Food + Drink

Repost! Vegetarian chili.

vegan chili

It’s been two years since I first posted my recipe for vegetarian chili (that’s it on the right, above), and I think it’s time for a repost now that the weather is getting cooler. THIS IS THE BEST CHILI RECIPE EVER. Trust.

QUESTION: Have you tried this recipe already? If so, how do you like it? And have you made any modifications to it? When I made it last week, I was out of corn, so I subbed in a cup of frozen edamame. YUM.

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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