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Vegetarian Chili

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This amazing vegetarian chili recipe is easy to make in the Instant Pot, Crock-Pot or on the stovetop. It’s naturally gluten-free and vegan. And most importantly, it is crazy good.

Vegetarian Chili

Meet…the best damn vegetarian chili I know. 

Seriously, this chili recipe is just the best. It’s made with the most delicious, perfectly-seasoned, classic savory chili flavors we all love. It’s also naturally gluten-free and vegan, and full of lots of good-for-you protein and nutrients. It requires very little chopping, and is easy to cook in either the Instant Pot, Crock-Pot or on the stovetop. It makes for the absolute best leftovers, and also freezes beautifully.

And the best part?

I can vouch that meat lovers, vegetarians and even vegans alike all go crazy for this chili.

It’s one of those back pocket recipes that you can whip out at the last second for a weeknight dinner, random game day gathering, or even enter in the neighborhood’s chili cook-off. And every time we make it in our house, it is always, always a hit. So if you’re looking for a healthier vegetarian chili recipe that everyone can enjoy this season, stock up on some beans and grab your favorite toppings and let’s make a quick batch!


Easy Chili Recipe (Vegetarian, Vegan and Gluten-Free)

Vegetarian Chili Ingredients

To make this easy chili recipe, you will need:

  • Veggies: I keep things simple here with just an onion, red bell pepper (or you can use roasted red peppers) and garlic. If you like a sweeter chili, you’re welcome to add in a small sweet potato, but I prefer my chili more savory.
  • Veggie stock: Feel free to add in more/less according to how soupy you like your chili to be.
  • Diced tomatoes: I recommend using fire-roasted diced tomatoes if you can find a can, but otherwise any kind of diced tomatoes will do.
  • Canned beans: We’ll keep things simple by just adding one can of beans — your choice. I used dark red kidney beans, but pinto, black or Great Northern beans would also work.
  • Lentils: For me, lentils are the key to making a vegetarian chili taste and feel a bit more “meaty.” We will use a cup of either green or brown lentils here, so that they hold their shape and don’t get too mushy.
  • Seasonings: Just chili powder, smoked paprika, ground cumin, salt and pepper.

Then, you know me — when it comes to chili toppings, I firmly fall in the more-the-merrier camp. And highly recommend loading your chili up with as much diced avocado, chopped fresh cilantro, diced green or red onions, shredded cheese, sour cream, and/or crumbled corn tortilla chips as possible! Of course, if you are making this chili vegan or gluten-free, choose your topping ingredients accordingly.

Instant Pot Chili Recipe

Instant Pot Chili Recipe

To make this vegetarian chili recipe in the Instant Pot (pressure cooker), simply:

  1. Add all ingredients to your Instant Pot. If you don’t mind the extra step, I recommend using the “Sauté” button to first sauté the onion, red pepper and garlic in oil until softened. (But you can also totally skip that step if you’re in a hurry.)
  2. Pressure cook. Then cook the chili on high pressure (using the “Manual” button) for 12 minutes, followed by a quick release.
  3. Taste and season. Give the soup a taste, and season with salt and pepper as needed, plus any extra cumin, chili powder, or smoked paprika to taste.
  4. Serve warm. Piled high with all of your favorite toppings!

Crockpot Chili Recipe

To make this vegetarian crockpot chili, simply:

  1. Add all ingredients to your slow cooker. This recipe will fit in either a 4-quart or 6-quart slow cooker.
  2. Slow cook. Then cover and cook the chili on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours, until the lentils are tender.
  3. Taste and season. Give the soup a taste, and season with salt and pepper as needed, plus any extra cumin, chili powder, or smoked paprika to taste.
  4. Serve warm. Piled high with all of your favorite toppings!

Stovetop Chili Recipe

To make this easy vegetarian chili recipe in a stockpot on the stove, simply:

  1. Sauté the veggies in a stockpot Heat the oil, then sauté the onion, followed by the red bell pepper and garlic, in your stockpot until softened.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients.  Add everything else to the pot. Then continue cooking until the mixture reaches a simmer. Cover, and lower the heat a bit to maintain the simmer, and cook until the lentils are tender.  
  3. Taste and season. Give the soup a taste, and season with salt and pepper as needed, plus any extra cumin, chili powder, or smoked paprika to taste.
  4. Serve warm. Piled high with all of your favorite toppings!

The Best Vegetarian Chili Recipe

Possible Variations

There are all sorts of ways to mix things up with this recipe! For example, feel free to:

  • Make it spicier. If you like your chili to have more of a kick, feel free to add in 1 or 2 finely-diced jalapeño peppers. (Just add them in at the same time as the onions.)  Or you can also add in a few pinches of cayenne pepper, to taste.
  • Make it smokier. I also really love adding in a roughly-chopped chipotle in adobo sauce to my chili, for that extra smoky peppery taste.
  • Add in extra veggies. I kept this base recipe simple. But if you would like to add in some extra veggies, anything from sweet potatoes to carrots, celery, mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant or kale would be delicious. If you add in many more, just add in extra broth and seasonings to compensate.
  • Add in grains/nuts. To make your chili extra-hearty, feel free to also add in some grains like quinoa, farro, barley or bulgur. (Add extra veggie stock accordingly if using extra grains.)  Or you can also add in some very-finely-chopped soft nuts, such as walnuts or pecans.

Easy Chili Recipe

What To Serve With Chili

Looking for some side dish ideas to serve with chili? Any of these classics would be delicious:

Amazing Vegetarian Chili Recipe (also Gluten-Free and Vegan)

Lemme know how things go if you make this one! Hope you enjoy it! :)

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Vegetarian Chili

Vegetarian Chili

  • Author: Ali
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 -6 servings 1x


Instructions included below for how to make this amazing vegetarian chili in either the pressure cooker, slow cooker or stockpot.  See notes above for possible recipe variations too!


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 34 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 (15-oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15-oz) can beans of your choice, rinsed and drained (I used dark red kidney beans)
  • 1 cup uncooked green or brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
  • toppings: diced avocado, chopped fresh cilantro, diced green or red onions, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, and/or crumbled corn tortilla chips


Instant Pot Chili Instructions:

  1. Press the “Sauté” button on the Instant Pot.  Add oil, followed by the onion and red pepper.  Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened.  Add garlic and sauté for 1 more minute, stirring occasionally.  Press the “Cancel” button.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl of the Instant Pot.  Place the lid on and set to “Sealing.”  Using the “Manual” button, cook the chili on high pressure for 12 minutes, followed by a quick release.
  3. Taste and season with salt and pepper (or any other additional seasonings) as needed.
  4. Serve immediately, piled high with all of your favorite toppings.  Or transfer to a sealed container and refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Crockpot Chili Instructions:

  1. Add all ingredients to the bowl of a slow cooker, and stir briefly to combine.
  2. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours, until the lentils are tender.
  3. Taste and season with salt and pepper (or any other additional seasonings) as needed.
  4. Serve immediately, piled high with all of your favorite toppings.  Or transfer to a sealed container and refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Stovetop Chili Instructions:

  1. Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.  Add onion and red pepper and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened.  Add garlic and sauté for 1 more minute, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.  Continue cooking until the chili reaches a simmer.  Then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and continue cooking for 20 minutes, or until the lentils have softened.
  3. Taste and season with salt and pepper (or any other additional seasonings) as needed.
  4. Serve immediately, piled high with all of your favorite toppings.  Or transfer to a sealed container and refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.


*Cooking time noted above is for the stovetop method.

This post includes affiliate links.

The Best Vegetarian Chili (Instant Pot | Crockpot | Stovetop)

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44 comments on “Vegetarian Chili”

  1. This recipe sounds great. You made a comment about making it sweeter with a sweet potato. I’m thinking it would be a good place to try my sweet chili powder. I’m going to be making some blue corn tortillas, so I think they’d make a nice go-with. Other than that I would use my corn bread recipe that I put mesquite flour in (THE BEST corn bread on the planet).

  2. This is too funny- I’ve decided to go vegetarian for the month of January, and was looking for a chili to make in the crockpot tonight… and then this showed up in my inbox! My grocery store didn’t have brown/green lentils in stock, so I went for split red and am hoping it turns out okay. Thanks Ali!!

  3. Delicious! I used black beans and added Frank’s Red Hot at the table. So good.

  4. Could you add in Boca ground meat and still keep it vegetarian?

  5. This looks delicious! My current go-to chili recipe is your 5 ingredient chili (but adding a little cooked quinoa to it). I just added a couple ingredients to my shopping list so I can try this recipe soon.

  6. Best chili ever!! Made exactly as recipe stated in crockpot and It is delicious. Will be making this all winter long! Thanks for another great recipe

    Thanks for the wonderful recipe, Ali. I made this dish exactly how you described here and it turned out to be so good. My friends loved it so much and I got too many compliments for this, thanks to you.
    Although I did use black beans as well.
    Absolutely loved it. Such great recipes you have here!
    Haooy New Year to you and your family :D

  8. LOVED THIS! I’ve made a number of vegetarian chili recipes before, but something about the texture of this one was just perfect. We crumbled some lime-flavored tortilla chips on top and the whole combination was magic.

  9. Tried this recipe and absolutely loved it! Very hearty and such good flavor :) thank you!

  10. If I have pre-cooked lentils, would I just reduce the broth amount (maybe by half?) and cook it for less time? My grocery store was fresh out of uncooked lentils! Thanks!

  11. I just made this amazing chili. The only thing I did different is regular diced tomates because that’s what I had. I really don’t like lentil but decided to give this recipe a try and boy oh boy I’m so happy I did. I love it!!!!!

  12. Made this chili this week with a couple of variations& it was delicious! It is a flexible recipe that even my non vegetarian husband liked.
    Love your recipes Ali – keep them coming ! !!

  13. We had this for dinner tonight. It tasted so good and I will definitely be making this again. Thank you so much for the recipe. It’s a winner!

  14. This chili had the best texture! Flavor wise-mine needed a little something to spice it up-it was kind of bland. I did add an extra can of beans and extra bell pepper tho so maybe that is why. I ended up putting a little bbq sauce in it and then it was perfect. We also didn’t have much fixings to go on it. Added cilantro and tortilla strips. Thanks!!

  15. I believe this is the best vegetarian recipe ever!! I loved it. I used both the sweet potato, red bell pepper, barley, and mushrooms. It did not taste like chili to me. It tasted like jambalaya and it was fantastic!!! The next best thing about it was that it was healthy. Thank you so much! I think you do a wonderful service for all of us and you must work very heard. Thank you for sharing your talents with us.

  16. This was delicious! I made it in my Instant Pot, and used a can of regular diced tomatoes and a can of black beans. Also used 2 cups homemade veggie stock and 1 1/2 cups homemade chicken stock. Thanks for a great recipe!

  17. This is a very tasty chili recipe. It came out a little liquidity but I moved it from the instapot and cooked it down a bit to fix that. I’ve used the chili on veggie dogs and veggie burgers and it works well on it’s own. Thank you for the great recipe.

  18. The recipe turned out pretty good, but even after following the suggestions to add in jalapeño and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, I still found it tasted quite bland. So I added more paprika, some cayenne pepper flakes, more chipotle peppers and the adobo sauce itself, turmeric, garlic powder, and even some cinnamon and balsamic vinegar since I heard this can help improve taste.

    I also added tomato sauce, because I found it too watery with just the vegetable broth.

    One other note: Next time I’d use less lentils, maybe only half a cup, because I found the ratio of lentils to everything else a bit high, and that’s all I could taste! I decided to add in a second can of beans to make it taste more like chili. The recipe is a good base, but many modifications are needed.

  19. Just made this and everyone in my family had seconds! Including my picky 11 and 7 year olds!

  20. Delicious! Doubled the recipe and served to both vegetarians and regular meat-eaters, and it was loved by all.

  21. I made this at lunchtime today – I am working from home so hey why not?! I had all the ingredients in the pantry, including 2 almost gone by sweet potatoes – I think they added a nice sweet element to the recipe. I did not have fire roasted tomatoes but I used a can of rotel which was totally great! Added some tortillas chips and some avocado and good to go!

  22. Loved the flavor! I like mine spicy, so I added a large diced jalapeno pepper and a can of “spicy black beans”. It was pretty thin even after using only 3 cups of vegetable broth, so I thickened with a can of tomato paste. My store did not have dried brown or green lentils, so I substituted a 15 oz can of cooked green lentils with onion/bay. I drained and used the full can, but added after cooking was complete. Since I also tend to like Southwest chili’s, I also added a can of sweet corn. It absolutely did not need salt or pepper, and tasted fantastic!

  23. This is THE BEST! I added a bit more chili powder and celery instead of the bell pepper (simply because that’s what I had on hand) and it turned out delicious. My husband said its the best i”ve ever made.

  24. Unfortunately I could only get black lentils when I ordered my groceries. Will that sub ok?

  25. This was excellent! So easy and I had most of the items in my pantry. I also prefer a chili without sweet potato, so I was excited to try this. Will definitely make again.

  26. I made this using an Instapot and added in crumbled seitan for extra “meaty” protein and used regular diced tomatoes instead of fire roasted ones. Served by itself, I thought it was a little plain. But then I added a like squeeze, fresh cilantro, chipotle Cholula sauce, and Greek yogurt (instead of sour cream)… and it was DELICIOUS. Thanks for sharing!

  27. Best recipe for veggie chilli EVER!!

  28. I made this recipe for my in-laws for the first time and it was amazing and they loved it. I added carrots and corn to the chilli and it was a great addition. I also served it with tortilla chips and all the standard chilli toppings. I am definitely making this again.

  29. This recipe was DELICIOUS!! I don’t think I’ve ever reviewed a recipe before, but i had to with this one.
    Usually with recipes I have to tweak the measurements, or just modify it so it actually works/doesn’t burn, etc.
    With this recipe, I followed it almost exactly to a T.
    The only modifications i made with this recipe was that I added a 15oz can of chick peas (only because i like them in my chili), and a tiny bit of beef bouillon for depth of flavor- both just personal preference. Im so impressed with this recipe, im definitely adding it to my regular rotation of meals. This recipe came out so delicious and flavorful, and it was the exact same consistency as meat chili! The lentils kind of replaced the ground beef, but not overwhelmingly so. 5 stars, 10/10 :)

  30. Thank you for posting this! This is such a great recipe, I really like the inclusion of lentils. We often cook it with red lentils (instead of green or brown), but it still tasted great!

  31. This was good but my lentils were undercooked in the pressure cooker and there was a ton of water left over. I ended up adding more beans to compensate. I’m going to try cooking the leftovers a little longer to see if I can cook the lentils all the way. Outside of that issue it did taste really good!

  32. Delicious! Will make this again and again.

  33. I’m still looking for the perfect veg chili recipe. This one was a little bland and too thin for me since it just uses water. At the last minute I added a can of crushed tomatoes which helped. It’s not bad, it just wasn’t as good as some reviews claimed. We ate it with a baked potato and lots of toppings – plant based cheese sauce, cashew cream, cilantro, and avocado.

  34. My family loves this chili. Can you make and freeze?

  35. I made this at the start of the week and have had it every day for lunch! Highly recommend adding 1-2 chipotles (from the can in adobo sauce)!

  36. Love love love this chili! I’ve made it multiple times and usually add a diced zucchini and a green bell pepper for more color. I love to serve it with minimalist bakers vegan cornbread and it is always a hit! In fact, this is my go to meal to make when we have non-vegan friends over since I know they’ll love it. Thanks so much for including three cooking methods! I’ve done both the instant pot and stove top. Note – when I use the instant pot, I do 3 cups of broth since none gets boiled out.

  37. Followed recipe exactly as written. Delicious and devoured. Definitely a keeper. You’ll never miss the meat. Thank you!

  38. This was a great meal

  39. I made this recipe for my husband and I because I was super excited about a new delicious vegetarian chili recipe. My husband does not like lentils but he really liked this chili. He does want me to double the spices, he likes spicy chili, but it definitely got a thumbs up from him so this recipe is a keeper. Thank you!

  40. I made this last night and it was really really good. I did add a bag of organic diced butternut squash. We loved the flavor and texture. Definitely putting this in our rotation. Thanks for the bomb recipe!