This easy vegan zucchini chili recipe is brimming with veggies, spices, fresh herbs, and beans for a quick, flavorful, low-fat, oil-free, meatless chili the whole family will love.
Veggie chili recipes, like chipotle with black beans, 3-bean chili with sweet potatoes, or cocoa powder chili, are well-suited for plant-based dining because they naturally incorporate seasonal vegetables and any bean you like.
Table of Contents
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Simmered zucchini makes a thick and creamy chili sauce without blending.
- Cumin, allspice, and cayenne pepper replace traditional chili powder for something different than everyday chili flavor.
- Stovetop cooking time is 35 minutes, or you can pile everything in the slow cooker.
Ingredients, Notes, and Substitutions
Zucchini. This recipe is perfect for fresh zucchini, but you can substitute it with frozen.
Red bell pepper. Red peppers are sweet and mellow, but you can also use yellow or green bell pepper.
Jalapeños. Spicy heat comes from jalapenos or other fresh chili peppers. Clean out the seeds and white flesh to mellow the spice. If you want milder chili, skip the jalapenos and add 2 bell peppers rather than 1.
Pinto beans. I like pinto beans or borlotti beans for this recipe, but you can use kidney or black beans or turn this into white bean chili.
Red wine. White wine will work here, or use vegetable broth or an extra ¼ cup of water.
Fresh oregano. Oregano leaves add an earthy flavor. Substitute with 2 teaspoons of dry oregano and adjust after tasting.
Cilantro. There is ½ a cup of chopped cilantro (coriander) and fresh parsley. If you don't like cilantro (I get it), omit it.
Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the complete list of ingredients with measurements plus recipe instructions.
- Add corn, diced carrots, a few mushrooms, or a handful of chopped spinach for extra veggies.
- I prefer a mix of canned tomatoes and tomato paste; however, you can use tomato sauce to replace both.
Step 1: Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and cook them for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the jalapenos, garlic, cumin, cayenne pepper, allspice, and salt (about 30 seconds).
Step 2: Mix in diced zucchini and red pepper and coat it with the vegetables and spices.
Step 3: Add the rest of the ingredients.
Step 4: Simmer on low heat for 20-30 minutes until the chili is thick and creamy.
- This recipe goes quickly, so have all the ingredients ready before cooking.
- Heat the pot before adding the onions. This makes them less likely to stick. If they do, add a tablespoon of water.
- Resist the urge to add more water until after the chili simmers. Cooked zucchini adds a lot of moisture.
Frequently Asked Questions
Store leftover chili in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 days. You can also freeze it for 3 months.
Every now and then, an overzealous jalapeno makes its way into the pot, or you toss in too many red chili flakes. If this happens and your chili is too spicy, there are a few options to cool it off. First, add a little sweetener, like maple syrup. Cirtus can also mellow the spice, so try adding lime juice. Finally, top bowls with vegan cheese or sour cream.
Cucumber can be substituted for zucchini if you are using it raw. It is better to substitute yellow squash for zucchini for cooked recipes, like chili.
More Zucchini Recipes
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Easy Vegan Zucchini Chili Recipe
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- 1 large onion - chopped
- 2-3 medium jalapenos - finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic - minced or pressed
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- 2 medium zucchinis - diced into small cubes
- 1 medium red bell pepper - deseeded, cored and diced small
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 14 ounces canned tomatoes - 1 can, packed in juice
- 1½ cups pinto beans - rinsed and drained, see notes
- ¼ cup red wine - or vegetable broth
- ½ cup flat-leaf parsley - chopped
- ½ cup fresh oregano - chopped, 2 teaspoons dried
- ½ cup cilantro - chopped
- ½ cup water
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- Heat a large pot or Dutch to medium heat. Add the onions and cook them, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes until they soften.
- Mix in the jalapenos, garlic, cumin, cayenne pepper, allspice, and salt (about 30 seconds).
- Add the zucchini and red pepper. Stir to coat the veggies with the spices.
- Stir in the tomato paste, tomatoes, beans, red wine, parsley, oregano, cilantro, and ½ a cup of water.
- Cover the pot and allow it to simmer for 25-30 minutes until the sauce is thick.
- Store leftover chili in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 days. You can also freeze it for 3 months.
- If you don't like cilantro, omit it and use a little extra parsley.
- This chili recipe works great with any beans, including borlotti, black beans, red kidney beans, or white beans.
Nutritional information is an estimation only.