Chili can be a great source of protein and nutrition but can also be monotonous. That’s why adding vegetables is essential to make a complete meal. In this article, we look at which vegetables go well with chili and give you 5 delicious recipes as a bonus.
In a rush? Here’s the short answer.
Corn, bell peppers, black beans, mushrooms, and cauliflower are all great additions to chili. Add cooked quinoa or sweet potato instead of the rice or pasta often used as filler in chili recipes to mix things up.
Ready? Let’s jump right in!
Corn adds texture and sweetness to the spiciness of chili. It pairs exceptionally well with ground pork or turkey to bring out its natural flavors.
You can use grilled corn on the cob for extra flavor or frozen corn kernels for convenience – either will work perfectly fine!
Bell peppers are almost always a staple in chili recipes – they taste amazing and offer some nice textures too.
Red bell pepper works best because its flavor adds depth and complexity to the dish, while green bell pepper has more freshness that balances against other bolder ingredients like chili powder and garlic.
Black beans are another classic ingredient that always works perfectly with chili – they provide protein and some much-needed texture, so things don’t get soggy from all the liquid in the recipe.
Be sure to rinse those canned ones before adding them to your pot!
If you want something meaty without having to cook any actual meat (i.e., if you’re vegetarian), mushrooms make for an excellent choice when paired with chili con carne/chili sin carne (vegetarian-vegan friendly).
Their umami flavor stands up quite nicely against all those spices too!
Cauliflower is milder than most veggies, so it goes well with spicy dishes like chili con carne/chili sin carne (vegetarian-vegan friendly).
It provides an interesting texture, and its sweetness helps tame whatever fire your chili gives off! Try adding roasted mini cauliflowers for ease, plus added flavor!
Green peppers are an old standby for adding crunch and freshness to any dish.
To prepare them for inclusion with your chili, slice them into half-inch pieces and add them near the end of cooking time, so they don’t lose their crunchy texture or vibrant color.
Soft kernels of corn can be added during the last 10 minutes of cook time for hearty sweetness and texture.
Fresh or frozen corn both work well in this case; make sure to thaw frozen corn ahead of time if need be!
Onions give chili dishes an incredible depth of flavor when simmered on low heat alongside other ingredients like bell peppers and garlic. When pureed into sauces, they bring even more umami goodness (and create unique aromas while they simmer).
Plus, diced onion adds an unbeatable crunchy texture too!
Sweet potatoes add so much more than just flavor—they also provide nutritional benefits like fiber, vitamin A, and potassium.
When baking sweet potatoes for inclusion in chili, use indirect heat; bake at 375°F (190°C) until fully cooked through (about 30 minutes). Slice before adding to your dish if desired! They’re great chunks or roasted whole as well.
Zucchinis have a slightly sweeter taste than bell peppers and add freshness to chilies while offering enough heft to stand up against fiercer flavors in many recipes.
This mild-mannered veggie is easy to prep—slice into cubes or rounds about 1 inch big and throw directly into your bubbling pot for a delicious way to bulk up your chilies!