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Vegetarian Skyline Chili_feedmegreens

Vegetarian Cincinnati Style Chili

Saucy, cheesy, and swapping veggies for meat, this recipe recreates unique, delicious Cincinnati style chili! Don't be embarrassed if you find yourself slurping up each noodle strand dripping with flavorful veggie chili sauce!

Course dinner, Main Course
Keyword chili, pasta, vegetarian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 servings


  • 1 16 oz package whole wheat spaghetti
  • 3 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (raw)
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced small
  • 1/2 red pepper, seeds and stem removed, diced small (optional: will make less "authentic" Cincy style! Also depends if your family likes red pepper)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 15 oz can fire roasted tomatoes (include liquid), pureed in blender (I puree for best texture/to avoid chunks in the sauce)
  • 3/4 cup water or vegetable broth (I use water but have also used Better Than Bouillon Organic No Chicken flavor broth)
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, undrained (include liquid)
  • 1 packet chili seasoning (See Notes for spice mix alternatives!)
  • shredded cheddar cheese (optional)


  1. Start water boiling in a pot to cook the pasta per package instructions. Then get busy making the sauce!

  2. Add the cauliflower and walnuts to a food processor and pulse until very fine (see photo in post for reference). 

  3. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium.  Add the onion (and red pepper if using) and sauté for 5 minutes or until soft, stirring often.  Add the garlic and sauté for another minute.  Then add the cauliflower and walnut mixture, and continue sautéing for 3 - 5 minutes, stirring to ensure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. 

  4. Add the pureed tomatoes, black beans, water or broth, and chili seasoning. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes.  Stir often while simmering to prevent sticking, and add additional broth if needed to thin. 

  5. To serve, add pasta to a bowl and top with chili sauce! For most authentic Cincinnati chili, add shredded cheddar cheese.

Recipe Notes

For the chili seasoning, I usually use Simply Organic brand Vegetarian Chili seasoning packet from Whole Foods (linked in my post).  I have also used my spice rack, and if you want to go that route, here is what I recommend you add when it's time to add the "chili seasoning":

2 T chili powder, 1.5 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp onion powder, ½ tsp cumin, ½ tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp allspice.