Slightly sweet, smoky, and bold – just exactly how I love my vegan chili.
This vegan chili will give you the textures and flavors of your traditional chili con carne, but without the meat. We’re going sin carne here aka vegan.
To achieve a chewy, robust, meaty texture in our vegan chili, we will be pan-frying the tofu over high heat. Additionally, we’ll be cooking up our chopped mushrooms until the liquid has been cooked off and it darkens to a deep golden brown.
Because, you know, Maillard’s reaction makes everything taste better.
Feel free to adjust this recipe to your liking. Just remember the basics:
- To balance out the acidity, use a pinch of sugar.
- To bring out an umami flavor, add soy sauce, mushroom umami seasonings, or salt-based seasonings.
- To thicken up the chili, add a dash of all-purpose flour.
- Taste throughout the cooking process.
- Get familiar with dry, pantry seasonings and how they can better serve your tastebuds.
To complete this dish, I used Tofutti’s vegan sour cream and boxed cornbread mix (because I am very lazy and I just didn’t want to make that from scratch).
Just keep in mind that some boxed cornbreads have lard or animal-based products. Check the ingredients label.
Btw: if you’re wondering how you can make boxed cornbread without dairy or eggs – just use dairy-free milk and leave out the eggs. That’s it. I just added a bit more melted vegan butter to the batter to introduce more moisture and flavor.
These suggestions are also dependent on the brand – but always test things out!
More Soup + Stew Recipes:
Can I Use Dry Beans For This Vegan Chili Recipe?
You may use dry beans for this recipe, however, keep in mind it will extend the cooking process. First, soak the beans overnight and cook them over a simmer with salt.
Once the beans are tender, they may be introduced to the recipe along with the rest of the ingredients.
Although I use both canned and dry beans, I decided to go with canned beans for this recipe to significantly reduce the cooking time and have a recipe that’s a bit more approachable.
Can I Make Chili Without Beans?
As much as I am a sucker for beans – they are cheap, versatile, and delicious, I can understand why not everyone can get behind a bean-heavy dish.
Fun fact: my mother hates beans but she still cooked it for us growing up. She says, “beans are too mushy.” But she would use bean water or “juice” and pour it over freshly cooked rice. That’s where all the flavor is anyway, I get it.
If you want to opt-out of the beans, add more tofu and mushrooms to the recipe to get achieve a hearty chili texture. Toss a handful of frozen corn to bring balance, flavor, and sweetness to the chili. You can also use other legumes including lentils or chickpeas.
How Long Can I Store Homemade Vegan Chili?
Vegan chili may be stored in an air-tight container or bag for up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
Chili can keep in the freezer for much longer. When properly stored in a freezer-grade bag container or bag, it can be kept in the freezer for about 4 months. It must be stored at 0 degrees Fahrenheit to circumvent bacteria growth.
Quick + Dirty Storage Tips:
- Package chili in smaller containers or bags to make for easier heat and serve – especially if you might only need one or two servings later.
- Ziplock freezer-grade bags are great for storing food. However, if you want to use an environmentally friendly bag, go for a reusable silicone bag.
- Push out as much air as possible from the freezer-grade bags to prevent freezer burn. This can be done with a vacuum sealer or by using the immersion method.
What Can I Serve With Chili?
Think of the classics! Sure, this is meat-free, but we can still use the sides and toppings we enjoy. Here are some ideas:
- A dollop of vegan sour cream
- Tortilla chips
- Freshly cooked rice
- A side of steamed corn
- Sliced jalapeños
- Mushroom bacon
- Diced onions
- Saltine crackers
- Sliced avocado
Want to try out more chili recipes? Check out our vegetarian tofu chili with beans, corn and not-beef broth.
Vegan Chili Recipe
- 1 block firm tofu drained, pressed
- 8 ounces common mushrooms chopped
- 1 small sweet onion chopped
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon cumin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon mushroom umami seasoning
- 1 15 ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1 15 ounce can red kidney beans drained
- 1 15 ounce can white kidney beans drained
- 4 cups water
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 cup frozen corn
- Add 1 teaspoon of oil to a non-stick pan over high heat. Crumble tofu directly into the pan, cook until there are golden bits throughout. Set aside.
- In the same pan, lower temperature to medium. Add 1 teaspoon of oil and chopped mushroom. Cook mushrooms until liquid have been cooked off and golden. Set aside.
- Add a teaspoon of oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
- Next, add the dry seasonings to the sauted onions and garlic. (chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, mushroom umami seasoning, salt).
- Mix together and cook for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Pour in the roasted tomatoes and mix everything together. Allow everything to simmer for 1-2 minutes.
- Pour in the red kidney beans and white kidney beans. Add 4 cups of water and increase heat. Once at a boil, lower heat to simmer.
- Finally, add the cooked tofu and mushroom. Add frozen corn (optional). Simmer the chili for 1 hour with the lid slightly ajar. Stir occassionally.
- Be sure to use regular firm tofu. Silken tofu will not work for this recipe.
- Common white mushrooms were used in this recipe, but brown mushrooms will work too.
- I chopped everything up by hand, but if you’re fancier than I am, use that food processor.
- For added thickness, drain but do not rinse the canned beans. The starch will help thicken the stew.
- Optional: to balance out the acidity, add a dash of sugar. To thicken the stew, add a bit of flour, 1 teaspoon at a time until it’s thick enough to your liking.
Did you try out this Vegan Chili Recipe?