How to make the best Vegan Chili that is packed full of veggies, flavor and depth- hearty, nourishing and completely plant-based. With a video!
You are looking at my all-time favorite recipe for Vegan Chili. It’s smoky and deep and just a little bit spicy. A whisper of cinnamon, chocolate and optional ground walnuts makes this uniquely flavored, in a way that we love. Top it with avocado, cilantro and fresh veggies to add richness and texture.
Though it’s totally plant-based, this vegan chili has delicious depth and complexity that will even please meat-eaters!
Make a big batch on Sunday, then serve it up with vegan cornbread during the busy workweek, or freeze it in batches. Hearty and deeply satisfying, this vegan meal is full of flavor!
Vegan Chili | 60-Sec Video
What You’ll need:
- onion (any color!)
- red bell pepper (or sub a poblano pepper )
- sweet potato or parsnip (optional)
- garlic cloves
- spices: chili powder, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, dried oregano, kosher salt, cinnamon (optional)
- diced tomatoes – canned or fresh
- cooked beans – any assortment of black, pinto, kidney or etc. (drain and rinse) 3 cans or 4.5 cups cooked beans.
- soy sauce (or GF Liquid Amino’s) or sub 1-2 veggie bullion paste or cubes
- tomato paste
- dark cocoa powder- or one square of dark chocolate (optional, but good!)
- maple syrup ( or brown sugar) to taste
- Optional: 1/2 cup ground walnuts or pecans, chipotle or a few tablespoons of adobo sauce from the can to taste.
Fun and Tasty Chili Toppings!
The chili toppings are the best part! Pick any or all of the following:
- pickled jalapenos
- chopped tomatoes
- vegan sour cream
- vegan cheddar cheese
- Vegan chili starts with a flavorful Base: onion, garlic, celery, carrot. Cooking the onion until fragrant and deeply golden adds depth here, so take your time.
- Then feel free to add additional veggies like sweet potato, parsnip, zucchini, or winter squash if you like. I find the sweetness of sweet potato and parsnip really elevates here.
- Season the chili well: add spices, soy sauce for depth and add chocolate for both depth and subtle sweetness. Add optional walnuts for extra umami. The spices and seasonings will add a deep earthiness, and you end up with a delicious pot of vegan chili that even meat-eaters will enjoy.
Can Vegan Chili be made in an instant pot?
YES! This vegan chili can be made on the stovetop or in an instant pot. See the recipe notes.
How to store Vegan Chili
The chili will last 4-5 days in the fridge or can be frozen.
Whip up a batch of this super flavorful Vegan Chili this weekend with Vegan Cornbread and let us know what you think!
More Recipes you may like!
The Best, Veggie-Loaded Vegan Chili Recipe – loaded up with healthy veggies and beans, this deep and complex recipe will convert meat-eaters! Make a big batch on Sunday, then serve it during the busy workweek!
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 extra-large onion, diced small
- 1 1/2 cups carrots, diced small
- 1 1/2 cups celery, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup diced sweet potato or parsnips (or leave out)
- 6 fat cloves of garlic, rough chopped
- 2–3 tablespoons mild chili powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons coriander
- 1 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
- 2 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes, with juices, or 3 ½ cups fresh tomatoes, diced (with juices)
- 3 x 14-ounce cans beans – any assortment of black, pinto, kidney or etc. (drain and rinse) about 4.5 cups cooked beans.
- ¼ cup of water
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce (or GF Liquid Amino’s) or sub 1-2 veggie bullion paste or cubes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons dark cocoa powder, or one square of dark chocolate (optional, but good!)
- 1–2 tablespoons maple syrup ( or brown sugar) to taste
- Optional: 1/2 cup ground walnuts or pecans
- Optional: For extra smoky heat add chipotle or a few tablespoons of adobo sauce from the can to taste.
- Optional Garnishes – avocado, jalapeno, chopped tomatoes, radishes, cilantro, scallions, vegan sour cream, vegan cheddar or a drizzle of olive oil
- Dice the onion, and saute in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat with a few tablespoons of olive oil, until fragrant and golden. Lower heat to medium, add the carrots, celery and garlic, and saute 5 more minutes.
- Chop the bell pepper and sweet potato and add to the pot, season with ½ teaspoon salt and continue cooking for 10 minutes, or until veggies are just tender, stirring occasionally.
- While this happening, line up your spices, rinse and drain the beans. If using fresh tomatoes, dice them saving the juices.
- When the veggies are just tender add the spices – chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, smoked paprika, cinnamon. Toast the spices in the pot for 1-2 minutes to bring their flavors forward. Add the tomatoes (with their juices), beans and water. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, stir, and then cover with a lid, and simmer gently on medium low heat, for 10 more minutes or until veggies are fork-tender.
- Stir in the tomato paste, soy sauce , chocolate and maple syrup. Add the optional ground walnuts. The ground nuts add depth and also thicken the chili. If leaving them out, you could blend 1-2 cups of chili in the blender and return this to the pot to thicken.
- Taste, adjust, adding more salt or maple syrup as needed. Add chipotle for extra heat.
- Serve with any of the following: fresh cilantro, diced avocado, scallions, pickled jalapeno, hot sauce, sliced radishes, pickled onions, vegan sour cream or vegan grated cheddar, or a drizzle of olive oil.
For faster cooking, be sure to dice veggies small. It helps if you have a large sharp knife. 😉
Chocolate and soy sauce may seem strange for chili, but both add complexity and depth. Using canned tomatoes may make this quite acidic, so use maple or brown sugar to balance it here.
This can be made in an instant pot. Set to Saute function: saute onion, garlic, carrots, celery in olive oil 4-5 minutes, add bell pepper, sweet potato, salt, spices, tomatoes (with all the juices) drained beans, and water and soy sauce. Pressure cook for 7 minutes on high. Manually release. Stir in tomato paste, chocolate, maple and ground walnuts. Taste, adjust salt, sweetness and add chipotle for more heat if you like. Keep on warm, and serve with any of the garnishes.
The leftovers are great the next day- to mix it up a bit, try serving it over a baked potato.
- Serving Size: 1 cup
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