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Easy Veggie Chilli – Authentic Mexican Recipe

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Easy Veggie Chilli

This easy veggie chilli is so good! You won’t miss the meat.


I was missing California today and decided to make this authentic and easy veggie chilli. Work fast and you can make this in about a half hour or just let it simmer slowly for an even better flavour. 

We were out of meat so I just used what I had on hand. Believe me, you will not miss the meat in this one!

About the ingredients and substitutes.

Whenever I go back to my hometown in California, I always fly back to the UK with one heck of a lot of Mexican ingredients. Last time I purchased a lot more than normal for a Mexican cooking class I’m supposed to be teaching in France this year. 

Who knows if that will still happen? Things are looking pretty grim these days but delicious recipes like this that I’ve been making for years always seem to cheer up the family. Here are a few ingredient explanations and substitutes for you.

The dried Guajillo and New Mexico chillies: 
These play a tasty role in the recipe but you could just substitute cayenne chilli powder to taste. If you would like to try this recipe my way, you can pick up guajillo chillies here and New Mexico chillies here

Fired Roasted Chilies:
These are difficult to come by in the UK. If like me, you have trouble finding them, you could substitute a good long green chilli. Remove the seeds and roast them over until blackened. That or just use some fresh green bird’s eye chillies. These are spicier though.

Pinto Beans:
These are readily available at most supermarkets. For best results, purchase them dry and cook them as per the bag instructions. The cooking liquid add a nice flavour. Pinto beans are available canned though. 

Fresh corn tortilla chips:
I purchase fresh corn tortillas and fry them until crisp. You can purchase fresh corn tortillas here. If you must, just purchase some Doritos or something similar. 

What should I top my veggie chilli with?

Whatever sounds good! Below, I topped mine with corn chips, coriander (cilantro), cheese, diced red onion and sour cream mixed with a little hot sauce. All these are delicious options.

Working ahead…

This recipe can be made a day or two in advance. The veggie chilli actually gets better when left overnight.

The pinto beans could be made a couple of days in advance too. So you really can break this up into easy steps.

How can I make this veggie chilli recipe even easier?

The recipe is not at all difficult but if you follow all my steps it can be a bit time consuming. Feel free to use tinned pinto beans, chilli powder, tinned tomatoes… whatever make it easier for you, do it.

New Mexico and g

Cayenne chilli powder to taste could be substituted for the dried Guajillo and New Mexico chillies.

roasted green chillies

You could substitute a mild green chilli for the tinned roasted variety.

Pinto beans

In my opinion, you need pinto beans, not kidney beans for a good curry. Just cook as per bag instructions.

Frying veggies

Fry the onion in the oil for 5 minutes until soft and translucent. Then add the bell pepper and 2 tbsp roasted green chillies.

Adding cumin

Add 2 tbsp ground cumin and stir well.

blended tomato/chilli mixture

Blend the tomatoes and dried chillies together until smooth. Pour over the fried onion mixture.

Adding pinto beans to sauce

Add the cooked pinto beans with their cooking liquid.

Stir in the Cheddar

Stir in the grated Cheddar cheese.

Stir in the oregano

Stir in the oregano.

Adding handful of corn chips to sauce

Add a large handful of corn chips (shop bought fine) to the chilli.

Simmer sauce until thick

Add finely chopped chillies in adobo and simmer for about 20 minutes until thick. You should be able to stand a spoon it in.

Veggie chillie

Serve with the toppings of choice. See above.

Vegetable chilli

Dig in!

Set table with vegetable chilli

You’ve got to try this veggie chilli!

Yield: 6

Easy Veggie Chilli - Authentic Mexican Recipe

Easy Veggie Chilli
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour


  • 6 dried chillies such as New Mexican and/or Guajillo.
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 2 medium onions - finely chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves - finely chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper - diced
  • 2 generous tbsp roasted green chillies
  • 2 generous tbsp ground cumin
  • 400g (16oz) canned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 x 500g ( 1 1/2 lb.) bag dried pinto beans cooked as per bag instructions
  • 2 tbsp chipotle chillies in adobo sauce (optional)
  • 1 large handful of corn chips
  • 1 large handful grated Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • Salt to taste
  • Lime wedges to serve
  • 3 tbps coriander (cilantro) finely chopped


  1. Soak the dried whole chillies in hot water while you work on the rest of the dish. Break them open to remove the seeds.
  2. Meanwhile heat the oil over medium high heat. When hot, stir in the chopped onions and fry for about 5 minutes or until soft and translucent.
  3. Stir in the chopped garlic, bell pepper and roasted chillies and fry for another minute or so.
  4. Blend the soaked dried chillies and tomatoes until smooth and then pour this over the onion mixture.
  5. Stir in the cooked pinto beans along with all of the cooking liquid. Bring to a rolling simmer.
  6. Add the corn chips, chipotle chillies, oregano and grated cheese and stir well to combine.
  7. Continue simmering until the chilli becomes so thick you can stand a wooden spoon in it without it falling over.
  8. Season with salt to taste and check for other seasoning too, adding more cumin or chilli if you like.
  9. Serve with lime wedges at the table garnished with chopped coriander (cilantro) and whatever else sounds good.

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I hope you enjoy this veggie curry as much as my wife, daughter and I do. If you do give it a try, please don’t be a stranger. Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. 

Paul lewis

Wednesday 8th of April 2020

Hi love your food One question can I substitute the pinto beans for chickpeas? Thanks Paul

Dan Toombs

Monday 13th of April 2020

Hi Paul Thanks for getting in touch. You could certainly replace pinto beans with chickpeas, that would work well. Dan

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