Best Vegan Chili Recipe Ever
This vegan chili with black beans, chickpeas, and kidney beans is truly the best! It’s a hearty, high-protein, and delicious easy one-pot meal.
Bean chili is one of those comfort food dinners I remember well growing up and have made many many times. I can’t believe it’s been 7 years since I posted the first vegetarian chili recipe here! Then I shared a slow cooker chili and an Instant Pot chili and Lentil Chili, but this version is my favorite.
This vegan chili is easy to make and hard to mess up. You can spice it up if that’s what you like, or down, if you have small kids. It can be made early in the day, frozen, and reheated, making it a great recipe to friends for a Meal Train. In fact, this is one of those dishes that may taste even better the next day. Be sure to check out the best Vegan Dinner Recipes here.
What You’ll Need for the Best Vegan Chili
- Onions & Garlic. These two ingredients add some much flavor. You can use white or red onion here. I like to reserve about 1/8 of the onion for topping the chili.
- Carrots. Carrots add just the right amount of sweetness. If you like sweet potato you can easily use about a cup of diced sweet potato instead.
- Bell Pepper. I like the contrast and earthy flavor of the green bell pepper, but any color is fine. I’ll often add a diced jalapeno as well, so if you happen to have one, toss it in!
- Beans. Feel free to use any beans you like here. I’m even working on a lentil chili for you to post down the line because you’ve LOVED this Mexican Lentil Soup. Pinto beans are a great choice, but I’m loving adding garbanzo beans (chickpeas), black beans, and kidney beans for variety.
- Spices. When I first started making chili many years ago I only used chili powder. However, it’s so much more flavorful if you add oregano, cumin, and paprika. If you like smokiness be sure to add smoked paprika or some chipotles in adobo sauce.
- Tomatoes. A large (28 oz.) can of diced or crushed tomatoes is perfect here. If you can’t find that, you can use 2 small (15 oz.) cans. And if you happen to only have whole canned tomatoes, use those but crush them up with your hands first. Either regular or fire-roasted tomatoes are fine. Fire-roasted tomatoes add smokiness that’s great here and in salsa.
- Plant-Based Protein. While I love vegan chili with just beans for protein, there are several other ways to boost the protein further. If you grew up eating chili with meat, you’ll like the texture and heartiness beef-less crumbles add. It’s a more processed option but my family likes it on occasion. I also often add quinoa or tempeh to our vegan chili recipes.
How to Make Easy Vegan Chili
This easy vegan chili requires just a few simple steps. In short:
- Sauté onions, carrots, and bell peppers until softened.
- Add a ton of flavor with garlic, and spices like chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika, and sauté that for a minute longer.
- Follow with a big can of juicy tomatoes, all the beans, a chipotle pepper in adobo sauce if you like heat, and meaty vegan beef-less crumbles if you’d like. Let it thicken up and the flavors bubble together, and enjoy with plenty of fresh toppings.
Best Chili Toppings
- Diced Onion
- Pickled Onions
- Sliced jalapeno
- Shredded vegan cheddar cheese or nutritional yeast
- The best vegan sour cream
- Squeeze of lime juice
- Don’t forget cornbread on the side, and maybe a Homemade Margarita.
Can I Make Vegan Chili in the Slow Cooker or Instant Pot?
Yes! Chili is one of the best things to make in both the slow cooker and the Instant Pot.
Slow Cooker. A big slow cooker full of chili is perfect for long days or when you’re getting home late. The secret to a good slow cooker chili, however, is to sauté the veggies before adding, as that step adds so much flavor. It does mean, though, you’ll have another dish to wash. Check out all our vegetarian slow cooker recipe here, and you might especially like this Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup.
Instant Pot. This particular recipe doesn’t work well in the pressure cooker as it will likely result in the dreaded burn notice due to the thickness and amount of tomatoes. However, I know you’ll love my Instant Pot Veggie Chili with sweet potatoes and quinoa, which is also in my cookbook, Vegan in an Instant.
Reheating, Storing, and Using Leftover Vegan Chili
- Cool completely and then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 or 4 days.
- Vegan chili can also be stored in a freezer-safe container with 1/2-inch of headspace for up to 3 months.
- Let frozen chili thaw in the fridge overnight. Reheat over low heat on the stove, or microwave in a microwave-safe container covered with a paper towel.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 white onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 red or green bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-2 tablespoons mild chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, drained
- 1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans, drained
- 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
- 1 (28 oz.) can crushed or diced tomatoes
- 1 (4 oz.) can green chilis
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1 (12 oz.) package beef-less crumbles (optional, I like Trader Joe's)
- Heat the oil over medium heat in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion, carrots, and bell pepper, and sauté until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Next, add the garlic, chili powder (I start with 1 Tbsp. and add more to taste), cumin, paprika, and oregano and sauté another minute longer. This step will help release all those wonderful spice and garlic flavors, but take care not to burn.
- Stir in the beans, tomatoes, chilies, beef-less crumbles (if using), and salt.
- Bring to a low simmer and simmer, partially covered, for around 40 minutes until thick and all the veggies are very tender. If the chili gets too dry, you can add a little water or vegetable broth, but it should be quite thick. Taste and add more chili powder if you'd like it spicier, and more salt if needed.
- Serve right away warm topped with your favorite toppings. Or let cool completely, then refrigerate (up to 3-4 days) or freeze for later.
Topping Suggestions: Diced raw onion, cilantro, shredded vegan cheddar or sour cream, nutritional yeast, sliced jalapeño.
For Spicy Vegan Chili: One of my favorite ways to add smoky heat to vegan dishes like this is to use chipotle chiles in adobo sauce. Add one chipotle chopped to the chili if you'd like, or increase the chili powder to your liking.
Slow Cooker Vegan Chili: Follow the directions through step 2. Transfer the seasoned veggies to a slow cooker set on low for 6 hours. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 252Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 519mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 14gSugar: 10gProtein: 13g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your favorite calculator.