Vegetarian Chili (for Vegetarians and Meat Lovers Alike!)

Chili Pot

Hello everyone,

I’m sure that most of us love chili. The saucy, spicy hearty dish is great when you need to feed a big group of people, or just your family (leftovers anyone?) Chili can be very healthy too (depending on your recipe of course). Whole ingredients including veggies, beans, tomato sauce and ground meat combine in a filling and tasty dish.

However, I know when I eat chili, especially chili made with ground beef, I get kind of a heavy, full feeling in my stomach that takes a while to go away. The chili is delicious, but the quantity I can consume is self-limiting by that full feeling.

But there is a solution: take the meat right out of your chili, and go vegetarian! Making your chili vegetarian can more than satisfy your appetite while leaving you feeling real good after eating. So good, in fact, that you may find yourself going back for seconds or even a third helping!

The best part about today’s vegetarian chili recipe is that you won’t even miss the meat in there. There are so many other great ingredients – three types of beans, two types of peppers, mushrooms, mini-corn – that more than compensate for the absence of meat.

However, there is a secret ingredient here, one that your vegetarian chili can’t go without. I first tried it at my friend Jackie’s house when she made vegetarian chili for me, and I have to give her credit for this one. The secret is squash! I have used both butternut and buttercup squashes in my chili, and the succulent and satisfying orange pieces really add a substantial boost to the dish.

This is truly a vegetarian chili for the meat lover – you won’t even notice that the meat is gone!


  • If you want a smaller batch, you can reduce the vegetable and bean quantity.
  • Try playing around with the spices and flavourful ingredients to give your chili the taste that best suits you! Keep it simple with chili powder and cumin, or add the kitchen sink trying ingredients including balsamic vinegar, barbecue sauce, dried mustard and honey!
  • This recipe is one of my favourites to freeze. I like to make a big batch and portion it into individual containers for lunches.

Spice of the week

Mayan chili powder is comprised of four different peppers, cocoa powder and cinnamon. The cinnamon and cocoa powder offer a deep, rich flavour that is truly unique. If you can find it, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you give Mayan chili powder a shot in this recipe. It is something special indeed!

I discovered this wonderful variety of chili powder at my favourite spice shop here in Edmonton, Silk Road Spices (visit their stores in Edmonton and Calgary or click here to order online.)

I have included in the recipe a version with and a version without Mayan chili powder.

Special thanks to Jackie for changing my chili life forever though the secret ingredient that is squash!

Bon appetit,


Click here to view printable Word version of recipe:
Vegetarian Chili
Vegetarian Chili – Mayan Chili Powder


Vegetarian Chili
(Serves 8)


  • 1 small butternut squash or 1 medium buttercup squash, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • About 10 mushrooms, sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 can cut mini-corn, 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1-28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1-14 oz can tomato sauce or pasta sauce

Spices and flavour: 

  • 1.5 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 heaping tsp cumin
  • 1-2 tsp oregano


  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup barbecue sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp honey (if you prefer the sweeter taste)
  • 1 tsp mustard powder

Feel free to use any combination of the above spices and flavours, or adding whatever you like of your own. Tweak them by adding more, less or none of each to your taste. I would however, recommend you keep the chili powder and cumin at the very least!

Spices (With Mayan Chili powder):

If you are lucky enough to have Mayan Chili powder

  • 1.5 tbsp Mayan Chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp hot chili powder, or ½ tsp cayenne pepper

(I like to keep the spices simple to really feature the rich flavours of the Mayan Chili powder

 Garnishes (any combination of):

  • Grated cheese
  • Cilantro
  • Sour cream
  • Greek yogurt
  • Lime
  • Hot sauce (I like Mexican style – try Chalula’s or Valentina’s)


  1. Use the largest pot you own. Heat pot. In some cooking oil fry onions and cook until they are starting to get tender..
  2. Add mushrooms and garlic. Cook for another minute or two.
  3. Add squash. Cook for a few minutes. Add red and green pepper, cook for a minute more.
  4. Add spices, mix well.
  5. Add beans, chick peas, mini corn, tomato sauce and stewed tomatoes.Stir.
  6. If using, add BBQ sauce, honey, mustard powder along with any other ingredients you would like. .
  7. Bring to a boil. Lower temperature, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, check to see if you like the consistency of the chili. If it is too liquidy, continue to simmer uncovered until desired consistency is reached.
  8. Garnish with grated cheese, cilantro, sour cream, hot sauce, more lime, or combination you like. Try serving with your favourite garlic bread, cornbread or polenta.

Freezes wonderfully!

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