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Vegan Chili Recipe

This is my go-to vegan chili recipe that I've adopted over the years from other recipes and through my own trial and error. It is definitely bean forward which could be considered sacrilege in certain parts of the country, but the spices and flavorings give these beans some real meaty flavor so you won't miss the beef. 

This recipe is awesomely simple because it is quick and easy enough to make on a week night using common pantry and fridge ingredients and comes in at a crazy low price of $0.95 per bowl size portion based on grocery store ingredient prices. Could be even cheaper using bulk or homegrown ingredients.


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow or white onion, diced (about 1.5 cups)
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or 1/2 tsp dried garlic
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste or chipotle in adobo sauce or half of both
  • 1 packet of your favorite taco seasoning or make your own (try 2 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp onion powder)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 cup of your favorite jarred salsa
  • 4 14 oz cans beans drained or 1 pound dried beans cooked using my simple instant pot method - any combination of pinto, black, or kidney (my personal go-to for this is 100% black beans)
  • 1-2 cups water depending on how thick or thin you want the chili
  • 1.5 tap vegan Worcestershire sauce (Annie's brand makes a good one or use the Lea & Perrins classic if you are okay with anchovies)
  • 1.5 tsp soy sauce


  • Work your way from the top down on the ingredients list. Start by chopping the onion, peppers, and garlic.
  • Heat a dutch over or large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and peppers and allow to sweat for 5 minutes until translucent. If they start to brown, lower the heat level.
  • Add the garlic, tomato or chipotle paste, and spices and cook 1-2 minutes to open up the flavor molecules.
  • Add the salsa and cook it down until everything thickens and starts to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the water, cooked, drained beans and other liquid flavoring ingredients.
  • Bring everything to a simmer and cook for another 5-10 minutes for the flavorings to come together. Taste to adjust seasonings. If too sour from the salsa, you can add some sugar to balance it. If too bland, add more salt. If too thin, allow to simmer longer. If too thick, add more water. If not spicy enough, add cayenne pepper or diced jalapenos. If too salty or spicy, unfortunately not much you can do except adjust the recipe for next time.
  • Serve it as is or doll it up as you would any regular chili.