Loaded with kid-friendly vegetables including sweet potato and corn, as well as plant-based protein from beans, this Vegetarian Bean Chili Recipe makes enough for two dinners—so you can stash one in the freezer for a future meal that’s all ready to go!

vegetarian bean chili in two bowls on table.

Easy Vegetarian Bean Chili

I love that this chili recipe is packed full of beans and veggies, making it a great source of vitamins C and A, as well as vegetarian protein and fiber. The pieces of veggies are big enough to be finger food if your toddler prefers their hands over a spoon. And the sweet potato lends a pleasant sweetness that pairs well with the mild Mexican flavors.

But mostly, it just tastes good, which is where I like to start with any recipe I share.

I love to make a big batch of this chili to serve for dinner and to have stashed in the freezer for a future easy meal. (Or to share with another family as part of a Meal Train.) This bean soup comes together really easily on the stove top or in the slow cooker, and it’s easy to adjust it for your kids.

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Ingredients You Need

Here’s a look at the ingredients you need to make this easy chili recipe so you know what to have on hand.

Ingredients for veggie chili on countertop.
  • Vegetables: There are options in the recipe so you can use the mix your family likes. I prefer to use a combination of onion, sweet potato, carrots, and bell peppers.
  • Garlic: Fresh or minced jarred garlic adds a nice flavor to the chili.
  • Beans: I usually use black and pinto beans here, but you can also use white beans or kidney beans if you like.
  • Spices including cumin and chili powder to add that classic chili flavor you expect.
  • Corn: I like to add frozen or canned sweet corn right at the end to add more flavor.
  • Stock or broth: You can use vegetable broth here to keep this vegetarian, or you can use chicken broth or turkey broth or even beef broth as you prefer.
  • Crushed or diced tomatoes: Both of these options will work to add a tomato flavor and some acidity that works nicely in the mix of flavors.
  • Lime juice, sour cream, shredded cheese, salsa, avocado to top as you like.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Below is a preview of the steps required to make this recipe so you know what to expect from the process. Scroll down to the end of the post for the full recipe, including the amounts and the timing.

how to make veggie chili in grid of images.
  1. Dice your vegetables. You can shortcut this step if you use precut fresh or frozen vegetables from the store.
  2. Add oil to a large pot and stir in the diced vegetables. Cook until they are just starting to soften. Stir in the garlic, tomatoes, beans, salt, and cumin.
  3. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce and cook until the veggies are soft.
  4. Add the lime juice and corn and serve with desired toppings.

Slow Cooker Bean Chili

You can cook this in the slow cooker by simply skipping the sautéing step and cooking everything (except the lime juice and corn) on low for 7-8 hours. It will be a little less thick since none of the liquid will evaporate, so you can add an extra can of beans if you like.

Serving Suggestions

We like to have our chili topped with shredded cheese, sour cream, and/or diced avocado. A side of plantain chips is never a bad idea either! I’ve also been known to serve leftovers of this chili over brown rice as a slight variation on the original. You can also add these sides:

Veggie chili in pot and two bowls.

Tips for Serving Chili to Toddlers

If your kids don’t love soup, here are some ideas for serving it to them.

  • You can drain off most of the liquid and serve it over rice or pasta or alongside some cheese.
  • Spoon out some beans and serve them alongside some toppings.
  • Serve a very small portion.
  • Puree the chili and serve as a pasta sauce with chili toppings.
  • Puree the chili and serve with crackers to dip.

How to Store

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. This recipe also freezes really well. Let it cool and store in a freezer-safe airtight container. Freeze for up to 3 months. I like to let it thaw overnight in the fridge, them warm it on the stove with additional stock or liquid as needed. You can warm individual bowls in the microwave, too.

toddler bowl of vegetarian chili.

Best Tips for Success

  • Cut the veggies roughly the same size so they cook evenly.
  • Use some sweet potato or butternut squash to add some natural sweetness.
  • Omit the onions and garlic if they are no-gos with your kids.
  • Serve with toppings your kids like to round out the meal.
  • If you want to make the adult portions spicy, add cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, or hot sauce to your bowl.
  • Use precut butternut squash, shredded carrots, and a teaspoon of garlic powder to eliminate all chopping.

Related Recipes


I’d love to hear what your family thinks of this recipe if you try it, so please comment below to share feedback!

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vegetarian bean chili in bowls on table.

Vegetarian Bean Chili (Big Batch)

When serving this to a little one, I like to drain off much of the broth. This makes it a little easier (and less messy) for them to eat. If your family likes spice, add in a dash or two of cayenne pepper.
5 from 14 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Cuisine Mexican
Course Soup
Calories 299kcal
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons neutral cooking oil (like coconut or canola)
  • 6 cups diced vegetables (Including sweet potato, onion, sweet bell pepper, celery, and carrot. You can use as much or as little of each as you like, though do include the sweet potato since the flavor is so nice in the mix!)
  • 2 garlic cloves (peeled and minced)
  • 1 28- ounce can diced tomatoes with juices
  • 3 14.5- ounce cans beans such as black, pinto, or kidney (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 16- ounce bag frozen corn
  • 1 quart reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
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Instructions

  • Warm the oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  • Add the vegetables and stir to coat. Cook, stirring frequently, until they are just starting to soften, about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the garlic, tomatoes, beans, salt, cumin, and corn. Add the stock and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce to a simmer and let cook for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are completely cooked through.
  • Stir in the lime juice. Serve warm topped with shredded cheese, sour cream, hot sauce, and/or avocado.

Notes

  • To store: Let cool completely and store in the fridge in airtight containers for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before using. 
  • To make this in the slow cooker: Skip Step 1 and add all ingredients to the slow cooker except the corn and lime juice. Cook on LOW for 7-8 hours. Stir in the corn and lime juice. This will have more liquid (since none will evaporate during cooking) so you may want to add an extra can of beans.
  • Cut the veggies roughly the same size so they cook evenly.
  • Use sweet potato or butternut squash to add some natural sweetness.
  • Omit the onions and garlic if they are no-gos with your kids.
  • Serve with toppings your kids like to round out the meal.
  • If you want to make the adult portions spicy, add cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, or hot sauce to your bowl.
  • Use precut butternut squash, shredded carrots, and a teaspoon of garlic powder instead of fresh to eliminate all chopping.

Nutrition

Calories: 299kcal, Carbohydrates: 54g, Protein: 12g, Fat: 6g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 1g, Sodium: 531mg, Potassium: 1008mg, Fiber: 11g, Sugar: 10g, Vitamin A: 14447IU, Vitamin C: 18mg, Calcium: 95mg, Iron: 4mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

This post was first published November 2017.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I have 3 kids- two of them are pretty picky and I was shocked, everyone devoured this and loved it! I’ve made it twice in the last month. I like adding a little can of chopped green chiles.

  2. 5 stars
    This was delicious! It can be so versatile too depending on the veggies you have in the house. My toddler was very intrigued while I was making it because it had all her favorite veggies in it but when it came to eating she wasn’t enthusiastic. I think it was a lot of textures for her all at once that she had to get used to. My husband and I think it’s a keeper though!

  3. 5 stars
    This was so good !
    I used acorn squash instead of sweet potato as we didn’t have sweet potato when I made this recipe. but it’s so naturally sweet and delicious.
    Did not add salt as my canned tomato had fair a bit of sodium.
    Thank you for the recipe !
    love all of your recipes! trying one by one and having fun with it !

  4. 5 stars
    Hello Amy,
    5 stars as per usual!!!
    Thank you very much for this recipe. For this recipe, I omitted the beans as I made this meal during the day and not overnight (next time will add beans and prepare overnight). Also, I omitted the vegetable stock and simply added water instead; and I also added fresh tomatoes. Overall, everything turned out deliciously yummy 😋.

  5. 5 stars
    So delicious! We all loved it…I don’t think we will have any left over to freeze but will definitely make it again! Thank you 🙂

  6. 5 stars
    I made this tonight, and watched in amazement as my 2-year old voluntarily spooned it into his mouth! Several times! Generous amounts of cheese helped, but he ate the beans and veggies too and asked for more. Thank you so much!

  7. SO good! I regret only using 1 sweet potato…next time I will use 2. This made a ton of chili, enough for our family of 3 to eat for dinner and freeze two future dinners. Will definitely be making this again!

    1. You could totally do it in a crockpot. Omit the oil. Add everything but the corn to the crock pot, cover and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours. Stir the corn in just before serving. I think that will work really well!