okay?

Here’s What’s To Love

This vegetarian chili is all the good things that I’m looking for:

  • thick and hearty and “meaty”, like a standard chili texture
  • beans optional – add if you like them, leave out if you don’t
  • big, big, big happy flavor
  • packed with a variety of veggies
  • easy to make
  • makes awesome leftovers
  • meatless!

If you’re vegan, don’t you worry – this is also a VEGAN chili if you just watch your toppings. Avocado, pickled red onion, radishes, tortilla chips… we got you, vegans. Also: see our Instant Pot Pumpkin Walnut Chili recipe – it’s real good.

Veggie Chili with toppings in a bowl.

I am not a vegetarian or vegan but I hope it’s obvious that I think creative plant-based cooking is so fun and I love the positive impact it has on our bodies and the earth. ♡ You can be all kinds of everything (vegan, vegetarian, or none, IMHO) and 100% enjoy this.

Goals for the rest of the month: more vegetables, and more chili nights!

Check Out Our Video For How To Make Vegetarian Chili:

Click here to see the step-by-step web story instructions for this recipe!

Chunky chili with cilantro, sour cream, and cheddar cheese in a rustic bowl.

Vegetarian Chili

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 5-6
  • Diet: Vegetarian


Vegetarian Chili that’s “meaty” and satisfying – without the meat! A hearty mixture of walnuts, mushrooms, and carrots as your base, with big flavors of onion, garlic, green chiles and spices. SO GOOD.


The “Meat:”

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, washed, stems removed
  • 4 medium carrots, cut into chunks

The Chili:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 6-ounce can diced green chiles (or fresh minced jalapeños)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 23 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 12 teaspoons salt (more or less to taste)
  • 2 14-ounce cans diced or crushed tomatoes (with juices)
  • 1 14-ounce can beans of choice (optional, see notes)
  • 1 cup water


  1. Make the “meat” – pulse all ingredients in a food processor until broken down into a chunky paste-like texture. Set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic. Sauté for 5-10 minutes until very soft.
  3. Add green chiles, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, and soy sauce. HELLO FLAVOR.
  4. Add your “meat” to the pan – once it mixes in and starts cooking, it should start to resemble chili meat. Let the “meat” cook for 10 minutes or so to soften the vegetables. Season with salt.
  5. Add tomatoes, beans if you want, and water to get the consistency right. Let it simmer for about 45 minutes to soften the vegetables, thicken it up, and let the flavors come together.
  6. Serve with your favorite chili toppings, and there it is! VEGETARIAN CHILI! You did it.



Beans: A lot of vegetarian chili recipes are based around beans, and I wanted this recipe to be bean-optional for people who don’t like or can’t have beans. So if you want to skip the beans altogether, no problem! That being said, I like black beans in this vegetarian chili, but kidney beans, white beans, or pinto beans would all be great.

Toppings: For vegetarian chili – sour cream and cheddar or queso fresco. For vegan chili – cilantro, avocado, pickled onion or jalapeno, radishes, tortilla chips.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: vegetarian chili, vegan chili, chili recipe, healthy chili, vegetarian comfort food

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One More Thing!

This recipe is part of our of yummy carrot recipes page. Check it out!

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