Some people say vegan chili isn’t as good as the classic stuff. But that’s because they don’t know how to breathe life into it with hefty, meaty flavors that jack it up into extraordinary levels. This vegan chili recipe both have you covered and is one even those that eat meat will love!
Best Vegan Chili Recipe
The best vegan chili replicates those meaty tastes so it not only looks and smells like the original chili, but it also has the right feel and flavor in your mouth. This vegan chili recipe made with tofu crumbles, you won’t believe it’s vegan unless you’re the one doing the cooking!
Vegan Chili Ingredients
- Meaty tofu crumbles – You’ll make this meatless chili recipe with firm tofu, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, chili powder, and smoked paprika. It tastes just like meat when you’re done!
- Yellow onion – Give it a fine choppin’.
- Garlic – Mince the cloves.
- Crushed tomato cans – You’ll need 2 of these at 28 ounces each.
- Beans – Lots of beans needed here for this vegan bean chili! You’ll need black beans and kidney beans, drained and rinsed.
- Water – Evens out the consistency of your vegan chili.
- Maple syrup – Adds sweetness in a vegan-friendly way.
- Cocoa powder – A key element to give this vegan chili and earthy and rich taste, like meat.
- Vegan Chili Seasonings – You’ll need chili powder, ground cumin, smoked paprika, oregano, and salt and pepper. Cayenne pepper is optional if you want some spice.
- Vegan Chili Toppings – You may want to serve your vegan chili with red onion, cilantro, tortilla strips, and fresh lime.
Easy Vegan Chili Recipe
With such a lengthy ingredient list, you’ll be glad to know that even one of my matches takes longer to make than this vegan chili. From start to finish, you’re looking at an hour. But it makes a lot which you can enjoy for meal prep or serve at your next party.
How do you Make Vegan Chili from Scratch?
You’ll start by handling the tofu crumbles. Heat the oven to 350F and mix soy sauce, nutritional yeast, chili powder, and smoked paprika to form a pasty mix. Add the tofu to it, breaking it apart into the bowl. Mix this up, then bake for 15 minutes, stir, and bake another 20 minutes. Meanwhile, make the rest of the chili by heading olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion until translucent, then garlic, cooking for 2 more minutes while constantly stirring. Then the rest of the ingredients all go in except for the tofu. Turn up the heat to medium-high, get it boiling, then lower it down to low and simmer 25 minutes. When the tofu is ready, add it to the chili and stir to incorporate. Then serve!
Expert Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Vegan Chili Recipe Every Time
- Don’t just add tofu. If you do, you’re going to get vegan chili that tastes, well, not that great. That tofu needs umami which comes from the soy sauce and nutritional yeast, giving it the taste and feel of meat.
- Yes, use the cocoa powder. It makes this vegan chili have the kind of depth the meaty versions have and improves the texture.
- Let it simmer. Pay attention for when it starts boiling and then let this stuff just simmer on down. All the flavors will blend together perfectly.
- Add the tofu in last. Once you’ve made those meaty tofu crumbles in the oven, they can be added to the chili so you can finish things up and serve it.
What is vegan chili made of?
This vegan chili is made with meaty tofu crumbles, onion, garlic, crushed tomatoes, black beans, kidney beans, maple syrup, chili powder, cumin, cocoa powder, smoked paprika, oregano, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper.
What ingredient makes vegan chili better?
Something that balances savory with sweet like maple syrup will make chili better. Additionally with vegan chili, it will taste better with a little cocoa powder to give it a meatier taste and texture.
How to Cook Vegan Chili?
Making the meaty tofu crumbles requires your oven, but the rest of the recipe is done in one big pot on your stovetop, just like any other type of chili.
How can I thicken my vegan chili?
This recipe for vegan chili will give you a nice, thick texture. If you find it’s too watery though, you can add a cornstarch slurry which should help thicken things up and keep it vegan.
What is a good meat substitute for chili?
Making meaty tofu crumbles is the best substitute for meat in chili. With a few simple ingredients, you will give firm tofu the taste and umami texture of meat that makes it the perfect substitute.
Can you substitute chickpeas in chili?
Yes, if you don’t have kidney beans or you despise them, you can use chickpeas instead. They offer many nutritional benefits too so it will make your vegan chili even healthier.
What goes well with Vegan Chili?
Vegan chili is awesome with any kind of potatoes – regular or sweet – and in any kind of format. So enjoy! And add a salad, a side of vegan mac n’ cheese, your favorite vegan-friendly breads (even cornbread), or slather it on top of a vegan hotdog.
Can you buy vegan chili?
Of course you can buy vegan chili. However, it is easy to make it yourself and will taste better too.
How to store Vegan Chili?
Vegan chili may not have meat but it still needs to be kept refrigerated. Let it cool completely first before putting it into airtight containers.
How long does Vegan Chili last?
You’ll have from 3 to 5 days to eat your vegan chili from the fridge. If you made lots and lots of the stuff though, have no fear for your freezer can be of service.
Can you freeze Vegan Chili?
You got that right – vegan chili can be securely stowed in your freezer. I recommend making sure you leave some space at the top of your airtight containers first as it will expand. You can keep it in there for 2 to 3 months.
How to reheat Vegan Chili?
Just warm it in a pot on the stove and you’ll be good to go with your vegan chili for round 2, round 3, or however many you need for a knockout.
Watch How To Make Vegan Chili (Video)
Chuck's Vegan Chili Recipe
Meaty Tofu Crumbles
- 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce (use tamari if you want gluten free)
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 14 oz firm tofu
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 yellow onion (finely chopped)
- 5 garlic cloves (minced)
- 2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
- 2 15 oz cans black beans (drained and rinsed)
- 2 15 oz cans kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
- 3 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1 cup water
- 2 tsp cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp pepper (to taste)
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional, spicy!)
- 1 tsp salt (to taste)
- red onion (optional topping)
- cilantro (optional topping)
- tortilla chips or strips (optional topping)
- fresh lime (optional topping)
Tofu Chunks (meatless):
- Start by preheating your oven to 350F. While the oven is heating, Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, add your soy sauce, nutritional yeast, chili powder, and smoked paprika and mix together until you have a pasty mixture. Next, add your tofu while breaking apart as you add it to the bowl. With a mixing spoon, mix together until well combined.
- Using your lined baking sheet and a spatula, spread your tofu mixture evenly in the sheet and bake for 15 minutes. At the 15 minute mark, take out the tofu to stir around. Put the tofu back into the oven and cook for another 20 minutes. While the tofu is cooking you can start making the chili.
For the Chili:
- Using a large pot over medium heat on the stove, add your olive oil. Chop you onion and saute for about 4 minutes until the onion becomes translucent. Next, add in your chopped garlic and cook for 2 more minutes while continuously stirring.
- Next, Add in all of the remaining ingredients, except the tofu and stir to evenly combine in your pot. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to low and simmer for about 25 minutes while the tofu chunks finishing baking in the oven.
- When your meatless tofu chunks are done baking, add them to the pot and stir to incorporation evenly. Serve with your favorite toppings like cilantro, tomatoes, vegan friendly sour cream, tortilla chips, vegan cheese, and fresh cut chives.