This Ultimate Vegan Chili is AWARD WINNING and it’s so easy to make! Meaty, flavorful and protein-rich, this chili is over-the-top delicious.

Serve with vegan cornbread and vegan sour cream for the best results!

looking down on two bowls of chili with sour cream, cheese and a lime on white background with blue towel

Want even more chili recipes? Check out my Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili, Lentil Chili and Vegan White Chili.

The very best vegan chili recipe

Easy vegan chili is loaded with beans, meaty crumbled tofu (or vegan ground meat of your choice), and classic seasonings. This fan favorite dish is ready in under an hour and uses super simple ingredients. It may be a simple recipe, but the results are outstanding. This chili wins awards!

Even meat eaters love this chili! Feel free to make it your own and add in additional ingredients or all of your favorite toppings. Don’t forget the vegan cornbread, vegan sour cream and vegan cheese on the side for a hearty and filling meal!

close up of a bowl with bean chili, sour cream, cheese and a lime wedge.

What is vegan chili made of?

Here are the main ingredients needed for the recipe. The big difference between this chili and a non-vegan chili is that we aren’t using meat of course!

  • Meaty tofu crumbles – They are made easily and quickly in the oven while the rest of the chili comes together on the stovetop. Often I skip the tofu and use Beyond meat crumbles instead. You could also use TVP ground beef or another vegan beef substitute.
  • Sweet onion and garlic – Classic and necessary chili ingredients. You can use white, yellow or even a red onion.
  • Crushed tomatoes – You can substitute this for diced tomatoes if you like a little more texture in each bite.
  • Black beans and kidney beans – Use any variety of canned beans you like, but this is my favorite combination. Pinto beans or even chickpeas can be used.
  • Chili powder, ground cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt – This combination of seasonings will make each bite taste smokey, savory, and delicious!
  • Maple syrup – Just a little to balance out the acidity.
  • Cocoa powder – Adds richness and depths of flavors to the chili. If you haven’t added cocoa powder to your chili before, I highly recommend you try it!
crumbled baked tofu on a parchment lined pan.

How to make vegan chili

Get the tofu crumbles baking

These tofu crumbles are perfectly seasoned and give this vegan chili a meaty texture. They’re also super easy to make! For an even easier recipe, you can skip the tofu and simply cook 16 ounces or Beyond meat with the onions.

If using the tofu crumbles:

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Mix together the soy sauce, nutritional yeast, chili powder, and smoked paprika in a large bowl. Use your hands to crumble the tofu into the bowl and mix everything together.
  • Spread the tofu mixture in an even layer on your prepared pan. Place it in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through. Once the tofu is in the oven, start the chili.

Prepare the chili while the tofu bakes

In a large pot over medium heat, add a few tablespoons of  olive oil. Add in the chopped onion and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes until translucent and fragrant. If using vegan ground beef, cook it now with the onion. Next, add in the garlic and cook for 1 more minute, stirring constantly. 

onions sauted in a white pot with yellow-white squared towel.

Add the rest of the chili ingredients into the pot (except for the tofu) and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.

black beans, tomato sauce and spices in a white pot, not yet stirred together.

Once the tofu crumbles are done, if using, stir them into the chili. 

adding cooked crumbed tofu to the pot with the chili

How to thicken chili

If you like your chili to have a thick or smoother texture, you can use an immersion blender to lightly blend just a few times. Do this before adding the tofu crumbles. 

Instant pot vegan chili

Make the chili in an Instant Pot by first turning it to Sauté mode. Add the oil and cook the onions and garlic until soft, then add in the rest of your ingredients (except the tofu, you’ll still need to oven bake this). Secure the lid and cook on manual or high pressure for 8 minutes. Immediately release the pressure, then open the Instant Pot and stir in the tofu crumbles to finish.

Crock pot chili

You can make vegan chili in a crock pot/slow cooker as well. Add all of the ingredients (except the tofu) to a large crockpot and cook on high for 2 to 3 hours or on low for 4 to 5 hours. Stir in the tofu crumbles 30 minutes before it’s done cooking.

white pot full of vegan chili, a ladle scooping out a serving.

Frequently asked questions

How long does vegan chili last in the fridge?

Leftover chili will last for 4-5 days in the fridge. Store in airtight containers.

Does chili freeze well?

Yes, this chili freezes very well. Freeze in individual freezer-friendly containers, then simply thaw and reheat until warm.

How can I make it gluten free?

Substitute gluten free tamari for the soy sauce when making the tofu crumbles to ensure the chili is gluten free.

Can I add more vegetables or grains to vegan chili?

Yes! Some good choices are corn, zucchini, red bell peppers, sweet potatoes or carrots. You can also stir in 1 cup of quinoa with the rest of the ingredients.

How to serve vegan chili

You can’t have chili without cornbread! Serve a piece or two with each bowl of chili. Layer on all the toppings you want, such as:

two bowls of vegan chili on white background with blue towel, sour cream and cheese on top.

More cozy vegan recipes to impress a crowd

square image of a bowl of chili with handles, blue towel in background.
4.98 stars (176 ratings)

Ultimate Vegan Chili

This Ultimate Vegan Chili is AWARD WINNING and it's so easy to make! Meaty, flavorful and protein-rich, this chili is over-the-top delicious.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients 
 

Meaty Tofu Crumbles

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce *tamari for gluten free
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 14 ounce block firm tofu

Chili

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • (2) 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • (2) 15-oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • (1) 15-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Instructions 

Make the tofu crumbles

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the soy sauce, nutritional yeast, chili powder and smoked paprika. It will be pasty. Now crumble the tofu into the bowl with your hands, and mix together using a large spoon until well combined with the paste.
  • Spread the tofu mixture evenly in the pan. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring the tofu halfway through. Once the tofu is in the oven, start the chili.

Prepare chili on the stovetop

  • In a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil. Add the chopped onion and sauté 3-4 minutes until translucent. Add in the garlic and cook 1 more minute, stirring constantly.
  • Now add all the rest of the chili ingredients, except the tofu, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the tofu crumbles are done baking. 
  • If a thicker consistency is desired, use an immersion blender and blend just a few times. Do this before you add the tofu.
  • Once the tofu crumbles are done, stir them into the pot. All done! Serve with vegan sour cream, cornbread, tortilla chips, cilantro, tomatoes, hot sauce, vegan cheese shreds and chives, if desired.

Video

Notes

  1. Use vegan beef instead: May omit the tofu crumbles if desired, or replace them with vegan beef crumbles (such as Gardein brand or Beyond Meat). Sauté the ground meat with the onion, then add the garlic and continue with the recipe. Or simply add some vegetables instead, like frozen corn, red bell peppers, sweet potatoes, carrots or zucchini. Or add a cup of uncooked quinoa when you add the beans.
  2. May substitute diced tomatoes for the crushed tomatoes if desired for more texture.
  3. Leftovers: This chili will keep in the fridge for about 4-5 days, and also freezes well.
  4. Instant Pot version: Use the sauté feature and cook your onion and garlic, then add the rest of the ingredients (except the tofu, bake that in the oven like normal). Secure the lid and cook at high pressure for 8 minutes. Stir in the tofu crumbles and serve.
  5. Slow cooker version: Add all of the ingredients (except the tofu) and cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 4-5 hours. Stir in the tofu crumbles about 30 minutes before it’s done cooking.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 388kcal | Carbohydrates: 67g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1080mg | Potassium: 1669mg | Fiber: 22g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 2324IU | Vitamin C: 32mg | Calcium: 282mg | Iron: 10mg
Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: American
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

This recipe was originally published in 2020 and has been updated with better information and options.

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Read my full disclosure here.

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Comments

  1. This Chili is truly award winning!! Made it for a Chili contest and we won first place! We made it with “Feisty beyond meat” instead of the tofu and it was amazing. Also added some Mexican cream on top and Fritos to go along with it- delicious!! Thanks for the amazing recipe 🙂 Will certainly be making it again.

    1. You are welcome, Jessica! Thank you for your yummy ideas and wonderful review! Wishing you lots of happy cooking!

    1. Hi Lee. I’m thrilled this is now part of your recipe collection! Thanks for your stellar review and feedback!

  2. Oh my goodness, Nora, I’d give this one 10 stars if I could. It was absolutely perfect and so so easy. I’ve followed you on Instagram for some time and didn’t realize you had so many awesome savory recipes. Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. This really is the best veggie chili recipe I have ever had! I think the cocoa powder definitely makes it. My whole family loves this, even the carnivores. Such a genius idea to make the tofu that way. Thanks Nora! We also eat your Tofu Bacon BLTs in the regular rotation! My husband tells people he likes tofu bacon better than real bacon!!!

    1. Hi Ann. I appreciate your encouraging comments! How wonderful that your family loves the chili! Thanks for sharing your wonderful review!

  4. I used the Veggie Grillers Crumbles and this chili was everything. I had my family taste it and they loved it and wanted seconds. I can’t wait to make this again. This recipe is going in the books. Thank you!

    1. You bet, Andrea! I’m thrilled the chili was a hit with your family and that it’s going into your meal rotation! Thanks for your wonderful review and feedback! Happy cooking!

  5. Instead of tofu I used tvp. I rehydrate it and use the same seasoning as the tofu mix and and vegan Worcestershire. I add an extra cup of water and half the crushed tomatoes. I also add nutritional yeast into the chili.

  6. excellent recipe! for some reason I was craving chili cheese fries, which is something I have never eaten even when I ate meat haha, but I wanted a healthier version. I made this but cut the recipe in half, & added some Plant Boss mild taco crumbles for extra protein as well as some chopped spinach. Served it over roasted potatoes with Violife Mexican shreds & a little hatch salsa. Totally nailed my craving!!

  7. Dear Nora, I have posted a link to you recipe for my FB friends. I used to be a translator and long used a bulgur wheat-based recipe from a cookbook I worked on for a cookware company back in the 1970’s, but yours is better! I do use TVP often because I have it handy.

    This is my new favorite.

    1. Hi Lynne! You made my day! I’m thrilled you love my chili recipe! Thanks for sharing your stellar feedback! Happy cooking!

      1. I forgot to add the stars! For the TVP, I re-hydrate 3/4 C in an equal amount of hot water and then add it in with the beans.

        Cheers!

  8. I am literally licking my spoon right now after my first bowl of this delectable nectar of the Gods! It was super easy and absolutely delicious. I’ve made numerous vegan chilis over the years and this is the best one ever. Trust me and make this!

    1. Add it right into the chili when you add the beans, seasonings, etc.! It will hydrate and soak in all of those amazing flavors while the chili slow cooks. 🙂

  9. Another great one. We substituted the tofu for ground impossible burger, sautéed it with onions and seasoning tofu called for. We also added corn, as it’s my favorite in chili.

    We served with baked potatoes. So yummy.

  10. Love it, one of my favorite dinners. Me and my boyfriend have it as dinner more than once a week. I like to eat it with baked potato and sour cream

  11. Awesome recipe for bulk season! I up the beans and add lentils for more protein.

    Love the tofu crumbles too, thanks so much for posting.

  12. Very good!! This will be going into my meal rotation! I made it in the Instant pot and served it with cornbread.

    1. Sounds like a wonderful meal! I love that it’s added to your meal rotation! Thanks for your fabulous review and feedback!

  13. If I use either of the two substitutes for the tofu as suggested, do I prepare them both the exact same way as tofu?

    1. For using a vegan ground meat instead, simply cook it in the pan with the onion, then add the garlic and continue with the recipe. I will specify this now in the notes. Thanks!

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