World’s Best Vegetarian Chili

Remember yesterday when I told you it was a really good idea to make a pot of black beans because you were going to need them for today’s recipe?

This is serious business, people!

This black bean chili, originally from The New York Times, is definitely the most unique chili I’ve ever tasted. It’s also one of the very best. It’s vegan (well, it was vegan until I dumped goat cheese on top) and actually more like a thick, Spanish black bean soup than a typical chili. It’s pretty hard to describe, but totally delicious and completely worth the effort of making the black beans the day before!

The thing that really sets this chili apart from the standard American chili is that it really only has two components: the simmered black beans and the tomato mixture. The black beans are made from scratch with onion, garlic and cilantro, and the tomato mixture is spicy and garlic-y.

When you combine the two, you get perfection!

And you know what goes really well with this vegetarian chili? Goat cheese!

I also like to dump pique on my chili, which is a homemade Puerto Rican vinegar-based hot sauce that I bought from one of my favorite restaurants, Sol Food. Any hot sauce would be good though—I just love to bring out the Spanish flavors of this chili!

This chili also freezes extremely well, and actually what I did was make the beans on Friday night, freeze half of them (for future black bean and rice cravings!) and then use the other half to make this chili (I halved the recipe you see below). It worked out perfectly and now my freezer and belly are full of spicy black bean goodness!

Black Bean Chili

loosely adapted from

serves 6

Print this recipe!


1 pot cuban black beans

1 yellow onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 T canola oil

3 T dark chili powder

2 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp salt (or to taste)

1 tsp dried oregano

28 oz can diced tomatoes

2 T tomato paste dissolved in 1 cup water

2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, chopped

for serving:

fresh cilantro, minced

limes for serving

crumbled goat cheese


Heat the canola oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook for 8-10 minutes until slightly golden. Add the garlic and saute for another thirty seconds.

Add the chili powder, cumin seeds and oregano and mix well. Cook for two minutes until fragrant and toasty. Add the diced tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Cook for about three minutes until thick.

Add the tomato paste/water as well as the two chipotle chilies. Mix well and continue to simmer for another ten minutes, until very thick.

Add the tomato mixture to the cuban black beans and mix well. Season with salt to taste and serve with a squeeze of lime, goat cheese and minced fresh cilantro.


30 minutes, not including time to prepare black beans

**this chili freezes extremely well and will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to a week in sealed tupperware containers.

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  • Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin
    March 15, 2011 at 5:02 am

    Thank you so much for this recipe!! I absolutely love veggie chili and am always looking for new recipes to introduce into the rotation. Yum!

  • Christie {Nourishing Eats}
    March 15, 2011 at 5:06 am

    Yum, it looks delish!! I also really love that first photo.

  • Heather (heather's dish)
    March 15, 2011 at 5:09 am

    the chili looks fabulous, but i gotta say – goat cheese crumbles? just won my heart 🙂

  • Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga)
    March 15, 2011 at 5:12 am

    Jenna I love this recipe because it’s pretty much just Beans + Tomatoes.

    Brilliantly simple. The BEST food in life can often be…the simplest.

    I really am wishing I listened to your advice in yesterday’s post and soaked some beans and made black beans. NOW I know why you were recommending that 🙂

    The pics are also glorious. Your new kitchen is agreeing with your camera and photography skills!

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat
    March 15, 2011 at 5:20 am

    YUM! I’ve been looking for a new, different vegetarian chili recipe and this one sounds fantastic. Thanks Jenna! 🙂

  • Lauren at Keep It Sweet
    March 15, 2011 at 5:26 am

    That is one intense veggie chili!

  • Elizabeth@The Sweet Life
    March 15, 2011 at 5:29 am

    Love the vegetarian recipe on your site!!! Looks delicious.

  • J3nn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog)
    March 15, 2011 at 5:35 am

    I’ve been thinking about vegetarian lately. I have so many beans, how cooed I not? Lol that looks wonderful!

  • Lesley Lifting Life
    March 15, 2011 at 5:44 am

    Yum, this sounds really good. I like how thick it looks, the last time I made vegetarian chili it was waaaay too soupy to be “chili”.

  • Jenny
    March 15, 2011 at 5:48 am

    I love the picture of the hot sauce! Very creative:) Looks yummy!

  • Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman
    March 15, 2011 at 5:58 am

    Goat cheese with chili? Who knew. It does look good. And that bottle of hot sauce is so cool. I might have to track some down. I’m of the belief that hot sauce makes everything better.

  • Holly @ Couch Potato Athlete
    March 15, 2011 at 5:59 am

    I love veggie chili — the color of yours looks so dark and rich! Goat cheese sounds like a great chili topper!

  • Jessica @ShrinkingFoodie
    March 15, 2011 at 6:07 am

    Topo Chico! Yum!

  • Kelly @ Laughter, Strength, and Food
    March 15, 2011 at 6:19 am

    Looks yummy! My bf doesn’t like chili, but I think I’m going to make this and try to change him mind!

  • Kelly @ Laughter, Strength, and Food
    March 15, 2011 at 6:20 am

    *his mind, not *him mind!

  • Amanda
    March 15, 2011 at 6:20 am

    This looks wonderful! I will definitely be trying this soon 🙂

  • Haleigh
    March 15, 2011 at 6:20 am

    Looks delicious! Especially with this rainy weather that we’ve been experiencing on the east coast.

  • Baking 'n' Books
    March 15, 2011 at 6:21 am

    Goat Cheese!

    Do you need the cumin seeds? Just the powder is fine?

    …not gonna lie – the first pic looked like raisins in there…and I WANTED it…slight addiction to my wrinkled grape friend 😉

  • rebecca lustig
    March 15, 2011 at 6:26 am

    i’m ALWAYS looking for new vegetarian chili recipes– LOVE the addition of chipotle chilis and GOAT cheese!

  • Heather @ Health, Happiness, and Hope
    March 15, 2011 at 6:32 am

    I love how flavorful this recipe sounds! And I would have never thought of goat cheese… awesome topping! Thanks for the recipe.

  • Kailey (SnackFace)
    March 15, 2011 at 6:37 am

    Yuuum! I never get sick of great vegetarian chili recipes. It’s so rainy right now that this sounds like the perfect dinner!

  • Jessica @ How Sweet
    March 15, 2011 at 7:12 am

    This sounds SO good!

  • Michelle | gold-hearted girl
    March 15, 2011 at 7:19 am

    This is perfection to me! Making this ASAP!

  • Jessica @ Dishin' About Nutrition
    March 15, 2011 at 7:30 am

    I love veggie chili! I am definitely keeping this recipe to try this weekend!

  • Becki @ Bites 'n Brews
    March 15, 2011 at 7:33 am

    How much exactly is “a pot of black beans”?

    • jenna
      March 15, 2011 at 7:56 am

      the previous recipe that I linked to—you will need all of it!

  • Salah (My Healthiest Lifestyle)
    March 15, 2011 at 7:56 am

    Making this next week! Looks amazing 🙂

  • Liz @ IHeartVegetables
    March 15, 2011 at 8:07 am

    I love love love vegetarian chili. It NEVER gets old! And it’s so inexpensive to make! I think I have all the ingredients, so I’m definitely trying this soon 🙂 My best friend is coming next week and she LOVES veggie chili!

  • Amanda (Eating Up)
    March 15, 2011 at 8:07 am

    Goat cheese + chili is a brilliant idea!

  • Mary (what's cookin' with mary)
    March 15, 2011 at 8:11 am

    This looks wonderful Jenna. I love all the bold flavors with a short ingredient list. I’m thinking goat feta would rock on this chili!!

  • never not dreaming
    March 15, 2011 at 8:26 am

    Do you also have a recipe for a non-vegetarian chilli? To have both options. Goat cheese would be wonderful of course.

    • jenna
      March 15, 2011 at 8:44 am

      i have two—in my recipe section. One has turkey and one has chicken 🙂

  • Moni'sMeals
    March 15, 2011 at 8:41 am

    bold title!
    I am in. I make chili all the time so I will try this. Awesome Jenna!

  • Lauren@LYK
    March 15, 2011 at 8:45 am

    Ooh my goodness! That chili looks fantastic but to be honest I’m actually admiring that brick wall in your new place. It looked like the hot sauce was floating then I realized it was a awesomely rustic brick wall! I am jealous…is it a fire place?!

    • jenna
      March 15, 2011 at 10:08 am

      no, it’s the wall in my living room!

  • Briana
    March 15, 2011 at 9:17 am

    This looks SO good, and I believe every dish is made better with hot sauce! Yours looks delicious!

  • Jesse
    March 15, 2011 at 9:50 am

    I love the idea of adding goat cheese to vegetarian chili, I’ll have to try that next time I make my version of vegetarian chili!

  • Emily @ Savory and Savage
    March 15, 2011 at 9:54 am

    It is cloudy and cool here today – vegetarian chili sounds delicious!

  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey
    March 15, 2011 at 9:57 am

    So simple and delicious! It looks awesome!

  • French Heart
    March 15, 2011 at 10:09 am

    LOVE vegetarian chili & esp with black beans. This is perfect for today–cloudy, damp and nippy in Carmel. Thanks!

  • Lauren from Lauren's Latest
    March 15, 2011 at 10:15 am

    I LOVE vegetarian chili. I feel so much healthier eating that then the beef version. And, the best part is my carnivore of a husband doesn’t even notice there’s meat missing.

  • Paige @ Moxie and Marmalade
    March 15, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Yum! I can’t wait to give this a try.

    I love the first photograph in the post — gorgeous

  • Kiran
    March 15, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Vegetarian chili??? I must give this a try since a lot of the chili recipes out there requires beef 😉

  • Hannah @ Healthy Whip
    March 15, 2011 at 10:49 am

    This looks delicious! Thanks for the recipe.

  • christa
    March 15, 2011 at 11:07 am

    this sounds great! buuuuutttt, I think Im going to add some ground beef! 🙂

  • Stephanie @ Live Cook Love
    March 15, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    There are several people in my office who are Vegetarian and I am always looking for something to bring for our many potlucks… I think this is a winner!

  • Sabrina @ Radioactive Runner
    March 15, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    This looks like a great recipe to try. I don’t think I’ve EVER put black beans in my chili?! I will try this the next time I plan to make it though!

  • A Teenage Gourmet (Sami)
    March 15, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    And alllmost vegan. Thanks, Jenna. 🙂

  • Rebecca
    March 15, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Wow perfect timing. I had vegetarian chili earlier today and it was almost life changing. I thought to myself that I wished I had a good recipe and here I go. I love black beans in mine and a kick

  • Ellie @ The Mommyist
    March 15, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    The chili looks good but Topo Chico is my favorite!

  • Jessica
    March 15, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Holy cow, that sounds good! Can you substitute olive oil for canola??

  • Jen
    March 15, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    I love the combination of black beans and goat cheese! Even when I’m in the middle of nibbling on dark chocolate, this looks delicious. Your food always looks so comforting.

  • Melanie @ Adorkable Recipes
    March 15, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    I simply MUST try this!

  • Lisa (Dishes of Mrs. Fish)
    March 15, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Looks great! Perfect for our rainy evening!

  • Mellie
    March 15, 2011 at 6:59 pm


  • Kris
    March 17, 2011 at 6:52 am

    Similar to one of Jane Brody that I’ve been using for years. I puree half of the mixture to get a thicker texture, and like a Mexican cheese, rather than goat cheese. Also, is great for nachos and dipping.

  • Tamar
    March 19, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    I just made this. So so delicious. We used some avocado as a topper instead of the goat cheese. I also made polenta cakes and we topped the chili on them.

  • Mel
    March 21, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    I made the cuban black beans last night and this chili today and both were freakin’ delicious! I am loving the abundance of savory (and vegetarian friendly) recipes on your blog lately!

  • Cynthea
    June 10, 2011 at 9:18 am

    Dark Chili Powder??? What is the difference? All I have is the regular Chili powder from the grocery store. What should I look for in a high quality Chili Powder? Thanks 🙂 Definitely want to try this, but I am sure the quality of spices will make a difference!

  • Heidi
    October 3, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    I tried this a couple of weeks ago because I am a fan of black beans. I honestly did not think much of the chili when I tasted it right after it was done cooking, but after it sat for a couple of days it was really, really good. Entirely worth the effort. You’re not kidding about freezing well, either – tastes just like it did before it was frozen! I’m kind of a wimp when it comes to chipotle peppers so I only used one and that was plenty 🙂 The black beans are also awesome by themselves. I will definitely be making more. Thank you for the awesome recipes!

  • Katie
    November 12, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Jenna, I just watned to let you know that I have made both the cuban black beans and this black bean chili several times, and my family and I love them! It’s one thing that I know myself, my husband, and my two toddlers will all eat without complaining. (And I actually have some more beans simmering on my stove right now…) Thank you for these delicious recipes!

    • jenna
      November 12, 2011 at 12:44 pm

      awesome!! I’m so glad you guys enjoyed them!

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