The Best Veggie Chili Recipe for a Cozy Evening

Cast iron and chili, two of my favorite things combined to create a delicious and hearty vegetarian meal. As a culinary explorer, I love finding recipes that not only taste good but are also good for me. This veggie chili in cast iron recipe is packed with vitamins and minerals that my body craves. Plus, who doesn’t love a one-pot meal?

If you’ve never cooked in cast iron before, you’re in for a treat. Cast iron skillets and dutch ovens are versatile, durable, and provide an even heat source that will help your chili cook to perfection. And this vegetarian skillet chili recipe is the perfect way to test out your cast iron kitchen tools.

But don’t let the lack of meat fool you; this veggie chili has so much flavor you won’t even miss it! We’re using a delicious combination of spices like chili powder, dried oregano, and ground cumin to add depth and complexity to the dish. And if you’re looking for a little extra kick, we’ve got you covered with some chipotle chiles in adobo.

In this recipe article, I’ll share step-by-step instructions on how to make this savory veggie chili in cast iron skillet. I’ll also provide some tips for making substitutions or variations based on your preferences. So grab your trusty cast iron skillet and let’s get cooking!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Veggie Chili in Cast Iron
Veggie Chili in Cast Iron

Listen to me, fellow veggie lovers! This recipe is a game-changer – not just for vegetarians, but for anyone who loves the irresistible taste of chili. Imagine a hearty bowl of warm and spicy chili, with a twist that makes it even more delicious and satisfying. That’s what you’ll get from this vegetarian skillet chili recipe made in cast iron.

This recipe uses all the essential ingredients for a mind-blowing vegetarian chili, including fresh spinach, diced tomatoes, salt, dried oregano, chili powder, ground cumin, garlic clove, mushrooms, celery ribs, carrot and yellow onion. But what really sets this skillet chili apart is the inclusion of chipotle chile in adobo sauce. The smokey-sweet flavor packs a punch that will elevate your tastebuds to a whole new level. Trust me when I say it’s the best thing you’ll taste all year.

Not only is this recipe incredibly flavorful and hearty – being loaded with veggies – it’s also nutrient-dense and packed full of vitamins and minerals. And with peanut butter added to the mix for richness and depth of flavor (yes, you read that right!), it provides an unusual source of protein that makes it both filling and scrumptious.

And I know some meat-eaters might shy away from vegetarian chili recipes – but trust me on this one: its full-bodied taste will have meat-lovers begging for the recipe!

Ingredient List

 A steaming, hearty bowl of veggie chili in cast iron, ready to warm you up from the inside out.
A steaming, hearty bowl of veggie chili in cast iron, ready to warm you up from the inside out.

Before we get started with the recipe, let’s take a look at what ingredients you’ll need to make this mouthwatering vegetarian skillet chili recipe!


  • 1 can diced tomatoes (28 oz)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 garlic clove (finely chopped)
  • 8 oz white or brown mushrooms (chopped)
  • 2 celery ribs (chopped)
  • 1 large carrot (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 medium yellow onion (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp chipotle chile in adobo (finely chopped)
  • fresh spinach (4 cups)

For the best results, use the freshest ingredients you can find. The veggies provide vitamins and minerals that give this dish the added benefit of being both healthy and delicious. If you have any dietary restrictions, feel free to make substitutions as needed.

If you are ready, let’s move on to the next step!

The Recipe How-To

Cooking the Veggie Chili in a Cast Iron Skillet

I’ve found that using a cast iron skillet is the best way to achieve the perfect flavor and texture for this vegetarian chili recipe. The cast iron heats evenly and retains heat well, which allows you to get that deep caramelization and charred smokiness in those veggies that make this recipe so unique.

Here’s how I like to cook my skillet chili:

Step 1: Heat the Cast Iron Skillet
First, you want to heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the skillet and wait until it becomes hot.

Step 2: Sauté the Onion
Add one large diced yellow onion into the skillet with a pinch of salt. Sauté until softened, for about 5-7 minutes.

Step 3: Add Garlic and Vegetables
Add minced garlic and sliced mushrooms, celery ribs, and carrots to the skillet with one canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce (if you want some heat). Stir occasionally until all vegetables are softened, but not mushy.

Step 4: Season with Spices
Add 1 tablespoon of chili powder, 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and another pinch of salt to the skillet. Cook for an additional minute, stirring constantly.

Step 5: Incorporate Tomatoes and Beans
Add one can of diced tomatoes (undrained), one can of red kidney beans (rinsed and drained), and two cups of fresh spinach leaves (chopped) to the skillet. Stir everything together until combined.

Step 6: Finish with Peanut Butter Mixture
Incorporate 2 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter with 1/4 cup of hot water in a small bowl until it forms a smooth mixture. Pour this mixture into the skillet and stir everything together.

Step 7: Cook Slow and Low
Let your veggie chili cook on low heat for at least an hour (or ideally two hours) so that all flavors combine perfectly.

After your cooking time has elapsed, give your veggie chili another taste test to see if it needs another pinch or two of salt or spices. Serve hot with some cornbread or crusty bread on the side.

Substitutions and Variations

 Thick and chunky, this chili is bursting with vibrant, colorful veggies that make each spoonful a different experience.
Thick and chunky, this chili is bursting with vibrant, colorful veggies that make each spoonful a different experience.

When it comes to making a delicious vegetarian chili, there are endless possibilities for substitutions and variations that can fit your taste preferences and dietary needs. Here are some ideas to help you create a veggie chili that’s entirely your own:

– Swap out the veggies: While this recipe calls for diced tomatoes, mushrooms, celery ribs, carrots, and yellow onion, don’t be afraid to experiment with other veggies. You could try adding zucchini, sweet potatoes, or bell peppers.

– Adjust the heat: The combination of chili powder, ground cumin, dried oregano, and chipotle chile in adobo gives this recipe its signature spicy kick. If you prefer milder chili, reduce the amount of these ingredients or leave out the chipotle chile.

– Add some nuttiness: For an extra protein boost and nutty flavor, add a spoonful of peanut butter to your chili. This also helps thicken the sauce.

– Try a different type of bean: Red kidney beans work well in this recipe, but feel free to switch them up with black beans or chickpeas.

– Make it vegan: If you’re looking for a vegan option, simply swap butter for olive oil or another vegan spread that you love.

– Top it off: This vegetarian skillet chili is delicious on its own, but you can also serve it with toppings such as shredded cheese (if not vegan), fresh cilantro, diced avocado or pickled onions.

Experimenting with these substitution ideas is not only fun but also allows you to create unique veggie chili tailored to your palette. So feel free to adapt and make it your own!

Serving and Pairing

 With a cast iron pot and a few simple ingredients, you can create a satisfying and nutritious meal that's perfect for chilly days.
With a cast iron pot and a few simple ingredients, you can create a satisfying and nutritious meal that’s perfect for chilly days.

One of the best things about this vegetarian skillet chili is its versatility when it comes to serving and pairing. Serve it with some warm cornbread, pickled onions or even a side of eggs for a hearty breakfast, or with tortilla chips and guacamole as an appetizer for game day.

For a more filling meal, try topping a bowl of chili with fresh spinach or grated cheese, sour cream and chopped cilantro for a colorful and flavorful dish. The vibrant colors of the chili’s ingredients will blend well with a variety of side dishes, so feel free to get creative.

When it comes to pairing drinks, a chilled glass of beer or refreshing lemonade can help balance out the heat in this spicy vegetarian chili recipe. However, if you prefer something a little stronger, feel free to pair it with a full-bodied red wine like Shiraz or Zinfandel.

Overall, this vegetarian cast iron skillet chili is ideal for any occasion and can easily be paired with your favorite sides and drinks. So go ahead and experiment until you find the perfect combination that works for you!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 The rich flavors of beans, tomatoes, and spices combine to create a chili that's savory, spicy, and just a little bit sweet.
The rich flavors of beans, tomatoes, and spices combine to create a chili that’s savory, spicy, and just a little bit sweet.

Ah, the thrill of having leftovers! With this vegetarian skillet chili in your hands, you’ve got tasty and nutritious meals for the next few days. Plus, you can store and reheat it easily.

To make things simple, allow the veggie chili to cool down before packing it in airtight containers. If stored correctly in the fridge, it can last up to 4-5 days. When ready to reheat, simply take out the container from the refrigerator and place it in a pot. Cook over low to medium heat and stir frequently until thoroughly heated.

Furthermore, for longer storing time or large batches, you can consider freezing your iron skillet chili. Similarly, wait until it’s cooled down completely, then transfer to freezer-friendly storage bags or containers. The chili will maintain its quality for around 2-3 months inside the freezer. You can thaw frozen chili overnight in the fridge or by placing them under running water.

If you’re feeling creative, you can also use your leftover veggie chili in different ways besides reheating it as plain old chili. For example, serve it over baked potatoes or toast. Or add some eggs on top and bake in the oven for a hearty breakfast.

Oh, and don’t waste those pickled onions from earlier! These crunchy toppings make an excellent side dish for your leftover chili meals. Add them as a garnish on top of your reheated chili bowl.

So go ahead and whip up a big batch of this tasty vegetarian skillet chili! Enjoy the convenience of leftovers without sacrificing any of the flavor or nutrients packed into this dish.

Tips for Perfect Results

 Garnished with fresh herbs and a dollop of sour cream, this chili is as beautiful as it is
Garnished with fresh herbs and a dollop of sour cream, this chili is as beautiful as it is

If you’re looking to make the perfect veggie chili in your cast iron, look no further. Here are some tips to make sure your skillet chili recipe comes out just right.

First tip, don’t be afraid to let the vegetables cook down. Sautéing them until they’re soft and tender, around five to ten minutes, will bring out their flavors and create a more complex taste for your vegetarian skillet chili.

Speaking of flavors, it’s important to season your dish properly. Use plenty of ground cumin, dried oregano and chili powder for maximum flavor. A touch of chipotle chile in adobo can add excitement without overwhelming the dish.

If you want an extra umami flavor, add a half tablespoon or two of peanut butter when you’re cooking the chili. It’ll enhance the dish’s richness without changing the overall texture.

Don’t overcrowd your cast iron skillet or Dutch oven. If you’re making a large batch of vegan chili, use a larger pan or cook in batches instead of cramming everything into one pot.

For maximum vitamin and minerals, toss some fresh spinach into the chili before serving. The heat will wilt it slightly and give the dish a pop of color.

Finally, let your chilli simmer for at least 30 minutes over low heat before serving. This allows all the ingredients to meld together and creates a deeper, more intense flavor that’ll leave you licking your chops.

Now that you have these tips in hand, go forth and cook up a storm with this vegetarian chili recipe!


Now that you have all the details to make a delicious cast iron veggie chili, it’s time to address some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) before you get started. These FAQs will provide quick answers to issues that may arise during preparation, such as ingredient substitutions and storage tips, so you can cook your chili with confidence.

Is it OK to cook chili in cast iron?

Indeed, it is perfectly possible to prepare a hearty bowl of chili in a trusty cast iron skillet. Because this type of cookware boasts exceptional heat retention and even heat distribution, it poses as an excellent vessel for cooking chili. Additionally, a cast iron Dutch oven can also work wonders in making a delicious pot of chili.

Do you cook veggies before putting them in chili?

When it comes to cooking, it’s important to maximize the flavors of your ingredients. One effective way to do this is by sautéing onions, garlic, and other vegetables before adding any liquid. This process helps to soften the veggies and bring out their natural flavors. Make sure to keep an eye on your onions especially, and only add your liquid once they’re soft and translucent. This will ensure that your dish is packed with delicious taste.

Why do you put peanut butter in chili?

If you’re looking for a way to make your chili creamier and thicker without adding flour or cornstarch, consider incorporating peanut butter into the recipe. Not only does it add a unique flavor profile to your dish, but it can help fix the consistency if your chili turns out too watery. So, take your chili game to the next level by experimenting with the rich, creamy goodness of peanut butter.

Why is vegetarian chili good for you?

Vegetables have a wealth of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A and C found in the tomato-based chili. In addition to these nutrients, vegetables also offer plenty of fiber which can be further enhanced by adding beans and meat-less crumbles that provide vegetarian protein to keep you feeling full and healthy.

Bottom Line

After indulging in this delicious vegetarian chili, it’s hard not to fall in love with its flavor and nutritional goodness. Not only is this dish a great option for vegetarians and vegans, but it will also satisfy the taste buds of meat-lovers who appreciate a hearty meal packed with flavor.

If you’re looking for a recipe that’ll bring some variety to your usual weeknight dinner rotation, then consider trying out this veggie chili in cast iron skillet. With simple steps and easy-to-find ingredients, this recipe is easy to cook even for someone who is new to cooking.

So why not gather up some fresh spinach, diced tomatoes, mushrooms, and all the other ingredients and enjoy the warm and comforting flavors of veggie chili? Trust me – you won’t be disappointed.

Veggie Chili in Cast Iron

Veggie Chili in Cast Iron Recipe

This recipe is from cookbook author Robin Asbell and is great for vegetarians. Cooking the chili in cast iron gives the dish an additional boost of iron. If you soak your beans in a Dutch oven overnight you'll get an even bigger boost of iron. Serve this with cornbread, brown rice, or a peanut butter sandwich. Recipe courtesy of The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook.
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Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8 cups
Calories 52.6 kcal


  • 1 cup dried red beans
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups mushrooms, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 14 1/2 ounces diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 4 cups fresh spinach (firmly packed, washed, trimmed, and chopped)


  • Rinse and sort the beans and place them in a cast iron Dutch oven.
  • Add water to cover 2 inches above the beans.
  • Soak beans overnight, or use the quick-soak method: Cover the beans with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Boil 1 minute and cover. Remove from heat and let stand 1 hour. Drain.
  • Add fresh water to 1 inch above the beans and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to simmer and add the chipotle, onion, carrot, celery, and mushrooms.
  • Cover and cook until the beans are almost tender, about 30 minutes, adding more water as needed to keep the beans submerged in liquid.
  • Add the garlic, cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt, and tomatoes. Simmer about 20 minutes.
  • Add the spinach and simmer 5 minutes.
  • Adjust seasonings to taste, if desired.

Your Own Notes


Serving: 189gCalories: 52.6kcalCarbohydrates: 9.8gProtein: 3.9gFat: 0.9gSaturated Fat: 0.1gSodium: 252.2mgFiber: 2.8gSugar: 4g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Beans, Vegan
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