This black bean chilli is extremely budget friendly, jam packed with flavor, stupidly easy to make and is honestly the absolute best vegetarian black bean chilli you’ll ever eat.
I realize it’s a big claim to make and I also realize that everyone thinks their chilli is the best damn chilli. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. This though, this is MY favorite. Believe me when I tell you I’ve eaten a lot of different chillis. Ones made with lentils, some made with chicken, some with turkey if I was feeling like I needed a lighter meal, some with ground beef, with steak, with bison, elk, three bean, sweet potato, pumpkin, you name it, I’ve had it and made it.
We eat a lot of chilli in this house. Partly because it’s dirt cheap to make but mostly because we absolutely love it. I don’t have much of a preference of one over the other since they’re all so different and satisfying in their own ways but, it does take A LOT more for me to really love a vegan/vegetarian one over a hearty, soul satisfying beef/bison/elk variety. It takes even more for Mark, my meat, potatoes and steak pizza man to love it.
I’m a stickler for using everything that we have before buying anything else so I used the scraps that were left in my fridge and pantry to throw this together. We’re adding a ton of chopped onion, around 4-5 cloves of garlic, 3 medium carrots diced small, a huge red bell pepper and a couple of seeded (or not!) jalapenos sauteed in some olive oil (or bacon fat if you’re not vegetarian. Please do this if you’re not). I also eyed a bar of Godiva dark chocolate hiding in my cupboard and decided to throw a couple of squares in the pot which helps deepen the flavor. I’ve always added cocoa powder along with my spices when I made chilli with elk (cocoa powder helps cut the gamey flavor and makes it taste extra rich) and knew that a few squares of the good stuff would bring this black bean chilli to a whole new level.
It’s going to seem like you’re adding A LOT of spices, which you are, but I promise it isn’t too much. It’s just perfect. It’s also going to seem like 1 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper is a lot especially with the jalapenos. I sweaaaaar it’s barely spicy. Those who know me won’t trust that statement since, in the words of an old customer,
“If Amanda says it isn’t spicy, that means its FKN SPICY.”
But the spice level is my mom approved and anyone who knows HER, knows she’s a big ol’ wimp in the spice department. Mark also grabbed the habanero hot sauce to add to his bowl and I added extra cayenne to my bowl after I had portioned out the bowls that went to my mom and Kevin. Remember Kevin?
When you make it, it won’t get you an album from Kevin, but you’ll save a ton of dollas, your belly and taste buds will be happy and then you’ll have money leftover to go buy an album. Or a few bottles of cider. Or wine. Or beer.
OH and don’t forget to follow me on instagram and, if you make a recipe, tag your photo #thepretendbaker so I can see what you’re whipping up!
- 2 TBSP olive or avocado oil
- 1 large white onion, chopped
- 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 large or 2 small red bell peppers, diced
- 1 jalapenos, seeded and minced
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and diced small
- 2-3 15 oz cans crushed tomatoes**
- 8 cups of cooked black beans or 4 540ml cans, drained
- 2 TBSP cumin
- 2 TBSP paprika
- 1 TBSP dried oregano
- 1 TBSP onion powder
- ½ TBSP cayenne pepper
- 2 large squares of your favorite dark chocolate
- smoked salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
- Fresh limes, salsa, cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips or rice, to serve
- In a large dutch oven or pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add onion and a healthy pinch of smoked salt.
- Cook, stirring often, for about 8 minutes. Add both peppers and carrot, another good heavy pinch of salt and continue to cook, stirring every so often until the peppers and carrots have softened, about another 6-8 minutes.
- Add garlic, all of the spices, additional salt and plenty of black pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring often for about 3-5 minutes to allow the spices to toast.
- Add tomatoes, black beans and dark chocolate, stirring well to combine.
- Bring the mixture to a boil then place the lid on askew to allow moisture to escape.
- Reduce heat to simmer and allow to gently cook for another 2-4 hours, checking the chilli ever so often to make sure it hasn't lost too much liquid and isn't sticking to the bottom of the pot. If the chilli loses too much moisture, just add some filtered water.
- When it's done simmering, use an immersion blender to pulse the mixture a few times to thicken it. Careful not to over blend.
- Taste, adjust salt and pepper to your liking, add freshly squeezed lime juice and serve warm with your favorite toppings.
Chilli will keep all week in a container in the fridge and will freeze for up to 3 months.
If you're not a vegetarian, topping the chilli with bacon is amazing. I speak from experience.
To keep costs very low, I soaked and cooked my own beans from dry. If you don't have time, canned is fine.
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