Get my newest recipe via email:

World’s Easiest Vegetarian Pantry Chili

This quick-to-make vegetarian pantry chile opens what I’d normally say is too many cans. At least a month ago it might have felt that way. Not anymore. As we stay home and negotiate this COVID pandemic, it’s a darn good time to have a pantry full of canned food.

bowl of vegetarian Pantry Chili with cheese sprinkle on top.

Click here to PIN Easy Vegetarian Pantry Chili!

Consider this recipe a meatless meal with a hug, a virtual hug from me, to you. Scared, anxious, worried, frustrated, disappointed, inconvenient, emotional–you’re not alone. We’re all in this together.

I hope this recipe nourishes you and helps you out in the home cooking department. Even if you’ve never boiled water, you can do this.

Vegetarian pantry chili starts with a sauté of chopped onions. While the onions cook, you drain and rinse the contents of 4 cans–black, pinto, kidney beans, and hominy corn. Also, open cans of green chiles and diced tomatoes, and a can (or jar) of salsa.

Stir everything into the pot, along with cumin and chili powder. Add a bit of vegetable broth, to make it as thin or thick as you like. A half-hour simmer and you have a steaming-hot one-pot vegan chili.

This quick and easy chili is more than you’d expect for a dinner that comes almost entirely from cans. So, grab a can opener, an onion, and a couple spices–you’ve got this!

Accidently for us, about the time people started clamoring for toilet paper, I’d come home from the store with several 4-packs of organic canned beans. That’s not unusual though, you’ll always find more than one can of beans in our pantry shelves, there alongside all the jars of dried beans.

The rest of the ingredients needed here–they’re pantry regulars too. We keep green chiles and red salsa around for Mexican dinners, toothy hominy for vegetarian pozole, and canned diced tomatoes, always.

How are you buying your groceries lately? Do you use grocery pick-up or delivery? (Did my first ever pick-up order this week, for mostly canned foods. Have to say it went pretty slick.)

Last week, mask and gloves on, I did a big grocery shop. The store was out of kidney beans—no worries, I just used a second can of pintos. If you don’t have one kind, sub in another.

* How to go grocery shopping and stay safe.

Even though canned beans are wicked handy, you may know I prefer to cook beans from scratch. They taste so much better, and a pressure cooker makes scratch beans freaking easy. Does your Instant Pot need dusting off?

If fact, the most popular recipe here on the blog is “How to cook black beans in a pressure cooker.” Running a close second and third are “How to pressure cook pinto beans” and “How to pressure cook chickpeas.”

Speaking of which, we’re running low on dried beans. They’ve emptied the bulk bins where we usually get dried beans, and a quick on-line search shows limited supplies there too. Anyone want to share a 25# bag of garbanzo beans?

7 cans of ingredients for vegetarian pantry chili

Vegetarian Pantry Chili recipe tips, substitutions and stuff:

  • We garnished our chili with a sprinkle of grated white cheddar cheese. To really dress it up, you could garnish with sour cream and green onions.
  • Keep it vegan: Top your chili with a few slices of avocado.
  • I used medium-hot tomato salsa. If your picante tolerance is high, choose a “hotter” salsa. You could also use green salsa.
  • Hominy brings in toothsome texture and color contrast, but if you don’t have hominy, substitute frozen or rinsed and drained canned corn.
  • You should be able to find canned hominy in the section with other Mexican foods like the chiles and salsa. It seems to be most available in 25-ounce cans, containing about 3 cups hominy kernels. You won’t use it all in this recipe–just freeze what you don’t need.

More home-cooking inspiration:

A few years back I posted a review of Jessica Fisher’s cookbook, Good Cheap Eats Dinner in 30 Minutes (or Less! (Affiliate) This recipe is adapted from the 30-minute confetti chili in her cookbook and is an update of the original post.

To get my latest recipe posts and exclusive monthly newsletters, subscribe here. (I hate Spam too and will never share your email with anyone.)

  • Follow me on Instagram! It’s my favorite!
  • Peruse my Pinterest boards for more vegetarian recipe ideas.
  • Find daily vegetarian and healthy living ideas on my Facebook page.

This post contains affiliate links. When you purchase products via my links, it doesn’t cost you anything and I earn a tiny commission, which helps me continue to provide free content here on Letty’s Kitchen. Thank you!!

Nutrition Facts
Easy Vegetarian Pantry Chili
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 161
% Daily Value*
Potassium 51mg1%
Carbohydrates 21g7%
Protein 8g16%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutrition information is meant to be an estimate only. The numbers will vary based on the brands you use and substitutions you made, as well as how much chili you actually eat.


  • kym

    Letty, I miss you. Can I have a date? Either with boys or solo. Thanks for the easy Christmas Day feed. Love, Kym Reply · 18 December, 2015

    • Thanks Kym,
      You will love the chili for Christmas–easy peasy and delish! Reply · 18 December, 2015

Leave a Reply

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.