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How to Make Vegan Chili: Perfect Vegan Chili Recipe

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Nov 8, 2020 • 2 min read

You don't need meat to make a stew worthy of a chili cook-off. This meatless, vegan recipe gets its meaty texture from lentils and quinoa, making it the perfect comfort food.



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What Is Vegan Chili Made Of?

Four essential ingredients ensure that your veggie chili is hearty and flavorful.

  • Beans: A variety of different beans, such as black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, and white beans, add texture and richness to vegan chili. You can use cans of beans or beans that you cook yourself on the stovetop or in a slow cooker. Red lentils are essential to the best vegetarian chili recipes since they break down quickly, thickening the chili and giving it a meaty flavor and hearty texture.
  • Grains and seeds: If you're not into vegan ground meat or vegan sausage crumbles, a small amount of gluten-free quinoa or a grain like bulgur can function in much the same way as ground beef would in a typical chili recipe.
  • Spices: You can use a couple tablespoons of chili powder mix to flavor your vegan chili, or you can combine individual spices to adjust the blend to your tastes. Commercial mixes often include cayenne pepper, garlic powder, paprika, oregano, cumin, coriander, cloves, and allspice.
  • Vegetables: The best vegan chilis are packed with fresh veggies for flavor that even meat-eaters will love. Tomatoes add umami, while onion and garlic add a distinctive pungent sweetness. Sweet potatoes and zucchini build on that sweetness and add texture.

8 Toppings for Vegan Chili

The best chili dinner deserves a full toppings bar. Serve your vegan chili with:

  1. Vegan sour cream or cashew cheese
  2. Chopped fresh cilantro leaves and stems
  3. Sliced or cubed avocados
  4. Vegan cornbread
  5. Warm corn tortillas or tortilla chips
  6. Pickled red onions or sliced raw scallions
  7. Lemon or lime wedges
  8. Shredded vegan cheddar cheese
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How Long Does Vegan Chili Last?

If you want to make a large batch of vegan chili for meal prep, you can store it in the fridge for three to five days or freeze it in jars for two to three months, making sure to leave at least an inch of headspace in each jar. Defrost vegan chili in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat the chili in the microwave or on the stovetop, and prepare a fresh set of toppings.

Ultimate Vegan Chili Recipe

Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
1 hr
Cook Time
40 min


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
  • 1 medium sweet potato, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup cooked black beans (canned beans or precooked dried beans)
  • 1 cup cooked kidney beans (canned beans or precooked dried beans)
  • 1 cup cooked pinto beans (canned beans or precooked dried beans)
  • ½ cup lentils, rinsed
  • ½ cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
  • Vegan sour cream, for serving (optional)
  • Sliced scallions, for serving (optional)
  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat olive oil until shimmering. Add onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add peppers, sweet potato, zucchini, and tomatoes and continue to sauté, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and fragrant, about 5 more minutes.
  3. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 more minute.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce to medium heat and simmer until chili has reached the desired consistency, about 30 minutes. Add a little water if necessary, and taste to adjust seasoning. Serve with a dollop of vegan sour cream and a sprinkle of scallions.

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