This Vegan Chili Recipe Will Be Your New Staple

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. Turns out, you don’t need meat or dairy to make a rich, savory stew. In fact, our vegan chili is one of our top-rated chili recipes—flavorful and hearty with the help of beans, tomatoes and plenty of veggies and spices. No ground beef to be found here!

Key Ingredients in Vegan Chili

Tomatoes: You can’t have chili without tomatoes! Instead of using plain canned tomatoes, grab a spiced variety. Mexican-style stewed tomatoes add a welcome kick to every bite.

Vegetables: While the onion and green pepper are great additions on their own, caramelizing them will add another layer of flavor—which is especially helpful in a recipe without meat.

Beans: Pinto and kidney beans give this vegan chili its heartiness.

Corn: Since chili is known for its rich, spicy flavors, adding a sweet vegetable balances the flavor profile. In this recipe, corn gives a fresh, sweet crunch.

Spices: Toasting the chili powder and cumin in a dry skillet over medium heat will bring out more flavor than if you had added it straight from the container. You’ll also need to add salt and pepper at the end, to help bring everything together.

How to Make the Best Vegan Chili

This vegan recipe by our Taste of Home Test Kitchen makes 11 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) stewed tomatoes
  • 1 can (10 ounces) diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 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 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Step 1: Saute the aromatics

How to Make Vegan Chili featuring Taste of Home's Chunky Vegetarian Chili recipe; Step 1; Build a flavor base for the sauce in a Dutch ovenTMB Studio

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

Test Kitchen 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 in comparison.

Step 2: Add the rest of the ingredients

How to Make Vegan Chili featuring Taste of Home's Chunky Vegetarian Chili recipe; Step 2; Add rest of the ingredients to sauteed vegetablesTMB Studio

Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot, and stir to incorporate.

Step 3: Stew the vegan chili

How to Make Vegan Chili featuring Taste of Home's Chunky Vegetarian Chili recipeTMB Studio

Bring the liquid to a 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.

Step 4: 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, pepper or spice as needed, then serve. Don’t forget to check out our most popular vegetarian chili recipes.

Test Kitchen Tip: If you want the chili even thicker, simmer the soup, uncovered, to eliminate excess liquid. You can even stir in some masa harina at the end, which not only thickens the soup, but also adds a little corn flavor.

Tips for Making Vegan Chili

anonymous person stirring taste of home's vegan chiliTMB Studio

Can you add vegan meat alternatives to this vegan chili recipe?

Yes—if you want the chili to be even heartier, feel free to add your choice of plant-based meat substitute, whether it’s tofu crumbles, tempeh or slices of your favorite vegan sausage. Figure out which is the best option for you in our guide to plant-based meats.

Can you make vegan chili ahead of time?

Of course! Chili is one of the best make-ahead meals out there, as it gets more flavorful the longer it sits.

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 to 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.

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
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Kelsey Dimberg
A former senior digital editor at Taste of Home, Kelsey now writes articles and novels from her home in Chicago. Since 2010, she’s followed a gluten-free diet, and especially enjoys the challenge of baking sourdough bread and pizza dough. As a contributing writer for Taste of Home, she covers a broad range of topics but with a special emphasis on gluten-free cooking and baking. Outside of her gluten-free experiments in the kitchen, Kelsey is also the author of the thriller novel “Girl in the Rearview Mirror.”