Vegetarian Chili Recipe - Skillful Cook
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Vegetarian Chili

74 reviews / 4.8 average

Vegetarian Chili that's “meaty” and satisfying - without all the meat! A hearty mixture of walnuts, mushrooms, and carrots as your base, with big flavors of onion, garlic, green chiles and spices.

Chili chili chili, can't you see? Sometimes your ways just hypnotize me and even when you're made without meat?!

Yes, that's right. I'd like to introduce to you a really good, really “meaty” and satisfying vegetarian chili that, in fact, does not have meat in it at all.

Watch How To Make This Vegetarian Chili

Click here to see the step-by-step web story instructions for this recipe!

Ingredients For This Recipe

Walnuts, Mushrooms, and Carrots

This is the “meat” base of the chili. Pulsed up in a food processor, it’s just absolute texture-perfection. Love this so much.

Onion and Garlic

One of the basic cornerstones of any good chili!

Canned Stuff

The gang’s all here - diced green chiles for a kick of heat, tomato paste for that deep tomato flavor, and canned tomatoes for sauciness.


We’ve got chili powder and cumin for that classic chili flavor, and then a punch of smoked paprika.

Soy Sauce

Noy typical for chili, but I love it. Soy sauce adds the perfect little dose of umami and saltiness.


Most veggie chilis are very bean-heavy, but I’m not about that (hence that delicious meatless base). Just one can of beans here is all we need! Black beans or pinto beans would be my pick.

Let's Talk Vegetarian Chili “Meat”

This vegetarian chili features a hearty mixture of walnuts, mushrooms, and carrots that can beautifully stand in place of your ground beef and absorbs the big flavors of sautéed onion and garlic, diced green chiles, and all those spices. When scooped and topped with some avocado or cheese, sour cream or tortilla chips, it's just warming and so satisfying in that chili-specific way. And, bonus, it's totally meatless.

I have some requirements for my vegetarian chili and the first is that I want it to be really on-point texturally. I want it to scoop like a real chili. I don't want soup, okay? I want a thick and meaty-like chili texture. The “meat” mixture in this recipe is going to ensure that texture.

My second requirement for my veg chili is equally as important: LOW-TO-NO BEANS. I love beans as much as the next person, but sometimes I feel like they are overused in vegetarian lookalike recipes (like vegetarian chili, for example) where we could easily use vegetables more creatively instead of defaulting to 27 types of beans as the base of the recipe.

I don't know, I have opinions, okay?

Here's What's To Love

This vegetarian chili is all the good things that I'm looking for:

  • thick and hearty and “meaty”, like a standard chili texture
  • beans optional - add if you like them, leave out if you don't
  • big, big, big happy flavor
  • packed with a variety of veggies
  • easy to make
  • makes awesome leftovers
  • meatless!

If you're vegan, don't you worry - this is also a VEGAN chili if you just watch your toppings. Avocado, pickled red onion, radishes, tortilla chips... we got you, vegans. Also: see our Instant Pot Pumpkin Walnut Chili recipe - it's real good.

Veggie Chili with toppings in a bowl.

I am not a vegetarian or vegan but I hope it's obvious that I think creative plant-based cooking is so fun and I love the positive impact it has on our bodies and the earth. ♡ You can be all kinds of everything (vegan, vegetarian, or none, IMHO) and 100% enjoy this.

Goals for the rest of the month: more vegetables, and more chili nights!

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Chunky chili with cilantro, sour cream, and cheddar cheese in a rustic bowl.

Vegetarian Chili

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 5-6 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian


Vegetarian Chili that's “meaty” and satisfying - without the meat! A hearty mixture of walnuts, mushrooms, and carrots as your base, with big flavors of onion, garlic, green chiles and spices. SO GOOD.



The “Meat:”

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, washed, stems removed
  • 4 medium carrots, cut into chunks

The Chili:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 6-ounce can diced green chiles (or fresh minced jalapeños)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2-3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt (more or less to taste)
  • 2 14-ounce cans diced or crushed tomatoes (with juices)
  • 1 14-ounce can beans of choice (optional, see notes)
  • 1 cup water


  1. Make the “meat” - pulse all ingredients in a food processor until broken down into a chunky paste-like texture. Set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic. Sauté for 5-10 minutes until very soft.
  3. Add green chiles, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, and soy sauce. HELLO FLAVOR.
  4. Add your “meat” to the pan - once it mixes in and starts cooking, it should start to resemble chili meat. Let the “meat” cook for 10 minutes or so to soften the vegetables. Season with salt.
  5. Add tomatoes, beans if you want, and water to get the consistency right. Let it simmer for about 45 minutes to soften the vegetables, thicken it up, and let the flavors come together.
  6. Serve with your favorite chili toppings, and there it is! VEGETARIAN CHILI! You did it.



Beans: A lot of vegetarian chili recipes are based around beans, and I wanted this recipe to be bean-optional for people who don't like or can't have beans. So if you want to skip the beans altogether, no problem! That being said, I like black beans in this vegetarian chili, but kidney beans, white beans, or pinto beans would all be great.

Toppings: For vegetarian chili - sour cream and cheddar or queso fresco. For vegan chili - cilantro, avocado, pickled onion or jalapeno, radishes, tortilla chips.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: vegetarian chili, vegan chili, chili recipe, healthy chili, vegetarian comfort food

One More Thing!

This recipe is part of our of yummy carrot recipes page. Check it out!

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    Now this right here looks like a deliciously irresistible meal that’ll turn a meat lover into a lifetime vegetarian. That looks m-m-m soooooo good! 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I just made this recipe and OMG it’s absolutely delicious! The “meat” crumble had a very similar consistency as the real thing. My family and I were a little skeptical at first about the walnut/mushroom/carrot combo but it was fantastic! Flavors were spot on. I added in a little more liquid but that’s simply due to personal preference.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        I made this recipe awhile ago, but I couldn’t find the recipe t make it again. So I did a Google search, and I knew it as soon as I saw it. I printed it now so that I can add it to my recipe binder. This recipe is very good!

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      I made this recipe exact 2 weeks ago. It was magical! My family loved it so much, I’m making it again tonight! They don’t even realize that there’s no meat in it! Crazy!

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Hi, I have a tree nut allergy and was wondering what I can replace the walnuts with? I read that oats can be a nut replacement. Do you think that would work? Thanks!

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    I am so excited to try this recipe!! Love that you’ve created a “meat crumble” from real, unprocessed ingredients.

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’ve used riced cauliflower to make vegetarian chili in the past, but never thought about adding mushrooms or carrots (can’t have the walnuts). I’ll have to try adding them next time.

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m not a vegetarian and this recipe looks so yummy. I can’t wait to try it. Would pecans or cashews give it that same meat like texture?

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    Is there another vegetable or suggestion to use in replace of the mushrooms in the “meat crumble”

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    I just made this tasty food in my bhirthday for my family and friends their response for this food is very good .Thanks a lot to make the video very easy to understand.

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Have you tried tempeh in the meat part of the recipe? I’m a big fan of tempeh, thats why I ask, but I am going to try this recipe the way it is. Looks fantastic!

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    Made a double batch tonight so that I could freeze lots of leftovers. Love this chili, it is so flavourful and the texture is great. I also added some corn near the end of the cooking time.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        I froze my last batch and it thawed really well. I was a little worried as I had added some leftover grated zucchini as well. I thought the water content might be too high to freeze well but it was really good. Just defrosted in the fridge and microwaved. Will be making again.

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    Fantastic! Tried it tonight, and score!! Thank you so much for sharing this delish recipie!!

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    We loved this recipe, we changed a bit and added ground pork though. We also changed carrots to romanesco, but the flavors are absolutely fantastic! Thank you for sharing.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        I overbought mushrooms on sale; would the “meat” store for a couple of days if I process it first but don’t cook it? I don’t want to leave the mushrooms to mush…

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    WOW! I was so skeptical of this recipe at first when I saw the “walnut meat” 😂 but I decided to give it a go because every pinch of yum recipe I have ever made has been a total knock-out!! Don’t hesitate to make this!! Doesn’t taste like “meat”… but has a very heart Chili taste that is sure to satisfy. Thanks again!

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    This was fantastic!!! I’m a vegetarian and my husband gave up meat for Lent (but doesn’t like beans) so this recipe was perfect for a Sunday dinner. Kids (7 and 3) devoured it! Thank you!

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m 5 mos Plant based now. I used to always make my Midwest beef red chili each winter and thought I wouldn’t find a plant based version to match. I made this tonight. I’m in love. I wasn’t a fan of too many beans in my chili and this 1 can of black beans was perfect. I did use double amount of vegetable broth (instead of water) but that’s just preference. Thank you thank you for this amazing recipe.

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    I made this recipe last night and REALLY enjoyed! I so agree that vegetarian chili recipes often over-rely on beans. I’m from southwest Ohio and the texture was so close to Cincinnati-style chili. It made me so happy! We often serve chili over spaghetti and topped with cheese. This worked wonderfully. Thanks! I also loved the gifs in the step-by-step 🙂

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    Made this tonight and it was delicious! My hubby does not like chili with a ton of beans and he kept saying how he couldn’t believe this didn’t contain meat. The flavor is great and it’s very hearty. Adding it to our rotation! Even my 7year old picky eater loved it.

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    I loved this, but even better my 15 year old who loves meat said this was one of the best chilis I’ve made. The whole family ate it up. Will definitely make this again. Thank you!

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    Wow, this trick of blending the mushrooms, walnuts and carrots really changed the texture of this chili. My husband assumed I had used fake meat crumbles. I love vegetarian chili, and I miss the texture that you’d get from meat, so I’ll be using this from now on!

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    Wow wow and Super Wow!!!!

    It all started with a food processor.
    Today I Googled… Food Processor Recipes. That sent me to 12 Magical Ways To Use A Food Processor. That lead to reading your food processor blog that sent me to Pinch of yum looking up plant based healthy foods.
    Well this is the story…
    Two weeks ago my husband went to his Doctor who put him on a plant base diet. So of course I had to buy a food processor. Then I read your food processor blog that turned into plant based/healthy recipes, to me wanting to find a chili recipe. So tomorrow I’m taking the food processor out of the box, making vegetarian/vegan chili and reading your blog from the beginning. Look what a food processor can do. Now this is a coincidence