Three bean chili with pinto, black, and Great Northern beans – the perfect warm-you-up dinner. It’s a 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.
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 maybe winter isn’t so bad after all.
Three bean chili
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, this easy, one pot meal is very pantry-friendly. I always have all of the ingredients on hand. But if you’d prefer to make your beans from scratch first, by all means, go for it!
Also, if you want to swap out one type of beans for another, they can easily be changed out.
Like all chili, it thickens as it cools. Plus, as the flavors marry in the fridge, it gets better with each passing day.
How to make chili from scratch
Start by sautéing onions and garlic in a soup pot with oil. Once the onions are slightly translucent and fragrant, it’s time to 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
Keep in mind that heat levels of hot sauce vary. So add less or omit it if you’re heat averse.
Also, if you use a chili powder mix that includes cayenne, that will be hotter than ancho chili powder, which is listed in the recipe.
Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
After it has cooked for a while, I like to 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.
Be careful not to over blend. Just 3 or 4 seconds is good. It should still be thick & chunky. You don’t want a bean bisque.
Serve it in bowls with optional toppings like sliced green onions, non-dairy cheese, and chopped cilantro. Of course, crackers for crushing on top or tortilla chips for dipping are a must.
For the cheese, I grated a block of Herbivorous Butcher American cheddar. Daiya cheddar block is also good grated by hand.
Ways to use leftover chili
Like many dishes that use a lot of spices, chili actually tastes better on day two or three. 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?
Absolutely! It 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.
Here’s what readers have to say about this recipe
“I’ve made this several times now, very quick and simple and tastes delicious! It’s my favorite chili recipe, thank you!”
“This was delicious! Pureeing the chili for a few seconds is a great idea—made the texture just right.”
“I made this chili tonight, and it was so quick and easy. I already had all the ingredients in my pantry. I didn’t blend it at the end because it was already nice and thick. I topped it with tortilla strips I baked in the oven. Great meal for a chilly night!”
Three bean chili (vegan)
- 1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup onions chopped medium
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 (14.5 ounce can ) fire roasted diced tomatoes including juices
- 1 1/2 cups Great Northern beans drained and rinsed
- 1 1/2 cups pinto beans drained and rinsed
- 1 1/2 cups black beans drained and rinsed
- 1 cup water
- 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 Tablespoon hot sauce (I use Trader Joe's jalapeno hot sauce.)
- 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Optional toppings: Minced onions, chopped cilantro, grated non-dairy cheese, crackers
- 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 (except for the optional toppings) 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 with optional toppings.
Content and photos updated January 2020. Originally posted April 2016.