- March 21, 2023
- by Amy Gorin, MS, RDN
- 0 Comments
6 Best Vegan Options at Chili’s in the US
Looking for vegan options at Chili’s? Discover some of the best plant-based choices like black bean and veggie fajitas and DIY rice bowls.
Chili’s isn’t known for its vegetarian dishes, but there are still a number of vegan options at Chili’s.
Although not all of them start out as vegan, there are simple modifications that can be made to create vegan dishes at Chili’s. If you’re looking for gluten-free options, they’re available as well!
Chili’s menu offers the typical vegan choices at restaurants, including fries, salad, and side dishes.
It’s important to note that Chili’s uses shared fryers and grills. This means that any vegan foods prepared with these methods may be subject to cross-contamination from meat, dairy, or eggs.
Although Chili’s uses vegetable oil for frying, some people may choose not to consume foods from shared fryers or grills, so these items are noted below.
Now, let’s take a look at the six best vegan options at Chili’s. If you’re curious to look any item up for yourself, you can use the restaurant’s food allergy matrix.
1. Fried pickles
The crunchy golden exterior and tangy-sour interior of fried pickles make for a satisfying bite.
Make sure to order these without ranch, but you can substitute it for one of their vegan sauces, which include house BBQ sauce, apple BBQ sauce, or mango habanero sauce.
Fried pickles are made in shared fryers, so it’s up to you whether this vegan option is suitable for you.
Chili’s has a variety of fries on their menu, but many come with dairy-based dipping sauces. (One example: cheese fries.)
The vegan fries at Chili’s are the homestyle fries. One order, however, has 420 calories, 17 grams of fat and 660 milligrams of sodium. The recommended sodium limit is 2,300 milligrams per day, so one order of fries is nearly 30 percent of what you should eat in a day.
Better to share these fries with a friend or pair them with a garden salad (below) and take half home to crisp up in the air-fryer the next day.
3. Chips, salsa, and guacamole
Good thing guacamole and salsa are usually vegan! Chili’s’ homemade corn tostada chips pair fantastically with their fresh salsa and guacamole.
You can also add salsa or guacamole to any other item. Keep in mind that the chips are prepared in shared fryers, so they’re subject to cross contamination with animal products.
4. Black bean & veggie fajitas (with avocado)
While this dish isn’t completely vegan as listed on the menu, it can be made vegan by omitting the black bean patty, cheese, and sour cream. Add the avocado. You may also want to request without butter, depending on the location of the restaurant.
This dish comes with four corn or flour tortillas, cooked bell peppers and onions, Mexican rice, black beans, pico, avocado, and salsa. Sounds like a hearty and well-balanced meal––and truly one of the best vegan options at Chili’s!
You can also create your own fajitas order by putting together a few sides, including tortillas, black beans, Mexican rice, and avocado.
5. Garden salad
If you’re looking for something light and fresh, the garden salad can easily be made vegan. Order it without cheese or croutons––and opt for their vegan dressing, citrus balsamic vinaigrette.
The salad comes with romaine lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, and cucumbers. To make it a meal, order additional sides, such as the Mexican rice, black beans, and avocado. Ordered like this, it’s a balanced mean and one of the best vegan options at Chili’s.
6. Sides and add-ons
Despite the slim selection of vegan plates, there are a number of vegan sides to enjoy. These are a great option to replace animal ingredients you may have omitted, add to the side, or even to create an entire meal.
One idea? Mexican rice, corn on the cob, black beans, steamed broccoli, and avocado.
If you’re looking to add a bit of protein to your meal, black beans are a great option, providing 7 grams in a portion. Veggies, including steamed broccoli, roasted asparagus, and corn on the cob, are nutrient-dense sources of vitamins and minerals.
Here is a full list of vegan side options at Chili’s:
- Black beans
- Mexican rice
- Burger bun (order without butter)
- Tortillas (flour and corn options available)
- Steamed broccoli
- Mandarin oranges (kids side)
- Corn on the cob
- Roasted asparagus
- Avocado slices
- Pickle slices
Chili’s has a wide selection of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Non-alcoholic options include soft drinks, iced tea, and lemonade. Alcoholic drinks include beer, wine, a variety of margaritas, and other cocktails.
Not all alcoholic beverages are vegan, so be sure to ask about the preparation at the location you visit.
Surprising items that are NOT vegan options at Chili’s
Some orders at Chili’s sound as if they would be vegan, but they’re actually made with animal-based ingredients. Here are three to watch out for:
Black bean burger
The black bean burger is offered as an alternative to any meat patty. But it contains egg and dairy, making it vegetarian, but unsuitable for the vegan label.
This is the same burger used in the black bean and veggie fajitas mentioned above. The burger buns themselves are vegan and can be ordered separately.
Roasted street corn
Unfortunately, the roasted street corn contains egg and dairy. However, the corn on the cob is a simple vegan swap.
These mushrooms contain dairy, but roasted asparagus or steamed broccoli are good veggie alternatives.
More restaurant guides
Looking for healthy options at other restaurants? Check out these guides!
- McDonald’s Best Vegan Options You’ll Love
- The Best Vegan Options at Arby’s
- Panda Express Healthy Options
- Healthy Options at Olive Garden
If you find yourself at Chili’s looking for vegan options, you won’t be going hungry. Your best bet is to put together some side dishes or make modifications to dishes that are already available.
This is a great restaurant to get creative and put together a yummy, balanced meal.
Be sure the server knows your preferences and ask any questions if you are unsure if a dish is vegan. You can absolutely have a delicious vegan meal at Chili’s.
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