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  • Writer's pictureNikki Glekas

The Best Vegetarian Chili

Chili bars are a fun way to entertain in the winter. Today you’ll see that I’m setting up a chili bar for a Super Bowl party, but this works any time of year. The key to a good chili bar is having a great recipe for chili, a wide selection of toppings, and a delicious beverage for your guests to enjoy.

The chili I’m making today is a vegetarian chili. It is a great recipe that features lots of pretty colors, great flavor, and is a little lighter than your typical meat chili. I like to make it for friends and family because it comes together very easy - even on a busy winter weeknight! It does contain jalapeno, which gives it a lot of heat. If you don’t want it to be too spicy then simply omit it and the chili will still taste great.

The key to a good chili bar is having lots of good toppings that are clearly labeled. I also have my yummy vegetarian chili here, as well as a meat chili I reheated for my son who does not like beans. Each topping is in its own container and I made sure to include enough items so people have plenty to choose from. Guests could even make nachos with the chips and meat chili as a topping if they want!

I am a big proponent of having a signature drink when you entertain. In all my years owning a professional event company I alway see guests go right for the special drink when they walk in the door! In this case I selected three beer varieties I know pair well with spicy chili. My guests can either pour small glasses of each and make a tasting flight, or just choose a bottle they’d like and enjoy it in a chilled pilsner.

Since this bar is set up to reflect the super bowl theme you’ll notice a lot of green and football-themed napkins. I didn’t want to go too overboard with the football theme, but I like the idea of the kids taking fun instagram photos with the props and everyone getting into the mood to watch the big game.

I hope you enjoy this chili recipe and chili bar as much as we do, it really is ideal for cold weather eating and I guarantee everyone will love it!


This delicious vegetarian chili is a hit with my friends and family. Over the years I’ve adapted it to make sure there is no waste. Every can and every vegetable is used so you don’t have anything leftover in your fridge! If you don’t want the chili to be too spicy I recommend omitting the jalapeno. The chili will still taste great.

Makes 6-8 Servings

Timing: 15 minutes prep, 45 minutes cooking


1½ tablespoons olive oil

1 medium jalapeno, finely chopped

1 small onion, cut into 1/3’’ pieces

1 medium red pepper, cut into 1/3’’ pieces

1 medium yellow pepper, cut into 1/3’’ pieces

1 medium orange pepper, cut into 1/3’’ pieces

1 - 28oz can of crushed tomatoes

2 - 15.5oz can of black beans, cleaned and drained

1 - 15.5oz can of dark kidney beans, cleaned and drained

1 - 15.5oz can of cannellini beans, cleaned and drained

1 - 16oz bag frozen corn

1/3 cup white sugar

1½ tbsp balsamic vinegar

1½ tbsp garlic powder

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1½ tbsp chili powder


Shredded Mexican cheese

Sour Cream

Diced Avocado

Shredded Lettuce



Tortilla Chips

Finely chopped cilantro


  1. In a large pot on medium heat sauté onion with olive oil for 5-7 minutes or until translucent

  2. Add jalapenos and continue to sauté for 1 minute

  3. Add peppers and sauté for an additional 3-5 minutes until slightly softened.

  4. Add all beans, tomato, corn to pot and stir to combine

  5. Add all spices, sugar and balsamic vinegar and stir to combine

  6. Bring to a boil, turn heat to medium-low and let simmer for 30 minutes

  7. Serve with your favorite toppings such as sour cream, shredded cheese, and avocado

  8. Enjoy!

Nikki Glekas is the owner of Nikki Glekas Events, a full-service catering and events company located in Stamford, CT. She is currently operating with COVID-safe procedures and is happy to discuss your event and catering needs with you. To discuss further please contact or call 203.658.8659.

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