Chilli con carne is one of the most delicious and satisfying meals you’ll ever eat—it’s full of protein and fiber.
But even the best meals can be improved on, and this one is no different.
If you’re looking to make your chilli con carne more nutritious or just more interesting, there are a lot of vegetables that go well with it.
In this article we’re going to talk about what vegetables go with chilli con carne, but first let’s talk about why you’d want to add veggies in the first place.
See Also: How To Make Chili Without Tomato Sauce
Why You Should Put Veggies In Chilli Con Carne
If you are looking for a delicious, heart-warming bowl of chilli con carne this winter, why not try it with a twist?
Adding vegetables to your chilli is an easy way to add some extra fiber and nutrients to your dish without sacrificing the flavour!
Here are 4 reasons why you should put veggies in chilli con carne:
This one’s an obvious winner—adding vegetables to your meal means you’ll have more vitamins and minerals in each bite.
That’s right—you can now add “healthy” to the list of descriptors for chilli con carne!
Adding vegetables still allows you to eat what you want while making sure that what you want is also good for you.
The first thing we noticed was that adding vegetables to the mix made the dish taste better.
Chilli con carne is pretty tasty on its own, but the vegetables add a little extra zing that just takes it to the next level.
This way, even though you’re spending less money on meat per serving, you won’t feel like you’re sacrificing flavor.
It adds texture
If you’re anything like me, the last thing you want from a bowl of chilli is to feel like you’ve just been eating mush for 20 minutes. (I’m looking at you, canned chilli.)
But adding veggies to your chilli can be the first step toward upping the textural profile, and therefore the overall enjoyment, of your meal.
It adds color
Let’s be honest—chilli con carne can be a pretty bland-looking dish.
A bowl of brown with some beans and meat? I mean, it doesn’t exactly scream “eat me” off the bat, does it?
Adding veggies is a great way to bring some color into play and make your meal look more appealing.
This is especially important if you’re serving someone who may not be used to eating spicy food—we eat with our eyes first, and if your food looks bad or weird, people are going to be less likely to try it.
But if your chilli looks bright and colorful, they just might take a bite!
What Veg Goes with Chilli Con Carne?
A wide variety of vegetables can go with chilli con carne. You can use whatever you have on hand or try some of these suggestions. Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, canned green beans, onions, bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes, and corn all work well with chilli con carne.
With names like “chili con carne,” it’s easy to think that this dish is all about the meat. But chilli can be a great way to pump up your veggie intake, too!
Here are our top 15 picks for veggies that go nicely in Chilli Con Carne:
If you love having veggies in your chilli but aren’t a big fan of peppers or mushrooms, peas may be just what you’re looking for.
You can add them straight into the pot when cooking your chilli, or serve them on the side as a cold garnish.
They’ll bring a little bit of sweetness and they make an interesting colour contrast against the red tones of the chilli itself.
Now, some people might think that corn has no place in a dish like this.
But they’re wrong!
The sweetness of the corn is an excellent contrast to the spiciness of the other ingredients, and it helps to break up all those long lines of beans.
Onions are a must-have for any chilli con carne.
You can use white onions, brown onions, or red onions.
For a more mellow flavor, you could add a sweeter variety of onion such as Spanish onions.
Potatoes are also a good addition to your dish.
The simplest way would be to just add some diced potatoes along with the mince near the beginning of cooking.
Alternatively, you could make potato wedges and serve them with the chilli on top.
Cucumbers can be prepared in so many different ways.
If you’re looking to spice up your chilli con carne, try adding pickled cucumbers to the dish.
Or if you want something a little more mild, chop up some fresh ones and add them to a salad on the side.
Cucumber slices can also add a refreshing crunch to your chilli con carne dish.
Squash is another excellent vegetable that goes well with chilli con carne.
Squash is often used as a substitute for meat in chilli, but it can also be used as a side dish.
You can either bake it or cook it on the stove, depending on what kind of flavour you prefer.
Squash has an earthy flavour that pairs well with the tomato-based broth of chilli con carne.
We recommend blanching your asparagus before adding them, because they have a strong taste that can overpower the other ingredients in your dish.
Once they’re cooked, they’ll add a rich, earthy flavor that makes anything it’s mixed with taste delicious.
Next, we’ve got carrots.
You know and love them as a healthy snack or side dish, but did you know how amazing they taste in chilli con carne?
If you added them uncooked, all you’d get was crunchy texture and not much else—but when you give raw carrots a long cook (at least an hour), their sweetness really shines through and brings out new flavors in your chili that you didn’t even know were there!
It may sound weird at first, but broccoli works really well in chili con carne, because it has a strong flavor and texture of its own—and it can more than hold its own against the spicy red meat and beans.
Just make sure you chop up the broccoli into small pieces before adding it to your pot—otherwise you’ll end up with some pretty big chunks of raw broccoli when you serve your dish.
Mushrooms have an earthy taste that goes surprisingly well with chili con carne—and they add that extra oomph of “vegetable-ness” that some people feel is lacking in chili con carne.
So if you can’t get yourself to add broccoli, mushrooms might be the ticket!
11. Beans (white, black, or kidney)
Why settle for just one kind of bean? White beans are great in chili con carne, but so are black beans and kidney beans!
Try a mix of all three for a complex flavor that is sure to make your tastebuds dance.
12. Spinach/kale/other greens
If you’re looking for something a little more green, try adding spinach or kale to your chili.
You can also substitute ground turkey with ground turkey and spinach—the spinach will add just a hint of leafy goodness to your bowl.
13. Peppers (green, red, yellow, orange—you name it!)
You can’t go wrong with peppers.
Bell peppers, hot peppers, and sweet peppers all add a bit of great flavor and texture to your chilli.
We love sweet yellow bell peppers for their delicious flavor, but if you’re looking for an extra kick, try adding some jalapenos or habaneros!
If you want something a little more exotic, we’ve heard that chinese lantern peppers are amazing in chilli, too.
14. Sweet potatoes
For something slightly sweeter, try adding some sweet potatoes!
Cut into small chunks and added to the pot near the beginning of cooking time, they will soften up nicely and add just a touch of sweetness to your dish.
Cauliflower can be used in both raw and cooked forms, so you can make it as easy or complicated as you want.
When cauli is raw, it adds a nice crunch to the dish. If deep-fried, it can add some crispiness to the texture.
If you want something a little more mellow and savory, roasting the cauliflower will add a subtle flavor that pairs perfectly with cumin and jalapeno.
15 Veggies That Go Well with Chilli Con Carne
- Beans (white, black, or kidney)
- Spinach/kale/other greens
- Peppers (green, red, yellow, orange—you name it!)
- Sweet potatoes
- Pick any of the veggies from this list to put in your chilli con carne.
- Prepare the rest of your meal.
- Be ready to eat in no time!