Vegetarian Chilli Con Carne

4 servings
40 min

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This vegetarian chilli con carne recipe is warming, hearty and healthy. I love to curl up with a bowl of chilli at the end of a long day. It's a go-to comfort food, but also a fantastic convenience food because it's so easy to put together.

In this recipe, we have two types of beans, sweet potato, red peppers and the fruity heat of scotch bonnets. The sweet potatoes are roasted first to achieve a soft velvety texture and bring out their rich sweetness. If you're worried about this being a lengthy process, don't be. The chilli is made while the sweet potatoes roast in the oven.

With a relatively quick 40-minute cook time, this is a dish you can easily prepare on a weeknight. It is also freezer-friendly so you can rustle up a large batch and have a few frozen portions on-hand for hectic days.

The post contains additional information and helpful tips to ensure the recipe turns out great the first time. Please use the link above to jump to the recipe card at the end if you are in a hurry!

a bowl of chilli served with guacamole and tortilla chips
✅ 5 reasons why you'll love this recipe:

  • Warming and delicious - with caramelised roast sweet potato, soft beans and red peppers in a rich smoky and spicy sauce.
  • Easy to make - on the table in 40 minutes in a few simple steps
  • Nutritious - packed with fibre, healthy plant-based protein, vitamins and minerals
  • Freezer friendly - make a large batch and freeze for up to 3 months
  • Versatile - a great way to use up any veggies that are lingering in your fridge

🛒 Ingredients and variations:
ingredients needed to make the dish

Which beans should I use?

I love soft and creamy Pinto beans and have also added black beans to add a little more texture. You can change up the beans in this recipe, just make sure you keep the volume the same. Black beans alone or kidney beans will also work well. You can also just use pinto beans, but because they are soft the chilli may lack texture.


This recipe includes red peppers and hearty roasted sweet potatoes, but there are lots of vegetables that taste great in chilli. You can swap the sweet potatoes for squash or pumpkin. Other veggies that will work well include carrots, courgette/zucchini, corn or chickpeas.


Scotch bonnets are my go-to if I can find them because they add sweetness and fruitiness as well as heat. They do tend to be quite hot and adding two scotch bonnets will give the chilli a medium level of spiciness. Remove the seeds and membrane unless you are after a very hot chilli. You can substitute scotch bonnets for long red chillies or chilli powder and reduce the amount if you are sensitive to spice.

🧑‍🍳 Veggie Chilli in 4 easy steps

1. Roast the sweet potatoes

Heat your oven to 200°C or 400°F, peel the sweet potatoes and chop them into cubes. Place the chopped sweet potato into a roasting dish and add olive oil, cumin, paprika and cayenne. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes, turning halfway.

Air fryer instructions: if you have an air fryer, I highly recommend using it to roast the sweet potatoes. It just takes 15 minutes. Heat your air fryer to 200C or 390F, add the chopped and seasoned sweet potato and cook for 10 minutes. Then shake the basket and cook for 5 minutes more.

chunks of sweet potato in a roasting dish

2. Fry the onions, chillies, peppers and garlic

Place a Dutch oven or pan on a medium heat and gently fry the onions for 5 minutes. Add the red peppers, chillies, cumin and paprika and fry for another 5 minutes. Then add the crushed garlic and cook for another minute.

frying the veggies

3. Simmer

Pour in the chopped tomatoes and 1 cup of water and simmer for 20 minutes. Then add the black beans, pinto beans and sweet potato and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Finally, add the lime juice and a little salt to taste.

chilli simmering in a pan

4. Mash / blitz

Add half of the chilli to a food processor and puree quickly. You want to do this until the chunks are removed but not so the mixture is completely smooth. You can also use a potato masher. Skip this step if you prefer a chunky chilli.

chilli in a food processor
Serving suggestions:

  • White rice - this is the most common way to eat chilli and the way we tend to eat it most of the time.
  • Quinoa - for a healthier alternative to white rice.
  • Nachos - serve on grilled nachos. I recommend topping with plenty of cheese. and serving with sour cream and guacamole.
  • On a jacket potato
  • Stuffed peppers - ideal if you're after a lighter option or lunch.


A bowl of Sweet Potato Chilli just isn't complete without toppings. I always serve mine with grated cheddar cheese, chopped coriander and sour cream. My husband refuses to eat his without jalapeños. I also like to eat it with quick and easy guacamole and tortilla chips at weekends.

👍 Top tips for perfect chilli

  1. Season the sweet potato with cumin, paprika and cayenne pepper before you roast it - it's added towards the end of the recipe's cooking time and will not fully absorb all the flavours in the sauce.
  2. Adjust the chilli to suit your spice tolerance - my veggie chilli recipe has a medium level of spice. If you are sensitive to spice you can reduce the amount of scotch bonnet chillies added, swap them for milder long red chillies or add a little chilli powder at the end to taste.
  3. Mash or blitz - applying a food processor or potato masher on half of the chilli vastly improves the texture (unless you prefer a chunky chilli).
a bowl of chilli served with guacamole and tortilla chips
🙋 FAQs

What is chilli con carne?

Chilli con carne translates as 'chilli with meat' and is a Tex-Mex dish that originated from Spain. Since then it has evolved and become a well-known international dish with a number of variations including vegetarian and vegan varieties that are made with beans, vegetables or tofu instead of ground beef.

What is vegetarian chilli made of?

Typical ingredients include beans and a mix of veggies including onion, carrot, bell pepper, corn and sweet potato.

What veggies can you put in chilli?

There are many vegetables that taste great and chilli is a great dish for a fridge clear-out. Veggies that work well include carrots, peppers, courgettes/zucchini, butternut squash, sweet potato, corn and chickpeas.

Is vegetarian chilli good for you?

Vegetarian chilli is very nutritious because it's packed with fibre, protein, antioxidants and lots of vitamins and minerals.

Is vegetarian chilli low calorie?

It certainly can be and depends on what you put in it. A portion of vegetarian chilli with sweet potato and beans contains around 250 calories. If you swap the sweet potato for other less carby veggies like carrots, peppers and courgettes/zucchini the calorie count would be lower.

📦 Storage

You can store the leftover chilli in the fridge for up to 3 days and freeze for up to 3 months. I will often double the recipe to ensure a few portions can be tucked away in my freezer for days when there isn't time to cook.

portions of chilli in containers ready to go in the freezer
😋 Check out my other tasty vegetarian dinner recipes

My veggie dinner recipes are tasty, easy to make, use simple ingredients and most will give you yummy leftovers and are freezable. Some of my personal favourites include my tasty crowd-pleasing Pesto Lasagne, creamy umami Pumpkin and Mushroom Risotto, Mexican Street Corn Soup and my Warm Mushroom Salad (with miso tahini dressing).

Easy Lasagne Al Pesto

Pumpkin & Mushroom Risotto

Sopa De Elote Recipe (Mexican Street Corn Soup)

Warm Mushroom Salad (with miso tahini dressing)

Did you try this recipe? It would be really great if you could leave a comment and a star rating ⭐️. I would love to receive your feedback and know that other readers find it helpful too.

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📖 Recipe
Vegetarian Chilli Con Carne
Recipe details
  • 4  servings
  • Prep time: 10 Minutes Cook time: 30 Minutes Total time: 40 min
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Roast sweet potato:
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 0.5 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion - finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic - crushed
  • 2 scotch bonnet chillies - seeds and membranes removed and finely chopped (note 1)
  • 2 medium red peppers - chopped into 1 cm pieces
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 400ml (or 14oz) cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 250ml (or 1 cup) water
  • ½ 400g (or 14oz) can of black beans (drained weight 120g or 4oz) (note 2)
  • ½ 400g (or 14oz) can of pinto beans (drained weight 120g or 4oz) (note 3)
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ½ lime - juice
Optional toppings:
  • Sour cream
  • Grated cheddar or other hard cheese
  • Guacamole
  • Tortilla chips
  • Jalapenos
  • Tabasco sauce
Roast sweet potato: (see note 4 for air fryer instructions)
Heat the oven to  200°C or 400°F.
Peel the sweet potatoes and chop them into cubes that are roughly 1.5cm x 1.5cm.
Add them to a baking dish and pour on olive oil and season with cumin, paprika, sea salt and cayenne pepper (if using). Incorporate the olive oil and seasoning with your hands until it is evenly distributed.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, turning halfway
Chilli Sauce:
Place a pan or Dutch Oven on a medium heat, add olive oil, onions and the scotch bonnet chillis and fry them for 5 minutes.
Add the red peppers, cumin and paprika and fry for another 5 minutes.
Add the crushed garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes
Pour the chopped tomatoes and water into the pan, adjust the heat until the sauce starts to simmer and leave the sauce to reduce for 20 minutes
Stir in the pinto beans, black beans and roast sweet potato to the pan and simmer for 10 more minutes
Add the lime juice and sea salt to taste (I usually add ¼ tsp salt at this point)
Add half of the chilli to a food processor and puree quickly. You want to do this until the chunks are removed but not so the mixture is completely smooth. You can also use a potato masher. Skip this step if you prefer a chunky chilli.
Serve and enjoy
  • You can substitute scotch bonnets for 2 normal red chillis or chilli powder (to taste)
  • You can freeze any leftover black and pinto beans. Wash them first and place in an airtight container and have them on-hand in your freezer when you come to make your next batch of chilli.
  • You can use one type of bean if you prefer or substitute for a different type of bean. Just make sure the volume is the same.
  • Air fryer instructions: Heat your air fryer to 200C or 390F, add the chopped and seasoned sweet potato and cook for 10 minutes. Then shake the basket and cook for 5 minutes more.
Helen | Knife & Soul
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