Vegetarian Black Bean and Corn Chili

A bowl of black bean and corn chili

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 45 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Yield: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
360 Calories
11g Fat
59g Carbs
13g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 360
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 14%
Saturated Fat 2g 8%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1838mg 80%
Total Carbohydrate 59g 22%
Dietary Fiber 15g 54%
Total Sugars 11g
Protein 13g
Vitamin C 65mg 325%
Calcium 127mg 10%
Iron 6mg 32%
Potassium 1079mg 23%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Who doesn't love a good vegetarian black bean chili recipe? Made with mostly pantry ingredients, this is a quick and easy vegetarian black bean chili recipe that's perfect for novice chefs. Give it a try—it's practically foolproof! Omit the cheese and optional sour cream topping if you need it to be vegan and dairy-free as well.

"This veggie chili is easy, quick, and super flavorful. It's easy to throw together and the leftovers are even better. I liked to add some diced zucchini and even more beans to make it extra filling." —Laurel Randolph

Vegetarian Black Bean and Corn Chili Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 2 medium onions, chopped

  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped

  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided, or to taste

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained

  • 1 (15-ounce) can corn, undrained

  • 1 (15- to 16-ounce) can tomato sauce

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

  • 3 (6 to 8-inch) corn tortillas, cut into 2-inch long strips

For Serving:

  • 1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack or pepper Jack cheese, optional

  • 2 sliced green onions, optional

  • 1/4 cup sour cream, optional

  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make black bean and corn chili

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add the onion, bell pepper, half of the salt, and the pepper. Sauté until slightly softened, about 3 minutes.

    A pot of red peppers and onions

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Add the chili powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Stirring often, bloom the spices for about a minute.

    A pot of spices and vegetables being stirred

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Stir in the garlic followed by the beans, corn, and tomato sauce. Season with remaining salt, or to taste. Finally, add the oregano by pinching between your fingers to allow the oils to activate.

    Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.

    A pot of chili with a lid

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  5. While the chili cooks, make the tortilla strips. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add the cut tortillas and sauté for a few minutes until lightly browned and crisp.

    A pan with tortilla strips

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Remove to a paper-towel-lined plate; let drain. These tortilla strips will top your chili and give it a fantastically crunchy finishing touch. 

    Browned tortilla strips on a paper towel

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Serve your black bean and corn chili topped with tortilla strips, cheese, green onions, sour cream, and cilantro, if desired.

    Black bean and corn chili with toppings

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck


  • Blooming the spices in the pan before adding any liquid ingredients helps to bring out and amplify the flavor of the spices.
  • The liquid from the can of corn is used to deglaze the pan and lift up all the concentrated flavor that has developed on the bottom.

Recipe Variations

  • For an extra filling chili, add another can of beans.
  • Add up to one block of crumbled firm tofu or 1/2 pound of vegetarian ground beef for extra protein.
  • Add a couple of diced zucchini along with the beans.
  • Add a few handfuls of fresh spinach in the last few minutes of cooking.
  • Try serving leftovers cold with tortilla chips as black bean salsa.

How to Store and Freeze

  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days.
  • You can also freeze cooled chili in an airtight container or zip-top freezer bag for up to a month. Defrost in the fridge before reheating.

Do you drain black beans for chili?

Canned black or other beans don't necessarily have to be drained first before being used in a chili recipe and is mostly a matter of preference. Keep in mind that the bean liquid contains starch and sodium, and it is best to follow the recipe instructions as the recipe was probably developed with this in mind.