Sep 29

Smoky Black Bean & Corn Vegetarian Chili Recipe


This hearty vegetarian recipe is packed with black beans and corn, and has a fantastic smoky flavor, courtesy of the chipotle peppers.
Smoky Black Bean & Corn Vegetarian Chili Recipe

There are not many naturally-occurring black food items that I am comfortable serving to my family. Typically, when a long-forgotten item at the back of the fridge turns black, I am ceremoniously dump it into the garbage can, nose plugged and face screwed up into an unattractive mask. We did take a shot at growing Black Krim heirloom tomatoes this year (which are not really black), but when you pack your garden bed as full as a Tokyo subway at rush hour, there are going to be some casualties amidst the fight for sunlight and water. In our kitchen, black beans rose to the top of the black food pecking order with ease. My youngest son’s favorite lunch is a simple black bean, cheese, and cilantro burrito. Given that he gets a healthy dose of protein and fiber from the beans, I am more than happy to oblige a couple of days per week. Of course, black beans are not just relegated to the role of side dish or filler in Mexican dishes. They can be highlighted in salad, soup, chili, and dips.


When I found out that the babysitter taking care of my kids for a couple of days is vegetarian, I set out to find a great vegetarian chili recipe. I scoured the web, asked friends on Twitter, and poured over my cookbooks. While I found many fantastic options and now have a host of links from my friends’ favorite recipes (thank you!), I decided to go with an option a little closer to home. Last fall, I made my Smoky Turkey Chili with Chipotle Peppers, and Black and White Beans for the first time. It was an instant hit with my family and readers. Instead of re-creating the wheel, I simply removed the turkey meat and white beans from that recipe, tripled the amount of blacks beans, substituted vegetable for chicken broth, and poured in a bag of frozen corn. The result was a smoky, hearty vegetarian chili with a kick.

The recipe:

Heat canola oil in a large, heavy pot set over medium heat. Add chopped onions and sauté until tender and light brown, about 10 minutes. Add ground cumin and dried oregano.

Stir for 30 seconds, then add chopped garlic cloves. Stir for an additional 30 seconds. Increase heat to medium-high. Add chili powder, bay leaves, unsweetened cocoa powder, salt, and cinnamon.


Chop tomatoes from a large can of whole tomatoes and add to the pot, along with the juices. Mix in tomato paste, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce (from the chipotle peppers can), and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove and discard bay leaves.

Drain and rinse black beans, and add to the chili, along with frozen corn. Simmer for an additional 20 minutes.

Ladle chili into bowl, and serve with sour cream and chopped cilantro.


Other vegetarian chili recipes:

101 Cookbooks’ Pierce Street Vegetarian Chili
The Kitchn’s Vegetarian Black Bean Espresso Chili
Herbivoracious’ Best Vegetarian Chili
Taste Buddies’ Vegetarian Chili

Smoky Black Bean & Corn Vegetarian Chili Recipe
Prep time
Total time
From the kitchen of Cookin Canuck.
Serves: Serves 8
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 (28 oz.) can whole tomatoes (including juices)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped
  • 2 tsp adobo sauce (from chipotle pepper can)
  • 3 cups low-salt vegetable broth
  • 3 (15 oz. each) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bag (16 oz.) frozen corn kernels (no need to defrost)
  • Sour cream
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
  1. Heat canola oil in a large, heavy pot set over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until tender and light brown, about 10 minutes. Add cumin and oregano. Stir for 30 seconds, then add garlic cloves. Stir for an additional 30 seconds. Increase heat to medium-high. Add chili powder, bay leaves, cocoa powder, salt, and cinnamon. Chop tomatoes and add to the pot, along with the juices. Mix in tomato paste, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove and discard bay leaves.
  2. Add black beans and frozen corn kernels to the chili. Simmer for an additional 20 minutes.
  3. Ladle chili into bowl, and serve with sour cream and chopped cilantro.

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Maria September 29, 2010 at 2:21 pm

This is my kind of chili!


2 Kalyn September 29, 2010 at 2:38 pm

I'm with your son on the love of black beans! This looks great.


3 Emily Malloy September 29, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Yum! I love the combination of flavors. One of my favorite types of meals!


4 Maggy@ThreeManyCooks September 29, 2010 at 3:49 pm

I love a good chili recipe, such a good weeknight dinner. I also love that this recipe is vegetarian – perfect for Meatless Mondays!


5 Jenny September 29, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Looks so good Dara! Making me hungry!


6 ravienomnoms September 29, 2010 at 4:47 pm

This is the second black bean soup I have seen today! Your chili looks awesome, its making my tummy rumble! I just love black beans!


7 Michelle September 29, 2010 at 5:18 pm

You've had some great chili recipes lately!


8 Tracy September 29, 2010 at 6:15 pm

Sounds amazing! Wish I had a big bowl for lunch today!


9 Anonymous September 29, 2010 at 6:27 pm

The recipe actually appears to have ground turkey in it – perhaps it's the non-vegetarian version.


10 Belinda @zomppa September 29, 2010 at 6:49 pm

Great photos and even greater recipe. What a great meal for a day like today.


11 Cookin' Canuck September 29, 2010 at 8:10 pm

Thank you for all of your kind comments. The promise of fall weather is certainly making us crave comfort dishes like this one.

Anonymous – Thank you for catching the glitch (that's what I get for writing posts when I'm tired). The recipe is now correct and is indeed vegetarian.


12 ceecee September 29, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Looks great, Dara. Too hot here for chilli – but any day now it should cool off!


13 Barbara Bakes September 29, 2010 at 10:28 pm

It looks fabulous, especially in your beautiful little crocks.


14 Evan @swEEts September 29, 2010 at 10:30 pm

I'm going to try both of the chilis you mentioned in this post! We try to eat veggie once a week (its good for your carbon footprint or something like that) and we're big fans of black beans.. thanks for sharing :)


15 Drick September 29, 2010 at 11:00 pm

who needs meat with this great chili – love all the flavors you have going here…


16 Pegasuslegend September 29, 2010 at 11:10 pm

I eat veggie chili at least once a week, never had it with corn in it though I know I will love this one and as usual your picture is so inviting cant wait to try making this!


17 Skylar Wolfe September 30, 2010 at 3:21 am

Looks great, thanks for sharing!


18 penny aka jeroxie September 30, 2010 at 3:59 am

That is my kind of bold flavours. YUM!


19 Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) September 30, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Black bean chili is my favorite, and with vegetarian kids and grandkids, I'm always on the lookout for new variations.


20 madge @ vegetariancasserolequeen September 30, 2010 at 6:03 pm

Chili is such a great "fall" recipe.

Morningstar Farms (found in the frozen section near the breakfast foods) makes a wonderful vegetarian beef crumble substitute for recipes calling for ground beef. I highly recommend it!


21 Jennifer (Savor) September 30, 2010 at 6:56 pm

LOVE! Just posted yesterday on Babble as well. A bison bean corn chili – great minds think alike – I knew we were kin.


22 Barbara | VinoLuciStyle September 30, 2010 at 8:52 pm

Foods like this have me wonder if I'm not a closet vegetarian; would never miss the meat at all.


23 Suzanne aka vivisue October 1, 2010 at 1:57 am

Perfect timing as chili season is quickly approaching (except for here in Utah where it has been incredibly, unseasonably HOT!). Beautiful pics and the chili is irresistible. Katrina and I missed having you with us at lunch today. Hopefully next time MM and I are back in SLC we can get together!


24 Chili Man October 1, 2010 at 3:03 am

This chili recipe looks wonderful! I am going to cook it for my kids Friday night. I will let you know how it goes. Thanks


25 warmvanillasugar October 1, 2010 at 3:05 am

This chili looks fantastic. Great combo of flavours


26 Chef Chuck October 1, 2010 at 7:51 pm

That looks so good….


27 Peabody October 2, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Nice and hearty. Can't wait to give it a try when it gets a little cooler.


28 Mother Rimmy October 3, 2010 at 5:29 pm

As far as I'm concerned, there is nothing better than a bowl of chili. You can add almost anything but the kitchen sink and come up with a dish everyone loves. :)


29 Susan @ One Less Thing October 7, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Making it right now for clients and the chipotle makes it smell so smoky good.
I'm going to make your poblano corn muffins to go with it. Of course I'll save some for myself. Yummy. Thanks.


30 Kimberly October 12, 2010 at 5:47 pm

YUM! and gorgeous pics as always! We added your recipe to our Tasty Tuesday Soups & Stews Day on today! I can't wait to try!


31 Yvo August 7, 2012 at 11:41 am

Cocoa powder is a real twist the hot spice mix. Way to go, Dara!


32 February 12, 2013 at 5:41 am

I tend not to leave a comment, however after reading a few of the remarks on
Smoky Black Bean & Corn Vegetarian Chili Recipe. I
do have some questions for you if you don’t mind. Could it be only me or does it look as if like some of the responses appear like they are coming from brain dead folks? 😛 And, if you are writing at additional sites, I would like to follow you. Could you post a list of all of all your social networking sites like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?


33 Erika February 12, 2013 at 8:08 am

I just made this last night and it was delicious!!! Hotter than I expected, but so flavorful–I loved the addition of cocoa powder and cinnamon. Thanks for a great recipe :)


34 Jim February 15, 2013 at 7:27 pm

Loved this. Just out of curiosity, why the whole canned tomatoes? Do you really think the flavor is that much better that the mess of chopping them is worth it? And yes, I used diced.


35 Lauren August 14, 2013 at 9:35 am

I’ve made this about 10 times since I found this recipe- and each time has been AMAZING… I double it and freeze in containers so I can grab and take for lunch. We sometimes serve over rice- the best thing ever. My favorite recipe.


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