The ultimate vegan chili recipe for vegans and meat eaters alike! Ultra hearty and craveable, it's packed with loads of veggies, beans, and plant-based Beyond meat simmering in a thick, rich and smoky chili sauce. Easy, protein rich, gluten free, and oh so delicious!!
Chili is one of my all time favorite comfort foods! It's so versatile plus quick and easy to make at home from scratch! This super meaty vegan chili recipe makes a big batch and is always a crowd pleaser especially when served with homemade vegan cornbread!
While it simmers on the stovetop or in the crockpot, make some rice, rustic bread, flaky vegan biscuits, garlicky breadsticks or pillowy soft dinner rolls to serve alongside for a cozy, satisfying weeknight dinner.
Ingredient Notes & Substitutions
One of the best things about homemade chili is it's totally customizable! Make it thick, rich, mild, spicy, gluten free, oil free, meat free, dairy free, plant based - you get the picture. No matter your eating preference, this meaty vegetarian chili recipe works!
To make this traditional chili recipe (vegan version), here's what you'll need:
- Soffritto - sauteed vegetables to create a super flavorful base. Typically used in sauces and soups. Usually consists of onions, carrots, garlic, celery and/or peppers.
- Beans - add texture, protein, fiber, and bulk. We enjoy a variety of 3 beans! Some popular beans for chili include creamy, tender red kidney beans; small, firm brown or pinto beans; and flavorful black beans. Note: could also add in a tin of chili beans (aka seasoned pinto beans).
- Tomatoes - crushed tomatoes and tomato paste add tomatoey richness, acidity and flavor.
- Green Chilies - mild, diced green chilies are optional, but add great flavor and texture.
- Meaty filling - Beyond meat patties are a tasty vegan alternative for ground beef in chili. I chose them because they cook up like and mimic the texture of ground beef plus they add a slightly smoky, grilled flavor that plays well with the classic flavors of chili.
- Other delicious plant-based meat alternatives include: Impossible Foods ground meat, tofu crumbles, veggie mince, tempeh or beefless ground beef crumbles, veggie ground, Beyond sausages, Field Roast sausages or similar.
- Spices - traditional chili spices like cumin, smoked paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper, oregano, smoky chipotle and ancho chili powder (dried poblanos) create a deep, warm, smoky flavor profile.
- Layers of flavor - bold, smoky-sweet BBQ sauce and soy sauce enhance and balance the flavors.
- Chili Toppings - toppings push this vegan / vegetarian chili over the top! See a full list of chili topping suggestions below.
How to Make Vegan Chili!
Follow these easy, step-by-step instructions to make your own big pot of nourishing vegan veggie chili. The whole house will smell incredible in no time!
- Saute the onions, garlic, carrots, and celery in oil in a large Dutch oven or pot.
- Add the thawed, Beyond meat patties (or meat alternative of choice), browning over medium heat.
- Sprinkle in the spices.
- Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, beans, and chopped green chilies.
- Let warm through until bubbling.
- Stir in the finishing sauces to intensify the flavor and make your chili taste even better.
- Let simmer partially covered for 20 minutes or longer. Pro Tip - to thicken the chili let it simmer for longer with the lid off. For a thinner chili consistency, add more water, reduce simmering time or leave the lid on while cooking.
- Finish with a squeeze of lime and chopped cilantro.
What are the best chili toppings?
The secret for the best vegan chili: toppings!!! From cheese and sour cream to avocado and crunchy corn chips - sprinkle them liberally!
Veggie chili is the perfect dish to make for Sunday football games, family dinners or buffets. Just set out the pot of chili, all the toppings, rice, and sauces so everyone can create their own epic vegan chili bowl!
- shredded vegan cheese (dairy-free)
- sour cream (w/chopped cilantro and lime)
- homemade pesto sauce
- sliced green onions
- avocado chunks
- crushed tortillas or corn chips
- rice (family tradition!!!)
- long pasta like spaghetti or spaghettini (Cincinnati style vegan chili!)
- serve with a wedge of rustic bread or vegan cornbread!
More Ways to Serve Vegan Chili
This chili recipe makes a big batch - easily feeds 8-10 depending how you serve it (on rice/pasta with a side of Air Fryer Biscuits)! Here are some fun ways to serve chili . . .
Vegan Chili Cheese Dogs - Field Roast Frankfurter (or similar), bun, mustard, scoop of vegan chili, drizzle of cheese sauce, chopped tomatoes and white onions, sauerkraut and/or pickled peppers. Craveable and irresistible!
Baked Potato Skins (sweet potatoes or jacket potatoes) - bake potato skins with shredded dairy-free cheese until crispy, top with vegan chili, more cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and green onions.
Vegan Chili Cheese Fries - oven bake or air fry the French fries, load them up with a scoop of chilli, dairy-free cheese or cheese sauce, sour cream, chopped hot peppers and green onions!
Nachos Supreme topped with spicy vegan chili con carne and drizzled with cheese sauce - big yums!
How to Store, Reheat and Freeze?
Great for meal prep, chili keeps well in the fridge in an airtight container for several days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Reheat on the stove (you may need to add a splash of water) or in the microwave.
Pro Tip: Freeze in individual serving size containers to take for lunches (plus it makes thawing quick and easy).
Vegan Chili Everyone Loves!
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Soffritto (sautéed veggies)
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1 large carrot, grated and chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
Beefless Ground Crumbles and Spices
- 2 Beyond meat patties*, thawed
- 4-6 oz tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon chipotle powder (or chipotle Tabasco)
- 1 tablespoon smoky paprika
- 1-2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- ½-1 teaspoon cayenne powder
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 28 oz crushed tomatoes
- 3, 19 oz mixed beans (pinto, red kidney, black)
- 4 oz tin chopped mild green chilies (optional)
- 2 tablespoons BBQ sauce
- 2 tablespoons sriracha sauce (to taste)
- 1-3 cups water or broth (for thinning)
- 1 lime (to finish)
Optional Topping Ideas
- 2 green onions, sliced
- cilantro, chopped
- 1-2 tablespoons grated cheese (per serving)
- 1 dollop sour cream (per serving)
- 1 avocado, sliced
- tortilla or corn chips, crumbled
- 2 cups cooked rice
- 2-4 servings long pasta, cooked
Saute the Veggies (mirepoix, soffritto, holy trinity)
- Chop the onions, celery, carrots, and mince the garlic.
- Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or similar large pot (crock pot). Add the chopped vegetables and garlic.
- Saute for 5-8 minutes over medium heat until soft and translucent.
Beefless Ground Crumbles
- Push the vegetables to the side, add the two thawed Beyond meat patties (or Impossible meat) to the pan. Let them brown, breaking them up with a large spoon as they cook.
- Stir in the tomato paste (let it cook off for a minute or two to improve flavor - it will start to turn dark rusty red). Add ¼ - ½ cup water to thin out the sauce.
- Add the spices* and stir to incorporate. Adjust the seasonings to your taste.
- *This chili has about a medium-hot heat index; but it really depends how hot your chili powder is, how much cayenne and sriracha you add, and your individual palate - adjust to taste.
Beans + Tomatoes + Green Chilies
- Add 3, 19 oz tins of beans - use a variety of large and small, firm and soft beans for great texture and heartiness. *I usually end up adding extra red kidney beans (we like beans!).
- Crushed tomatoes are a good choice for chili. They create the perfect thick texture and intense tomato flavor. I like the texture of the Whole Foods 365 and Muir Glen crushed tomatoes. If you have 6n1 ground tomatoes at your market, they are always my first choice.
- Add a tin of chopped green chilies (optional, but delicious).
- Taste the sauce, adjust seasonings as desired.
- To stretch the chili to feed a larger crowd, add another tin or two of beans, another cup of crushed tomatoes, and more water/broth as needed for thinning.
Everything Else for the Chili Sauce
- Stir in smoky bold BBQ sauce and sriracha for additional smokiness, flavor, and heat.
- Add water to thin out the sauce as it simmers for 20+ minutes over low heat with the lid partially on. Stir frequently and adjust temperature as needed.
- Finish by squeezing ½ - 1 lime (to taste) over sauce and stir to incorporate.
- Spoon over rice into bowls and top with chopped cilantro plus any optional toppings if desired.
- Green onions, chopped fresh tomatoes, grated vegan cheese, crushed taco chips or corn chips, avocado slices, sour cream or cashew cream or a swirl of pesto.
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