This famous three bean vegetarian chili is a hit with vegetarians and meat-eaters alike! And the only prep required is to chop up some veggies, open some cans and throwing it in the crockpot!
Happy Fall weather! I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love fall. Besides the crisp weather and the excuse to cuddle in a blanket – I think I love this season the most because some of my favorite recipes are very “Fall-y.” Pumpkin Gingerbread anyone? But really, this chilly weather gives me the perfect excuse to make my famous three-bean vegetarian chili.
If you are wondering how my three-bean vegetarian chili became famous, well, that’s a funny story.
When I first moved to Winston-Salem 14 years ago, I bribed myself into new friendships by purchasing a huge cable TV package and inviting people over for football and food. For one of these get-togethers, I threw together this chili recipe, and it was a HUGE hit. It’s been requested many times since then. It was even referred to as “Teri’s Famous Chili” and requested at future football watching parties. I’m so easily flattered. I’ve been living in Winston-Salem for a WHILE years now and I still love this recipe just as much!
UPDATE: I’ve heard from a number of people that the recipe was a bit overspiced so I played around with it and updated some measurements. I hope you’ll give it another try! Thanks for your comments and feedback – it always helps make my recipes better and helps others!
My Famous Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili
Diced tomatoes with juice
Red or green bell pepper
Worcestershire sauce – make sure you buy a vegetarian one! Some have anchovies.
Brown sugar or coconut sugar
There’s just one step in making this chili. I am not kidding.
Throw ALL of the ingredients into a Crockpot/slow cooker and cook over low for at least 4 hours (or 2 hours on high if you’re in a hurry). It gets better the longer it has to cook so I recommend the 4+ hours.
If you want to be a little fancier, you can sauté the onion in some olive oil first to release the onion’s flavor a little bit more, but it’s totally not necessary.
Chili Topping Options
I have about a million and one toppings that taste amazing with this chili – depending on my mood. But here are some of my favorite go-to if you want to spice (not literally – that’ll come later) up your chili.
Shredded cheddar cheese works best. If you find your chili is too spicy for your taste, cheese will help bring that spice level down a notch. Vegan cheddar works well too.
I love me some sour cream and chili. Just a dollop is fine. And again, sour cream will help bring down the heat (both temperature and spice!) if things are too hot for you! I love Trader Joe’s organic sour cream. Plain greek yogurt is also a good option if you don’t have sour cream handy! Since I’m not eating dairy while I breastfeed, I’ll be sad not to have the sour cream this year.
I love chili paired with tortilla chips. The lighter and crispier the better! The Xochitl brand or the Tostito lime are my two favorites! I’m not really a fritos person, but hey, if that’s your jam, go for it!
I LOVE avocado on top of chili. It provides the same cooling effect as sour cream with just a little different flavor.
Chili recipes are usually pretty forgiving – within a limit. Here are some options for ingredient variations so you can adapt this chili to your tastes.
I get it – some people like the spice. If you want your chili extra spicy, include the entire jalapeño, skin, and seeds. Basically, just dice the jalapeño and throw the whole pepper in the Crockpot, except the stem. Pickled jalapeños also work well.
I also recommend starting light on the jalapeños and adding more after you do a taste test. Nothing is worse than throwing too many in and having a chili that’s so spicy you can’t even eat it. (Been there!)
I don’t always have the right vegetables handy when I am throwing together this recipe. Maybe you can relate?
So I have tried many other vegetables in this recipe over the years. The veggies that work best (and are not in the ingredients list above) in this chili include carrots, sweet corn, peas, and green beans. If you LOVE veggies, then I would say try out different ones. It just depends on how you like your chili to taste. I tried broccoli in my chili once, and I won’t lie, it was weird. Don’t do that.