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 (183 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


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

  • 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.



  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.


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 Read my full disclosure here.

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  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?


      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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