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Is there anything more delicious than a steaming bowl of chili on a cold winter’s night? Maybe a hot toddy sipped next to a warm puppy, but that ain’t food. Making and eating chili is one of my favorite cold weather foods; filled with hearty beans, all kinds of healthy vegetables and simmered to perfection, it’s the ideal comfort food.

When we became vegan one year ago, I adapted my existing beef chili recipe to craft this best vegan chili recipe. It can also be adapted as a vegetarian chili recipe for those who eat cheese, or remain meat based chili for those who wish. That’s the beauty of chili, it adapts to whatever your culinary needs may be! However you choose to enjoy this chile recipe, vegetarian, vegan or con carne, have fun and bon appetit!

best vegan chili recipe

Best Vegan Chili Recipe

This great plant-based recipe is one that I’ve come up after thirty years of cooking. I used to use ground beef or even ground turkey in this great recipe, but long story short, we don’t eat meat anymore, so ciao cow!

Even if you’re not vegan, this easy chili recipe can be adapted to any palate by adding ground beef, different vegetables or even grains like bulgar wheat to thicken the chili stew. I love this recipe as it’s easy and quick to prepare in an Instant Pot or on a stovetop, and simply perfect for family dinners, potlucks and tailgate parties.

If you’re interested in My Chili Story, I’ve done you the favor of leaving it until after the recipe, towards the end of this post. That way you don’t have to scroll through acres and acres of words when you’re ready here to look for a simple chili recipe. I know how frustrating that can be. But it is a good story, so I hope you’ll take a peek.

How to Make Chili

When I purchased a family size large pot Instant Pot a few years ago, it totally changed my chili game. I now swear by Instant Pot chili as this delicious recipe can be done and ready to eat in about 30 minutes. You can also make this chili recipe slow cooker style just as easily if you want the chili to cook low and slow over a longer period of time. Just set the crock pot on low heat and the timer for 5-6 hours.

If you’re making a stove-top vegetarian chili recipe, be sure to bring to a boil after adding the canned tomatoes, then cover and reduce the heat to simmer the chili for a few hours, stirring occasionally for the flavors to come together.

Variations

Add Meat. For a meaty beef chili recipe, substitute the vegan ground round for 1 lb/454 g of lean ground beef, preferably organic, and brown before adding beans and diced tomatoes.

You can also add ground turkey or ground chicken. Or even cubed chicken breasts. Swap the vegetable stock for beef broth.

Beans. We’ve used red kidney and black beans in this vegetarian chili. You can easily swap them out for white kidney beans, pinto beans or chick peas.

Vegetables. I’ve used green bell peppers, but you can use orange, yellow or red peppers. You can also add fresh or frozen sweet potatoes and frozen corn.

Oil. I use olive oil, but you can use any vegetable oil in this recipe.

Spices. I love the heat of ancho and chipotle chili powder. You can sub in cayenne chili pepper, smoked paprika or whatever spices up your life. I highly recommend also adding some dashes of gluten free tamari or fish sauce for extra umami flavor.

Toppings. The sky’s the limit on toppings. Chopped jalapeños, avocado slices, dollops of guacamole or sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, sprinkles of vegan or dairy milk cheese, dashes of hot sauce, with chopped cilantro or parsley as the final touch. Pair with a salad and some crusty bread and you’ve got a fully-rounded meal.

Super Easy Vegan Chili Recipe for Non-Vegans

best vegan chili recipe

Rich and Hearty Best Vegan Chili

Yield: Serves 4-6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

A stick-to-your-ribs vegan chili packed with protein and vegetables for a delicious dinner on a cold winter's night.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno finely sliced (optional)
  • 1 red or green pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon each of cumin, ancho/chipotle/cayenne chili pepper
  • 1 lb/454 g veggie ground round or TVP - optional (We like Yves and Gardein brands)
  • 1 can (540 ml/19 fl oz) red kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1 can (540 ml/19 fl oz) black beans, rinsed
  • 1 can (796 ml/28 fl oz) chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 can corn or 1 cup frozen corn
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
  • Chopped parsley or cilantro to taste
  • Toppings: grated vegan cheese, sliced avocados, guacamole, tortilla chips

Instructions

  1. Chop the onion, garlic, green pepper and jalapeno (if using).
  2. Heat the olive oil in the Instant Pot on Saute mode.
  3. Fry the onion, garlic for 5 minutes until softened. Add the green pepper and jalapeno for 2 more minutes. Turn off Saute fuction if the mixture is browning too quickly.
  4. Add the spices and stir for 1 minute.
  5. Add the veggie ground round/TVP (if using) and stir to coat with spices for 2 minutes.
  6. Rise and add the beans.
  7. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, vegetable stock, salt, black pepper, corn and cocoa powder. Stir to combine.
  8. Close lid. Set the Manual Pressure Cooker to 10 minutes and set valve to Seal.
  9. Release pressure valve after 15 minutes and check on thickness. Cook on Saute mode for a few more minutes to reduce liquid if needed.
  10. Servce with chopped cilantro, parsley and vegan cheese and other toppings to taste.

Chili and Me

So here’s my chili story. My earliest chili memory is from childhood. My family and I were out cross-country skiing with friends on a snow-covered golf course in my home town of Kitchener, Ontario. It was a cold day but we worked up a sweat – and a hunger – skiing out on the course.

In the late afternoon, as it was getting dark, we headed over to our friend’s house for dinner. With rosy cheeks, we accepted steaming bowls of chili con carne topped with grated cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream, and proceeded to sit ourselves down in front of the television to watch Bugs Bunny cartoons. It’s one of my favorite winter memories.

So friends, my love of chili is real and goes back decades. And while I may no long meat-it-up, the beauty of my recipe is that it is complete adaptable to your family’s needs and tastes. The little secret addition of a cocoa powder at the end is courtesy of Nigella Lawson, from whom I’ve learned a great deal about the art of cooking. It adds a depth of flavor that is quite fantastic.

However you choose to make your chili, I hope you find inspiration from this recipe. Happy cooking!

Finish this delicious vegan dinner with some of our favorite vegan ice creams.

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