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Easy Homemade Vegan Chili

This easy homemade vegan chili is the best vegan chili! This protein packed recipe is pantry friendly and quick to make, and also gluten free!

vegan chili with toppings mixed into the stew and a piece of cornbread tucked into the bowl

If there exists a dish that’s equally perfect for feeding a crowd and enjoying as a cozy meal for one or two–it’s chili. Hearty, nourishing, flavorful, and belly-warming.

My meaty vegan chili is quite an easy meal to make. It’s pantry friendly, and the only perishable ingredients you need are onion and garlic.

It’s extra delicious when made a day in advance, as it gives a chance for the flavors to meld, but it’s also to die for the day it’s made!

meaty vegan chili topped with avocado, cherry tomatoes, jalapeño, scallion greens, and cilantro and served with cornbread

You don’t need to get fancy when making chili. Keep it classic, just make it vegan! ?

Oh yeah, and you’ll definitely want to make some of my vegan cornbread to go alongside it!

If not meat, what goes into a vegan chili?

I mean, ok, everyone knows about bean chili already right?

In my chili I like to have a mix of three different kinds of beans for their complementary textures and flavors. Beans make for a deliciously earthy stew, and I love the combo of buttery kidney beans, creamy pinto beans, and toothsome black beans.

ingredients for vegan chili

Along with the three kinds of beans, I like to add TVP to my chili recipe. TVP, or texturized vegetable protein, is a dehydrated and de-fatted soy or pea-based protein that hydrates up to deliciously chewy and mild tasting morsels.

Its adds a great chewiness and ground meat sort of texture to chili. While it’s not essential for the flavor of this recipe and can be left out* it does make for a better textured and just overall better chili in my opinion.

*If leaving out the tvp, you’ll want to reduce the broth by a cup or so unless you want a thinner chili.

two bowls of meaty vegan chili

TVP is also gluten free and low in fat if those are things you care about! Substitutes are any vegan ground beef product, like Yves ground round or Gardein beefless crumbles for example. If using those you may want to add them after the garlic and fry for a few minutes to brown before adding the beans and liquid.

What else goes into chili?

When making chili, start with the aromatics. Fry onion until softened, the sweetness of red onion complements the beans really nicely.

Next up comes the garlic. You don’t want to skimp on the garlic! It adds so much depth to the stew.

vegan chili in pot

Chili should be quite tomatoey in flavor. I like to use canned tomatoes, they’re easy and consistently good. My preference is to use fire roasted tomatoes in chili for that bit of smokiness they add. Tomato & green chili is also great!

For the spices we keep it simple: chili powder and cayenne. Chili powder is a mild spice blend that is mainly ground chilies but also has cumin and other spices mixed in.

You can also use ancho chili powder, but then you’ll want to add a bit of cumin and a pinch of oregano to the dish to round out the flavors.

For the cayenne, you can use more or less to make a mild to spicy chili. You can also amp up the heat with some fresh jalapeños or serranos–add these with the garlic!

close up of vegan chili

Now comes two ingredients you may not expect in a chili. The first is nutritional yeast, an umami rich deactivated yeast that has a cheesy, nutty flavor. As an added bonus it’s full of vitamins and minerals!

Then we have cocoa powder. The rich chocolate notes go nicely with the earthy beans and add that extra oomph you didn’t even realize your chili was missing!

How to serve chili:

Chili is all about the toppings is it not? Well no, definitely not when it tastes that good on it’s own!

But it’s certainly a lot of fun to set out a toppings bar and load up each bowl with plenty of add ons!

homemade vegan chili with cornbread

Some of our favorite toppings include:

  • sliced or minced jalapeño
  • scallion greens and/or minced red onion–fresh or pickled!
  • diced cherry tomatoes
  • cilantro
  • avocado
  • vegan sour cream
  • vegan shredded cheddar cheese

Other toppings could include:

  • crushed tortilla chips or tortilla strips (particularly if you’re not having cornbread on the side),
  • pico de gallo–it could replace the cherry tomatoes, jalapeño, cilantro, and onion
  • lime wedges
  • chives

And that’s it–all you need to make some great vegan chili! Homemade *is* better, particularly when its my meaty ultra flavorful recipe!

vegan chili with toppings and cornbread

If you make this easy vegan chili, leave a comment below and rate the recipe on the recipe card. And please share your photos with me on Instagram, tag @thecuriouschickpea and #thecuriouschickpea. I love seeing your recreations!

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vegan chili with toppings mixed into the stew and a piece of cornbread tucked into the bowl

Easy Vegan Chili

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

This meat-free meaty chili is full of beans and TVP for a hearty stew. Enjoy it with cornbread for a perfect vegan meal!

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 2 15oz cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed (3 1/2 cups cooked)
  • 1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed (1 3/4 cups cooked)
  • 1 15oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed (1 3/4 cups cooked)
  • 1 cup TVP
  • 2 15oz cans diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/8-1 tsp cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

Optional toppings

  • Jalapeños
  • Scallions
  • Red onion
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cilantro
  • Avocado
  • Vegan sour cream
  • Vegan shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and sauté until soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and let cook for about 30 seconds.
  2. Add the pinto, black, and kidney beans along with the dehydrated TVP, canned tomatoes, broth, nutritional yeast, cocoa powder, chili powder, cayenne pepper and a teaspoon of salt.
  3. Turn the heat up and bring to a simmer, lower the heat and let simmer covered for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and add salt to taste.
  4. Serve hot with cornbread (optional) and toppings of your choice.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 451Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1126mgCarbohydrates: 74gFiber: 27gSugar: 8gProtein: 33g

Nutrition is calculated automatically so should be used as an estimate.

Did you make this recipe?

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Makari

Monday 17th of February 2020

Hey Eva, for the meaty part, can TVP be substituted for Tofu?

Eva Agha

Tuesday 18th of February 2020

If you wanted to substitute tofu, I would use 1 block (~14oz) extra or super firm tofu and do one of two methods.

So option 1: press as much of the water out of the tofu as you can (use a tofu press, or wrap in a lint free towel and put some heavy things over it and come back in a half hour or so). Then crumble it up and pan fry it to dry it out to a more chewy texture. Add a pinch of salt to help draw out the moisture.

Option 2: same thing as option 1 but first freeze your tofu in its packaging, then let it thaw, then press, crumble and fry. Freezing gives it more of a "meaty" texture. Personally I don't find it worth the time for thee most part but some people are obsessed with the results!

Once you have your drier crumbles, you can use it as you would in the chili--but you may want to add less liquid to the stew as tofu won't absorb it like TVP does!

Anjani

Wednesday 5th of February 2020

Can normal diced tomatoes be substituted for fire roasted tomatoes?

Eva Agha

Wednesday 5th of February 2020

Hi Anjani, you can definitely use regular diced tomatoes! If you want some smokiness still add some ground chipotle powder or smoked paprika in. :)

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