This vegetarian chili recipe is a fresh take on traditional chili. Rich in plant-based protein and fiber, full of beta-carotene, our chili can be served alone, over rice, or on a bed of steamed greens.
Our vegan chili is made with lentils, sweet potatoes, and a delicious stew of carrots, tomatoes, and chewy chopped mushrooms.
Hearty enough to serve at Super Bowl parties, and healthy enough to serve at brunch; our sweet potato & lentil vegetarian chili is full of important antioxidants to fight off colds and provide all the rib-sticking nourishment your family needs after a day of winter sports.
How to Make the Best Vegetarian Chili
The flavors of this gorgeous veggie chili are built one on top of each other to create one of the best chilis you've ever had. And it is meatless. Follow the step-by-step instructions we provide to layer flavor upon flavor and share this delicious soup with your family.
Start by mixing up the spices in a small mixing bowl and setting those aside. Then sauté your onions in some olive oil for about five minutes, until they turn translucent. Add the mushrooms and continue sautéing until all the water cooks out.
Next, you will add the tomato paste and the spices you mixed up earlier and stir. Cook this for about two minutes.
Finally, add the diced sweet potato, carrots, garlic, chiles, lentils, diced tomatoes and 6 cups of water bring to a boil. This needs to simmer, covered, at reduced heat for 30 minutes or until the lentils are fully cooked. Check on your vegetarian chili after 15 minutes and add more water if necessary.
To finish off the chili, add cilantro after it's cooked.
Ingredients in Homemade Vegetarian Chili
- Chili Powder: The bulk of this should be regular chili powder, but if you want to add heat you can add a dash or two of ancho chili powder or chipoltle chili powder as well.
- Ground Cumin: A chili staple, cumin give chili its southwestern flavor.
- Turmeric: Adds both color and flavor to the dish.
- Salt: add more or less to taste.
- Medium Size Onion: Onions almost always form the base of flavor for a chili or soup recipe. If you don't love the texture grate them or dice them really small so that they are barely noticeable. You can't really skip on the flavor.
- Portabella Mushroom: These can also be diced really small to add texture to the chili and to fit on a spoon easily.
- Tomato Paste: The concentrated flavor of paste instantly ups the flavor of a good soup or chili.
- Sweet Potato: Chop your sweet potato in bite sized piecesa similar size to the portabella mushroom.
- Carrots. Peel your carrots and slice them thin. They don't cook as fast as the other veggies so should not be as thick.
- Garlic Clove: Nothing beats real freshly minced garlic.
- Canned Diced Green Chiles: For flavor and heat depending.
- Lentils: Any type of lentil works for chili.
- Canned Diced Tomatoes: I really prefer the petite diced, but you can use regular diced tomatoes.
- Chopped Fresh Cilantro: You don't have to finish off with cilantro but if you love it you will want to.
How to Make Instant Pot Vegetarian Chili
Making this chili in the Instant Pot is so easy! I love using the pressure cooker for dishes like this precisely because the high pressure does such a great job of infusing flavor throughout a dish. Here are specific instructions for the Instant Pot.
- Set your instant pot in sauté setting and when it heats up add oil.
- Add onions, garlic, sweet potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, spices and tomato paste, and sauté on high for 2 minutes, stirring often. Next, add ½ cup of water and continue cooking for 6 more minutes stirring often.
- Add tomatoes, chilies, lentils, 2 cups of water. Close the lid.
- Set on pressure cook for 10 minutes. Don't release the steam manually. Keep on the warm setting until you are ready to eat your Instant Pot Vegetarian Chili!
Variations for Vegetarian Chili
Use these variations to change things up and make this meal fresh every time you serve it.
Serve our vegan chili with large bowls of turmeric rice, couscous, or quinoa; a bowl of steamed kale, spinach, mashed cauliflower, roasted cauliflower or simply use your favorite corn chips to scoop up this hearty chili.
We also like to have a bar of different condiments that our family can serve on top of their chili:
- Hot sauce or Sriracha
- Tomato salsa or Tomatillo Salsa
- Sliced Avocado
- Dehydrated Wasabi Peas
- Pickled Vegetables like jalapeños, red peppers, okra, pickled onions
- Roasted Garlic
- Olive Slices
- Red Radish Slices and Fresh Scallions
- Cashew Cream
- Vegan Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream
- Shredded cheese
What to serve with this vegetarian chili recipe
How to Store and Reheat Vegetarian Chili
You can keep leftovers of your vegetarian chili recipe for three or four days in the refrigerator in airtight containers. You can also freeze individual portions for reheating later. Those will keep for up to three months in your freezer with airtight containers and are so handy to take to work during the cold winter months when a bowl of chili is a welcome warm lunch.
A Note About Chili Powder if You Don't Live in the USA
In the US chili powder is generally a blend of spices that does include chilies but also has cumin, garlic powder, and herbs that dampen the heat of the chilies. In other countries, chili powder is made only from chilies! Keep this in mind when shopping for chili powder outside the US, so you don’t burn your mouth ;-)!
Other Vegetarian Chili Recipes You Will Also Enjoy
- 30 Minute Black Bean Chili
- 20 Minute Cayenne Chocolate Vegan Chili
- Cornbread Crusted Vegetarian Black Bean Chili
- 3 Bean and Sweet Potato Chili
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This vegan chili recipe is a fresh take on traditional chili. Rich in plant-based protein and fiber, full of beta-carotene and can be served alone, over rice, quinoa, or on a bed of steamed greens.
- 2 tsp chili powder - See note 1, if you don't live in the USA
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 ½ tsp salt (or to taste)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium size onion, diced
- 8oz portabella chopped small
- 6oz tomato paste
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced into medium size pieces
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced thin
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 4oz canned diced green chiles
- 1 cup lentils
- 28oz canned diced tomatoes
- 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
- Combine the chili powder, cumin, turmeric, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside
- Heat the olive oil in a soup pot. Add the onions and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until translucent, stirring occasionally.
- Add the mushrooms and continue cooking over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes until all the water they release has cooked out
- Add tomato paste and spice mix and cook for an additional 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the diced sweet potato, carrots, garlic, chiles, lentils, diced tomatoes and 6 cups of water bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until lentils are cooked. Check chili after 15 minutes and add more water if necessary
- Add cilantro once the chili is cooked (if using)
Instant Pot Vegetarian Chili
- Set your instant pot in saute setting, when it heats up add oil.
- Add onions, garlic, sweet potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, spices and tomato paste, and sauté on high for 2 minutes, stirring often. Add ½ cup of water and continue cooking for 6 more minutes stirring often.
- Add tomatoes, chilies, lentils, 2 cups of water. Close the lid.
- Set on pressure cook for 10 minutes. Don't release the steam manually. Keep on the warm setting until ready to eat.
- In the US chili powder is generally a blend of spices that does include chilies but also has cumin, garlic powder, and herbs that dampen the heat of the chilies. In other countries, chili powder is made only from chilies! Keep this in mind when shopping for chili powder outside the US, so you don’t burn your mouth 😉
This vegetarian chili recipe was originally posted on January 7th, 2019. Images and other information have been updated.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 45
- Category: Entree
- Method: Stove top
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: 2 cups
- Calories: 280
- Sugar: 11.7
- Sodium: 898
- Fat: 6.7
- Saturated Fat: 1
- Unsaturated Fat: 5.3
- Trans Fat: 0
- Carbohydrates: 46.2
- Fiber: 11.1
- Protein: 13.1
- Cholesterol: 0
Keywords: sweet potato, lentils, chili, vegan, gluten free, dinner, kosher,