Recipe Review

The Truth About Rachael Ray’s Vegetarian Chili Recipe

published Oct 23, 2021
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Headshot: Getty

Rachael Ray is a pro at creating classic recipes with a twist, and her vegetarian chili recipe is no different. This recipe has all the usual ingredients like beans, peppers, and tomatoes, but she also adds a bottle of beer and refried beans (two things I love!). Would the beer add a depth of flavor? Would refried beans be a texture game-changer? With almost 200 five-star reviews, I wanted to see for myself if Rachael Ray’s recipe was worth the hype. Here’s how it went.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Headshot: Getty

How to Make Rachael Ray’s Veg-Head Three-Bean Chili

You’ll start by adding the olive oil, onions, peppers, and garlic to a pot and sautéing until softened. The recipe calls for deglazing the pan with beer or broth — I chose beer (Stella to be precise, since that’s what we had in the fridge). Then, add the tomatoes, black beans, and kidney beans and stir to combine.

Next, you’ll season the chili with cumin, chili powder, hot sauce, and salt. Add the refried beans and simmer the chili for five to 10 minutes (I opted for 10 minutes to enhance the flavor). Serve the chili topped with shredded cheese, tomatoes, and scallions. 

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

My Honest Review of Rachael Ray’s Veg-Head Three-Bean Chili

I felt let down by Rachael Ray’s vegetarian chili recipe. I had been intrigued by the addition of beer, but didn’t feel like it provided anything flavor-wise, and it definitely didn’t deglaze the pan as the recipe had intended. I could have used vegetable stock and had the same result. While I love the idea of adding refried beans, 1 cup didn’t feel like enough to add real body to the chili. She also adds hot sauce at the end of the recipe, which also felt like it got lost, flavor-wise.

Rather than add all these special ingredients, I wish she just would have just upped the amount of salt in the recipe which would have enhanced all the other flavors. I will say the toppings made it more enjoyable, but it feels like a cop-out to rely on shredded cheese to do all the heavy lifting. I won’t be making this recipe again. 

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

If You’re Making Rachael Ray’s Veg-Head Three-Bean Chili, a Few Tips

  1. Cook the garlic separately: The recipe calls for cooking the onions and peppers at the same time as the garlic. But if you do that, either the garlic will burn or the vegetables won’t be soft enough. Once the onions and peppers are softened, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. 
  2. Skip the beer: The beer didn’t add anything here, flavor-wise. Save a bottle and choose vegetable stock instead. 
  3. Season as you go: This recipe majorly lacked salt. Next time I would season the chili after the beans are added, and season again at the end to taste. 
  4. Use more refried beans: I added 1 cup of refried beans as the recipe called for, but found it didn’t make much of a difference in terms of thickening the chili. It also left me with an awkward amount of refried beans. If I were to make this recipe again, I would add the entire can of refried beans. 


Have you ever made Rachael Ray’s vegetarian chili? Let us know in the comments!