Easy Vegan Chili Recipe
This vegan chili recipe, also known as chili sin carne, is bursting with warming and hearty flavours, making it ideal for a comforting dinner on a cold night. The texture is rich and thick, with a great amount of spice. It’s also great for batch cooking and even tastier the next day!
I’ve been making this vegan chili recipe over and over again! Sometimes, I shamelessly eat it for dinner 3 days in a row and it just never gets old. When the weather is cold and gloomy, comfort food gets me through it.
And it’s hard to get more cosy than a rich and spicy chili! It’s one of the recipes that appears on my meal rotation as soon as the colder seasons roll around. I remember when I was at uni, this was one of my favorite student-friendly meals that made the process of writing essays much more enjoyable. I mean, it’s always great when you have homemade comfort food to look forward to after a busy day.
I’m sure you will love this one too if you give it a go, if you’re like me and love wholesome, cozy meals. Vegetarian chilies can be a little bit tricky. Some turn out too watery, others lack flavour. Fear not, because neither mistake applies here.
Why you will love this vegan chili recipe
If you’re looking for a new dinner idea, this one is for you! It is…
Incredibly flavourful. Don’t fear the flavour of bland tomatoes with just a little bit of salt. Despite the ease of preparation, this meatless chili has a fantastic flavour profile. A few ingredients that are listed below really add all the features that are essential for a great chili.
Perfectly spiced. It’s important to be generous with the spices here! As well as the obvious chilli peppers and paprika, we are adding cumin, garlic powder and dried herbs that work incredibly well together.
Easy to make. Even though the chili needs time to cook down, the entire preparation process is pretty hands-off. Most of it involves stirring together the ingredients in a pan, and then waiting for the dish to cook and really come together.
Made with just simple ingredients. Absolutely nothing fancy here! But this certainly doesn’t sacrifice on flavour. The ingredients involve lots of vegetables for an amazing texture.
Even tastier the next day. Chili has a tendency to taste even better the next day because this gives the flavours to really develop – so, I would recommend making a little bit extra to leave in the fridge. This also makes it excellent for batch cooking and meal prep.
Ingredients you will need
- Olive oil. Olive oil, in my experience, works super well in chili recipes and really brings out the flavor of the vegetables.
- Onion. Either red or white onion works well.
- Red chilli pepper. Great for adding spice. Choose the exact variety depending on how spicy you want it to be.
- Garlic. Always an essential! I love adding a hint of garlic to my savory meals.
- Red and yellow bell peppers. They’re both super sweet, a feature which really comes out during the cooking process.
- Celery. This is great for adding texture and an extra layer of heartiness to meals like chilies and stews.
- Tomato paste. This is an essential ingredient for adding tanginess, and really enhances the flavor profile of the dish when cooked down.
- Dried oregano and thyme. A herby undertone works very well in this vegetarian chili, without overwhelming it.
- Beans: I used black beans and red kidney beans. However, you can use any bean variety of your choice.
- Canned tomatoes. Opt for a finely-chopped, good quality variety to ensure that they have maximum flavor.
- Spices: for this recipe, you will need cumin, garlic powder and smoked paprika. As you will see in the recipe card, you will need a generous amount of paprika to create the signature spicy, smoky flavor of chili.
- Apple cider vinegar. This really helps to add more tanginess to bring the dish together.
- Plant based milk of your choice. If you want the chili to be even more rich and creamy, use canned coconut milk.
- Coconut sugar. You can also use brown sugar, or maple syrup/another liquid sweetener of your choice.
- Soy sauce. In order to make this dish gluten-free, use tamari of coconut aminos.
- Lemon juice. Lime juice works too. Adjust the amount you use depending on your preference. A hint of citrus in savory dishes like this one works exceptionally well.
- Dark chocolate. A small amount is a must-have finishing touch for chili, because it helps to add more richness and depth of flavor. You can also use cacao powder.
How to make an amazing vegan chili
Firstly, heat the olive oil in a non-stick pan over a medium-high heat. Next, add the onion, chilli pepper, garlic, bell peppers and celery. Cook for 5 minutes, until the vegetables start to soften.
Now add the tomato paste, dried oregano and thyme. Continue cooking for 2-3 minutes more.
Next, add the beans, canned tomatoes, cumin, garlic powder, smoked paprika, apple cider vinegar, plant based milk and coconut sugar. Bring to a light simmer over a medium heat and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it starts to dry out, add more plant based milk or some vegetable stock.
Add the soy sauce and lemon juice, then continue simmering for a further 15 minutes.
At the end, season to taste with salt and pepper and add the dark chocolate. Continue stirring for a further 2-3 minutes, then remove from the heat. Allow the chili to rest for 5-10 minutes, then serve.
How to serve a vegetarian chili
The great thing about vegan chili is that it pairs with so well with any side dish of your choice! I love to serve it garnished with fresh coriander or scallions. You can also serve it with:
- My favorite vegan cornbread. This has to be one of the most delicious ways to eat a veggie chili.
- Rice, quinoa, or roast potatoes on the side.
- Vegan sour cream or dairy-free yogurt, which is wonderful for balancing out the spiciness.
- Tortilla chips or nachos.
- Chunky guacamole, which also balances out the flavors of the chili perfectly.
- Grated vegan cheese! Because cheese is a good idea.
- Vegan ‘buttermilk’ biscuits.
Instructions for storage and freezing
Chili is an amazing make-ahead meal, because leaving it in the fridge overnight allows the flavors to develop even further and acquire more depth and richness. You can store it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat it in the microwave or on the stove, adding plant based milk or vegetable stock if necessary.
You can also freeze it for up to 2 months in a freezer-friendly container or ziplock bags. Leave to thaw fully in the fridge before reheating on the stove or in the microwave.
Other comforting vegan dinners you’ll love
- If you love chili, then my white bean chili is a must-try for you.
- A corn chowder with potatoes always makes a wonderful dinner.
- You can’t go wrong with sweet potato pasta!
- You must also try my easy lentil bolognese.
- My French onion soup is super comforting and delicious.
Let me know in the comments: what dishes do you always love during the colder seasons? If you give this vegan chili recipe a go, be sure to tag me on Instagram (@earthofmariaa) so I can see your creations, and leave your feedback in the comments below, together with a star rating. I’d love to hear from you!
Get the Recipe: Easy Vegan Chili Recipe
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 small red chilli, de-seeded and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
- 1 medium yellow bell pepper, diced
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cans chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup plant based milk
- 1 tbsp coconut sugar
- 1 lemon, juice of
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/3 oz dark chocolate
- Non-stick pan
- Heat the olive oil in a non-stick pan over a medium-high heat. Next, add the onion, chilli pepper, garlic, bell peppers and celery. Cook for 5 minutes, until the vegetables start to soften.1 tbsp olive oil, 1 medium onion, 1 small red chilli, 3 cloves garlic, 1 medium red bell pepper, 1 medium yellow bell pepper, 2 ribs celery
- Add the tomato paste, dried oregano and thyme. Continue cooking for 2-3 minutes more.1/4 cup tomato paste, 2 tsp dried oregano, 2 tsp dried thyme
- Add the beans, canned tomatoes, cumin, garlic powder, smoked paprika, apple cider vinegar, plant based milk and coconut sugar. Bring to a light simmer over a medium heat and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it starts to dry out, add more plant based milk or some vegetable stock.1 can black beans, 1 can red kidney beans, 2 cans chopped tomatoes, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tbsp garlic powder, 2 tbsp smoked paprika, 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 cup plant based milk, 1 tbsp coconut sugar
- Add the soy sauce and lemon juice, then continue simmering for a further 15 minutes.2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 lemon
- Season to taste with salt and pepper and add the dark chocolate. Continue stirring for a further 2-3 minutes, then remove from the heat.
- Allow the chili to rest for 5-10 minutes, then serve.