This Ultimate Vegan Chili is AWARD WINNING and sure to please even the most devout of meat-eaters! Meaty, flavorful and protein-rich, this chili is over-the-top delicious. Serve with vegan cornbread and vegan sour cream for the best results!

bowl of vegan chili with cashew sour cream, cheese and lime

Ultimate vegan chili is loaded with beans, meaty marinated tofu, and classic seasonings. This new favorite family dinner or game day dish is ready in under an hour and uses super simple ingredients. Plus, it’s freezer-friendly so you can heat up a bowl whenever you want! 

I bet you could serve this chili to the meat eaters in your life and they won’t even know it’s plant-based! Feel free to make it your own and add in additional ingredients or all of your favorite toppings. Don’t forget the vegan cornbread and vegan cheese on the side for a hearty and filling meal!

Ingredients needed (with substitutions)

  • Meaty tofu crumbles – Replicates ground beef. You can make it yourself OR sub in vegan beef crumbles such as Gardein or Beyond Meat. Sometimes I even make this TVP ground beef.
  • 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.
  • 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!

silver ladle picking up chili in pot

Start by making the tofu crumbles

These tofu crumbles are perfectly seasoned and give this vegan chili a meaty texture. They’re also super easy to make!

  • 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.

How to make vegan chili

Chili is a surprisingly easy main dish that can feed a large crowd. Whip it together in under 30 minutes.

  • 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. Next, add in the garlic and cook for 1 more minute, stirring constantly. 
  • 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.
  • Once the tofu crumbles are done, stir them into the chili. 

collage of how to make chili, vegan with tofu crumbles, step by step

How to thicken the chili

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

Can I make this in an Instant Pot or slow cooker?

You can save time and serve a crowd by making this recipe in an Instant Pot or crockpot instead. For both methods, make your tofu meat as instructed and stir it into the chili once it’s done cooking.

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). 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.

You can make the chili in a 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.

pot of cooked chili with a silver ladle

Tips for success

  • Feel free to add in as many vegetables or beans that you want. Throw in some frozen corn, zucchini, red peppers, sweet potatoes, or carrots.
  • You can easily make this chili gluten free by swapping soy sauce for gluten free tamari when making the tofu crumbles.
  • Add 1 cup of uncooked quinoa (white, red, or tricolor) when you add the rest of the ingredients to the chili pot. 
  • Make the chili extra spicy by adding ½ to 1 teaspoon of cayenne instead.

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:

bowl of chili with toppings and blue towel in white bowls with handles

Storing and reheating

You can enjoy this chili fresh from the pot or as leftovers. Store any leftover chili in an airtight container in the fridge. It should stay fresh for up to 4 days.

I like to pour the chili into individual containers and freeze it for grab-and-go lunches. Alternatively, add the whole batch of chili to a freezer-safe bag and freeze for up to 3 months.

More comforting soups/stews

Impress a crowd with any of these delicious comforting recipes:

very close up of chili in a bowl with toppings such as sour cream and cheese

4.98 stars (136 ratings)

Ultimate Vegan Chili

This Ultimate Vegan Chili is AWARD WINNING and sure to please even the most devout of meat-eaters! Meaty, flavorful and protein-rich, this chili is over-the-top delicious.
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 40 mins
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
  • (1) 14-ounce 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 

For the Tofu Crumbles:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  • 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.

For the Chili:

  • 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. May omit the tofu crumbles if desired, or replace them with vegan beef crumbles (such as Gardein brand or Beyond Meat). 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 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 updated on August 7th, 2020 with improved writing and better instructions.

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Comments

  1. The BEST freezer meal!! I made your corn bread into lil muffins and froze those too. I added poblanos and carrots to my chili and everything turned out perfect. Love that I can grab a portioned bag outta the freezer and have dinner ready so quick. Thank you Nora, love you and happy holidays

  2. Hi!
    If I were to do the crock-Pot variation recipe it says to add the tofu in the last 30 minutes of cooking. Do you still do the step where you bake them in the oven with the spices though?
    By the way I love all your recipes You’re always my go-to for all my vegan cooking!! ♥️♥️

    1. Hi Melissa. Thank you for your encouraging feedback! I am so happy that you are loving my recipes and trust them for your cooking needs! Yes, prepare and bake your tofu meat as instructed. Stir it into the chili once it’s done cooking.

    1. You could, however, you may want to use a bit less because it tastes stronger and more bitter. That could affect the flavor.

  3. This chili was amazing! So delicious! 😋🤤 I made a few modifications, but I’m sure it’s delicious as is! I added bell peppers and jalapenos, a touch more cayenne, some lime juice to brighten things up a bit, and I substituted 2c of vegetable broth for the cup of water.

  4. This chili was amazing! So delicious! 😋🤤 I made a few modifications, but I’m sure it’s delicious as is! I added bell peppers and jalapeños, a touch more cayenne, some lime juice to brighten things up a bit, and I substituted 2c of vegetable broth for the cup of water.

    1. Hi Bree. Thanks for sharing your tips on the chili! I’m glad you loved it! I appreciate your positive feedback and review!

    1. You can just double everything and follow all other instructions as usual. You will need quite a large pot though! Thanks.

  5. I won second place in a chili cook off with this recipe!! (very slightly modified). Most recipes were meat based at the event. Thanks Nora for a fantastic recipe :). It tasted SO good!!

  6. The spice mixture and the tofu make this a home run. I added a green pepper, red pepper, carrots and mushrooms. This is the first time using tofu in chili. I normally hate it just being added as is. The spices combined with the baking of the tofu was incredible.

    1. Thank you for sharing your great feedback, Curtis! So glad you love the flavor! I love that you shared the ingredients you added to your chili! Thank you!

  7. This is SO good Nora. I made this for a dinner party and didn’t change a thing and everyone loved it. Your recipes are always really tasty. Thank you!

  8. Hi, I’m going to make this recipe using Impossible meat. Do I still use the spices you have listed with the Tofu with the Impossible meat?

    1. If using impossible meat or other vegan ground beef, omit the spices associated with baking the tofu, they aren’t necessary. Enjoy, I make it this way quite often!

  9. Loved Loved and Loved this recipe!!!!  I made it tonight for dinner and it was AWESOME!!!!  The Flavors were perfect!!!

    1. I’m so happy you loved the chili! I love making chili during this season! I appreciate you sharing your great feedback and review!

  10. Delicious! I made it with a few cans of green chillis and a jar of chipotle peppers and it came out perfect! Very smokey and a little spicy. Amazing recipe, great for modifying as well

    1. Hi Gin. I’m thrilled that you love the chili! It is definitely a recipe that can be customized to individual likings! Thank you for your wonderful feedback and ideas!

  11. Hi Nora:

    This vegan chili was so good, I made it two days in a row and finished the pot both days. It was simply delicious and so easy. My family devoured it. The cocoa powder was very interesting and wonderful ingredient. Thank you.

    1. Hi Valerie. You are welcome! It’s great to learn that you and your family loved the chili! I’m so happy about that! Thank you for taking time to share your wonderful feedback and review!

  12. Made this recipe for vegan and non vegans- added sweet potatoes as one of the ingredients. Delicious and everyone loved it!

    1. Hi Marie. It’s wonderful that everyone loved the chili! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback! Wishing you happy cooking!

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