Chilly weather and chili are pretty much synonymous with one another. We’re convinced that whoever coined the name for this stew must have been a fan of homophones—it’s just too poetic to be a coincidence, right? Of course, traditional chili con carne (chili, for short) calls for beef, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t delicious vegetarian variations of this cold-weather staple.
Spanning a Moroccan-inspired take on the stew to a golden chana masala version, some of these selections aren’t what you’d consider conventional chili recipes, but they all have that spiciness and heartiness you’re looking for in a bowl of delicious soup this time of year. Trust us, each of these recipes is worth a try, especially if you’re a traditional chili enthusiast looking to mix it up a little.
Keep scrolling for six vegetarian chili recipes that are pure comfort food.
Moroccan Lentil and Chickpea Chili
The Recipe: Moroccan Lentil and Chickpea Chili
The Hero Ingredient: The whipped goat cheese. This decadent dairy topping perfectly complements hearty, spicy stew.
The Pro Tip: Swap your traditional pot for a crockpot. “You’ll have soup slow cooking all day long, the house is going to smell awesome, and dinner will be ready when you walk in the door,” explains Tieghan of Half Baked Harvest. “No browning meat, no making extra things when you arrive home, just ladle the soup into bowls.”
Spicy Black Bean and Lentil Chili
The Recipe: Spicy Black Bean and Lentil Chili
The Hero Ingredient: The black beans and lentils. These legumes make this vegetarian chili as hearty and full of texture as any traditional beef chili recipe.
The Pro Tip: Chili is all about the toppings, and this recipe features two: chipotle sweet potato fries and cotija guacamole. “I highly recommend making the fries and most definitely the guacamole,” advises Tieghan of Half Baked Harvest. “It’s the perfect chili topper.”
Spicy White Bean Chili
The Recipe: Spicy White Bean Chili
The Vegetarian Swap: While this recipe calls for shredded chicken, you could swap the protein with jackfruit to achieve a similar texture. You’ll also want to sub in vegetable stock for the chicken stock to make this vegetarian-friendly.
The Pro Tip: A big batch of this light yet satisfying chili will feed you for the whole week (and beyond). “This recipe reheats so well, so make extra to freeze,” advises Teri of Spoon Fork Bacon.
Red Lentil Chili
The Recipe: Red Lentil Chili
The Hero Ingredient: The red lentils, the kidney beans, and the black beans. Packed with protein, this dish doesn’t skimp on the legumes. This hearty chili is the textbook definition of comfort food.
The Pro Tip: Consider trading your food processor for a mortar and pestle. “Instead of just mincing or chopping your vegetables, spices, and herbs, you grind them together so their flavor is more intense and more evenly distributed throughout the dish,” explains Dana of Minimalist Baker.
Golden Chana Masala Chili
The Recipe: Golden Chana Masala Chili
The Hero Ingredient: The tomatoes. If you’re making this dish out of season, you can swap in canned, diced tomatoes. Laura of The First Mess recommends using Muir Glen’s fire-roasted variety if you’re going this route.
The Pro Tip: “This slow-cooking method from The Kitchn has become my go-to for all manners of beans,” says Laura of The First Mess. “It’s low maintenance, easy to micro-manage if need be, and it doesn’t take up precious stove real estate.”
Lentil and Greens Chili
The Recipe: Lentil and Greens Chili
The Hero Ingredient: The French lentils. These legumes make the light chili a bit heartier than your typical soup.
The Pro Tip: All out of canned tomatoes? Just swap in some marinara sauce instead. “The marinara has that slow-simmered flavor of onions, garlic, etc., built in,” says Laura of The First Mess. Plus, “it’s a good lazy move when you need that homemade and cozy vibe on short notice.”
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