Three bean chili recipe with pinto, black, and Great Northern beans – the perfect warm-you-up dinner. It’s an easy one pot meal that’s ready in less than half an hour. Vegan & gluten-free.
Three bean chili is one of the most popular recipes on Cadry’s Kitchen.
There’s a reason people love it. When there’s a chill in the air, this spicy stew warms you up from the inside out.
Full of spices and satiating beans, it’s one of those comforting meals that makes you think cold weather isn’t so bad after all. It’s also terrific in the summer over a chili dog!
This hearty dish is packed with pinto, black, and Great Northern beans. It’s spiced with cumin, ancho chili powder, and a bit of mustard and hot sauce for a slightly vinegar-y tang.
This vegetarian stew isn’t overly hot, but has a spicy, warming edge.
Because I use canned beans in this recipe, it’s an easy, one pot meal that is very pantry-friendly. I always have all of the ingredients on hand.
How to make chili from scratch
1. Sauté onions and garlic in a soup pot or Dutch oven with oil.
2. Once the onions are slightly translucent and fragrant, add:
- A can of fire roasted tomatoes (including juices)
- Great Northern beans
- Pinto beans
- Black beans
- Ancho chili powder, paprika, and cumin
- Hot Sauce
- Salt & pepper
Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
3. After it has cooked for a while, further thicken it by blending it for a few seconds with an immersion blender. It breaks up some of the tomatoes & beans, and adds nice body & texture.
4. Serve it with optional toppings like sliced green onions, non-dairy cheese, quick pickled jalapeños, avocado, guacamole, vegan sour cream, and/or chopped cilantro. Crackers, tortilla strips, or chips for dipping are a must.
Make it your own
- Replace onions with shallots or leeks
- Add to the onions with more vegetables like bell peppers, corn, carrots, zucchini, and/or mushrooms
- For more toothsome protein, add soyrizo or seitan when sautéing the onions or add cooked lentils when pouring in the tomatoes
- Instead of fire roasted tomatoes, use plain canned diced tomatoes and/or jarred salsa
- Any of the beans can be replaced for one another or swapped out for navy beans, kidney beans, or chickpeas
- Instead of canned beans, use home cooked ones instead – about 1 ½ cups of each type
- Add more or less hot sauce, depending on your particular hot sauce & heat preferences
- Instead of ancho chili powder, use the chili powder of your choice
Ways to repurpose leftovers
Like many dishes that use a lot of spices, 3 bean chili actually tastes better on day two or three. It thickens as it cools. Plus, as the flavors marry in the fridge, it gets more delicious with each passing day.
But if you’re looking for more ways to enjoy it other than by the bowlful, here are some ideas!
- Use a half cup in the best vegan cheese dip
- Slather it on a vegan chili dog
- It’s great on a chili dog pizza
- Make tots a meal with vegan chili cheese tater tots
- Serve it over vegan corn cakes
- Pour it over an air fryer baked potato
Can you freeze chili?
While chili will keep for about 5 days in the refrigerator in a covered container, it also freezes beautifully.
Just put it into a freezer proof container with a lid. (I like to use glass Pyrex, but freezer bags also work if you prefer to lay them flat.) Then freeze until you’re ready to eat it.
Once you’d like to eat it, thaw in the refrigerator or by using the defrost function on the microwave. Then heat in the microwave or on the stove.
Three bean chili (vegan)
- ½ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup onions chopped medium
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 can (14.5 ounce) fire roasted diced tomatoes including juices
- 1 can (15 ounce) Great Northern beans drained and rinsed (1 ½ cups)
- 1 can (15 ounce) pinto beans drained and rinsed (1 ½ cups)
- 1 can (15 ounce) black beans drained and rinsed (1 ½ cups)
- 1 cup water
- 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 ½ teaspoons cumin
- 1 Tablespoon hot sauce (I use Trader Joe's jalapeno hot sauce.)
- ½ teaspoon yellow mustard
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- Bring a medium-sized soup pot to a medium heat with extra virgin olive oil. Sauté onions and garlic a few minutes, until fragrant.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the pot and stir. Bring the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, allowing the chili to thicken. Stir occasionally.
- Optional: After the chili has thickened, use an immersion blender in the pot for 3 or 4 seconds to break up some of the beans and thicken the soup further. You don't want to blend the chili completely. It should still be thick and chunky. However, a few seconds with the immersion blender gives some added texture and thickens the chili even more.
- Serve in bowls alongside crackers or bread. Garnish with chopped cilantro, green onions, avocado, and/or shredded non-dairy cheese.
Content and photos updated August 12, 2021. Originally posted April 27, 2016.