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.

Crock Pot Award Winning Vegetarian Chili Recipe-78-7

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.

Crock Pot Award Winning Vegetarian Chili Recipe-62-3

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!)

Crock Pot Award Winning Vegetarian Chili Recipe-71-5

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. 🙂

Crock Pot Award Winning Vegetarian Chili Recipe-77-6


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

A handy, dandy printable is on the next page!

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By | 2018-02-13T20:49:41+00:00 September 6th, 2016|All Vegetarian, Crock Pot Meals, Dinner, Food, Lunch, Recipes, Soups, Vegetarian Meals|55 Comments


  1. […] 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 […]

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

    Your recipe is featured on Full Plate Thursday this week! Hope you enjoy your new Red Plate and have a great day!
    Miz Helen
    Miz Helen recently posted…Full Plate Thursday 9-15-16 # 293My Profile

  3. 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!

  4. 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.
    Kimmythevegan recently posted…Healthy Vegan Fridays #116My Profile

    • 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!

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

    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
    Miz Helen recently posted…Full Plate Thursday #292My Profile

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

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

  6. 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!

  7. 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!
    Annmarie recently posted…Jump Rope 101: Tips from an Expert Jump Rope NinjaMy Profile

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

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

  8. 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!
    Nicole @ Fitful Focus recently posted…How To Capture the Perfect Action ShotMy Profile

  9. 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!

  10. 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!
    Alisa @ Go Dairy Free recently posted…Nut-Free & Dairy-Free Snack List (Printable!)My Profile

    • 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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!
    Jenn recently posted…Slow Cooker Red Lentil Stew with Chickpeas and OrzoMy Profile

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

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

  13. 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!
    Kristy from Southern In Law recently posted…Kristy’s Random Ramblings #9My Profile

  14. 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!
    Lindsay Cotter recently posted…Easy Apple Sausage Breakfast Bake (Gluten Free)My Profile

  15. [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!
    [email protected] the Long Way Home recently posted…Balanced and Back on TrackMy Profile

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

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

  16. 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.

  17. 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 🙂
    Sonali- The Foodie Physician recently posted…Dining with the Doc: Raspberry Coconut Smoothie Bowl and a KitchenAid ® Blender GiveawayMy Profile

    • 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.

  18. [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.
    [email protected] recently posted…Are We Setting Ourselves Up for Exhaustion?My Profile

  19. Great story I love it!! I am so ready for cooler weather and chili too
    Deborah @Confessions of a mother runner recently posted…Easy Make Ahead Breakfasts for Back To SchoolMy Profile

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

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

  20. 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!
    heather @Lunging Through Life recently posted…Labor Day Weekend 2016My Profile

    • 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!

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

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

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

    Need the link to print this recipe, thanks

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

  24. […] 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 […]

  25. 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!

  26. 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… […]

  27. 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

  28. 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.

  29. 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 🙂

  30. 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.

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

    This sounds yummy definetly trying this one. Thanks Julie


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