Updated date:

Semi-Homemade Easy Vegetarian Chili Recipe

Kristina is a mom to two rambunctious boys, and a community volunteer. She enjoys cooking, green living, gardening, and simplifying life!


What image pops into your head when you think of the fall season? For me, it's pumpkins on the vine, golden afternoon sunlight, brilliant bursts of orange and red on the trees, juicy ripe apples, crisp fresh air . . . and chili!

Fall marks the beginning of chili season, and it's one of my favorite meals to make. My kids will actually eat it, it is filling, and you can make a big pot for leftovers (or freeze it for later).

So, you can make chili the "proper" way by taking a day to meticulously cut up ingredients, soak beans, mix your own combination of spices, and let it simmer slowly on the stove. The house feels super warm and cozy when a pot of chili is simmering on the stove. And it will, of course, make an excellent meal! I like making it this way when I can—but I don't often find the time.

Alternatively, you can follow my advice and make this super easy, semi-homemade vegetarian version and have chili anytime you want! There's no cutting up ingredients. There's no soaking beans. Mixing up spices? Nah. And there's no need to brown meat or let it simmer for hours. Just dump, heat, and eat. This recipe will save you precious time. With two kids in my household I don't get a lot of time to cook at night. This semi-homemade recipe allows me to still make a hearty family meal—just in a lot less time than a regular pot of chili!





Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

20 min

15 min

35 min

4 - 6 bowls


  • 1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed, regular or low sodium
  • 1 (15-oz.) can light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed, regular or low sodium
  • 1 (15-oz.) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed, regular or low sodium
  • 2 (15-oz.) cans beans with chili sauce, (do not drain)
  • 8 ounces frozen corn
  • 4 cups tomato sauce, fresh or canned
  • 1 ounce packet chili seasoning, regular or low sodium
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable base or bouillon
  • Generous pinch of brown sugar (the secret ingredient!)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Prepare your tomato sauce. Using a blender or food processor, puree 6-7 medium tomatoes until smooth (about 4 cups of sauce). Or use 4 cups of store-bought tomato sauce.
  2. Pour the sauce into a pot and start heating on medium heat.
  3. Drain and rinse your kidney beans, black beans, and pinto beans. Add to the pot. You can use regular or low-sodium beans.
  4. Add your beans with chili sauce to the pot. Do not drain!
  5. Add frozen corn to the pot.
  6. Add your packet of chili seasoning to the pot. You can use regular or low-sodium seasoning.
  7. Add vegetable base or boillion to the pot.
  8. Add a generous pinch of brown sugar. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Heat on medium heat until desired temperature, about 15-20 minutes. Stir occasionally,
  10. Add your favorite toppings (I highly recommend sour cream and corn chips), and enjoy!

Step 1: Prepare the Sauce

First, prepare your tomato sauce. Using a blender or food processor, puree 6-7 medium tomatoes until smooth. This should give you about four cups of sauce. If you prefer, or are very short on time, use 4 cups of store-bought tomato sauce instead.

Note: If you grow tomato plants in the summer, preserving sauce to use for the winter is a great use of your tomatoes! I always try to freeze a bunch of sauce from my garden tomatoes, to make future chili dinners even easier.

Fresh garden tomatoes

Fresh garden tomatoes

Tomato puree

Tomato puree

Step 2: Dump in the Ingredients

Just dump all of the ingredients into a large pot! It doesn't get any easier than a one-pot meal. Be sure to drain and rinse your kidney, pinto, and black beans. Do not drain the chili beans. Dump it all in, and gently stir.

Note: If you prefer a lower-sodium version, just use low-sodium beans and chili seasoning. You can also use a chili seasoning with no MSG (this is my preference).

Add the Ingredients

Add the Ingredients

Beans, beans, and more beans!

Beans, beans, and more beans!

Step 3: Heat the Chili

Heat on medium heat for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.


Step 4: Add Toppings and Serve!

Add your favorite toppings! I highly recommend sour cream with this chili. The chili is not overly spicy, but the sour cream tones down some of the mild spice and makes it a little creamy (which my kids appreciate). Other topping ideas include crackers, corn chips, tortilla chips, shredded cheese, cilantro, diced onions, or pickled jalapeños.





Kristina Hearn (author) from Iowa on February 21, 2020:

Thank you! Customizing it with local spices is a great idea. It's very adaptable! Thank you for your kind comment!

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on January 07, 2020:

Appears delicious. I think I can cutomise it with local spices a bit. Thanks.

Kristina Hearn (author) from Iowa on October 04, 2019:

Dora, thank you for your comment! "Dump, heat, and eat" is definitely appealing when you need to make a quick dinner!

Kristina Hearn (author) from Iowa on October 04, 2019:

Thanks for your comment Tori! I have to agree with you, I love chili when it gets cold!

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on October 03, 2019:

Thanks for the recipe. Looks authentic, must taste so too. "Dump, heat, and eat" is appealing.

Tori Leumas on October 01, 2019:

This looks pretty good. I love a good chili in the fall and winter.

Kristina Hearn (author) from Iowa on September 30, 2019:

Deborah, it's finally getting cold enough here too, yay! I'm very ready for fall, and chili weather. Thank you for your nice comment!

Kristina Hearn (author) from Iowa on September 30, 2019:

Peggy, thanks for your nice comment! If you make it for your niece, I hope she likes it!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 29, 2019:

I have a niece who is vegetarian. The next time she comes for a visit, I'll make this for her. It sounds easy and tasty! Thanks for your recipe.

Deborah Reno from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD on September 29, 2019:

This looks great! It's getting cold enough to try it this week. Can't wait.


Related Articles