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 (176 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

Ingredients 
 

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

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 

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.

Video

Notes

  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.

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 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 amazon.com. Read my full disclosure here.

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Comments

  1. I used one cup of tvp and rehydrated with one cup of hot water. I used the same seasoning that you did for the tofu crumbles. I baked it on 400 for 15 min. Turned out great

  2. Thanks for sharing your recipe. I’m making it for the first time and using veggie beef crumbles instead of tofu. Do I need to season the crumbles with the nutritional yeast, soy sauce, paprika and chili powder?

  3. Nora, this chili is soooo yummy! It, and the vegan sour cream, are totally delicious! I am the only vegan in my household, my husband and son are not, so to have them also rave about this recipe was a total win in my books! In addition, I absolutely LOVE the tofu crumble and made it tonight to add to a vegan spaghetti. It absolutely made the dish! Thank you, thank you, thank you for creating and sharing these amazing recipes!

    1. You are very welcome, Barbara! It’s so encouraging to know you (and your family) are loving my recipes! Thanks for sharing your great review and feedback! Happy cooking!

    1. Hi Glenda. Nutritional yeast helps with the savory flavor, but you can leave it out if you don’t have any. Enjoy!

  4. This is sooo good!! Excellent for using up any veggies you have in your fridge/freezer. Super tasty even without the soy crumble…the combination of spices is just perfect! I only used 1 can of black beans, and 1 can of plum tomatoes (as that was all I had) and some TVP to give it a ‘meaty’ texture. And I used a few squares of dark/vegan chocolate instead of cocoa powder. Thank you Nora, I love this recipe!

  5. This is not only my favorite vegetarian chili — this is the *only* chili I make. It is so deceivingly simple for how incredibly flavorful it is. I personally go the route of always adding quinoa to the chili, because I think it makes for the perfectly filling one-pot meal, and I like the extra B-vitamins and fiber (though it’s not a necessary addition — I’ve had it with and without). I promise that this is a chili that would win over any meat eater! It also reheats really well, so whenever I make a pot I am sure to single portion it out and freeze it so I have a quick lunch to bring to work.

    1. Hi Rachel. Thanks for sharing your awesome review and feedback! Your chili addition ideas sound good! I sure appreciate your terrific feedback and review! Aren’t leftovers for lunch great!? Happy cooking!

    2. i really love this chilli everyone made it with beyond crumbles last time but my niece doesn’t like them if i substitute red lentils how much should I use . can i use the dried ones ,do i have to soak them first or should i use the can ones

      1. Yes, you can use 1 cup of dry red lentils instead (add them with the rest of the chili ingredients). There’s no need to soak them either, as they cook fairly quickly in the chili. You can also add extra water if the chili is too thick/to help the lentils cook through. I hope this helps!

        1. thanks this really helps and thanks for the quick response, will textured veg protein work of the Beyond Crumpies thanks again i really love this chilli !!!!!

  6. I have this cooking right now!! I had to use diced tomatoes and I crushed them a little because I didn’t have crushed tomatoes. I also don’t have smoked paprika so I used a little liquid smoke and some paprika. I can’t wait to eat this! It smells so good!

  7. If I’m making it in a crockpot and using the vegan beef crumbles, do I add them at the beginning too? If I like a thicker chili, do I need to make any other adjustments? Thanks!

    1. If you’re using the tofu crumbles in this recipe, stir them into the chili 30 minutes before it’s done cooking. Regular pre-cooked vegan beef crumbles can be stirred in at the beginning. For a thicker chili, omit the 1 cup of water or only add a splash of water at a time until you achieve the consistency you like. Hope this helps!

  8. I made this recipe for a neighborhood chili cook-off and won! No one realized it was vegan, delicious recipe, highly recommend! I used gardein crumbles in place of the tofu, would like to try the tofu next time.

    1. That’s fantastic, Ruchi! I’m so happy for you! Thank you for using my recipe and for your wonderful review and feedback 🙂

  9. I made this chili to take on a camping trip so I could have some warm cozy chili in the mountains. I’m not sure if its gonna make it to the mountains. It’s that good.

    1. This was one of the best chilies that I’ve tasted! of course I improvise on the recipe. Add some red chili peppers to it. Also, I added some fire roasted corn and red bell peppers. It turn out absolutely amazing !

  10. This was amazing! Made this for my vegan son & daughter in law. They thought I had accidently served them the non-vegan chili. Only change I made was adding in red and yellow peppers.

  11. I’ve made this dozens of times, for friends and family, and everyone LOVES it. It’s my favorite veggie chili of all time. I prepare it as listed and it’s always a winner!

  12. Every single time I make one of your recipes it comes out fabulous!!! The tofu taco “meat” blew me away!!! I had to restrain myself or I would have eaten it all off the cookie sheet before it even made it into the pot! I threw in a half cup of red lentils to thicken it which worked out great! Flavors are spot on. Im putting mine over mashed taters…was raised eating it this was. I cant wait till the taters are done to have this for supper!
    I always search your blog first for recipes, your hard work and efforts do not go un-noticed. Than you once again, Roxanne

    1. Hi Roxanne. Your acknowledgement of the work I put into my recipes is so appreciated! I am thrilled that you are enjoying my recipes! Chili over mashed potatoes sounds really good! Love that idea! Thank you for your amazing feedback and review!

  13. Hi Nora!

    Do you have a soy free substitute you would suggest? I was thinking red lentils or even lentil “tofu” baked and crumbled in the same way but I don’t know how that would affect the liquid to spice ratios. Any thoughts on it would be great. Thanks!

  14. Nora, as usual you are awesome. Thank you for the great recipe. Making it right now for the family.

  15. I love the recipe! I made it last night. It’s just a little bit tomato-y for me and I was wondering what you’d suggest I swap some of the tomato for? Thank you!!

    1. You could swap a can of pumpkin for tomatoes perhaps? Or use tomato sauce is the problem was chunky canned tomatoes.

  16. My little ones who have NEVER liked any chili recipe I’ve ever tried in the past… gave an official stamp of their approval on this one!!! Along with your cornbread recipe (which ee equally loved), this was absolutely delicious! Only difference was that I added Trader Joe’s “soyrizo” crumbles in place of the tofu crumbles. 5 stars! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    1. Hi Ashley. Trader Joe’s “soyrizo” crumbles sound amazing in this recipe! I’m glad the chili was a hit with your family, and the cornbread! Thanks for your stellar review and feedback!

  17. Tried dozens of chili recipes over the years and this is the only one worth keeping. It’s fantastic and even our non-vegan family members go crazy over it.

    1. I’m thrilled you and your family love the chili! Thanks so much for your wonderful review and feedback!

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