This Is the Vegan Chili Recipe You’ve Been Waiting For

Think a delicious chili isn't possible without meat or dairy? Think again! This vegan chili is rich and hearty, thanks to several smart tricks.

Nothing says cozy like a bowl of chili—it’s one of our favorite fall foods. Turns out, you don’t need meat or dairy to make a rich, savory chili. In fact, one of our top-rated chili recipes is actually vegan!

How to Make the Best Vegan Chili

Start with a robust flavor base. Sauteing chopped vegetables draws out a sweet, rich flavor that will infuse the other ingredients.

Build flavor in the canned tomatoes. Instead of using plain canned tomatoes, grab a spiced variety. Mexican-style stewed tomatoes add a kick to the stew.

Add sweetness. Chili is known for its rich, spicy flavors. Add a sweet vegetable to balance the flavor profile. In this recipe, corn gives a fresh, sweet crunch.

See what chili recipes look like across America.

Vegan Chili Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) Mexican-style stewed tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (11 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained
  • 2-1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked long grain rice
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Instructions

Step 1: Saute aromatics

First up, build a flavor base for the sauce. In a Dutch oven, warm a tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Saute onion, green pepper and garlic until tender.

Editor’s Tip: For extra sweetness, you can caramelize the onion. Cook the onion on its own over low heat until it’s tender and golden. After the onion is fairly soft, add the green pepper and garlic, which only take a few moments to cook.

Step 2: Stew the chili

Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot. Bring the liquid to boil, and then immediately lower the heat and cover the pot. Allow the chili to simmer for about 20 or 25 minutes, until the rice is tender.

This unusual vegan ingredient is a fantastic cheese substitute.

Step 3: Adjust for flavor and thickness

As it cooks, some liquid will be absorbed; add water for a soupier chili, or don’t add anything if you like a thicker, saucier chili.

When the chili’s finished to your liking, taste it for seasoning. Add extra salt or spice as needed, then serve.

Vegan Chili Toppings

To have the best vegan chili, you’ll need plenty of toppings. Here are some tasty ways to top your bowl:

  • vegan sour cream
  • vegan cheese or nutritional yeast
  • crumbled tortilla chips or Fritos
  • chopped cilantro
  • dash of vinegar
  • sliced fresh or pickled jalapenos
  • diced avocado
  • diced red onions
  • lime wedge
  • sliced radish
  • chopped walnuts or peanuts

We found the best vegan cheese for your chili, too.

How Long Is Vegan Chili Good For?

This vegan chili recipe will last for about 5 days in the fridge when stored in an airtight container. You can also store the chili in the freezer for 2-3 months.

To use, let the vegan chili defrost in the fridge overnight. Then, reheat it in a saucepan, stirring occasionally and adding a bit of water, if necessary.

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Kelsey Rae Dimberg
A former in-house editor at Taste of Home, Kelsey now writes articles and novels from her home in Milwaukee. She's an avid cook, reader, flâneur, and noir fanatic. Her debut novel, Girl in the Rearview Mirror, will be published in June 2019 by William Morrow.