The BEST Vegan Chili Recipe

5 from 20 reviews

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
  • 23 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
  •  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!)
  • 12 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.


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