The Best Vegan Chili Ever

This recipe for vegan chili has been part of our “go to” meal line up for years. It has made appearances at fund raisers, family dinners and pot luck suppers, getting rave reviews. You will love how simple and fast it is to pull together and how easy it is to multiply the recipe.

I first made this chili when my kids were young and we served it with a bowl of corn chips. We called it as “thick enough to sit on a chip chili”. Most days we still eat it that way, but it is also great with a side of corn bread or rice. This chili developed an enthusiastic following at a rowing fund raiser we were involved in for years, causing people to start asking for the “vegetarian chili”. I called it that because I realized that people often associate vegetarian with being healthy and vegan as being extreme.

When they asked about the chili, I would smile and say, “It is actually vegan. But I knew some people would be afraid to try it if I called it ‘vegan chili’.” Because of the popularity of this vegan chili we have had many opportunities to share vegan food with friends, family and strangers.

A year ago, my son and his girlfriend, students at Bowdoin College, used the recipe for a chili cook-off in one of the dining halls. While it did not win, the dining service was impressed enough with the chili to make it part of their regular rotation of vegan offerings in the dining halls. That is a win to me!

As I mentioned, this vegan chili recipe was created when my kids were small so the level of heat and spice in the basic recipe is appealing to the gentlest of palates. We have since turned up the heat by adding hot sauce or red pepper flakes to the recipe and I often add a tablespoon of hot sauce and a tablespoon of agave. Consequently, you can adjust it to your own level of desired heat quite easily.

The Best Vegan Chili Ever
The Best Vegan Chili Ever


  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 medium white onions, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 Tbs chili powder
  • 1 1/2 cups each of cooked kidney, black and garbanzo beans (or 1 (15oz) can of each – rinsed)
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 28 oz can crushed tomato
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 Tbs agave syrup or sugar


  1. sauté onions in olive oil until tender
  2. add spices and cook additional 1 – 2 minutes
  3. add tomato paste and stir for 1 minute
  4. add remaining ingredients and heat, covered, over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, for about 30 min.

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