Award Winning Vegetarian Chili

Award Winning Vegetarian Chili

Move over meat, my Crock Pot Award Winning Vegetarian Chili will knock your socks off!

Crock Pot Award Winning Vegetarian Chili Recipe

Hi everyone!

This is the first recipe I ever posted on Running in a Skirt and it is hands down my most famous, most loved family recipe.  I have made my Crock Pot Award Winning Chili for years… ever since I WON a chili cook-off with it against some of my friends at the TV station.  And all the other competitors were meat based chili.

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The Hubs even says he prefers Award Winning Vegetarian Chili to regular chili!  Now if those two things aren’t a vote of confidence, I don’t know what is.

On a side note, this chili can also easily be vegan.  The toppings shown here are dairy based, but the entire recipe is vegan and dairy-free.

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So before we get to the details of the chili, let me take you back to the night I won that cook-off.  At that time, the chili didn’t exactly look like this (although it tasted the same!)

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I only have a few, small and sad pictures because it was circa 2008… but hopefully you will get the idea.

To set the scene, first you have to understand how a bunch of 20-somethings who work in TV plan a party.  It often turned into much more than a casual get together.  It was usually quite a production.  Imagine produced videos projected on large screens, hundreds of people, decorations and even possibly a PA system.


And these overboard, themed parties had a history of  involving food competitions   There were rib contests, pork cook-offs (hence the pig balloon) and beer brewing tastings.

The Chili Cook-off of 2008 will always be my favorite.  It’s the only time I ever entered and believe it or not, I actually won.

I wasn’t planning on cooking for the the contest because at that time, I was not much of a chef.  This was when I still burned water frankly.

I found out there were about a half dozen entries, but none of them were vegetarian.  I opened my big mouth to the organizers and asked about representation and food for the “meat-free” crowd. Next thing  you know my name is on the list to cook. Yikes!  Sometimes I talk too much.

I had no idea what I had gotten myself into.  My competition all had tried and true recipes that they had made for years.  I was fighting an uphill battle when all the other stews had beef, pork or chicken in them.  I browsed the internet for recipes and decided to combine the best aspects of several I had found.  I then recruited my girlfriends to put together a GIANT batch.  It was a turkey fryer size pot.  Ridiculous!


Since I didn’t have this amazing recipe that I knew everyone would love, I decided I needed a little publicity.  How was a vegetarian chili going to beat my friend’s well-loved, meat-filled recipes? So I launched a full fledged campaign for my chili with stickers and flyers.  I got a little carried away.  And… I may have brought some adult beverages to compliment my chili.



I even covered the competition, Eric, with my propaganda.

Even though I focused a bunch of time on my gimmicks, the actual chili I made turned out really, really good.  I served bowl and after bowl of it.  It was a crowd hit!

At the end of the night everyone who was there stood in a line in front of their favorite chili to vote for a winner.  Then, the chili with the lowest number of votes was eliminated.  Those people could move to their second favorite chili.  It came down to my chili and my good friend and photographer Eric’s chili.  It was so close, but when the final count was done, I won by just a couple votes.  I don’t eat meat, so I didn’t try Eric’s chili.  But I knew it was awesome and everyone also loved it.  He poured his heart and soul into that pot.  He was the one who organized the crazy event and he had initially pulled me into making the vegetarian chili to begin with. I threw my recipe together.  So, I actually felt a little bad about the victory.  Just a little.  Maybe the stickers were a little over the top?

There was no prize; just bragging rights.  But that was more than enough and it still ranks as one of my favorite nights ever.

Over the years, I recreated the chili to be cooked in a Crock Pot.  It’s changed and adapted a little over time, but it is truly become one of my go-to recipes that I can call all mine.  We’ve come a long way since those days, my friends. 🙂

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Here are some of the secrets that I think really makes my Award Winning Vegetarian Chili good….


1- It has lots of different bean types.  The variety makes it more interesting to look at AND taste.

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2- It has color. The different peppers and beans make it a pretty dish.

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3- It does NOT have “fake meat.”  I like tofu but so many people are turned off with the possibility of “fake meat” that they will not even try it.  This chili is packed with so many ingredients, you will not even miss it.  You also have plenty of protein from the beans.

4- Chipotle Cholula.  Need I say more?


So here we go, my recipe Award Winning Vegetarian Chili!  I really hope you will try it and enjoy it.

Crock Pot Award Winning Vegetarian Chili Recipe-89-8

Award Winning Vegetarian Chili

Julie Wunder
Award Winning Vegetarian Chili Recipe This vegetarian chili won a cook-off against meat eating competitors! It will change the way you think about vegetarian chili!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 6 hrs
Total Time 6 hrs 10 mins
Course Dinner, Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 339 kcal


  • 1 14.5 oz canned dark kidney beans , rinsed and drained
  • 1 14.5 ox canned light kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14.5 oz canned garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 14.5 oz canned black beans , rinsed and drained
  • 2 - 14.5 14.5 oz canned diced fire roasted tomato with garlic
  • 1 4 oz canned diced green chilies
  • 2 8 oz canned tomato sauce
  • 2 bell Peppers, chopped
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspon cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons Chipotle Cholula
  • Salt & Pepper to taste, 1/2 teaspoon each


  • Put all ingredients in a large Crock Pot.
  • Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours.
  • Serve with corn bread, cheese, sour cream and additional splash of Cholula.


You can adjust the chili spices to match your own taste. This does not have a LOT of heat. Add more hot chili powder and red pepper flakes instead of regular chili powder if you like it hot.
I buy reduced-sodium cans when I can find them because they are so much healthier. You can then add just as much salt as you like to taste.
If it’s the middle of winter and peppers are hard to find, you can buy bags of frozen chopped peppers and onions. It’s not quite as good, but it is a great substitute. It can also make it easier to stock all the ingredients.


Calories: 339kcalCarbohydrates: 63gProtein: 20gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 1089mgPotassium: 1352mgFiber: 21gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 1610IUVitamin C: 60mgCalcium: 142mgIron: 8mg
Keyword Award Winning Vegetarian Chili
Tried this recipe?Mention @Julie_Wunder or tag #RunninginaSkirt!

Crock Pot Award Winning Vegetarian Chili

As I mentioned above, this recipe was the first one I published on Running in a Skirt in November 2012.  I only had a point and shoot camera  at the time, so this was the best I could do with photos.


Award Winning Vegetarian Chili - This recipe won a cook-off against meat chili entries! Made in a crock pot and will change the way you think about vegetarian chili!

I left this recipe alone for so long because it has been a popular recipe for my site and I didn’t want to screw that up.  I finally decided to just go for it, and gave it a solid makeover in September 2016.  I hope you enjoy the photo/text updates and will give it a try!

Award Winning Vegetarian Chili - This recipe won a cook-off against meat chili entries! Made in a crock pot and will change the way you think about vegetarian chili!


Like it? I’d love it if you could pin this to your favorite Pinterest board! Thank you so much for the support. 

The Best Crock Pot Award Winning Vegetarian Chili Recipe


Want more Vegetarian Crock Pot recipes? 

Crock Pot Vegetarian Taco Soup

Vegetarian Taco Soup Crock Pot Recipe - so tasty and simple! Perfect weekday meal./ Running in a Skirt


Crock Pot Vegetarian White Bean Soup

Crock Pot Vegetarian White Bean Soup - delicous vegetarian crock pot recipe! One of my favorites/ Running in a Skirt


Crock Pot Vegetarian Mexican Quinoa Bake

Crock Pot Vegetarian Mexican Quinoa Bake / Running in a Skirt


Crock Pot Black Bean Soup

Easy Crock Pot Black Bean Soup


Also try!

No Noodle Vegetarian Zucchini Lasagna
no noodle vegetarian zucchini lasagna pin

Vegetarian Oven Fajitas



I post many other fabulous vegetarian meals here, including Crock Pot favorites.


Thanks for stopping by today!

Your turn!

Have you ever entered a food contest?

Do you have a “famous” recipe?  Even just within your family?

By | 2020-09-16T09:50:52-04:00 September 6th, 2016|All Vegetarian, Crock Pot Meals, Dinner, Food, Lunch, Soups, Vegetarian Meals|69 Comments


  1. Martine Cianni September 15, 2020 at 4:43 pm - Reply

    Do you know how many calories per serving? Thanks 😛

    • JulieWunder September 16, 2020 at 9:49 am - Reply

      Hi Martine! I updated the recipe to include nutritional information. I’ve been slowly going back through my site to do this! It’s 339 calories per serving. It’s a very hearty bowl of soup. I love this recipe and hope you do too. 🙂

  2. […] Award Winning Vegetarian Chili […]

  3. […] other family favorite is my vegetarian chili!  I even won a cook-off with […]

  4. […] Crock Pot Vegetarian Chili […]

  5. Lisa cardello January 6, 2020 at 1:13 pm - Reply

    Hey there! Your award-winning vegetarian chili looks amazing. I am in the midst of trying to create a stash of freezer meals because baby number two is on the way. Have you ever combined the ingredients and frozen them, then threw them in the crockpot at a later time? Just wondering how this freezes. Thanks!

    • JulieWunder January 6, 2020 at 2:06 pm - Reply

      Hi Lisa! This freezes great!!! Get BIG bags and put it all in the bag and freeze. Cook it when you are ready. I made two big batches before my twins came and was so grateful. I also froze some cornbread to go with it. 🙂 Enjoy!

  6. […] Crock Pot Award Winning Vegetarian Chili […]

  7. […] Award Winning Vegetarian Chili […]

  8. Lorie August 25, 2019 at 7:30 pm - Reply

    I just now turned on the crockpot and can’t wait to eat some! But I was thinking that this is way more than 8 servings especially for a little person like me. How much is a serving?

    • JulieWunder August 26, 2019 at 9:28 am - Reply

      It does make a lot with generous portions! Next time I make it I’ll measure out a serving but we usually eat it twice and then I freeze some for a few weeks later.

  9. […] a batch every couple of weeks in my slow cooker.  My go-to recipes are my Vegetarian Taco Soup, Award Winning Vegetarian Chili and White Bean Soup but I’m always looking for ways to mix it up.  Since the babies have […]

  10. Teri of NC November 3, 2018 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    5 stars
    Thank you for posting this recipe! I made it today, but I made a few additions to it (diced sweet potatoes, quinoa and honey). It turned out great! Thank you for introducing me to Chipotle Cholula, too– yummy!!!

  11. […] kind of like my Crock Pot Award Winning Vegetarian Chili, but it is more soup like and the flavors are slightly different.  It features taco seasoning and […]

  12. Miz Helen September 15, 2016 at 12:53 pm - Reply

    5 stars
    Your recipe is featured on Full Plate Thursday this week! Hope you enjoy your new Red Plate and have a great day!
    Miz Helen

  13. Becky September 12, 2016 at 8:11 am - Reply

    I can see why you won the chili contest with this amazing recipe! Thank you for sharing!

  14. Kimmythevegan September 11, 2016 at 1:28 pm - Reply

    Oh I do love me some chili. I LOVE all of the awesome beans you put in there. And totally on board with fake meat not having to go in everything – beans give great texture, taste & protein all on their own. The seasoning sounds especially good – I can totally see how you won this competition. YAY VEGGIES! Congrats – you earned bragging rights!
    Thanks for sharing at Healthy Vegan Fridays – I’m pinning & sharing. Have a great weekend.

    • JulieWunder September 14, 2016 at 8:22 pm - Reply

      Hi Kimmy! I hope you’ll give it a try! Put some avocado on it for vegan toppings!

  15. Miz Helen September 9, 2016 at 4:22 pm - Reply

    5 stars
    I love a great Veggie Chili and I can sure see why this would be an award winner! Thanks so much for sharing with us at Full Plate Thursday and have a great weekend!
    Miz Helen

    • JulieWunder September 11, 2016 at 11:11 am - Reply

      Thanks Miz Helen! Hope you get a chance to try it.

  16. vicki September 9, 2016 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    Love chili and this one looks great! I love all the different beans in this one. I like to put a couple different types in mine as well, I think it keeps it interesting.

    • JulieWunder September 11, 2016 at 11:11 am - Reply

      Hi Vicki! Hope you get a chance to try these. SO good!

  17. Annmarie September 7, 2016 at 3:38 pm - Reply

    Homemade chili is my FAV, especially during football season! I cannot wait for there to be a little bit of a chill in the air so I can start whipping some up!

    • JulieWunder September 11, 2016 at 10:57 am - Reply

      I know! One good thing about fall. Hope you enjoy it.

  18. Nicole @ Fitful Focus September 7, 2016 at 2:37 pm - Reply

    I love that you campaigned for your chili! And won! Guess that means I have to try it!

  19. Sarah- A Whisk and Two Wands September 7, 2016 at 12:30 pm - Reply

    Veggie chili is something I have been craving all week! It’s been stormy on and off since Sunday and overcast and I want to make it so bad but it’s been steamy and muggy too so I’ve been putting off making it.

    • JulieWunder September 11, 2016 at 10:56 am - Reply

      Hi Sarah! You’ll have to try this– you’ll love it!

  20. Alisa @ Go Dairy Free September 7, 2016 at 11:44 am - Reply

    I love that you passed on the fake meat and I’ve never seen chickpeas in chili before. That’s a neat way to stock up the beans!

    • JulieWunder September 11, 2016 at 10:55 am - Reply

      I learned early on it’s much easier to get my husband and other “meat” eaters on board if I don’t force fake meat crumbles on them! haha!

  21. Jen @ Pretty Little Grub September 7, 2016 at 9:26 am - Reply

    This looks SOOO tasty! I think chili is all about finding that right spice blend.

  22. Jenn September 7, 2016 at 9:12 am - Reply

    This chili looks so hearty and delicious! I love all the different variety of beans and veggies. So good!

    • JulieWunder September 11, 2016 at 10:45 am - Reply

      Thanks Jenn! It’s so good! Hope you get a chance to try it.

  23. Kristy from Southern In Law September 7, 2016 at 2:13 am - Reply

    This looks increeeeeedible! Jesse is becoming more and more willing to eat meat free so I think I have to try this out!

  24. Lindsay Cotter September 6, 2016 at 8:50 pm - Reply

    I can’t wait to try this! Looks so warm and delicious! Perfect fall food!

  25. [email protected] the Long Way Home September 6, 2016 at 8:05 pm - Reply

    Yum! For me it isn’t about having meat, it’s all about the flavor!

    • JulieWunder September 11, 2016 at 10:39 am - Reply

      Me too! Thanks Wendy! You’ll have to try this one!

  26. Laura September 6, 2016 at 5:21 pm - Reply

    #1) I LOVE these photos! I just shot a chicken chili recipe and I had a heck of a time getting them to look pretty (actually they really don’t but oh well lol)! #2) this chili looks incredible! I LOVE all the delicious healthy veggies and beans packed in this recipe! YUM!

    • JulieWunder September 11, 2016 at 10:39 am - Reply

      Hi Laura! Oh I know! It took some stacking of that bowl to make it look pretty! haha! Hope you enjoy the recipe.

  27. Sonali- The Foodie Physician September 6, 2016 at 1:36 pm - Reply

    This is definitely a winner in my book! It’s so fun revisiting recipes from the past, especially one’s that are attached to such wonderful memories 🙂

    • JulieWunder September 11, 2016 at 10:38 am - Reply

      Such a fun day! It’s wonderful how food brings people together. Hope you are having a good weekend.

  28. [email protected] September 6, 2016 at 1:20 pm - Reply

    I love veggie chili. Every year we have a chili cook off too. I’ll have to make this recipe next time.

  29. Great story I love it!! I am so ready for cooler weather and chili too

    • JulieWunder September 11, 2016 at 10:23 am - Reply

      I know! I love good soups! I’m already craving them.

  30. heather @Lunging Through Life September 6, 2016 at 7:14 am - Reply

    Oh my gosh how fun is this! I love that you guys had competitions there but it’s hilarious the stickers and such you pulled out for your chili! I am a huge chili person. We’ve gone to a chili cookoff before and it’s so fun to try all the chilis!

    • JulieWunder September 11, 2016 at 10:22 am - Reply

      It is a lot of fun! I also put up campaign posters at my work in the weeks leading up to it. I had a lot more time back then- haha!

  31. Blane Sherer September 6, 2016 at 7:03 am - Reply

    Now that’s a nice memory for you.
    Thanks for sharing that again.

  32. Glynda October 23, 2014 at 11:40 am - Reply

    Need the link to print this recipe, thanks

    • JulieWunder October 23, 2014 at 12:00 pm - Reply

      Hi Glynda, The only option right now is the print the whole post. I am working on going back through my old recipes and will hopefully have a print button soon. Thanks for stopping by and reading!

    • JulieWunder October 24, 2015 at 9:27 am - Reply

      An easy print option is now available!

  33. […] I make the best… Vegetarian Chili (I desperately need to put better pictures in this post, but regardless it is one of my most […]

  34. […] have to admit, my husband and I both liked my original AWARD WINNING VEGETARIAN CHILI recipe a little more.  But this dish still has a surprisingly different taste and it’s a great […]

  35. Madeline St Onge January 19, 2013 at 12:31 am - Reply

    OK I already made this Chili and passed it on to my WW leader and friends, all gave it a 4 thumbs up, it is delicious

    • JulieWunder January 21, 2013 at 3:26 pm - Reply

      Awesome!! Thanks for sharing it!

    • Trina April 28, 2014 at 6:40 pm - Reply

      I saw your WW comment. Were you able to determine the WW points, or the calorie count for a 1 cup serving? I did enjoy the flavor!

  36. Crockpot Challenge & Rain January 18, 2013 at 2:26 pm - Reply

    […] is a link to my favorite original crockpot recipe—My Award Winning Vegetarian Chili… […]

  37. Madeline St Onge December 12, 2012 at 9:18 pm - Reply

    Julie I made this yesterday and it is so good I could eat the whole thing myself. Thanks for shareing the recipe

  38. Eric December 4, 2012 at 12:19 pm - Reply

    Julie, this is somewhat off-topic, but if you like Indian food, you might really like this vegetarian cookbook: IT’s from a small family restaurant in northern England. They are very nice and the book is really good.

  39. al fox November 30, 2012 at 2:27 am - Reply


    • JulieWunder December 3, 2012 at 9:40 pm - Reply

      Thanks Al 🙂 I do love those puppies 🙂

  40. al fox November 30, 2012 at 2:24 am - Reply

    U come across as such a down to earth person, I’m a big fan,etc. I watch every morning,if I miss it,I try to catch 12:00 PM show; Ms.Dunkle ain’t bad either,etc.

  41. Madeline St Onge November 30, 2012 at 1:00 am - Reply

    This sounds yummy definetly trying this one. Thanks Julie


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