This delicious and easy Vegan Chili really has it all: beans, tons of veggies, and few flavorful tricks up its sleeve. And like all the best chili recipes, it’s endlessly tweakable; make it spicy, keep it healthy, or load up the bowl with all the toppings you can.
Incorporating more plant-based recipes into your diet is always a good idea. Try the chili with a side of Mexican Rice or Chipotle’s tofu sofritas, a copycat recipe that tastes better than the original, and Homemade Tortilla Chips or cornbread. Follow it up with super moist Lemon Olive Oil Cake, made with vegan buttermilk and tart citrus.
This thrifty recipe is everything you want in a hearty chili, minus the meat. But don’t worry about that; when something tastes this good, no one will miss a thing. At my house, even with kids, it’s wildly popular.
Don’t be afraid to mix it up! I switch up the beans occasionally. Sometimes I add tofu or a handful of cooked brown rice to the pot. Oh, and by the way, it's also gluten-free.
Right before it’s done, I put out little dishes of fresh, crunchy, creamy chili toppings so everyone can customize their meal. (All my greatest hits are listed below, in case you want some inspiration...)
Because it’s made with a jumble of pantry ingredients, everything is ready to eat in about one hour. And just in case you need it, there are options for vegan chili in the Instant Pot and slow cooker, too. So now there’s no excuse not to try it.
Making vegan chili for meal prep or just a big party? Just click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
Here’s what this chili has to make it stand out:
Yes, it’s a hodgepodge of basic vegetarian chili ingredients, but the special ones you should know about are…
- Sweet potatoes. They add natural sweetness and extra body to the chili. Plus I’ve never met a sweet potato that I didn’t like!
- Chipotle chili powder. Adds smokiness and spice. If you don’t have it, try one or two chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (sold in little cans, and a crucial part of my Chicken Tinga recipe).
- Fire-roasted canned diced tomatoes with green chilies. Fire roasted tomatoes are already pretty great, but fire-roasted tomatoes with green chilies? Amazing.
How to make Vegan Chili:
You need a big pot with a heavy bottom—a Dutch oven would be perfect.
- To start, heat some olive oil in the bottom of the pot over medium high heat. Sauté the onions, carrot, celery, bell pepper, chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, thyme, chipotle chili powder, and a little salt and pepper together until the vegetables get soft and tender.
- Then stir in the garlic, sweet potatoes, beans, tomato purée, diced tomatoes (along with the juice) and some water. Give everything a gentle mix. Then bring the chili to a simmer, cover the pot, and let the sweet potatoes cook and the beans soften, at least 30 minutes.
- Next, remove the lid and cook for another 30 minutes to let the chili thicken up.
- Before serving, adjust the seasoning with extra salt and pepper, hot sauce, etc.
- Serve in big bowls with avocado slices, cilantro, or your favorite chili toppings.
Vegan chili in a slow cooker:
- In a slow cooker, combine everything: olive oil, onions, carrot, celery, bell pepper, chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, thyme, chipotle chili powder, beans, tomato purée, diced tomatoes, garlic, and water.
- Next, cook covered for at least 2 hours on HIGH.
- When finished, make one final taste to adjust seasoning, salt and pepper, and spice before serving.
Vegan chili in an Instant pot:
- Use the sauté function to sauté the olive oil, onions, carrot, celery, bell pepper, chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, thyme, and chipotle chili powder. Then add the garlic, tomato purée, diced tomatoes, beans, water, and sweet potato.
- Close and seal the lid and cook for 20 minutes on high pressure. When the time is up, let the pot depressurize naturally.
- Before serving, taste and adjust for spice and seasoning.
Tips for making the best vegan chili:
- Use fresh spices. Dried chilies, chili powder and herbs have shelf lives, too! Make sure your spice cupboard is up to date with the most current stuff. This will make your vegan chili award-winning.
- Dried beans. If you'd rather cook your own beans, that cuts down on the cost even more. For every 15-ounce can of beans you plan to use, switch it out with 1 1/2 cups of cooked beans. Need a dried beans to cooked beans ratio? Sure: 1/2 cup dried beans equals 1 1/2 cups cooked beans (or one 15-ounce can of beans!)
- Add a little acid. A squirt of fresh lime at the end can really give the chili a boost without any added salt. Try it!
- Improvise! Add a block of crumbled tofu to the pot, or your favorite plant-based protein (seitan, tempeh, etc). Switch up the beans. Some cooks like to add cooked brown rice or bulgur to the chili. Let me know how you make this!
- Make ahead. Of course you can. Chili tastes even better the next day. It freezes great for meal prep, too. Just portion, let cool, label and date, then stash it in the freezer for dinner emergencies.
- Leftovers. Enjoy the leftover veggie chili over scrambled eggs, over a bowl of rice with avocado and hot salsa, or wrapped into a burrito. Yum!
My favorite chili toppings:
Some are healthy, others are just plan delicious.
- Hot sauces. Get 'em out! You know you have a refrigerator door full.
- Jalapeño peppers. Fresh and chopped, or pickled out of the jar.
- Cheese. Vegan nut-based cheese to keep it vegan. Or shredded cheddar, pepper jack, queso fresco, etc to make vegetarian chili.
- Creamy things. Avocado. Sour cream, cashew cream, or yogurt.
- Crunchy things. Fritos. Chicharrones. Crumbled potato chips.
- Fresh things. Cilantro, parsley, chopped white onions, scallions.
- Pickled things. Pickled garlic, pickled onions. Pickles!
- Sour things. Lime wedges, a dash of vinegar, or an orange slice.
Vegan Chili Recipe
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 carrot peeled and chopped
- 1 stalk celery chopped
- 1 bell pepper stemmed, seeded, and chopped
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 2 tablespoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder optional, or 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 cloves garlic minced
- 2 pounds sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 (15.5 ounce) cans black beans drained and rinsed
- 1 (28 ounce) can tomato puree
- 2 (10 ounce) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes with green chiles undrained
- 2 cups water
- avocado diced, for serving
- minced fresh cilantro for serving
- sliced scallions for serving
- Heat oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, carrot, celery, bell pepper, chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, thyme, chipotle chili powder (if using), 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook until vegetables have softened, 7 to 10 minutes.
- Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in sweet potatoes, black beans, tomato puree, diced tomatoes and their juice, and water. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender and starting to break down, about 30 minutes.
- Remove lid and continue to simmer until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve avocado, cilantro, and scallions if desired.