Vegan Chili Recipe Kids Love to Eat

This vegan chili recipe is a whole foods plant based chili that is great for getting kids to eat their vegetables without complaining!

bowl of vegan chli on marble background with blue cloth napkin and glass of beer

This veggie packed chili is so chunky, flavorful, and thick, that no one even notices it doesn’t have any meat. It’s also a great way to use up any zucchini you might have left from the garden!

The recipe has both stovetop and Instant Pot chili instructions.

How to make vegan chili on the stove

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 (28 ounce) cans Italian stewed tomatoes (you can chop these with scissors before adding if you want)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
  • 1⁄4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
  • 1⁄4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 3 teaspoons chili powder (or up to 3 tablespoons for really spicy chili)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (just a natural sweetener, doesn’t make your chili taste like pancakes!
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
Close up of vegan chili topped with parsley leaves
  1. We’re going to start by chopping all of our vegetables and aromatics like garlic and fresh herbs. The aromatics add layers of flavor to the vegan chili recipe. Aim for half inch pieces or smaller, so you can get a variety of vegetables in every bite.
  2. Start by chopping two medium or one large zucchini. I find it easiest to slice the zucchini into long pieces first. Then you can chop up those strips into your small chunks.
  3. As always, save your veggie scraps like zucchini ends, bell pepper tops, and onion skins. I keep them in a bag in the freezer to make homemade veggie stock.
  4. For the bell peppers, I like to slice around the outside, basically unrolling it into a sheet that I can easily slice into strips, and then chop. I use one red bell pepper and one green, but you can go with whatever colors you have on hand.
  5. To chop your onion, carefully slice off the hairy roots, then cut the onion in half through that root end. Peel your onion halves, then make a slice from the top toward the root that doesn’t quite go all the way through.
  6. Now you can make perpendicular slices that also don’t quite reach the root, then start chopping.
  7. When chopping the jalapeno pepper, I cut off the four sides and slice them into strips, then chop those strips. This is one veggie I don’t save scraps from because I don’t want that heat in my veggie stock. You also need to wash your hands well after slicing jalapenos, and make sure not to touch your face or eyes. You can also wear gloves while slicing it to just avoid getting the juices on your hands.
  8. You also need to chop up to a cup each of parsley and cilantro. I use about a quarter cup of each in the chili, and have the rest on the table for garnishing individual servings.
  9. For the three cloves of garlic, you can use a garlic press, mince them with a knife, or even just use the minced garlic from a jar. No one will really notice.
  10. Once everything is prepped, you’re going to heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large heavy bottomed pot on medium high heat. I like using a ceramic coated Dutch oven, and will link to mine in the description in case you need one.
  11. Add in your chopped zucchini, peppers, and onion then stir them occasionally for about 10 minutes, until they’re somewhat soft. Then you’ll add that minced garlic and give it another stir.
  12. Next comes two 28 ounce cans of Italian stewed tomatoes. I like to break those up a bit in the pot so they’ll be in bite sized pieces as well.
  13. Then dump in a can of tomato sauce, a can of pinto beans, and a can of black beans. Just make sure you drained your beans before adding them in.
  14. Now you’re ready to mix in the chopped parsley and cilantro. If you have cilantro haters in your family, just use parsley and skip the cilantro.
  15. For seasoning we’re going to add 3 teaspoons of chili powder, one tablespoon of maple syrup, a teaspoon of cumin powder, and a teaspoon of salt. If you want spicier chili you can add more chili powder. I go up to 3 tablespoons for some major heat.
  16. Bring your chili to a gently bubbling simmer, then cover and cook on low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom.
Plant based chili in bowl next to pot of vegan chili
Yield: 10 servings

Vegan Chili Kids Love to Eat

Vegan chili in gray bowl with parsley leaves on top

This vegan chili is a chunky, flavorful, healthy comfort food that even kids love to eat. Use just 3 teaspoons of chili powder if serving to kids, or adults with low spice tolerance. Kick the chili powder up to as much as 3 tablespoons for lots of heat! Make sure to chop your vegetables to 1/2 inch, and even smaller for the onion and jalapeno.

Adapted with permission from Food.com.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 (28 ounce) cans Italian stewed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
  • 1⁄4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
  • 1⁄4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 3 teaspoons - 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin

Instructions

  1. Heat oil on medium high in a large heavy bottomed pot like a Dutch oven.
  2. Add chopped zucchini, onion, green pepper, red pepper, and jalapeno. Saute 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender.
  3. Add minced garlic and stir another minute.
  4. Add in stewed tomatoes, then break them up with a wooden spoon to more bite sized pieces.
  5. Add tomato sauce, and drained pinto beans and black beans. Then add cilantro, parsley, chili powder (3 teaspoons for little to no heat, 3 tablespoons for lots of heat), maple syrup, salt, and cumin. Stir well.
  6. Bring to a gentle bubbling simmer, then cover and cook on low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally so the bottom doesn't burn.
  7. Serve with additional parsley or cilantro for garnish.

Notes

INSTANT POT INSTRUCTIONS

  • Follow instructions but use saute setting for steps 1-5.
  • Put lid on, seal, and cook on manual pressure for 8 minutes.
  • The the pressure natural release.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 125Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 399mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 5gSugar: 5gProtein: 5g

Nutrition information is an estimate only.


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