3-bean dream chilli recipe

I know what you’re thinking; a three-bean chilli doesn’t sound like anything new, but let me stop you there. Often the token vegetarian dish on the menu, I’m calling time on this chilli’s ‘boring’ rep. 

This delicious bean mix is the ideal starting point for any chilli recipe, packed full of protein and fibre. And from your base, you can get creative and mix things up with a lighter take on the classic rice side dish, and have some fun with different ingredients by baking your own tortilla chips. 

You can get the whole family involved with this hearty and healthy recipe, or make a big batch and freeze it for those evenings when simplicity is the only thing on the menu! This dish is a simple sharing favourite, combining a few staple store cupboard ingredients. Enjoy!

Three-bean chilli

with cauliflower rice and baked tortilla chips


For the chilli

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly chopped
  • 1 carrot, thinly chopped
  • 400g (can) cherry tomatoes
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper 
  • 1 tsp dried oregano 
  • 400g (can) pinto beans, drained and rinsed 
  • 400g (can) kidney beans, drained and rinsed 
  • 400g (can) baked beans
  • 2 handfuls kale

If you are a meat-eater, substitute the beans for 500g lean turkey mince.

For the rice 

  • 1 whole head of cauliflower
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • Handful fresh coriander, roughly shredded

For the tortilla chips

  • 1 pack wholemeal medium tortilla wraps (approx 6)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp paprika
Tortilla chips and dip


For the tortilla chips

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160Cfan/gas 4.
  2. Place the tortilla wraps on top of one another, and roughly cut them into 8 pieces.
  3. Place the cut pieces into a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle on paprika and toss to coat.
  4. Place the tortilla chips on a lined baking tray, leaving a fair gap between each chip.
  5. Bake for 8 minutes, turn and repeat. Remove from the oven when the tortillas are crispy and golden brown, and set aside.  

For the rice

  1. While the tortilla chips are baking, prepare the cauliflower by removing all greenery from the head, and washing thoroughly.
  2. Pat it dry with a kitchen towel, and cut into small chunks if using a food processor. If using a traditional grater, cut the cauliflower chunks into medium pieces.
  3. Grate or blitz the cauliflower until it mimics rice. Set aside and make the chilli sauce.

For the chilli

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and carrots, and sauté for approximately 5 minutes, or until soft. 
  2. Add the cherry tomatoes and red pepper to the pan, and stir through the herbs and spices. 
  3. Add the beans and kale, gently stir until thoroughly combined, and reduce to simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, finish the rice.
  5. In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  6. Add the cauliflower and spring onion and sauté for approximately 8 minutes.
  7. Plate up the chilli and rice with a sprinkling of fresh coriander. Pop the baked tortilla chips on the side, and tuck in! 
Cauliflower rice in blender

Our expert, nutritional therapist Lorna says…

A dish full of beans is a great way to increase soluble fibre in the diet. Many people fall short of the recommended average intake, which is 30g per day for adults according to the British Nutrition Foundation. Fibre helps to keep you regular, and we know that fibre can have a positive impact on the gut microbiome as it helps to feed the good bacteria, increasing their abundance and diversity.

A high fibre diet also helps with blood sugar balance, contributing to reducing the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Plus cauliflower, tomatoes and onions are also a great source of fibre, making this dish bursting with it – the bean mixture alone has 13g per portion! 

We are all encouraged to eat a wide variety of vegetables, and they should be a mainstay of lunch and dinners, so enjoy this dish knowing it will help support good health!

As a plant-based dish, the beans also provide protein, which is important if you are vegetarian or vegan, and are considered a healthy source of carbohydrates, but some people do have a problem digesting them due to insufficient digestive enzymes, which may cause bloating or gas.

Making cauliflower rice is a great substitute for traditional rice, adding more veggies to the meal, and has the added benefit of containing compounds that may help to prevent cancer. These compounds support liver function by clearing toxins and used hormones from the body. We are all encouraged to eat a wide variety of vegetables, and they should be a mainstay of lunch and dinners, so enjoy this dish knowing it will help support good health!

Lorna Rhodes is a registered nutritional therapist, cookbook author and recipe writer specialising in women’s health including digestive problems, menopause, prevention and healthy ageing. She has a particular interest in supporting breast cancer patients. Find Lorna and many more nutrition professionals via our search tool.

This recipe was originally published in the April 2021 issue of Happiful magazine, to purchase your copy, visit shop.happiful.com.

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Written by Katie Hoare
Katie is a writer for Nutritionist Resource.
Written by Katie Hoare
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