Easy family recipes - Vegetarian chili the whole family will love

What to cook when one member of your family is a vegetarian, the rest are committed meat-eaters and you need a big hearty meal to satisfy everyone? The answer, according to Dawn Quest, is this Vegetarian Chili recipe.

Perfect for Meat-Free Monday or if one of your family is a vegetarian and you just want to cook one meal for everyone, this Vegetarian Family Chili has lots of flavour and a really hearty consistency; your family won’t miss the meat, I promise you! A rich and aromatic combination of spices, together with juicy tomatoes, and protein-packed beans makes this a firm favourite in our house.

When you take away the meat you realise pretty quickly that most of the good stuff in chili comes from its flavours – spices like allspice, cumin and, of course, chili powder.

I use mild chili powder for this and keep it to one tablespoon to cater to not-so-adventurous tastes. If your family like a bit of heat in their meal then you can safely go up to two tablespoons or add finely chopped chili peppers. Test as you go!

Don’t shy away from introducing spices to your little one’s meals either. According to child feeding experts it can take between 15 to 20 times of offering a new food before a child may actually eat it, so do persevere if at first younger children aren’t keen. Just go mild to start with and introduce in small portions along with lots of side dishes like grated cheese, rice or corn bread.

All the work comes at the start of this recipe: prepping the onion, garlic and peppers. But once it’s in the pan, simmering away, you buy yourself 30 minutes to get on with the rest of dinner or even – why not – put your feet up for a bit?

Vegetarian Family Chili is one of those dishes that tastes even better reheated for lunch or dinner the next day as it has more time for all the lovely flavours to sit together. Transfer to a clean bowl and pop in the fridge overnight and then gently reheat in a saucepan or microwave when you’re ready to eat. Vegetarian Family Chili can also be frozen for up to three months in airtight containers.

Serve with lots of rice, warmed floury tortillas, guacamole, salsa, sour cream and of course grated cheese.

Makes 6 generous portions
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes


·         2 medium onions, finely chopped

·         3 cloves garlic, minced or chopped finely

·         1 red pepper cut into bite-size pieces (you can also use green pepper or a mixture of red and green)

·         1 Tbsp olive oil

·         1 400g tin chopped tomatoes

·         1 400g tin kidney beans, rinsed and drained well

·         Approx 140g tomato puree

·         2 Tbsp brown sugar

·         1 Tbsp mild chili powder

·         2 Tbsp ground cumin

·         1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

·         2 tsps oregano

·         Large pinch of ground cloves

·         Large pinch of ground allspice



Heat the olive oil on the stove top in a large Dutch Oven or heavy saucepan.
Add the onions, garlic and peppers and sauté slowly on a low heat until they are softened. The slower you sauté the better, to prevent burning.
Add the tomatoes, puree, beans, sugar and all the herbs and spices.
Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
If the chili looks a bit on the dry side add a little more water or vegetable stock and continue simmering.
Serve with rice, flour tortillas, sour cream, guacamole, salsa and grated cheese.

Find out more

More great family recipes by Dawn Quest at Meals Our Kids Love

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