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.

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. Nora, I had to tell you that I brought this chili to a neighborhood chili cook off and I won first place. I didn’t expect to place, because I thought people would be turned off by the vegetarian label, but the judges said it wasn’t even close. Thank you! Obviously, all due to you. 🙂

    1. Oh, wow! Congratulations! That is so awesome! You made the chili, so bravo to you! Thank you, Jenny, for sharing your fun and fantastic feedback! Wishing you happy cooking!

  2. Nora for the win! I’ve never made a recipe of yours that wasn’t fantastic and this chili is no exception. It was perfect. The whole family had seconds. 5 stars, Thank you! 

  3. I don’t have nutritional yeast, is there something else I can use? Does it need to be in there?

    Sarah

      1. If you substitute quinoa for the tofu crumbles, do you still use the other ingredients which you mixed with the tofu

  4. Amazing recipe, as always! This will be my new go-to for chili. I was a little skeptical about the tofu but it’s delicious! I used only 1 Tbs chili powder (and omitted it from the tofu) and left out the cayenne because I have a four year old. I also added diced celery and carrot to the onion step, and a can of pinto beans just because I had it on hand! So so good, thank you Nora! 

    1. Hi Lindsay. I’m thrilled this is your new go-to chili recipe! Thanks for your wonderful feedback and ideas!

  5. Not sure if I have commented on this yet but I have it on the stove simmering right now! I have made it a few times and it is sooo good!! I love every recipe that I have tried of yours! That reminds me that I need to do a batch of your cinnamon rolls soon!

    1. Hi Shannon. How lovely that you are loving the chili! Thank you for using my recipes and for your great feedback! Wishing you happy cooking!

    1. Hi Cassie. I’m happy to hear you love the chili and that it is going on your meal rotation! Thanks for sharing your great feedback!

    1. Hi Dean. The temp to bake the crumbles is 350 degrees F. It is listed in a couple of spots, including step 1 of the instructions! Enjoy the chili!

    1. Thanks so much, Coco! Yes, the chili freezes really well. Keep it in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag and freeze for up to 3 months.

  6. Am I the only who thought this was sooooooo hot!!! I questioned the 3 tablespoons of chili powder but double checked the recipes and the comments. I tried really hard to eat this but even my husband struggled with the heat. It was over the top. 

    1. What can I say, I like my chili smoky! 😀 If you try it again, reduce the chili powder to 1 tablespoon (in the chili only, not the tofu crumbles). You can always stir in more at the end if it doesn’t taste spicy or smoky enough. Hope this helps!

  7. I add celery, carrot, and a bay leaf to this recipe and it is absolutely scrumptious! Thank you for sharing. 

    1. I’m so glad you are loving the chili, Heather! Thanks for sharing your positive feedback and ideas!

    1. Thank Michelle. Glad you love the chili! There are about 6 pretty large servings, about 1 1/2 cups each. Happy cooking!

  8. This chili recipe is OUTSTANDING. I love that it’s so simple to make and I don’t have to chop a ton of veggies. I added one red bell pepper and beyond meat. I baked the accompanying cornbread recipe and highly recommend doing so.

  9. We cannot wait to try this recipe! We see the recipe makes six servings, but could you tell us the size of a serving: one cup, 3/4 cup, a half-cup? Thank you!

    1. There are about 6 pretty large servings, maybe 1 1/2 cups each. It usually serves my hungry family of 5 with some leftovers. I hope you enjoy the chili!

  10. The best vegan chili ever!!! Thank you for this recipe. My boyfriend frequently asks me to make this dish & he isn’t even vegan lol. 

    1. I’m glad you guys are loving the chili! You are welcome! Thank you for your wonderful feedback!

  11. I am the lone vegan in my home. I made this recipe and my husband made regular chili. Everyone is eating mine. It is so delicious. I can only imagine what it will taste like tomorrow. Thank you!

    1. You are welcome! I’m so glad my chili recipe was a hit with the family! Thank you for sharing your fun and great feedback! The leftovers are going to be great!

  12. Delicious! My kids tried to steal all the tofu crumbles before I could put them in the chili. 

  13. Great recipe. I made it with homemade tofu crumble. I cooked red lentils in broth and added them with edamame instead of other beans. This was delicious! I also added tomato paste and a bit of ketchup, and some hot sauce. I used one can of diced tomatoes and a jar of tomato sauce. The corn bread was also amazing!

    1. Hi Alison. Thank you for your wonderful feedback and ideas! This chili is a wonderful and hearty meal! I’m so glad you loved it! Happy cooking!

  14. I made your ultimate vegan chili , it was awesome!!!! I added impossible vegan burger and sweet corn. Instead of cocoa powder I used carob powder a cocoa substitute.. Delicious!!!
    Susie Hensel

  15. This chili is absolutely delicious! I’m new to vegan cooking and found this recipe incredibly easy to follow and all of the substitutions listed made preparing this meal a breeze. I used beyond meat crumbles instead of the tofu which turned out very well. I plan to try making it with tofu next time. I also baked the vegan cornbread which was a wonderful complement to the chili. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!

    1. You are very welcome! I’m glad you loved the chili and cornbread! Thank you for sharing your wonderful review!

  16. I love this recipe and everyone in the house does too. Best Chili ever!!
    YUM! I did not make any substitutions except for using ground round as I didn’t have tofu on hand… Even the meat eater in the house loved it!!

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