A hearty vegetarian chilli ‘con carne’ packed with beans and vegetables with those classic smoky sweet flavours.

15 mins

1hr 15 mins

282 kcals

serves 4

Vegetarian Chilli - black beans, pinto beans, chopped red peppers in a red tomato sauce in a silver casserole dish sat on a grey tea towelPin

Photo credit: Chris Terry

Vegetarian Chilli recipe

This wholesome vegetarian chilli is a satisfying comfort food and very similar to the meat version of this chilli con carne. Healthy, hearty and rich with smoky paprika, incorporating those classic spicy and sweet flavours. The robust tomato sauce is packed full of healthy celery, leeks, carrots and red peppers along with filling black beans and creamy pinto beans. This veggie chilli is also a great vehicle for using up leftover vegetables from the fridge, you can pack as much in as you like!

What’s in this post

What is vegetarian chilli?

We all know about the classic chilli con carne, a spicy stew made with beef, beans, vegetables and chilli in a tomato sauce, which for many of us is a favourite go-to family meal. This vegetarian chilli con carne (also known as veggie chilli) is the perfect way to enjoy all the flavours and comfort-food feel of classic chilli con carne, but without adding any meat.

I always pack in plenty of vegetables and beans into my chilli anyway, so this way I just use extra beans (different varieties) and ramp up the amount vegetables and I find that this is just as satisfying as the meat alternative- the cooking time for this recipe really gives it time to achieve great depth of flavour.

What ingredients do you need to make Vegetarian chilli con carne

Onion: Onions bring a natural sweetness and depth of flavour. They’re low in calories and contain dietary fibre that aids digestion, helping you feel full and satisfied.

Celery: Celery adds a subtle earthy flavour. It’s extremely low in calories and provides vitamins and minerals.

Leek: Leeks contribute a mild onion-like flavour which really helps add depth to this type of dish. They contain fibre, vitamins, and antioxidants.

Garlic: Garlic adds a delicious aromatic quality to your chilli. It’s known for its potential health benefits, including boosting the immune system and reducing inflammation, all while adding very few calories.

Carrots: Carrots bring natural sweetness, vibrant colour, and are usually great value so perfect for bulking out your chilli. They are low in calories and high in fibre.

Red Peppers: Red peppers not only provide a burst of colour but are also rich in vitamins and antioxidants. They add a sweetness which works so well with the other flavours in this chilli.

Chopped Tomatoes: Tomatoes form the base of the chilli and are natually low in calories. They’re packed with vitamins, minerals, and lycopene, which can promote heart health and may also assist with weight loss. Tinned chopped tomatoes are a good value way to bulk up a dish, and also a really handy storecupboard ingredient.

Black Beans (Turtle Beans): Black beans are an excellent source of plant-based protein and fibre. They are very filling and can help control cravings, making them a brilliant choice for anyone who is trying to lose weight.

Pinto Beans: Pinto beans are another protein and fibre hero! They keep you feeling satisfied which can aid in managing weight by preventing overeating.

Tomato Puree: Tomato puree enhances the tomato flavour without adding many calories. It is a great way to keep the chilli rich and saucy.

Dark Soy Sauce: Dark soy sauce adds umami and depth of flavour without contributing many calories. It’s an ideal way to intensify taste.

Red Wine Vinegar: Red wine vinegar brings acidity and brightness to your veggie chilli. It’s low in calories and may offer some health benefits, like aiding digestion and stabilizing blood sugar levels

What to serve with vegetarian chilli?

Rice: Serve your chilli cooked white or brown rice. Rice helps balance the spiciness and makes this a filling meal.

Avocado Salad: A fresh avocado salad with diced tomatoes, red onion, lime juice, and coriander makes a refreshing side dish.

Coleslaw: Coleslaw made with cabbage, carrots, and a tangy dressing (my favourite is a very simple lime dressing) gives a cool and crunchy contrast to the chilli.

Baked Potatoes: Baked potatoes or sweet potatoes are a filling option. Top them with a dollop of fat-free Greek yogurt and chives for added flavour.

Guacamole: Homemade guacamole is a creamy and delicious accompaniment. It’s perfect to go alongside your chilli, and as a treat I also like to serve a handful of tortilla chips for scooping everything up! You could also try my version of this, brocamole, using broccoli

Sliced Jalapeños: If you enjoy extra heat, top your chilli with sliced jalapenos. The flavours go so well together. If you have kept the chilli mild so that you can serve it up to someone who isn’t keen on too much spice, this is a great way to add that extra kick to your portion!

Mixed Greens Salad: A simple salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and a light vinaigrette dressing makes a great accompaniment.

Grilled or roasted vegetables: Seasonal grilled or roasted vegetables like courgette, peppers, and asparagus make a healthy side dish.

Fruit Salsa:  A fruity salsa made with diced mango, pineapple, red onion, and coriander can be a sweet and zesty accompaniment.

How to store Vegetarian chilli:

Fridge – Put the leftover vegetarian chilli into a reusable, clean airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days

Freezer – This Vegetarian chilli is a great freezer meal! Place any leftovers into an airtight freezer-safe container or alternatively in a freezer safe bag and freeze for up to 3 months. I always put a date on the container/bag when it goes into the freezer so I know how long it’s been in there.

If you have a large portion left you can freeze this into individual portions ready for later.

How to reheat Vegetarian chilli?

You can reheat vegetarian chilli easily, and I actually think it tastes even better when it’s reheated! Here’s the best way to do it:

Stovetop – Place the vegetarian chilli into a saucepan that easily fits the portion size and heat on a medium heat. Give it a stir as it heats through to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. If the sauce is too thick then just add a little water, a small amount at a time, until you reach the desired consistency.

Microwave – Place the vegetarian chilli into a microwave safe dish and cover with a lid or some clingfilm. Heat through for 2-3 minutes depending on the portion size and your microwave power. For larger potions you will need to adjust the cooking time. Give the chilli a stir halfway through to make sure that it’s heating through evenly. Be careful of the steam as this is incredibly hot. If it needs further cooking continue in 30 second intervals. Make sure the chilli is heated all the way through before serving.

Does this vegetarian chilli recipe have any allergens?

Yes this vegetarian chilli recipe does have ingredients that might cause allergies Soy sauce – This contains both soy and wheat. You can substitute the soy sauce with tamari.

DISCLAIMER: This information is given as a guide and is by no way definitive. It’s still really important you check all the ingredients you are planning on using to make sure that they don’t contain allergens if this is something that affects you.

How does vegetarian chilli work on Slimming World?

This vegetarian chilli is an absolutely fantastic syn free meal if you are following Slimming World. It’s packed full of healthy vegetables (speed foods) and filling beans, so it’s the perfect bowl of comfort food to enjoy when you want to enjoy a completely syn free meal. 

Please be aware that some of the suggested side dishes do contain syns. Here is how the following sides work if you are following Slimming World:

Rice: If you are cooking your rice from dried then it is syn free. If you are using a microwave packet of rice then it does have syns, usually 1 to 2 per packet, although it depends on which brand.

Avocado Salad:  Avocados are high in syns, but bear in mind that this is a very healthy way to use up your syns because avocados are highly nutritious! They are full of healthy fats, fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, offering lots of potential health benefits. 25g of fresh avocado is 2.5 syns. A large avocado (approximately 195g without the stone) is 18.5 syns. A small avocado (approx. 100g without the stone) is 9.5 syns.

Coleslaw: Coleslaw is a great syn free side as long as you make your own dressing (you can find some healthy dressing ideas in The Slimming Foodie (my first cookbook), p.210 and in The Slimming Foodie in Minutes, my 3rd cookbook, p.198.

Baked Potatoes: Baked potatoes (or jacket potatoes) are syn free, as long as you don’t add additional toppings such as butter. If you are buying a frozen pre-baked one then make sure you check the syns using the Slimming World app.

Guacamole: I make my own guacamole as it’s much nicer than a bought one. If you are buyig a pre-made guacamole it is usually around 1.5 syns per tablespoon, but you will need to check the specific brand. 25g of fresh avocado is 2.5 syns. A large avocado (approximately 195g without the stone) is 18.5 syns. A small avocado (approx. 100g without the stone) is 9.5 syns.

Sliced Jalapeños: These are syn free, such good news because these are such a fabulous ingredient for adding great flavour and spice!

Mixed Greens Salad: Syn free if you do not add dressing.

Grilled or roasted vegetables: Syn free if you have made these using low calorie cooking spray. If you have used spray oil or another type of oil you will need to account for these syns. 1 tablespoon of olive oil contains 6 syns.

Fruit Salsa:  Syn free

Frequently asked questions about: Vegetarian chilli

I love guacamole with chilli but it has too many calories or syns on Slimming World, is there an alternative?

You can cut down the calories or syns in guacamole by making brocamole instead, which supplements half of the avocado with broccoli, and it still really delicious.

I can also highly recommend my zucchimole recipe, which is made with courgettes but still packs those amazing guacamole flavours. You can find the zucchimole recipe in my first cookbook, p.208

What other vegetables can I add to vegetarian chilli?

This is a great meal to use up bits and pieces that are in your fridge! In addition to the vegetables already used in this recipe, I would also add orange, yellow or green peppers, diced or baby tomatoes, sweetcorn kernels, courgette, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, mushrooms, parsnips and spinach.

How do I cook this on the stovetop rather than the oven?

This dish will also work well cooked on the stove. I like to cook it in the oven as it really has the chance to develop and intensify all of the delicious flavours and colour. It also means that you don’t need to keep an eye on it or keep stirring it. If you want to cook it on a stove, Simply follow steps 1-4, then pop a lid on and allow it to simmer for at least 45 minutes (ideally around an hour), stirring every now and again.

Can I make this vegetarian chilli in a slow cooker?

Yes, this lends itself well to the slow cooker. Follow steps 1-3 on the stovetop, as you want to fry the initial ingredients to develop their flavours and sweetness. Once you get to step 4, transfer everything into the slow cooker and add the rest of the ingredients, then cook on low for 6-8 hours (or on high for 3-4 hours). If you think the chilli is too liquidy when you open the lid, you can bubble it without a lid for a while to allow it to thicken up more.

What other beans can I use in vegetarian chilli?

The traditional beans to use in chilli con carne are kidney beans. Personally I prefer black beans and pinto beans which is why I have included these in this recipe, but you could substitute for kidney beans, or go for a mix. I have also added haricot beans and cannellini beans at times when I have found I don’t have the others in my cupboards.

Is vegetarian chili spicy, and how do I adjust the heat?

You can choose whether you use a hot or mild chilli powder in this recipe, depending on your preference. If you would like to add more heat you can add additional chilli powder, some dried chilli flakes, a chopped fresh chilli, or some chilli sauce.

If you accidentally make it too spicy for your own tastes, the you can balance the spice by adding some sweetness, try a tablespoon of honey. You can also dilute it more by adding an extra tin of tomatoes. You might find that just by serving it with rice, and adding a dollop of Greek yoghurt or sour cream, and some grated cheese on top that the heat is toned down enough.

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Vegetarian Chilli - black beans, pinto beans, chopped red peppers in a red tomato sauce in a silver casserole dish sat on a grey tea towel

Vegetarian chilli

  • Author: Pip Payne
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Diet: Low Calorie


A hearty, warming vegetarian chilli ‘con carne’ with a balance of spicy, smoky and sweet flavours. Packed with healthy beans and vegetables this is the best healthy comfort food.


  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, finely chopped
  • Low calorie cooking spray or spray oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 red peppers, deseeded and chopped
  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • 350ml water
  • 400g can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 400g can pinto beans, drained & rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons tomato purée
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Handful of chopped, fresh coriander (to serve)
  • For the spice mix
  • 2 teaspoons chilli powder
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Preheat the oven to 200 °C/180 °C fan, Gas Mark 6.


  1. Mix all of the spices for the spice mix together in a small bowl.
  2. In a large ovenproof casserole dish, fry the onion, celery and leek in low calorie cooking spray or spray oil for 10 minutes, then add the garlic, carrots and peppers. Stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  3. Pour in the tomatoes, water, black beans and pinto beans, then add the tomato purée, soy sauce, vinegar and spice mix and stir everything together thoroughly.
  4. Bring up to a rapid simmer, then put a lid on and place in the oven to cook for 1 hour. When ready, thechilli should be a rich, dark colour and the vegetables should all be tender.
  5. Serve scattered with coriander
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Main course
  • Method: Easy
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Keywords: chilli, vegetarian, chili, red pepper, black beans, pinto beans,


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