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How to make Spicy Vegetarian Chili for the Trail

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A bowl of spicy vegetarian chili with cheese and cilantro on top. It's in a blue and white bowl on a wooden table.

This hearty spicy vegetarian chili for the trail is also perfect for lunch at the office or dinner at home! In our house, what we like to have this for dinner one night and then save the other half to heat up in the morning and put in our awesome 16 oz thermos that we love to use for hot food at lunch during days outside. If you’re getting outside all winter this year, one of the best ways to enjoy it is to bring hot food or drink with you! I especially like it for hiking, snowshoeing or cross country skiing. I’m working on dehydrating and rehydrating this recipe, I’ll be sure to tell you all about how to do that once I have it completely nailed down. I’m not with it enough to actually make it in the morning, but as leftovers that takes just a few minutes to heat up in the microwave or on a stove top and it’s AWESOME. I’ll let you in on a little secret, this recipe is super flexible! You can add in any additional veggies you love or really anything you want. This is how the celery got added! One day after experimenting with different vegetarian chilis for awhile, I found some celery in the fridge and decided to add it and it was terrific so now I always add it. Have fun experimenting! I think this tastes even better after a couple days, but that might be because I’m eating it outside. It also makes great lunch leftovers (also in the thermos). Enjoy!


Vegetarian Chili for the Trail

Vegetarian chili for the trail

Spicy vegetarian chili that is perfect as leftovers to take with you on the trail in your thermos or hydroflask. Lots of flavor and nutrients!!

  • Author: Jennie
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 8 cups (4 servings) 1x
  • Category: Chili
  • Cuisine: American


2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1/2 large onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 Tablespoons cumin

2 bell peppers

1 jalapeno 

4 oz can diced green chilis

2 14 oz can diced tomatoes with their liquid

1/4 cup chili powder

3 cups any type of cooked or canned beans

2 cups frozen or fresh corn

Salt and pepper to taste 

Sour cream or yogurt (optional for garnish)

Shredded cheddar cheese (optional for garnish)

cilantro (optional for garnish)

sliced avocado (optional for garnish)


1. Heat the oil in a stock pot or dutch oven. Add the onion and celery and sautee until soft. Add cumin

2. Add peppers, jalapeno, green chilis and chili powder, sautee until soft

3. Add the tomatoes, beans and corn, cook until it’s all heated through, bubbly and delicious looking!

4. Serve with sour cream, cheese, cilantro and avocado for garnish

5. Use a stick (immersion) blender for a minute or so to make it smooth but with some chunks remaining



You can use any kind of beans you like! I usually use one cup of black beans, one cup of pinto beans and one cup of kidney beans, but I sometimes mix it up based on what’s in the cupboard!

The jalapeno is what makes it spicy. If you don’t want it spicy, leave it out. If you want it more spicy, add another jalapeno!

Regarding the blending-this step is not necessary. You can leave it super chunky! You can also blend till it’s completely smooth. I like to have it smooth with some chunks in it still but blend away to your own liking (you could also do this in a regular blender, but in my mind the immersion blender is a must for soups and chili!)

Keywords: Chili, vegetarian

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A bowl of spicy vegetarian chili with cheese and cilantro on top. It's in a blue and white bowl on a wooden table.
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Jennie Flaming
Hi! I'm Jennie. I’m a fourth generation Seattleite who lived in Alaska for 7 years. I've been a tour guide in both Alaska and Washington and I love to share the places I love with visitors, newcomers and my fellow locals. I’m so glad to have you along on the journey to experience your best low key adventure in Washington, Alaska and Western Canada!