December 3, 2020
The Best Vegan Chili
The BEST vegan chili! A hearty, meaty vegan chili without the meat. Rich in umami flavor, you won't miss the meat in this delicious recipe. 

best vegan chili

I got a text a few weeks ago from Whitney asking me what my best vegan chili recipe was. Oh– tough one. A quick glance showed me that I have 10 different chili recipes on my site. All of them good, all packed with various plant-based proteins but to call one of them out over the others? I didn’t know where to start. 

Well, this best vegan chili recipe is when you’re in the mood for the best. A chili that rivals any classic meat one. The kind of chili that you’d expect if you ordered chili at a restaurant, no tempeh, tofu, butternut squash, sweet potatoes or lentils in site. A classic vegan chili for when you’re in the mood for the best. Whitney, this recipe is for you!

best vegan chili

Rarely do I make my own chili base, but for the best vegan chili recipe I pulled out all of the stops. You’re welcome to use chili powder instead (roughly 3-4 tablespoons worth) but I love the smoky, silky taste of creating your own chili pepper base. 

You’ll need dried chilis for this, which you can purchase at most grocery stores or online. It’s one of those ingredients that you don’t think your regular grocery store carries, but once you find it then you remember that you’ve walked past them a thousand times over the years. They are likely in the produce section near the dried mushrooms or in the ethnic/Mexican/Hispanic section of the grocery store. If you can’t find dried new Anaheim or Ancho chili peppers, you can sub in most any other variety. The only caution I’ll give is with chipotle peppers as they add a very distinct smoky taste to chili. 

best vegan chili

Do I have to use dried beans?

You don’t have to use dried beans in this recipe, but cooking the beans in the chili sauce adds a lot of additional spice and flavor. If you substitute in canned beans, I’d recommend a low-salt option to take advantage of the umami-rich soy sauce . You can stick with all pinto beans, or a mix of creamy white beans with heartier pinto beans. 

Do I have to use dried chilis? 

The dried chili base is really what sets this recipe apart, so it’s hard to omit it completely. However, if you do then I’d recommend swapping in 1/4 cup chili powder instead. It seems like a lot, but you need a good base of flavor for 1 pound of dried beans. 

This best vegan chili recipe makes a lot, what do I do with leftovers? 

It’s hard to make small batches of chili from scratch. The process is fairly labor intensive and it’s just as easy to cook 1/2 pound of beans as it is a full one. If you have leftovers, you can freeze them or repurpose them into vegan chili mac or chili-stuffed potatoes. 

 

best vegan chili

The reason this is the best vegan chili is because of the layers upon layers of umami savoriness. From the dried shiitake mushrooms, the tomato paste, the soy sauce– oy! This one is so incredibly meaty and savory, it’s not like other vegan chilis. It’s why I have no problem throwing around words like best; this chili is good and it knows it. 

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best vegan chili

The Best Vegan Chili

  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 1/2 hours
  • Total Time: 52 minute
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: dinner, healthy, chili
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: American, TexMex
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

The BEST vegan chili! A hearty, meaty vegan chili without the meat. Rich in umami flavor, you won’t miss the meat in this delicious recipe.


  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 1/2 hours
  • Total Time: 52 minute
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: dinner, healthy, chili
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: American, TexMex
  • Diet: Vegan
  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 1/2 hours
  • Total Time: 52 minute
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: dinner, healthy, chili
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: American, TexMex
  • Diet: Vegan
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pinto beans
  • 3 dried ancho chili peppers
  • 3 dried New Anaheim peppers
  • 3 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • 12 jalapeno peppers, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large white onions, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes with juice
  • 2/3 cup bulgur wheat
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro

Instructions

  1. Pick over beans and place in a large container and cover with 4 quarts water. Soak at room temperature for about 8 hours. Drain and rinse.
  2. Place dried chili peppers and shiitake mushrooms in the base of a glass jar and cover with 2 cups boiling water. Let soak for 15 minutes, until peppers have softened. Drain, reserving the liquid and remove the stems.
  3. Place the soaked peppers and mushroom in the base of a blender along with the tomato paste, oregano, soy sauce, jalapeños, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic and 1 cup reserved liquid from the peppers. Puree and set aside.
  4. Heat the olive oil in the base of a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and salt and cook stirring often, until onions are browned and reduced, about 10 minutes.
  5. Stir in the chili sauce and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add in the soaked beans and 7 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 1 hour.
  6. Stir in bulgur and tomatoes with their juice and cook, covered, until beans are very tender, about 1 hour – 90 minutes.
  7. Stir in cilantro before serving.

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, Plant-Based Chef and Yoga Instructor. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

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