Vegan Chili That Everyone Will Rave About!

The Best Vegan Chili!
The best vegan chili!

This recipe for vegan chili has been part of our “go to” meal line up for years. It has made appearances at fund raisers, family dinners and pot luck suppers, getting rave reviews. You will love how simple and fast it is to pull together and how easy it is to multiply the recipe.

I first made this chili when my kids were young and we served it with a bowl of corn chips. We called it as “thick enough to sit on a chip chili”. Most days we still eat it that way, but it is also great with a side of corn bread or rice.

The Vegan Chili Goes Public

This chili developed an enthusiastic following at a rowing fund raiser we were involved in for years, causing people to start asking for the “vegetarian chili”. I called it that because I realized that people often associate vegetarian with being healthy and vegan as being extreme. When they asked about the chili, I would smile and say, “It is actually vegan. But I knew some people would be afraid to try it if I called it ‘vegan chili’.” Because of the popularity of this vegan chili we have had many opportunities to share vegan food with friends, family and strangers.

A year ago, my son and his girlfriend, students at Bowdoin College, used the recipe for a chili cook-off in one of the dining halls. While it did not win, the dining service was impressed enough with the chili to make it part of their regular rotation of vegan offerings in the dining halls. That is a win to me!

Mild or Hot, it’s up to you

As I mentioned, this vegan chili recipe was created when my kids were small so the level of heat and spice in the basic recipe is appealing to the gentlest of palates. We have since turned up the heat by adding hot sauce or red pepper flakes to the recipe and I often add a tablespoon of hot sauce and a tablespoon of agave. Consequently, you can adjust it to your own level of desired heat quite easily.

Even The Meat Eaters Will Love Vegan Chili

This dish is also a great one for introducing vegan, or vegetarian, food to suspicious carnivores. Occasionally, I have tossed in a package of veggie crumbles to give them the mouth feel they are used to. We don’t often use the analog meats, but they can be an invaluable transition food for many people and a life saver for vegans who live with and/or cook for non vegans.

So, get ready to really WOW the taste buds of anyone you make this for (I bet they won’t believe it’s vegan). This vegan chili has more than enough taste and heartiness to satisfy anyone!

(If you like this one, and we think you will, check out some more of our other crowd-pleasing Big Pot recipes, too!)

vegan chili

A bowl of chips, some vegan shreds, and it’s Vegan Chili Time!

The Best Vegan Chili Ever
Serves 6
Super delicious, easy to make, crowd pleasing, nutritious, and tasty vegan chili!
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 2 Tbs olive oil
  2. 2 medium white onions, chopped
  3. 1 bell pepper, diced
  4. 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  5. 1/2 tsp pepper
  6. 1 tsp ground cumin
  7. 2 Tbs chili powder
  8. 1 1/2 cups each of cooked kidney, black and garbanzo beans (or 1 (15oz) can of each - rinsed)
  9. 6 oz tomato paste
  10. 28 oz can crushed tomato
  11. 8 oz tomato sauce
  12. 1 cup frozen corn
  13. 1 Tbs agave syrup or sugar
Instructions
  1. sauté onions in olive oil until tender
  2. add spices and cook additional 1 - 2 minutes
  3. add tomato paste and stir for 1 minute
  4. add remaining ingredients and heat, covered, over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, for about 30 min.
Notes
  1. Optional: 2 or 3 cloves of crushed garlic or a tsp of garlic powder (or to taste)
Suggested toppings
  1. chopped lettuce and cilantro
  2. vegan shredded cheese
  3. sliced avocado or a dollop of guacamole
  4. vegan sour cream
  5. When cooking for suspicious carnivores, or nervous "almost-vegans" I have on occasion thrown in a package of veggie crumbles to give them the mouth feel they are used to. It's a good use for the "analogue meats".
Full of Beans http://www.fullofbeans.us/
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Georgia

Georgia is an unpretentious foodie who, at 50, transitioned from a vegetarian diet to a whole foods plant based diet and is loving it. She works as a nurse, plays as a quilter, loves to run, hates to race.
She thinks dogs are actually angels (in dog suits).

This Post Has 38 Comments
  1. I made your chili for the first time last night and love it. I had to modify the recipe a little since I misread and cooked 4.5 cups of dried beans. Im a new vegan and this will be a go to recipe. My friend is getting married this spring and im brigning a vegan option and I think this will be it. You cant feel left out of the roasted pig when you have this beautiful chili on your plate.

    1. hi Sam, wow, that sure is a lot of beans! 🙂 But, we find that the chili is even better left over. Good thing!
      we are so glad that you liked it and thank you so much for letting us know. That’s really exciting about having an opportunity to share it with others. They will absolutely love it, we are sure.
      as for the roasted pig, yes, anything that can keep you away from that is a good thing.

      1. Hi! It seems really delicious and I want to do this for my son’s birthday, but I’m a bit like Sam, I’m not sure about the beans quantity. I want to use beans canned, those you mentionned in your recipe…so is it one of each kind ? or less? Thanks for sharing. And please excuse my english 🙂

        1. Hi Kate!
          Thanks for visiting our blog. We are delighted that you are thinking about making the chili. The spot that Sam got himself into was because he used the cooked beans measure for DRY beans. Since they expand over twice when cooked he had a LOT of beans!!
          So, if you are using canned beans you simply need 1 15oz can of each of the types of bean. That makes the basic recipe which will be plenty for four with a bit of left over.
          It’s delicious – we know you will love it!

          Greg & Georgia

    2. Yummmm!!!! I love it, I swapped out the sugar for maple syrup because I didnt have agave, nor did I want to use white sugar. I also didnt have the tomato sauce so I used a cup of vegetable broth instead. Still tastes wonderful!

      1. Hi Naomi! So glad that it worked out – sometimes the best results come from substitutions! 😄
        -Georgia

  2. It’s 2:00 in the morning here where I live and I just made this chili. It is soooo yummy! I just ate some for .. a late midnight snack and ready to have some for breakfast in a couple more hours 🙂 So easy to pull together and with so few spices I was really surprised at how great it taste.

    1. Up late, making our chili? Wow! So glad that you liked it and I bet that’s going to be a really good breakfast, too. ?
      -Greg

    1. Hi Cassi!
      Oh absolutely! Except for the onions, which are sautéed, you really are only heating all the ingredients. We do find that the chili improves the next day after all the flavors start to meld together. In that sense a nice long cook in a crock pot on low/medium would probably be just wonderful. Let us know what your results are like!
      Thanks for being in touch, Greg & Georgia

  3. Hi! I want to do this recepie tonight and I was wondering if what you call tomato sauce also is ketchup? 🙂 thanks

    1. Hi Emmy,
      Really sorry that we missed your comment and didn’t respond a little faster. The “tomato sauce” isn’t ketchup, it’s a plain tomato sauce that you can buy just like tomato paste and diced tomatoes. You should be able to find it canned or jarred at your market.
      -Greg

    1. Hi,

      As long as you start with cooked beans (caned or otherwise), you will be fine in a slow cooker. Just add al ingredients and cook for 6-8 hours or so on medium. That’s what I would do.

      – Georgia

  4. I’ve been searching the net for days looking for a crowd pleaser to feed all my carnivore friends at a cosy get-together I’m hosting this weekend. I’m definitely serving this as my main meal! Looks delicious and perfect and so simple! Thank you!

    1. Hi Edi,
      We have brought it to many gatherings and it has never disappointed. We hope it is that way for you, too 🙂
      So glad that you found us and that you are thinking about making the chili. Please let us know how it goes!
      😀
      Peace, Greg & Georgia

    1. Hi Channing,
      Well, thats an interesting question. You could simply leave the corn out or, perhaps, add another pepper. Give it a try and let us know what you think! Thanks for checking out that recipe – hope you have a chance to take a look at some of the others we have here.
      🙂

  5. This looks amazing! I’ve been searching for a hearty vegan chilli for a while now and can’t wait to try this 🙂 thanks for posting!

  6. I’ve just made it and it tastes absolutely amazing. I must admit that I used your recipe as a base and modified it a little bit to make it more exciting for a meat-eater like myself. I added garlic, oregano, basil and a dash of cocoa powder. This recipe will definitely become one of my staples. Thank you so much!

    1. Hi, Amanda! Freezing is no problem. Just make a batch of chili (cooked) then place whatever you’d like to freeze into a container for the freezer. We often use 1gal ziplock bags for this. Because you can sort of flatten them its a lot faster when its time to thaw out (plus they are flexible so the freezing expansion isn’t a problem) – but any convenient container will work.

      Greg and Georgia

    1. Hi Claire,
      So sorry that it took us a while to get back to you. We absolutely understand being on a budget and cost conscious. That’s how we are too! Those three tomato products really aren’t all that pricey usually, around here. They are the sort of supplies that we have on hand because they are so versatile. We buy them in quantity when they are on sale – that really helps with the price of course.
      You can certainly give the recipe a try using just one of them, but it will change the consistency and the taste. Also, you might consider compensating for the lost volume and fluid (if you leave out the sauce or diced tomatoes. But give it a try, see how it works and let us know. It certainly won’t be “bad” it will just be different.
      Remember, too, any “big pot” dish like this made without animal products is already a lot more affordable than its non-vegan version. 😄
      ✌🏼🌱

    1. Hi Chelsi,
      You can easily have it in the fridge for a week. If you are concerned that it will stay uneaten longer than that you can place a portion of it into the freezer – it keeps fine!

    1. Hi Natalie,

      We really need to start adding servings to our posts – but we haven’t really figured it out, yet. Anecdotally, you should easily be able to get 8 generous servings from one batch. We usually double the batch and have chili for days (household of 4)! 🙂

  7. Made this recipe for a vegetarian potluck and had to add a lot of extra spice (oregano, worchestershire, green chilies, salsa) to it to make it taste like something other than canned tomato sauce. Still not happy with it and it’s so thick that it can’t simmer properly and is burning on the bottom of my pan. I have nothing against veganism or vegetarianism, I have had very good vegan chili at local restaurants and cafes. I was hoping this would be similar 🙁

    1. Hi there, Brad!
      Well, we’re awfully sorry that you are having this experience with our chili recipe. We have made it many many times every year, for years. We have served it at events, for get-togethers, to friends, to family, it has been in chili cook-offs, added to the menu oration at our son’s college, and it has been made by many readers of this blog – all to rave reviews and may compliments.
      I can’t imagine what is causing your experience to be so different. But thank you for giving it a try – wish we could make it for you because I’ll bet you would love it.
      🙂

      Peace

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