5 from 3 votes

Locked & Loaded Healthy Chili

 October 16, 2020

This Locked & Loaded Chili Recipe is probably the best chili I’ve ever had, and that’s because it’s loaded to the brim with all kinds of vegetables and the combination of flavors is on point! Just wait until you taste it.

One of the reasons I attribute this recipe to being so good, is because it’s a twist on my mom’s classic chili recipe that we grew up with. Although I am 100% Armenian, and we grew up eating all kinds of traditional foods as well, every fall/winter, my mom would bust out the chili, and then we’d have it on repeat every single week, at my request. And to know my mom, is to know that everything she makes turns to gold. She is a woman with an excellent palate, and only she could make something like chili become the most cravable dish around town. So trust me when I tell you that this recipe is pure gold.

To me, chili is the ultimate comfort food – it signals that cold weather is upon us, and that the holidays are around the corner. What could be better than that?

So let’s talk about this chili – what’s in it?

This particular recipe calls for more veggies than meat, and that’s because I wanted the veggies to really be the star of the show. If you are more of a meat person, simply add another 1/2 pound, and voila, a heartier chili. Additionally, because we have so much veggie action happening in this recipe, you can also omit the meat all together, for a plant-based option. It’s so customizable, I can’t wait to hear your reviews!

  • Protein – I make this recipe with grass-fed, organic beef, that I order online from Belcampo, because when it comes to meat, sourcing is really important to me. But like I mentioned above, you can use turkey, chili, cubed tofu, plant-based meat crumbles, or leave it out all together.
  • Veggies – This recipe calls for onion, garlic, zucchini, carrots, corn, crushed tomatoes and black beans, but I want to encourage you to use what ever veggies you have sitting in your refrigerator. In the past, I’ve added butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and bell peppers, all of which just make the chili even heartier.
  • Seasonings – Go check your pantry, I bet you already have the seasonings you need for this recipe. You need chili powder, cumin, salt, and cayenne. If you aren’t a fan of spicy chili, just go easy on the cayenne, and if you love your chili spicy (me!), then feel free to add a pinch more. Just remember, a little goes a long way!
  • Toppings – For me, chili is all about the toppings. I love adding some greek yogurt (in place of sour cream, but only because I’m not a sour cream fan), chopped avocado, cilantro, and of course, shredded cheese!

How to store your leftover chili

You will be pleasantly surprised to see that this recipe yields a lot of chili; in fact, now that I am writing this, I think way more than 4 servings. So if you are looking for a recipe with leftovers to enjoy for lunch the next day, this is for you. I recommend just placing a cover on your pot and storing it in the fridge, if you have room (make it easy!), otherwise just transfer it to a glass container and reheat how ever you wish.

Other soup recipes you might like

I have a few other soup recipes on my blog that are truly killer! So if you want to change things up and try things other than chili, here are my top 3!

If you make this recipe, be sure to leave a comment below and tag me on Instagram, using hashtag #kalejunkie. I love seeing your creations and I repost some of them too!

Locked & Loaded Healthy Chili

5 from 3 votes
Nicole Modic
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
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This Locked & Loaded Chili Recipe is probably the best chili I've ever had, and that's because it's loaded to the brim with all kinds of vegetables and the combination of flavors is on point! Serve with crusty bread and toppings of choice, and it will soon become your new favorite chili recipe too!


  • 1 pound ground beef (or chicken or turkey)
  • 3 garlic cloves mashed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 small zucchini diced
  • 2 medium carrots diced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce + ½ cup water
  • 1 15oz can corn
  • 1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15oz can crushed tomatoes


  • greek yogurt or sour cream, diced avocado, cilantro, shredded cheese, bread


  • Place a large pot on the stove and add the oil.
  • Once the oil is hot, add the ground meat, along with the spices (chili powder, cumin, salt, and cayenne).
  • Saute for about one minute, then add the garlic, onions, zucchini, and carrots.
  • Saute for about 7 minutes more, until the the meat is cooked and the vegetables begin to soften.
  • Next, add the tomato sauce, beans, crushed tomatoes, corn, and water, stirring everything together well.
  • Bring everything to a boil.
  • Once everything is boiling, reduce the heat to low and cover.
  • Simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Serve with crusty bread and toppings of choice.
  • Enjoy!

Did you make this recipe?

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Rate + Review

5 from 3 votes

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  1. 5 stars
    Glad I tried it! Just when you think it’s just another chili recipe Kalejunkie delivers a flavorful change.
    So good. Another Kalejunkie recipe in my rotation!

    • Woohoo! I am SO thrilled to hear this, Lorena! Thank you so much for making this recipe, and if you enjoyed this one, stay tuned for a brand new chili recipe coming very soon 😉

  2. 5 stars
    Made this chili today and I agree, this is the best healthy chili I’ve ever made. I made a mine with 1/2 block crumbled tofu & celery. I used smoked salt, lime juice, a pinch of cinnamon and topped with cilantro & sour cream. Amazing recipe as always! Thank you Nicole 😊

    • WOOHOO! I am so happy that you agree with this being the best chili! Also, I’m thrilled that you were able to find a vegetarian replacement that worked well for you. Thank you so much for making this recipe, and for leaving such an amazing review, Vera! 🙂