Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili Simple and Hearty

My husband and I are new to the homeowner game and are constantly amazed by how much we don’t know about owning a home. Should we have known to clean the furnace filter? Probably. Did we? No. Long story short, that is how we found ourselves without heat during some very cold days this winter. While we were swaddled in blankets, all I wanted was to hold a hot bowl of something in my hands. Enter: my favorite simple, hearty three-bean vegetarian chili.

In addition to being a favorite, this is also my go-to “emergency meal.” We always have the ingredients on hand, just in case. Who has time to cook every night? Sometimes you need an easy-win recipe. It still counts as a homemade dinner even if all you had to do was open a couple cans!

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Picture of cans of ingredients used for chili.
As you can see, I have no brand loyalty.

Expiration Date Fun Fact

How many times have you dug around the back of your pantry, gloriously finding the exact canned ingredient you were in need of, and then had your heart broken by the expiration date? Well according to the USDA’s “Before You Toss It Out, Wait. Check It Out,” if there isn’t any dents, rust, or swelling, you can still eat that can! The expiration date refers to the qualify, not the safety. It may lose some of the flavor, but it won’t make you sick (that is my baseline goal with dinner).

The USDA even developed an online search database to help people determine how long food is good. I highly recommend checking it out: USDA’s Foodkeeper App. It doesn’t give you an exact date on how long past the expiration date you can eat things, but that’s probably because there isn’t one. As long as it isn’t rusted, dented, or swelling, it’s fair game (no pun intended).

Spices in bowl before being combined for chili

This chili comes together in about 30 minutes on the stove, could only be made easier if the cans opened themselves, and tastes rich and hearty. You have some options for the heat level, which also makes this a great meal to adapt to your preferences.

First, you’ll give your can opener a good workout, then mix everything together and let it simmer on the stove. After that, it needs a stir every once in a while, but that’s really it. Super low maintenance, which is my kind of meal.

A Few Notes About Simple, Hearty Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili: 

  • I recommend using no-salt added or low-sodium options for the beans and the stock. This both cuts down on the sodium levels and controls the amount of salt added.
  • One way to control the heat level is by using either original or mild Rotel (or hot, if you want it extra hot). We like both. Original Rotel gives it some heat on the back end, just enough to make you reach for a glass of water if you’re a spice wimp like me.
  • This makes 6 to 8 good-sized servings and stores in the fridge well for a week or so.
  • Serve with your favorite bread, cornbread, or tortilla chip.
  • These Easy, Extra Fudgy, Vegan Banana Brownies make the perfect post-chili dessert!
Vegetarian chili can be served with cornbread.

Simple, Hearty Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili

5 from 1 vote
Recipe by Course: Dinner, LunchCuisine: VegetarianDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time



It doesn’t get easier or tastier than this delicious vegetarian chili! Simmer beans, tomatoes, and spices to make a simple, hearty chili.


  • 1 can (15.5 oz) cannellini beans, drained

  • 1 can (15.5 oz) black beans, drained

  • 1 can (15.5 oz) chili beans, drained

  • 1 can (15 oz) whole kernel corn, drained (optional)

  • 1 can (10 or 14.5 oz) Rotel, mild or original

  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes

  • 1 cup vegetable stock

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1 ½ teaspoons cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon minced onion

  • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (more or less depending on your preference)


  • Open cans and drain when called for. Place all ingredients in a soup or stock pot and stir together.
  • Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  • Lower temp to low or medium-low, cover with lid, and let simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.


  • Serve with your favorite bread, cornbread, or tortilla chip.

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