Monday, February 1, 2021

The Best Vegetarian Chili

I have a thing about naming recipes "The Best...." or "The Ultimate..." That is always a subjective call. Today's recipe was named "The Best Instant Pot Vegetarian Chili" and I will say that this recipe might be worthy of the title. I have been making similar vegetable chilis or bean chilis for years and years. Everything from the simplest "open the cans, dump and heat" to others that called for more seasonings, sometimes using packets of ranch dressing mix or chili mix." But this combination of seasonings is a winner. I had all the spices on my shelf—except coriander. I have never owned a bottle of coriander in my life. So I just left that out. And I was totally happy with the result.

This looks like the longest list of ingredients. But it's actually a very simple recipe if you don't mind dicing several peppers and an onion. I've said this before but I'm going to tell you again. With a long list like this, here's what I like to do:
  • Gather all ingredients before you start. Make sure you have what you need.
  • Measure the spices into a small cup before you start cooking. I move a spice bottle from the left side of the recipe to the right as I measure so I know what I've done should I get interrupted. It happens.
  • Make the long recipe easier to read. Divide the recipe ingredients into groups—if you print the recipe out, draw a line between the groups.  I divided this one up as I typed.
See? There is nothing special there. But trust me, these steps make everything easier. 

VEGETARIAN CHILI (for Instant Pot)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
1 red onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup chicken or vegetable broth (I used 1 tsp of Knorr Chicken bouillon in 1 cup hot water)
15-oz can kidney beans, drained & rinsed
15-oz can black beans, drained & rinsed
15-oz can pinto beans, drained & rinsed 
1 cup corn kernels, frozen or canned (I like Green Giant Steam Crisp corn)
28-oz can crushed tomatoes

1 heaping tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin 
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
couple of splashes of low-sodium soy sauce

Turn your Instant Pot to Sauté and give it a couple of minutes to heat. Add olive oil, bell peppers, onion and garlic. Sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring a few times as it cooks, until vegetables are slightly softened. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Close Instant Pot and cook on High pressure for 4 minutes. Once the cooking is done, let the pot natural release for 5 minutes, then quick release the remaining pressure.

Serve the chili with your favorite chili toppings, such as shredded cheese, sour cream or tortilla chips.

IF YOU DON'T HAVE AN INSTANT POT, make this on the stovetop. Sauté the peppers, onion and garlic. Then add the remaining ingredients, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30-60 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

You can go back and check the original post and see the recipe with the two ingredients I left out—coriander and salt. Plus, she has other tips. She says if your Instant Pot has a tendency to show the "Burn" warning, you can stir in the broth, then add the remaining ingredients without stirring. You can stir after it has cooked.

We topped our chili with tortilla chips, so neither of us missed the salt. And it was plenty good without the coriander. I have cooked for 50+ years without using that. So I'm pretty sure if I buy a bottle, it won't get used much. But then, maybe I will try adding it to see what I've been missing all these years.

This chili had a more complex flavor than most I've vegetable chilis I've made. The smoked paprika and the cocoa gave it a depth of flavor that my less complicated versions lacked. It's loaded with peppers, but when you taste it, the amount does not overwhelm. The flavors are balanced. The textures of the soft beans and the crisp corn are just right. The crushed tomatoes made this a thick hearty chili. So. You tell me. Is this the "best" vegetable chili ever? By golly, I think it might be!

You know I always ask my cattle farming husband for his opinion. "Well, it's not hamburger steak smothered in onions." Then he went back for more. I interpreted that as, "Yes. This is really good." We had a freezer incident last week. Everything thawed out, so we ended up cooking 5 beautiful filet mignons that night. A couple of those were grilled rare and frozen again for another time. (Not sure how that will work out.) But Daddy-O had plenty of red meat that week. I do like to mix in some meatless meals along the way. First, because I really like meatless meals. And second, because it is a good choice from a health standpoint. 


  1. Always looking for another veggie chili recipe. I spend half my life dicing veggies!I don't have an insta pot (tried one but wouldn't work at high altitude). However, I do have a heavy dutch oven good for soups and chilis. I loved your husband's comment! (Mine would probably say something similar, but he's fairly adapted to a Mediterranean diet heavy on veggies by now.) A freezer issue would be my worst nightmare.

    1. I've made all sorts of veggie chilis, too. And I'll probably keep trying new ones. But this really is a good version.

  2. This could come in handy! Maybe sauté the ground meat on the side and add a serving size portion of the chili to the meat pot to simmer for a few minutes for the carnivores. (I am always thinking how to make two separate meals with the least amount of work when our tastebuds do not coincide). Chloe

  3. This could come in handy! Maybe sauté the ground meat on the side and add a serving size portion of the chili to the meat pot to simmer for a few minutes for the carnivores. (I am always thinking how to make two separate meals with the least amount of work when our tastebuds do not coincide). Chloe

  4. Sorry! Still half a sleep. Chloe

    1. Hahaha! So understand. I'll keep your idea in mind. After 41 years, our foods preferences have not merged.


Hi, y'all! I love that you've taken time to tell me something here. Makes me feel like we're neighbors.