Do you love fast recipes on busy nights? This recipe for bean chili is quick and simple! Keep reading for the easy 4 bean chili recipe as well as ideas on what to serve alongside. Make a big pot of this vegetarian crowd-pleaser, a hearty and delicious meal that reheats nicely for leftovers.
Easy 4 Bean Chili Recipe
This simple vegetarian chili is my go-to on cold days. It’s one of those easy meals that can be made on the fly, even when you don’t have much in the way of groceries. Prepared and ready to eat in less than 30 minutes, this recipe uses simple pantry ingredients for a fast weekday meal. We make a large pot of this chili weekly when the weather is cool.
Using four different beans ensures a deep flavor base. This chili is a healthy meal that can be customized to your own tastes, with a self-serve bar of favorite chili toppings to please your entire family.
It’s a hearty chili recipe that pairs well with a simple side, like cornbread. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for several days. Easily reheat leftover chili in the microwave or in a pot on the stovetop.
Meat lovers in your house? The beans are already a great plant-based protein. Read through for the section on adding beef or ground turkey to your chili for added protein.
Ingredients for an Easy 4 Bean Chili
The beauty of this recipe is that it uses kitchen pantry staples. If you stock up on the essentials, you’ll always have the simple ingredients ready to prepare this easy 4 bean chili recipe. Here’s your go-to shopping list!
- Canned beans – You’ll need one each of red kidney beans, white beans (Navy beans or cannellini beans), black beans, and pinto beans. Drain and rinse to remove any metallic taste from the can. I stock up on canned beans when they go on sale so I always have them on hand to make this dish.
- Canned diced tomatoes – My favorite are the fire-roasted tomatoes, they have awesome flavor.
- Canned broth – Use vegetable broth to keep this a vegetarian dish. You can also use chicken broth as a substitute.
- Dry seasonings – You’ll be using ground cumin, chili powder, paprika, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. The best place to stock up on the dry seasonings is in the grocery store aisle with the Mexican specialty foods. The packets of seasoning are reasonably priced and you can purchase in bulk. Simply add the spices to your jars at home to save on money versus buying individual jars of spice.
- Grocery items – Round out the easy chili recipe with a yellow onion and some garlic cloves, along with toppings for the perfect main dish.
How to Make a 4 Bean Chili
There are multiple ways to prepare this quick and easy 4 bean chili recipe. Since the dish goes together with little effort, my favorite method is on the stovetop.
For busy nights when we want a meal ready when we get home, I’ll often prep this chili early in the day. I then add the ingredients to the Instant Pot or Crock Pot to simmer so it’s nice and hot when we’re ready to eat! These are a few tips regarding each preparation method:
Make Chili on the Stovetop
My go-to method for preparing 4 bean chili, I use a heavy stock pot on the stove. This one-pot method will allow you to sauté onions and garlic with a drizzle of olive oil easily over medium-high heat. I also brown my seasonings in the pan for about a minute before adding the canned ingredients.
Strain and rinse your beans in a large fine mesh colander. Empty each can of beans into the strainer, then rinse with cool water and drain well.
Once all the ingredients are in the pot, you can simply lower the temperature and simmer until everything is warm. Keep the burner low and stir occasionally.
4 Bean Chili in an Instant Pot
If you prefer to prepare this chili in an Instant Pot pressure cooker, first use the sauté setting. You’ll want to cook your onion and chopped garlic in olive oil first. Then, add the remainder of the ingredients before changing the setting to pressure cook.
From here the Instant Pot does the work. 15 minutes on pressure cook high is all you need to get everything heated and ready to eat.
Chili in the Slow Cooker
The Crock Pot method is the most straightforward – simply add all the ingredients at once, then cook!
A Crock Pot with a timer is handy when planning your dinner. 6 hours on low is good to cook the onion and garlic, while warming the beans in the slow cooker.
Adding Meat to Your Chili Recipe
Some days we’re happy to eat this veggie chili as is. But occasionally (and mostly it’s when I have the meat defrosted and ready in the fridge), I like to add ground beef or turkey.
After sauteing the onion and garlic in your pot with a little olive oil, add the ground meat. Cook the beef or turkey until browned, well crumbled and no longer pink. From there, you can add in the remainder of the ingredients, following the recipe.
Perfect Chili Toppings
Serve up a bowl of chili alongside these tasty toppings. Prep toppings and allow each person to serve themselves, customizing this simple chili recipe into their perfect bowl.
Have other favorite toppings? Make it your own! To make this a fully vegan chili recipe, serve with dairy-free toppings.
- Shredded cheese, either cheddar cheese or Monterey Jack
- Sour cream
- Chopped green onions
- Diced white onions
- Fresh cilantro
- Diced tomatoes
- Corn kernels
- Slices of avocado or guacamole
- Sliced jalapeno
- Squeeze of lime juice
Best Side Dish to Serve with this Easy 4 Bean Chili Recipe
Tortilla chips are okay, but why not take it up a notch with a side of cornbread? It wouldn’t be chili night at my house without a pan of this easy homemade cornbread recipe.
One-bowl prep and only 30 minutes to bake to have yummy cornbread from scratch. I make the cornbread and pop it in the oven. By the time it’s done baking, my chili is ready to eat!
READ MORE: Looking for more dinners to serve on busy weeknights? Try these Quick Recipes for Busy Families on the Go.
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- 1 Tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp cayenne, more or less to taste
- 1 can broth, either vegetable or chicken
- 1 can white beans (like Navy beans or Cannellini), drain and rinse
- 1 can black beans, drain and rinse
- 1 can pinto beans, drain and rinse
- 1 can red kidney beans, drain and rinse
- 1 can fire-roasted tomatoes
- Ground pepper to taste
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil into a large heavy bottomed pot. Saute chopped onions and garlic over med-high heat until onions translucent. Keep stirring to avoid garlic from burning.
- Lower temperature of burner to medium heat. Measure and combine dry seasonings into a dish, then add to the pot all at once. Stir to combine spices with onions and garlic. Heat for one minute.
- Slowly add in broth, scraping any seasonings off the bottom as the broth boils. Add in the rest of the broth and stir to combine.
- Add the contents of the tomato can with juice. Add in beans that have been strained and rinsed.
- Bring to a boil, then keep on a low simmer, stirring occasionally, until warm and ready to eat.
Serve hot chili into bowl, then add optional toppings including shredded cheese, chopped green onions, sliced jalapeno, cilantro, avocado and chopped tomatoes.
Want to add ground beef or turkey? Brown the meat in the pan after sauteing the onions and garlic.