Vegetarian Black Bean Chili
Want an amazing black bean chili that’s perfect for busy weeknights? This is one of my family’s favorites. I use canned black beans for convenience, with fresh tomatillos, jalapeños, onions, garlic and some standard pantry spices. Roasted Hatch green chiles give this simple vegetarian chili recipe an authentic Southwestern flavor that’s rich and hearty. Perfect for meatless Mondays. Vegan substitutions included.
You’ll love this black bean chili not only for the deeply satisfying taste, but also because you can make a whole batch in about an hour — and this recipe makes a manageable amount — enough for about 4 hearty servings (though you can double it to feed more).
With multiple layers of Southwestern flavor and spice, this vegetarian chili takes on more dimension when finished with a little acidity from a squeeze of fresh lime.
Table of Contents
- 1 The secret ingredient for the best black bean chili?
- 2 What you’ll need for vegetarian black bean chili:
- 3 About the ingredients:
- 4 How to make vegetarian black bean chili
- 5 Pro-Tips
- 6 How do you garnish vegetarian bean chili?
- 7 What goes with black bean chili?
- 8 Black bean chili FAQ’s
- 9 More hearty chili recipes you might like:
- 10 Vegetarian Black Bean Chili
- 11 Pin “Vegetarian Black Bean Chili” for later!
The secret ingredient for the best black bean chili?
I’ll tell you… It’s the fire roasted green chiles from Hatch, New Mexico. Despite living nowhere near that Southwestern state, I’m an unwitting Hatch green chile junkie.
My first taste of Hatch chiles was about 8 years ago with my friend, Nola, who gifted me about 5 pounds of fire roasted peppers she’d purchased from her local roaster in Colorado. We turned those chiles into bread, strata, soups, sauces, wings, empanadas, seasoned chopped pork and cornbread.
Every time I visit my Denver-based friend, we start off our holiday with a bowl of Colorado green chili (known simply as “green”). That’s how I know I’ve arrived in the mile high city.
Hatch chiles aren’t just about heat, though that’s part of it. They’ve got a rich, smoky flavor that jazzes up everything you add them to, including this black bean chili recipe.
What you’ll need for vegetarian black bean chili:
- Vegetable Broth
- Olive Oil
- White Onion
- Canned Black Beans
- Fire Roasted Hatch Chiles
- Canned Diced Tomatoes
- Chile Powder
- Ground Cumin
- Mexican Oregano
- Celery Salt
- Onion Powder
- Kosher Salt
- Black Pepper
- Squeeze of Lime
About the ingredients:
Fire Roasted Hatch Chiles – Real Hatch chiles are sourced from a specific terroir — Hatch, New Mexico. You can get Hatch chiles in red or green varieties — the green are younger and picked earlier with a smoky forward flavor. The red ones are more mature and sweeter.
If you have local roasters, go and get a bushel NOW. If you don’t live near a roaster, you can have them delivered to your door (like I did).
They come in mild, medium, hot and inferno varieties… so you can choose your preference. I stick with mild to medium green chiles for this vegetarian chili recipe.
Jalapenos – Some jalapeños are hotter than others. The heat (measured in Scoville units) can vary between 2,500 to 8,000, depending on everything from the age of the pepper, to where it was grown, to the amount of rainfall in that region. The only way to know for sure, is to give them a taste.
If yours are mild, you can use a whole jalapeño in the black bean chili. If they’re on the spicy side, use half the pepper and trim away the seeds and membrane, which contain much of heat.
Tomatillos – Even if you’ve never bought tomatillos, you’ve probably eaten them in raw and cooked salsas.
Tomatillos look like a green tomato with a papery husk. They are mild, tangy and less watery than tomatoes and while they don’t add heat to this vegetarian chili recipe, they are an essential ingredient to any green chili recipe.
To prepare the tomatillos for the black bean chili, remove the husk and rinse with water to remove the sticky residue. Cut into quarters.
How to make vegetarian black bean chili
- Sauté the onions, jalapeños and garlic in olive oil until softened.
- Sprinkle the vegetables with flour and stir until the veggies are well coated and there’s no dry bits of flour left.
- Blend the tomatillos with the vegetable broth and add to the pot.
- Add the hatch chiles, canned black beans, tomatoes and spices to the pot.
- Simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- If you like your chili on the thick and chunky side, scale back the vegetable stock to two cups. For thinner chili that’s more akin to a Colorado green, use three cups of stock.
- Unless you have canned or previously prepared green chiles, peel and seed the chiles before chopping. The skins can be tough and leathery and they can be full of seeds, that you don’t want in the bean chili.
- To make the chili thicker, more viscous and darker, use the entire can of beans (liquid and all). For greener looking chili, rinse the beans first.
- If you can’t find tomatillos, use a jar of mild salsa verde instead. It’s a quick and easy cheat.
- Fire roasted tomatoes add more smoky flavor to the black bean chili.
How do you garnish vegetarian bean chili?
You can use all of your favorite chili toppings for this recipe, but the one that is absolutely critical is a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
Serve lime wedges with each bowl and instruct your diners to squeeze it over the bowl before enjoying.
The acidity in the lime balances the smoky flavors of the black bean and hatch chili and makes your mouth do a happy dance. You don’t want to miss that!
More optional toppings:
- Shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese or vegan cheese substitute
- Sliced or diced avocado (I had two avocados but neither one was ripe as I was photographing the chili).
- Fresh cilantro leaves
- Diced fresh tomato
- Sliced jalapenos
- Diced red onion
- Chopped scallions
- Sour cream (or vegan sour cream to make it, well, vegan)
What goes with black bean chili?
Want to make this vegetarian chili part of a larger meal? Serve it with these popular favorites:
- Tortilla chips or fritos
- Lightly charred flour tortillas for dipping (this is definitely a Colorado thing).
- Hatch Chile Skillet Cornbread
- Simple Green Leaf Salad
Black bean chili FAQ’s
Store the chili in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Yes. It freezes well for up to 3 months. To reheat, defrost the chili and warm on the stovetop or in the microwave.
Yes (of course, it won’t be black bean chili anymore) but that’s ok. Try this with canned kidney beans, Great Northern or cannellini, or even pinto beans. Avoid garbanzo (chick peas) as they can be a bit tougher and less creamy.
I highly recommend them for this recipe, but in a pinch, you could roast your own Anaheim or poblano chiles — they won’t have the same flavor or heat levels, but you can adjust them by adding a teaspoon of smoked paprika and/or cayenne pepper to taste.
More hearty chili recipes you might like:
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Vegetarian Black Bean Chili
- large heavy pot or dutch oven
- ½ pound tomatillos husked and quartered
- 2-3 cups vegetable broth divided (depending on how thick or thin you like it).
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped white onion
- 2 tablespoons chopped garlic about 6 cloves garlic
- ½ – 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and diced
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 15 oz cans black beans rinsed and drained
- 1 ½ cups fire roasted hatch chiles peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1 cup canned tomatoes with their juice
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
- ½ teaspoon celery salt
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt (I used Mortons, which is saltier than Diamond Crystal – if you have Diamond Crystal, increase the salt to 1 teaspoon).
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
SERVE WITH THESE OPTIONAL TOPPINGS:
- flour tortillas preferably warm and slightly charred over a grill or gas burner
- grated cheddar cheese we like sharp white cheddar
- lime wedges
- chopped red onion
- sliced avocado
ASSEMBLE THE BLACK BEAN CHILI:
- Transfer the tomatillos to the blender and add 1 cup of the vegetable broth. Seal the lid and process for 10-20 seconds or until the tomatillos have been mostly pureed in the stock — can be a little chunky if you like. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a heavy pot or dutch oven. When the oil is hot and easily slicks across the bottom of the pot, add the onion and jalapeño. Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes until the onion is tender and slightly translucent. Add the chopped garlic and cook for an additional minute until fragrant.
- Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring for one minute until there are no bits of dry flour left in the pot and the vegetables are coated and kind of pasty.
- Add the blended tomatillos, black beans, hatch chiles, tomatoes and the remainder of the vegetable stock (remember 1 cup of stock for thicker chili and 2 cups for thinner chili — thinner is best if you're using this to sauce another dish like a burrito). Stir to combine and bring to a simmer over medium high heat.
- Add the cumin, chili powder, oregano, celery salt, onion powder, kosher salt and black pepper.
- Reduce heat to a low simmer, cover and cook for about 45 minutes to an hour.
- Ladle the chili into bowls and add a squeeze of lime. Garnish with your preferred toppings and serve with tortillas for dipping.
Was skeptical as it sounded fiery hot but happened to have all the ingredients on hand so gave it a try. Delicious! Just the right amount of heat (used 1/2 jalapeño). Different but perfect chili. Will be serving with warm flour tortillas and regular chili fixings. A winner, Lisa!
Believe I have most of these ingredients on hand. Making this one today. Love that it is vegetarian/vegan.
An all time favorite & perfect for cool fall days!