Vegetarian Chili (Cheater’s Chili)

It’s a miserable day here in the New York megalopolis, with slushy rain and gloomy opaque skies.

I just want to curl up under a blanket in my red waffle-knit onesie pajamas (or my Napsack), but instead I’ll probably make a big pot of vegetarian chili on the stove.

vegetarian chili with toppings
Photo: Casey Barber

This recipe was donated to me about a year ago by a family friend, and I was so impressed by its simplicity and flavor that it instantly became the only chili for me.

I call it “Cheater’s Chili” because it seems almost like a cheat to make—it’s not a traditional chili in that there’s no meat to brown, and half the components come from the freezer or from cans.

My other confession is that I really dislike cumin, so maybe that’s why this recipe appeals to me so much.

vegetarian chili topped with corn chips
Photo: Casey Barber

Instead, I use coriander, which I highly recommend as a cumin alternative if you feel the same way as I do.

It’s got a refreshing note of greenness and spice along the same lines as cumin without the overpowering flavor.

This chili is vegetarian on its own, and can be made vegan if you skip the usual cheese and sour cream toppings, which frankly will never happen in this household.

vegetarian chili topped with corn chips
Photo: Casey Barber

My husband’s favorite chili (and burrito) topping of all time is a big handful of Fritos corn chips, and I have to say, I agree with him.

They add a certain crunch and texture that you can’t get from regular tortilla chips.

And they’re vegetarian too! Did you know that Fritos are made with only four ingredients: corn, salt, oil, and water? It’s true!

(And yes, you can make homemade Fritos, but that’s a recipe you’ll find in Classic Snacks Made from Scratch.)

vegetarian chili with toppings

Eat this vegetarian chili when you want filling comfort with a side of virtuousness, and then save your calories for a big bowl of Bolognese the next day.

vegetarian chili topped with corn chips

Vegetarian Chili (Cheater's Chili)

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes

Vegetarian chili is a one-pot meal that's almost a cheat - it's so easy and healthy that you should splurge and top it with Fritos.



  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion (any variety), diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 15-ounce cans kidney beans or black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 10-ounce bag frozen corn
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable broth, chicken broth, or water

Garnish Options

  • sour cream
  • tortilla chips
  • corn chips
  • shredded cheese
  • scallions
  • minced red onion


  1. In a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat.
  2. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes until the onion is soft but not browned.
  3. Stir in the chili powder, coriander, salt, and pepper and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Stir in the beans, corn, and tomatoes. Add enough broth or water to your taste—you may not need all 2 cups if you like a thick chili.
  5. Cover and bring to a simmer.
  6. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  7. Ladle the chili into bowls, top with your garnish(es) of choice and go to town.


The leftovers are easily freezable so you can pull them out in a month or two when you get the chili craving once more.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 431Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 987mgCarbohydrates: 65gFiber: 17gSugar: 9gProtein: 20g

The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate.

Did you make this recipe?

Share a photo!

FTC Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Good. Food. Stories. receives a minuscule commission on all purchases made through Amazon links in our posts.

Similar Posts


  1. Not really. I just add ground pork, meat and sometimes veal or chicken to my chile. I just put olive oil in a pan and brown the meat, adding some addtional spices to the meat to give it some more flavor [cumin, paprika, chile powder].
    Add the above recipe and let it simmer for at least an hour.

Comments are closed.