This 3 bean vegetarian chili is made with a hearty combination of black beans, pinto beans, and kidney beans for a deliciously satisfying plant-based meal!

I love making a big pot of chili, and this version is a delicious and nutritious alternative to traditional meat-based chili. You can serve it on its own or with lots of toppings like shredded cheese, diced avocado, or sour cream. The combination of beans and vegetables provides a good source of protein and fiber, making this chili a filling and satisfying meal.

I have a hearty vegan chili recipe that uses walnuts in place of meat. It’s really good, but I wanted to share a simple vegan chili with just beans, tomatoes, and vegetables. This was surprisingly easy to make, since it’s mostly using canned goods. But the flavor turned out great! This delicious vegetarian chili might be your new go-to meatless meal.

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Onion – I used a yellow onion, but a white onion works great too. Or you could substitute the onion for a shallot, if you wanted a more mild flavor.
  • Bell pepper– I used a red bell pepper which adds a little sweetness, but you could substitute it with any color bell pepper.
  • Garlic– I added a lot of garlic for a strong flavor. If you want a mild garlic flavor, feel free to reduce the number of garlic cloves.
  • Seasoning– I used a combination of chili powder, cumin, oregano, and cayenne pepper. For a more mild flavor, skip the cayenne pepper. To add more heat, increase the cayenne pepper or add a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce.
  • Beans– I used a combination of black beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans. I like this combination because it adds different flavors and textures to the chili. I recommend using no-salt added beans to reduce the sodium. You could substitute one of the beans for garbanzo beans for a different taste. Do not try to use refried beans.
  • Vegetable broth– Use low-sodium veggie broth so you can control the saltiness of the chili.
  • Crushed tomatoes or diced tomatoes– I’ve used both crushed tomatoes and fire-roasted diced tomatoes. If you want a chunkier chili, used diced. If you want a thick chili, use crushed tomatoes.
  • Brown sugar– Just a hint of sugar helps balance the acidity of the tomatoes. You can use granulated sugar, if you prefer.
  • Corn– I used canned corn, but frozen corn is fine too.
  • Parsley– This is optional but adds a nice pop of color! You could substitute with cilantro.
  • Red wine vinegar- A splash of vinegar brightens the overall flavor of the chili. You could substitute with lime juice or apple cider vinegar.

How to Make 3 Bean Chili

Tips for the Best 3 Bean Chili

  • Be sure to drain the beans and corn. You don’t want excess liquid in the chili. Otherwise, it won’t have a thick, hearty texture.
  • I recommend serving it with at least one or two toppings to add a little additional texture and flavor to the chili. Just pick a few of your favorites from the list!
  • This meal prep friendly recipe is great because the flavors are even better the next day!

What to Serve with Chili

This chili can be enjoyed on its own or paired with a side dish or two to round out the meal. Try a classic pairing like fresh cornbread or serve the chili over white or brown rice. Baked potatoes are delicious topped with this chili; just add some cheese and sour cream for a comforting and delicious meal.

You could also serve this chili with a simple side salad or roasted vegetables like zucchini or broccoli. If you have leftovers, try using the chili as a topping for nachos, with cheese, sour cream, and jalapeños. It makes a fun and tasty meal with minimal effort!

3 bean chili

Chili Topping Ideas

Looking to take your bowl to the next level? Try adding a few different toppings! You could also create a toppings bar so everyone in the family can customize their bowl exactly the way they like it.

  • Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • Diced avocado or guacamole
  • Pickled jalapeños
  • Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  • Diced red onion
  • Crushed tortilla chips or corn chips
  • Sliced scallions or green onions
  • Hot sauce or salsa
  • Lime wedges for squeezing over the top

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a good substitute for meat in chili? If you want to create a more meat-like texture, try my hearty vegan chili recipe which uses walnuts to replace the texture of meat.
  • What vegetables go well in chili? I like using a combination of onion, pepper, and tomatoes. But you could easily add diced carrots or celery into the mix, too!
  • What is vegan chili made of? This one is a combination of beans and vegetables. It’s surprisingly filling!
  • Is vegetarian chili good for you? Yes! The beans and vegetables provide a good source of protein and fiber, making this chili a filling and satisfying meal.
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3 Bean Chili

3 Bean Vegetarian Chili

  • Author: Liz Thomson
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 10 cups 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan


This 3 bean vegetarian chili is made with a combination of black beans, pinto beans, and kidney beans for a deliciously satisfying plant-based meal!


Units Scale
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, diced
  • 9 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 15oz can corn, drained (or 2 cups frozen corn)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar


  1. In a large pot, add the olive oil, onion, and bell pepper.
  2. Cover and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and ½ teaspoon salt and continue to cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the beans, vegetable broth, tomatoes, oregano, and brown sugar.
  5. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the chili is thickened, about 25 minutes.
  6. Add the corn and continue to simmer for 5 minutes. (If using frozen corn, simmer for an additional 5 minutes.)
  7. Remove from heat and add the parsley and red wine vinegar. Season with salt to taste.

Keywords: 3 bean chili, vegan chili, vegetarian chili