High Protein Bulgur Black Bean Chili

High Protein Bulgur Black Bean Enchilada Chili - hearty, flavorful vegetarian chili with almost 20 grams of protein per serving!

I realize, given what is happening in two days, that this should probably be a recipe with squash, or brussels sprouts, or sweet potatoes, or regular potatoes, or maybe a pie, if I felt fancy. I don’t though; I pretty much just want to sit here in my sweatpants with my chili and my new Adele CD.

Truth be told, I don’t cook too much on Thanksgiving, so I don’t feel overly excited by recipes geared towards that one meal. My mom, despite being a vegetarian who doesn’t really love food, feels compelled to make a large traditional Thanksgiving dinner every year. She and I usually fill our plates with the sides, which are deliciously carb-focused: stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean and artichoke casserole (with bread crumbs), and, of course, rolls.

High Protein Bulgur Black Bean Enchilada Chili - hearty, flavorful vegetarian chili with almost 20 grams of protein per serving!

In the past, I have occasionally contributed a vegetarian main (this brussels sprout quinoa gratin was a hit), or replaced our standard white rolls with rosemary parmesan drop biscuits or these gouda and sage biscuits, both of which pack a little whole grain goodness. This year, however, our crowd will be a little smaller, and I don’t want to add any more food to a table that’s already filled to the brim with well-loved traditional fare.

So instead, today I bring you healthy, filling, protein and fiber PACKED chili that you can make this weekend after the big feast, or during any cold-weather time when you need some warm-your-soul food.

High Protein Bulgur Black Bean Enchilada Chili - hearty, flavorful vegetarian chili with almost 20 grams of protein per serving!

Ever since purchasing The Vegetarian Flavor Bible a couple months ago, I’ve been challenging myself to cook with less familiar ingredients and flavor combinations. When I read about bulgur wheat, and the author mentioned that it added great texture to vegetarian chili, I knew I wanted to try it out. I made my first batch of bulgur chili a couple weeks ago, and loved it so much I planned to post it last week.

Before I could get to posting that recipe, I ended up throwing some bulgur into my enchilada skillet recipe on a whim, and LOVED the flavor and texture combo. I realized that adding a little enchilada flavor to my chili might make that recipe even better.

High Protein Bulgur Black Bean Enchilada Chili - hearty, flavorful vegetarian chili with almost 20 grams of protein per serving!

This past weekend I reworked the recipe, swapped out the diced tomatoes that were originally in the ingredient list for a small can of enchilada sauce, and after one bite (and a couple tortilla chip dips) I knew I had a winner.

In addition to tons of flavor and awesome texture, this recipe is high in protein and fiber, thanks to the black beans and bulgur. Bulgur is cracked whole grain wheat that has been partially cooked, meaning it gives you the benefits of whole grains in a short cooking time. It comes in different varieties, but for this recipe I used coarse (#3) bulgur. I purchased it in the bulk aisle of my co-op, but Bob’s Red Mill also sells it packaged.

High Protein Bulgur Black Bean Enchilada Chili - hearty, flavorful vegetarian chili with almost 20 grams of protein per serving!

As with all chili recipes, for me the fun comes in the toppings. I always top my chili with crushed tortilla chips (and have a handful on the side for dipping, shh), but I also recommend fresh cilantro. For vegetarians cheddar and sour cream are great additions, and for vegans I suggest this lime cashew cream.

Have a great Thanksgiving everybody! Check ya next week.

High Protein Bulgur Black Bean Chili

Hearty, flavorful and EASY vegetarian chili with almost 20 grams of protein per serving!

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 18 minutes

Total Time: 38 minutes


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt (to taste)
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, seeded and diced (can omit, if you want a mild chili)
  • 1 (10-ounce) can enchilada sauce, or about 1 1/4 cup homemade
  • 3/4 cup bulgur wheat, coarse ground (#3)
  • 1 teaspoon each ground cumin, dried oregano, and smoked paprika
  • 1 lime, juiced


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the garlic, red onion, and salt, and cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes, until the onions are soft.
  2. Pour in the bell peppers and cook for another 5 minutes, until tender.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients to the pot, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Taste and add more salt if you wish (this will depend on the saltiness of your broth and enchilada sauce - I added an additional 1/8th tsp). Remove the pot from the burner and set aside, covered, for an additional 10 minutes.
  4. Serve warm with toppings of choice - my favorites are cilantro, sour cream, a little cheddar, and, of course, crushed tortilla chips.

Vegan Option: The soup itself is vegan, just make sure to opt for vegan toppings, such as cilantro, lime cashew cream, and crushed tortilla chips.

The bulgur will continue to soak up liquid and become thicker as it is stored in the refrigerator. I kind of like it that way, but you may add a splash of water before reheating to thin it out a bit.

Nutrition Information: Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe (scant 2 cups), Calories: 387, Total Fat: 6.5g, Saturated Fat: 1.2g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 758mg, Potassium: 1,333mg, Total Carbs: 67.5g, Dietary Fiber: 18.6g, Sugars: 6.0g, Protein: 19.8g


15 Responses to “High Protein Bulgur Black Bean Chili”

  1. Katrina — November 24, 2015 @ 6:37 am (#)

    I loooooove the sound of this chili!! So packed with good stuff!

    • Katie — November 24, 2015 @ 10:01 am (#)

      Thanks Katrina! Have a great Thanksgiving!

  2. Ashley @ Fit Mitten Kitchen — November 24, 2015 @ 9:44 am (#)

    Holy wowsas 20grams of protein for a vegetarian chili!? That is crazy talk! This sounds incredible though, I bet it is super flavorful. I haven’t used bulgur wheat before but now I want to give it a try!

    • Katie — November 24, 2015 @ 10:01 am (#)

      Thank you for the comment Ashley! Bulgur may be my new favorite ingredient – It’s so fast and adds great texture!

  3. Kathryn @ The Scratch Artist — November 24, 2015 @ 8:37 pm (#)

    Hi Katie,
    I just found your wonderful blog and THIS chili!  We are of like-minds about Thanksgiving food prep and I am in complete accord about sweatpants/Adele…HELLO from the other side (sung dramatically) is on repeat in my mind.  I’m going to need a new song soon :-) 

    • Katie — November 25, 2015 @ 9:18 am (#)

      Hi Kathryn! Glad you understand my Thanksgiving mind-set :) OH and I’ve been listening to both “Hello” AND “When We Were Young” on repeat – you should try that one. Can’t stop won’t stop.

  4. Zak — November 29, 2015 @ 6:14 pm (#)

    Wow Katie, another killer recipe. Made this tonight and added in a 1/2lb of baby bella’s for more texture and bulk. Amazing! Keep up the great work!

    • Katie — November 29, 2015 @ 7:27 pm (#)

      Hooray! Thank you so much for your comment – glad you liked it!

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  6. Carol-Lani Rose — January 12, 2016 @ 7:10 pm (#)

    Raised a Texan, I am going to love this, I can tell already.  I could have sworn I saw a substitute for bulgur wheat (for my blood pressure, I am supposed to stick with ancient grains).  Did I dream it?  Would quinoa work?

    • Katie — January 12, 2016 @ 9:26 pm (#)

      I haven’t tried anything other grains in this recipe. Quinoa wouldn’t have the same hearty texture, but it could work! Hope you like it!

  7. Ryan — April 28, 2016 @ 8:05 am (#)

    Hey love the recipe! What kind of enchilada sauce do you use ( brand and amount)? Im a vegetarian bodybuilder and need some exact nutritional content for my macros! Thanks you so much! Keep up the good work!! :)

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  9. Lucy Love — August 1, 2016 @ 8:14 pm (#)

    This was delicious!! I have to tell you my story :) my husband and I basically like opposite things… I would eat only fish and vegetables, while he doesnt like fish at all, I love mushrooms, and herbs, and artichokes and zucchini… he doesnt like any of that… So, cooking is some times a compromise, If I am going to love it, he may not like it. But together we have been trying a lot of new grains and new healthy things. I found your recipe looking for things to make with the big bag of bulgur he bought a couple of months ago. But when I saw the ingredients… one of the few things I dont like is peppers, I really dont like them, but I decided to make it just to use the bulgur and because I thought my hubby would like it.
    Well, we all LOVED it and devoured good bowls of your chili with a bit shredded cheese and crumbled tortillas on top. I loved it even though there are no veggies other than the peppers! My picky 3 year old cleaned his bowl at the speed of light, and my 15 month old ate spoonful after spoonful and a handful of picked beans I put on his tray. This was a success that doesnt normally happen at my table! I am so glad I tried it! I am going to print it and keep it handy!!

    • Katie — August 2, 2016 @ 12:42 pm (#)

      Awesome, so great to hear! Thank you for sharing :)