The Best Damn Vegetarian Chili

Beans power pack this dish with protein

The Best Damn Vegetarian Chili
Photo: Danijela Unkovich

Here’s a recipe for a damn tasty, colourful vegetarian/vegan friendly chili that will happily satisfy the tastebuds of even the most carnivorous of omnivores. It’s packed full of flavour, while using super economical ingredients, so it’s the perfect plant-based dish for feeding a crowd on a budget.

No matter how we choose to nourish ourselves, there’s one thing that’s for certain, we should all be including more plant-based foods into our diets. This vegetarian chili contains kidney beans and black beans, both of which are great sources of protein and fibre.

A common concern for vegans and vegetarians is protein intake. Protein is an essential macronutrient, needed in large amounts for good health. Certain amino acids (the building block of protein) are unable to be made by the body so we must get them from the foods we eat. Animal sources of food contain all of the essential amino acids and are known as “complete proteins,” whereas plant proteins (aside from quinoa and soy) will always be missing at least one amino acid, and so are called “incomplete.”

This doesn’t need to be an issue, as plant-based foods will contain different, yet complimentary, amino acids. When eaten together and in appropriate quantities, you get the full-spectrum of amino acids in your meal. With a well planned, balanced vegan diet you should receive enough protein to cover your needs. Typically when eaten with grain or starchy foods (e.g. brown rice, corn) and legumes (e.g. beans, peas and lentils) you will be eating a full set of amino acids (thus acting like a complete protein), as will nuts and seeds with legumes (e.g. crunchy seeds sprinkled overtop of a lentil salad). Here, I’ve paired legumes with corn and brown rice for a lovely balanced plant-based meal.

Give it a go, it’s quite delicious!

Serves 6


  • 1 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 brown onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. chili seasoning (not chili powder – chili seasoning is blend of spices including paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and more)
  • 1/2 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 11/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 red capsicum/pepper
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 x 400g tin diced tomatoes
  • 1 x 400g tin kidney beans
  • 1 x 400g tin black beans
  • 1 x 400g tin corn kernels
  • 1 tsp. salt, or to taste


Prepare your veggies – peel onion and chop finely, peel garlic and chop finely/crush, dice capsicum and grate carrot. Heat oil over a medium-low heat in a large frying pan. Sauté onions and garlic for 10 minutes or until onions are soft. Add chili seasoning, cumin and dried oregano, and sauté for one minute or until fragrant. Add capsicum and carrot, mix well, then sauté for a few minutes. Add tins of tomatoes and mix well. Open tins of beans and corn and drain excess liquid before giving them a good rinse in a sieve under running water. Add to frying pan, along with the salt and mix well. Now let the magic happen! Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes to soften veggies and develop the flavour. Mix occasionally throughout the 30 minutes.

Serving suggestion: this chili is fabulous with guacamole, fresh salsa, brown rice and corn chips.

Nutrition facts per serving: Calories 213; protein 10.3g; fat 3.5g; carbs 36.8g.