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Creamy Vegetarian White Chili

This creamy vegetarian white chili with a kick of spice is perfect for vegans and vegetarians alike, and the ultimate comfort food with easy-to-find ingredients.

A bowl of white chili with beans and corn and a slice of lime

Just chop up an onion, a pepper, two potatoes, and as many chili peppers as you desire, fry them up, and add to a pot with all the other ingredients. It doesn’t get any easier.

The results? A real stick-to-your-ribs thick white chili full of beans and sweet burst of corn in a creamy garlicky tangy spicy sauce.

Altogether from chopping the vegetables to the final chili product, this recipe shouldn’t take you any longer than 40 minutes total.

If you’re a fan of chili recipes I also highly recommend my vegan chili with Guinness, chocolate, and coffee (trust me, it’s SO good). Some flourless vegan chickpea chocolate chip cookies with a kick from cayenne would also make a great dessert after you finish your chili…

Leftover beans after making your chili? Then try them in this easy Mediterranean white bean salad or use them to make vegan sour cream.

White Chili Toppings

White chili has a different flavor profile when compared to more traditional-type chili recipes. Smoother, creamier, and tangier, yet a lot of the “fixings” for topping or serving with your chili are similar to the usual ones.

Here are my recommendations for some delicious vegetarian toppings to sprinkle over or serve alongside your chili:

  1. Cornbread. What chili is complete without cornbread? I suggest this easy vegan jalapeno cornbread.
  2. Sour cream. A delicious cold creamy contrast. It’s hard to get sour cream where I live so I often substitute with creme fraiche or plain Greek yogurt. For vegans, try this easy vegan sour cream that’s made from white beans and coconut milk.
  3. Lemon or lime wedges. As with most creamy bean dishes, a squeeze of citrus is the perfect complement. Serve your chili with wedges so everyone can adjust the amount to suit their own tastes.
  4. Grated cheese. Serve over hot chili so it melts and gets all gooey and stringy, or pop the cheese-topped chili under the grill for a minute or two. I prefer strongly-flavored cheese paired with my chili, like a nice aged cheddar, but you can use whichever you prefer. Buy a block and grate the cheese yourself as pre-grated cheeses aren’ as flavorful and are often tossed with anticoagulants which also stop them from melting as easily.
  5. Sliced avocado or guacamole.
  6. Sliced pickled or fresh jalapeños.
  7. Finely chopped cilantro (it goes so well with the creamy tangy spicy sauce).
  8. White rice, or if you feel like jazzing it up, try this lemon coconut rice.
  9. Tortilla chips or tortilla strips.
A spoonful of beans in white sauce over a bowl with sliced avocado on the side

Which beans should I use?

Most cooked white beans will do for this chili, namely:

  • Cannellini beans
  • Navy beans
  • Great Northern beans
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Baby Lima beans

The exception is the large “adult” Lima beans. A handful of cooked Lima beans thrown in will add great texture but they’re not suitable for use as the only bean in this recipe. Their large size will adversely affect the texture and they won’t absorb as much flavor.

If you’re not too bothered about your chili staying pale and “white”, then some cooked pinto beans would also be great.

I’m fairly sure that this recipe can be adapted to use soaked dried beans in the instant pot or slow cooker by increasing the amount of water, but I haven’t gotten around to testing it yet so for now I’d say stick with cooked beans.

Ingredients and Substitutions

Beans were covered in the previous section. In this section, we’ll examine the other ingredients and see which can be substituted, removed, or changed without ruining the recipe. First, let’s look at what ingredients are used in this recipe (in the image below).

Note that where possible I recommend sticking to my recipe and instructions as that’s how I’ve tested the recipe.

labelled ingredients for white bean chili including beans, pepper, chili pepper, corn, salt, cumin, oregano, salsa verde, garlic, potatoes and coconut milk

Green bell pepper: I use a green bell pepper and green chili pepper to keep everything more homogenous when it comes to color, you can totally use red or yellow if you prefer.

Chili pepper: Just one is what I recommend to keep this chili at a mild-medium spic level but you can increase the amount as much as you’d prefer to up the level of spice. No more than six though, and that should result in a SCORCHING hot chili.

Sweetcorn: Great in this chili but if you don’t like it or don’t have it, leave it out. Canned or frozen is fine.

Onion: Use any color you prefer.

Salt: Salt to taste at the end. I use one teaspoon in this recipe, but different stock cubes/stock/bouillon have differing amounts of salt. Keep in mind that most dishes with potatoes will require a good amount of salt.

Cumin: Unless you really hate it, leave it in, its flavor is much improved by a bit of toasting.

Salsa Verde: This is completely necessary. If you can get it, I recommend you use my favorite, La Costeña.

Oregano: Leave out if you don’t have it or don’t like it. I use dried in this recipe but you can add fresh, just halve the amount.

Garlic: Follow the recipe or dial the amount up or down to suit your personal preference.

Stock cube: I like to use vegetable stock cubes as that’s what I tend to have on hand but you can omit it and use four cups of vegetable stock instead of water if you prefer.

Vegetable bouillon can also be substituted, just check the brand you use and use enough to make up a liter of stock. For example, for Better Than Bouillon you’d need to use four teaspoons.

Potatoes: Spuds are amazing in white bean chili, I don’t recommend even thinking about replacing them until you’ve tried it!

Oil – use any neutral-flavored oil such as sunflower or canola (totally forgot to add this to the ingredients photo, sorry)

Coconut milk – Cooking coconut milk for long enough will break it down into a thicker less sweet reduction that tastes amazing (and no, the sauce won’t taste like coconut): If you really hat coconut milk you can omit it and substitute by mixing in a cup of sour cream when the dish has finished cooking and then adjusting the sauce with extra stock if it’s too thick.

How to make it

Making this vegetarian white chili is so easy I’m sure it will become a regular at your house. As usual, just in case, I go into the recipe details in-depth in this section and include photos for beginner cooks or to check if you’re unsure about any step.

First, gather your ingredients. Peel and chop the onions and potatoes. The potatoes should be cut into medium dice ranging between 1cm to half an inch, any larger and they’ll throw off the cooking times.

Chop the green pepper and finely dice the green chili pepper, seeds, and all. Add two tablespoons of neutral oil such as sunflower, canola, grapeseed, etc. to a large nonstick pot and set to heat on medium-high.

In the photos, I use a large frying pan so that you can see what’s going on more easily but I definitely recommend using a large pot instead or it will be difficult to stir your ingredients without splashing some liquid out.

Add the onion, green pepper, and green chili pepper to the pot (image one below) and cook for about three minutes or until the onions are softened, stirring as needed to prevent sticking.

Next, add in the chopped potatoes (image two below) and cook for five minutes, stirring now and then. This would be a good time to peel and mince the garlic cloves.

Four photos showing the stages of frying peppers onions potatoes and spices.

After five minutes, add the garlic and cumin to the pan (image three above). Mix well and fry for around two minutes, stirring often, so that the garlic is cooked and the cumin toasted (image four above).

Now add three cups of water, the stock cube, the coconut milk, the salsa verde, the cooked white beans, and the sweetcorn (image five below).

The fourth cup of water will be reserved until the end to adjust and loosen your white chili sauce.

split photo showing watery white liquid in a pot on the left and beans in white sauce on the right

Increase the heat to high and maintain until your chili comes to a full-roiling boil. Decrease the heat to medium-high so that the chili is still bubbling away at a lively simmer, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring every now and then.

At the 15-minute mark, you’ll find your chili is beginning to thicken, reduce heat to medium and cook a further five minutes (image six above).

If it’s still not thick enough for your liking you can cook it for another five minutes but know that it will thicken even more as it cools and more starch is released from the beans and potatoes.

Check the potatoes to see if they are cooked through and if so you’re done. Take off the heat and leave aside five minutes. The chili should be quite thick.

Partial view of a bowl of white bean chili topped with cream, jalapeños and sliced avocado on a grey background

Add some of the reserved water if you’d prefer a looser more “soupy” consistency. Taste and add up to one teaspoon of salt depending on how well-salted you like it. Done! Serve with the fixings of choice.

This is a great recipe for meal prepping as it also keeps really well in the fridge or freezer. Simply seal in a container with a lid or a freezer bag and it will keep in the fridge for up to five days, or for up to three months in the freezer.


Did you make this vegetarian white chili? Let me know how much you loved it with a star rating in the recipe box, review, or comment below.

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Yield: 6 large portions

Creamy Vegetarian White Chili

A bowl of white chili with beans and corn and a slice of lime

This tasty creamy tangy spicy vegetarian white chili is incredibly easy to make and super filling.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 5 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons neutral oil (sunflower, canola, etc.)
  • 1 large green bell pepper
  • 1 green chili pepper
  • 5 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (or water plus a stock cube)
  • 13.5 fl oz can coconut milk (400ml)
  • 1.5 cups salsa verde (360g)
  • 4.5 cups cooked white beans (see notes for types, 800g)
  • 1 cup sweetcorn (140g)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Peel and chop the onion and potatoes. Potatoes should be cut to 1cm-1/2 inch dice and should produce about 2.5 cups peeled and chopped.
  2. Add oil to a large pot to heat on medium-high. Chop green pepper and finely dice green chili pepper (seeds included).
  3. Add onion, pepper, and chili pepper to the pot and sauté for roughly three minutes or until the onion is softened.
  4. Add the chopped potato and sauté for a further five minutes, stirring occasionally. In the meantime peel and dice the garlic.
  5. Add the minced garlic and cumin to the pan and mix well. Fry for two minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking.
  6. Crumble in the stock cube and add 3 cups of water, coconut milk, the salsa verde, beans, and sweetcorn. Increase heat to high until the mixture is boiling then reduce slightly to medium-high and allow to cook for fifteen minutes.
  7. At fifteen minutes reduce the heat to medium and cook a further five minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking. Test the potatoes for doneness and remove the pot from the heat and set to one side for five minutes.
  8. Add in the reserved cup of water as needed to get the consistency you prefer if you like your chili "soupy" and salt to taste (up to one teaspoon). Done!

Notes

For white beans, you can use cooked cannellini beans, great northern beans, navy beans, black-eyed peas, or baby lima beans.

This chili is somewhere between mild-medium hot. For hotter chili, increase the number of chili peppers used.

Once cooled and tightly covered will last up to five days in the fridge or three months in the freezer. It will thicken over time and can be loosed with a little water.

Serve with cornbread, sliced avocado, vegan sour cream, sliced avocadoes, lemon or lime wedges, chopped cilantro, rice, jalapeños etc.

Nutrition Information

Yield

6

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 479Total Fat 20gSaturated Fat 13gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 6gCholesterol 0mgSodium 891mgCarbohydrates 62gFiber 12gSugar 6gProtein 18g

Did you make this recipe?

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Hayley

Monday 17th of January 2022

Would subbing sweet potato be a disaster/anyone tried? 🤔

Deirdre Gilna

Monday 17th of January 2022

Hmmm interesting...sweet potato is so great in stews and is regularly added to "normal" red/brown chili recipes so I think it would be nice, although maybe the flavor might be a little strong in a white chili?

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