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!
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!
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!
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.
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, if using, stir them into 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.
Frequently asked questions
Leftover chili will last for 4-5 days in the fridge. Store in airtight containers.
Yes, this chili freezes very well. Freeze in individual freezer-friendly containers, then simply thaw and reheat until warm.
Substitute gluten free tamari for the soy sauce when making the tofu crumbles to ensure the chili is gluten free.
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:
- Vegan Sour Cream
- Vegan cheese shreds or cheese sauce
- Diced tomatoes
- A wedge of lime
- Tortilla chips
- Chopped cilantro
- Avocado slices
- Hot sauce
More cozy vegan recipes to impress a crowd
- Vegan Chicken and Dumplings
- Easy Vegan Ramen
- The Best Lentil Soup
- Vegan Zuppa Toscana
- Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup
Ultimate Vegan Chili
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
- 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
Make the tofu crumbles
- 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.
- 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). 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.
- May substitute diced tomatoes for the crushed tomatoes if desired for more texture.
- Leftovers: This chili will keep in the fridge for about 4-5 days, and also freezes well.
- 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.
- 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.
This recipe was originally published in 2020 and has been updated with better information and options.
This is THE best chili I’ve ever eaten. My entire family loves it, and nobody can tell there’s no meat in it. Thanks for sharing your awesome culinary skills with us!
Nora, my husband has been a vegan for 25+ years and we’ve made chili for decades. This is by far the best recipe we’ve ever made. I’m making it this evening for the second time and I’m not sure we’ll make chili another way. We’ve made so many of your recipes now and they’ve all been absolutely delicious ton the tenth power! Thank you.
Awww, how wonderful to know you are enjoying my recipes! I appreciate you using them! Thanks for your fabulous feedback! Wishing you lots of happy cooking!
I absolutely love this recipe!! It’s SO quick and easy, requires minimal prep and it’s absolutely delicious!! So hearty, so flavorful, thank you Nora!!!
You are welcome, Ivett! Thank YOU for your wonderful feedback and review!
One of the best vegan chili’s we’ve tried and now a go-to recipe; love it with the tofu! I’ve made exactly as is and also with a few modifications depending on what beans are in the pantry as well as adding frozen corn, etc. I’d love to use the instant pot to make it more often but always get a burn notice trying it; occasionally the bean/chili mode will get it to pressurize and work out.
Hi Elle. I’m thrilled that you are loving the chili! It is definitely a wonderfully versatile recipe! Thank you for sharing your fabulous feedback and review!
I made this for our Super Bowl party.
I made two changes: I added one each – baby red, yellow, and orange peppers to the onions and sweated them together. I also added about 1.5 cups of frozen sweet corn when I added the beans.
EVERYONE raved about how good it was all during the game. Coworkers mentioned how good it was it today, the next day!
This will be my go-to recipe from now on!
Hi Hope. How fantastic the chili was a winner for you! I’m thrilled it’s your new go-to recipe! Thanks for sharing your great feedback and ideas!
Love this recipe but quick question, how do you know when it has gone bad? Mine has been in my fridge for five days? Is it safe to eat? It doesn’t smell bad or anything but I was just wondering.
Hi Kemet, it should be fine to eat! You could store it in the freezer if you need to keep it for longer.
I have made this recipe probably 50 times now. It’s a staple for me. It never ceases to impress 🙂
How great that you are loving the chili, Lara! Thanks for sharing your amazing feedback and review!
Hi Nora! My friends and I RAVE about all your recipes and this one is one of my favorites!! One question: if I were to use dry beans instead of canned, would you cook them beforehand or could I put the dry ones in with everything in the instant pot and cook it longer?
Thanks so much!!
That’s so kind and great to hear! If using dry beans, I would cook them first, then carry on with the recipe as usual. They will absorb liquid and probably not get cooked enough otherwise.
I love this chili!! My bf and I made it exactly as written and it was DELICIOUS. Easily my favorite chili recipe. I love another reader’s suggestion to add poblanos, will do that next time. Thank you for this wonderful recipe!
You are welcome! Thank YOU for your wonderful feedback and review!
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
What a great time-saving tip, KJ! Thanks so much for sharing your feedback and for your wonderful review!
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!! ♥️♥️
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.
Hi Nora. Can I use cacao powder instead of cocoa powder or will it not be as good? Thanks.
You could, however, you may want to use a bit less because it tastes stronger and more bitter. That could affect the flavor.
I added quinoa and love this recipe so much. I pulled a serving out of the freezer for lunch today. So good!
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.
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.
Hi Bree. Thanks for sharing your tips on the chili! I’m glad you loved it! I appreciate your positive feedback and review!
What would be the modification if I doubled the recipe? Thank you!!
You can just double everything and follow all other instructions as usual. You will need quite a large pot though! Thanks.
Is the nutritional yeast essential? I don’t have any ☹️
Hi Leah. Nutritional yeast helps with the savory flavor, but you can leave it out if you don’t have any.
So 56 oz of tomatoes total?
You got it! You can always adjust the amount to your liking.
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!!
Congratulations! That is exciting! Thanks for sharing your fun and fabulous feedback! I’m thrilled for you!
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.
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!
I’m making this as is, no substitutions for a chili cook off at work tomorrow. Fingers crossed!!
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!
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?
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!
Loved Loved and Loved this recipe!!!! I made it tonight for dinner and it was AWESOME!!!! The Flavors were perfect!!!
I’m so happy you loved the chili! I love making chili during this season! I appreciate you sharing your great feedback and review!
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
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!
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.
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!
Hi Nora, I’m anxious to try TVP. Would that work in this recipe?
Thank you for all your awesome recipes.
Yes, you could use TVP in this recipe. Thank you!
Made this recipe for vegan and non vegans- added sweet potatoes as one of the ingredients. Delicious and everyone loved it!
Hi Marie. It’s wonderful that everyone loved the chili! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback! Wishing you happy cooking!