Chili con carne is a flavorful, warming, and filling dish. And there’s not even that much chewing involved, which is great, because life is full of unnecessary effort.

However, the “con carne” part poses an ethical or dietary dilemma for many people. Look no further — vegetables are your friend and confidante. They want nothing more than to live in your belly, provide nourishment, and then become poop.

And who are you to deny them that privilege?

Those who’d rather have the heat without the meat can still chow down on this simple, hearty veggie take on a Mexican staple without losing a single smidgen of deliciousness.

This recipe is healthful and hearty, and whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or a meat lover, it’s sure to win you over. The chili is bursting with beans and veggies and has spices coming out the wazoo.

This veggie chili is a surefire hit on game day, for freezing and pacing throughout the week, or simply because you just feel like making a veggie chili for no reason.

Cooking time: 20 minutes prep, 40 minutes cooking

Servings: 4 to 6


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large (28-ounce) can or 2 small (15-ounce) cans diced tomatoes with their juice
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish
  • 1–2 teaspoons sherry vinegar, red wine vinegar, or lime juice


  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or a large stockpot over medium heat. Throw in onion, bell pepper, carrots, and celery and season with salt and pepper. Stir and cook those bad boys for 7–10 minutes, until they’re soft.
  2. Spice time! Sling in garlic, chili powder, cumin, paprika, and oregano (extra points for doing it from the other side of the kitchen and shouting “KOBE!”). Let everything sizzle for 1 minute, until it smells like a good-ass chili.
  3. Mix in every bean at your disposal and the diced tomatoes and their juice. It’s also time for the broth and bay leaf. Stir everything together and simmer all that business for 30 minutes, keeping an eye on the heat to keep a steady simmer going.
  4. Take the masterpiece off the heat and get rid of the bay leaf. To make the texture Oscar-worthy, move 1 1/2 cups of chili to a blender, whirl it until it’s smoother than Ryan Gosling dressed as Prince, and return it to its friends in the main pot. (If you don’t have a blender, mash the chili with a potato masher.)
  5. Once the texture is spot-on, stir in the cilantro and add salt and sherry vinegar to taste.

If you’re in a daring mood, you may want to up the amount of cayenne pepper or mix in some fresh diced jalapeños. If you’re doing this, you may also wish to send #ThoughtsAndPrayers to your digestive system for the morning after.

Don’t add more heat than you can handle. You don’t look as cool as you think with your nose running that much. (However, we spoke to an expert to learn whether spicy food can burn calories — learn more here.)

Be sure to keep anything spicy away from your eyes as well. You won’t want people to think you’ve been watching “The Notebook” as much as you have.

And if you want more Mexican deliciousness, have a look at these recipes that go beyond the humble hand-held glory of the burrito.

Toppings: That final “je ne sais quoi” (but in Spanish)

Top your chili with any combination of sour cream, Greek yogurt, scallions, fresh cilantro, and shredded cheese. Alternatively, you can add whatever you damn well please.

Those looking to go vegan or dairy-free can add avocado or tortilla chips instead. You can also bulk it up with some cooked quinoa or brown rice.

One of the unbridled joys of chili is the ability to store it and return to your new love as often as you please.

Those who know their batch won’t last the week due to extreme tastiness can keep it in the fridge for 4 days. Those looking for a batch that will last for months can make the chili truly chilly by freezing that sucker.

Chili is a nutritious, filling meal that can feed you for days if you make enough of it. It’s also highly adaptable — you can adjust spice levels to make each dish a different experience.

Plus, this recipe can feed vegans, veggies, and meat eaters looking to switch up their daily grub. Check out a more wintry option here.