A satisfying Bulgur and Bean Vegetable Chili recipe filled with hearty, nourishing ingredients. Simple to prepare and great on chilly days. (Vegan, oil-free.)
This bulgur chili is simple to make and so satisfying!
It combines hearty beans, tender bulgur, warm spices, and a variety of colorful vegetables for lots of plant-based nutrients.
Both nourishing and comforting.
What is Bulgur?
Bulgur wheat is a whole grain made from parboiled groats of several different wheat species. (Therefore it's not a gluten-free grain.)
Nutrients: It contains protein, fiber, and several vitamins and minerals.
Different sizes: You can find it in a variety of grinds from fine, medium, coarse, and extra-coarse. (I use a medium or coarse grind for this recipe.)
Meat substitute: Bulgur is a great substitute for the ground beef or meat in traditional chili because it thickens up the texture and makes it so cozy and hearty. It's a great option for vegan and vegetarian chili.
Ingredients for Bulgur Chili
For this recipe you will simmer in a large pot:
- Yellow onion: Or you can use white onion or sweet onion instead.
- Green bell pepper: I like the flavor of green pepper best in this chili, but you can use orange, yellow, or red bell pepper instead.
- Fresh garlic cloves: Or substitute a teaspoon or two of dried garlic powder instead.
- Zucchini: Or you can use yellow summer squash if desired.
- Sweet corn: Either canned, frozen, fire-roasted, or fresh.
- Kidney beans: I like kidney beans best with this recipe, but you can easily substitute pinto beans or black beans if desired.
- Bulgur: I use a medium or coarse grind for this recipe.
- Canned diced tomatoes: Either regular diced tomatoes or fire-roasted.
- Tomato sauce: You will need a 15-ounce can tomato sauce (not marinara).
- Vegetable broth: Be sure to use low sodium if preferred.
- Chili powder + ground cumin + smoked paprika: This recipe is fairly mild if using a mild chili powder. You could also include other spices or herbs like dried oregano.
Make it spicy: Add jalapeño, cayenne pepper, chipotle in adobo sauce, or hot sauce to taste.
Omit the zucchini: Feel free to leave out the zucchini and replace with another can of beans such as black beans, pinto beans, or kidney beans. You could also include potatoes or sweet potato.
Make it gluten-free: Bulgur is not a gluten-free grain, so you could replace it with rice or quinoa if desired.
Serve this chili as it is, or garnish your bowl with your favorite toppings. A few ideas include:
- Avocado (my favorite!)
- Crumbled tortilla chips
- Fresh cilantro
- Green onions (scallions)
- Vegan shredded cheese
- Vegan sour cream
- Hot sauce
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator once it fully cools. Then reheat in the microwave when ready to enjoy. We find it keeps in the fridge for about 4-5 days.
Note: The chili continues to thicken as it sits and the bulgur soaks up more liquid.
For more inspiration, also browse all vegan soup + chili recipes.
Bulgur Vegetable Chili
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 medium zucchini
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 1 1/2 cups sweet corn (I use frozen)
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 15 oz. can tomato sauce
- 15 oz. can diced tomatoes (or fire-roasted)
- 2/3 cup bulgur
- 15 oz. can kidney beans
- 1 Tbsp. chili powder (I use mild)
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
- Dice onion and bell pepper. Dice zucchini and set aside.
- In a stockpot over medium-high heat, sauté onion and bell pepper for 7-8 minutes. (I use 3 Tbsp. water/broth for no-oil sauté method, adding more as needed.)
- Meanwhile, mince garlic.
- When onion is translucent, add garlic, chili powder, smoked paprika, and cumin. Stir and sauté 1-2 minutes.
- Add zucchini, sweet corn, broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, bulgur, and kidney beans (rinsed and drained).
- Bring to a light boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until bulgur is cooked.
- Serve with any desired toppings.
Nutrition Per Serving (Estimate)
Sodium: This is omitted as I cannot provide an accurate number. I encourage you to calculate your own to provide a much more precise reading based on the exact ingredients, brands, and amounts you're using.
If you are enjoying this Bulgur and Bean Vegetable Chili recipe, also check out:
- Teriyaki Vegetable Stir Fry (Oil-Free)
- Black Bean Tacos
- Vegetable Barley Soup
- Kidney Bean, Spinach, Orzo Soup
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Another easy and tasty recipe! Enjoyed this tonight, served with fresh buns and crumbled tortilla chips. Thanks for sharing!!
So awesome, Jennifer! Glad you found another recipe you enjoy. Thanks as always for leaving such kind feedback. 🙂
I’ve now made this chili recipe several times, and since changing over to gluten-free in the new year, I sub millet for the bulgur. It is a great alternative for anyone looking for subbing something other than rice or quinoa. 😁
Excellent substitute, Jennifer! Love that. Thanks for coming back to share this helpful feedback!
We served ours with hot sauce and sliced avocado. Really tasty and satisfying, thank you!
So great to hear!
The dish is amazing. I also add kale, more corn, and more chili once on my plate, because it wasn't even mildly hot. Thanks for that!
Kaitlin | The Garden Grazer
So great! Glad you were able to adapt it to suit your taste!
I made this last night and it was a huge hit. Thank you so much. I had never even noticed the cute little bags of quick-cook bulgur, barley and farro at Trader Joes. Great find. I will definitely be making this chili again!
So great! TJ's has so many awesome finds. Thanks for coming back to let me know you enjoyed the chili!
This was absolutely delicious, the kids and I all loved it. Thank you for sharing!
So great to hear you all enjoyed!
I love bulgur! I actually prefer the coarse kind but still have some of the fine grain stuff I need to use up. It is a neat way to get that ground meat texture in chili.
Totally agree - such wonderful texture!