Food + Drink

The Best Vegan Chili Ever!


This really is the best vegetarian and vegan chili (or any kind of chili, really) recipe, honestly. I make a big pot of it just about every other week and freeze it in containers for lunches and dinners.

UPDATE, JANUARY 2021: In the 13+ years since I first published this recipe, it’s come to be known as “Door Sixteen Chili.” Countless readers have sent me their own variations, tales of winning chili cook-offs, and alerts when they make the first pot of the season on a chilly day. To make things easier for those who may be stumbling across this recipe for the first time, I’ve finally decided to take advantage of technology and convert the recipe into a “card” format that can easily be pinned or printed. Enjoy!

Yield: 6 large bowls

The Best Vegan Chili Ever

vegan chili

Over the years, this tried-and-true recipe has come to be known as "Door Sixteen Chili." It's vegetarian, it's vegan, it's hearty, it's "meaty," it's super-satisfying, and it's unbelievably delicious!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeds removed, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chili powder*
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes with basil
  • 14 oz can black beans (with liquid)**
  • 14 oz can kidney beans (with liquid)**
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup bulgur wheat
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar


  1. Heat oil in a large pot. Add onions, carrots and garlic; sauté until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add yellow pepper, jalapeños, celery and chili powder; cook another 10 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes, beans (with liquid), corn, salt and spices. Bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Stir in bulgur wheat. Cover and simmer at least 30 minutes (I usually let everything simmer for a couple of hours to let the flavors really develop, but it's okay to take it off when the veggies and bulgur are soft), stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
  5. Just as you're taking the chili off the heat, stir in the balsamic vinegar. I know it might seem weird to put it in, but trust me—it really does make the chili taste extra amazing.


*What we call “chili powder” in the US is actually a blend of several spices. Please don’t use 2tbsp of straight cayenne pepper! If blended chili powder is not available in your part of the world, you can add an extra tbsp of cumin, and then just add your cayenne a pinch at a time to taste.

**I take the easy route and use canned beans and tomatoes. You can soak dried beans and use fresh tomatoes if you prefer, of course, but you will want to add water to make up for the liquid in the cans.

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  • Reply Adam October 12, 2007 at 10:37 am

    This sounds delicious! My mother makes a very good vegetarian chili, and also a very good one using ground turkey, which I have in my fridge right now!

  • Reply devon October 15, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    i know this is an old post but i made this last weekend and it is AMAZING!

  • Reply Fiona January 30, 2009 at 7:21 am

    I will try it. Epicurious has a very good vegetarian chili recipe (called Full O’ Beans chili) but yours has actually vegetables.

  • Reply Taru January 30, 2009 at 10:21 am

    I use these Pyrex glassware containers for storage and they’re awesome. I keep some cutlery at my desk too so I don’t have to use plastic spoons and forks. Makes a homemade meal at work even more sophisticated.

  • Reply Taru January 30, 2009 at 10:22 am

    oh, forgot the link!

  • Reply Kristen January 30, 2009 at 11:16 am

    I’m so excited to find this recipe! I can’t wait to make it! I love chili but I no longer eat red meat so this is great! Thanks!

  • Reply Michelle January 30, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    in response to taru, i was just in sam’s (or was it cosco? it was one or the other) the other day and they have the same (maybe slight variation in sizes) pyrex containers for $29.99! they also have these korean made glass containers for the same price. i personally like the tops on the korean ones, but both do the job of storing wonderfully!

    oh and definitely going to try and make this chili. =) i have one recipe that has just a little bit of meat, but it seems to be missing some zest.

  • Reply Jenny January 31, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    Just got all the ingredients this morning so we can make this for Sunday/Superbowl. I’m also going to do the Martha Stewart Everyday Food sloppy joe sliders with corn bread. Woo!

  • Reply Case Rienstra February 1, 2009 at 8:21 am

    Thanks for the great recipe!

    This surely will make the difference where we live.

    We even got that balsamic vinegar here now and look forward to the twist it’ll give to this pot.

    Case Rienstra

  • Reply Chrissy February 22, 2009 at 4:17 am

    I just made this recipe… thanks so much for sharing it! The only thing I think I will change in the future is putting in about half as much of the balsamic. I tasted the chili before adding balsamic and it was AMAZING and then afterwards I felt like the other flavors were overwhelmed… it became the main thing I notice. I’m hoping it will blend in more by tomorrow, which is when I’ll be serving this for guests. Just thought I’d mention it so if anyone else makes this they can weigh how much they love that taste before going for the full amount. Thank you again… this is really delicious and I hope others give it a shot. It’s fun to make (and pretty easy) and looks beautiful with all the different colors.

  • Reply Jonesy February 22, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    Chrissy … I did make this with half the amount of balsamic as I was worried that using a 1/4 cup would overwhelm the taste of the chili. It was delicious … the chili had a depth of flavor that my previous chili did not have.

    Anna, thanks for the tip on using balsamic – what a difference!

  • Reply Veggie Chili and Video Games | Behind The Curtain April 22, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    […] tried many different recipes, and none of them have come even CLOSE to this one. I borrow it from Door Sixteen. It’s delicious, […]

  • Reply celie June 1, 2009 at 12:09 am

    hi anna! I’m making your recipe for the second time tonight, it’s amazing, thanks for sharing it!

  • Reply Alicia June 13, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    I just made this tonight! So delicious! Used half the balsamic as recommended. Thanks for the recipe, Anna.

  • Reply Karen September 13, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    I made this today – the start of football season always seems to call for chili, and I’m trying to eat more veggies, so this seemed like a good day to try it. I should have made a double batch – it is outstanding! Thank you – this earns immediate paper-protector status in my recipe binder – I’ll be making this often!

  • Reply a big red pot of awesome « the particular kitchen September 27, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    […] this recipe has been printed and saved in my notebook o’ recipes for months now, but i’ve only just cooked it for the first time tonight. i found it on door sixteen ages ago. we made only the teeniest, tiniest alterations. it’s hearty, spicy, and filling. the ingredients serve 6-8 people, so make sure you have a pot big enough. i used a big red le creuset pot which you can see in the background. the photo below is of phil’s portion (most of the photos on this blog are, since he is the photographer!) complete with a couple of slices of soda bread. […]

  • Reply Thislovelycity September 30, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    I made this last week! It was amazing & my carnivore hubby didn’t even miss the meat! Thanks for sharing!

    xo, thislovelycity.

  • Reply AnEmily October 3, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    I’ve made this chili before, and it’s become my all-time favorite. I’ve got a pot on the stove now, although I accidentally put in catnip instead of oregano! I’ll let you know how it meow.

  • Reply Vegetarian Chili « Rolo Worthy November 24, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    […] Vegetarian Chili […]

  • Reply Jes December 2, 2009 at 11:56 am

    This recipe is delicious, thank you! I’ve made it twice now, it’s perfect for a party!

    I added a yellow squash and two parsnips 🙂

  • Reply Christine December 25, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    I’ve made this and it is DELICIOUS!! My mom also raved about it! Thanks!

  • Reply Making It Official « Southern Apron January 2, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    […] and desserts, granola bars, Crockpot anything (other than my mother’s, my favorite chili is Door Sixteen’s vegetarian chili, you WILL NOT MISS THE MEAT, […]

  • Reply You Should Make Vegetarian Chili « ReadyMade Editors' Notes February 5, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    […] pots of veggie chili pictured here are from Anna at Door Sixteen who also claims to make the best veggie chili. I will leave it up to you to get cooking and see […]

  • Reply Prettyny January 23, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    I have been making this chili for years when I first discovered it on your amazing site. Two wins, I get a yummy, easy to make chili every winter and I got to discover your site as well 🙂 The balsamic vinegar does indeed up the tastiness factor. Thank you!

  • Reply Sue September 24, 2017 at 9:00 am

    Hi Anna! Should the vinegar be white or dark? Thanks!

    • Anna @ D16 September 24, 2017 at 9:48 am

      Sue, it should be balsamic vinegar.

  • Reply Amanda October 10, 2022 at 5:17 pm

    I used to make this chili all the time circa 2009. I had a craving for it recently and managed to find your blog again, hooray! I made the chili tonight and it’s just as good as I remembered. Thank you!

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