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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.