This delicious recipe for easy vegan chili comes from Ashley Melilo’s new book, Blissful Basil: Over 100 Plant-Powered Recipes to Unearth Vibrancy, Health, and Happiness. In it, Ashley shares her struggle with anxiety and how “swapping meat, dairy, and processed foods for a vibrant rainbow of whole foods—has played an important role in fostering my well-being.”
Blissful Basil offers a vibrant journey through vegan cooking, where delicious plant-based foods become the colorful foundation for meals that nourish the body and delight the senses.
Today we’re excited to share an easy vegan chili recipe from the book (below). This chili requires just 15 minutes of active prep time and then you can sit back, relax, and occasionally give it a stir. It’s the perfect meal to have simmering in the background on a lazy Sunday afternoon while you binge-watch House of Cards (Frank Underwood, you scare me, but I just can’t quit you).
This vegan chili recipe garners its meatiness from walnuts and sun-dried tomatoes that have been pulsed into a crumble and sautéed with onions, peppers, tomatoes, beans, and an array of spices. Balsamic vinegar and tamari deepen both the flavor and the color of the chili. The balsamic enhances the complexity of the chili’s acidity and mingles with the tomatoes in the loveliest of ways, while the tamari adds an enticing umami quality. A lengthy simmer time melds the flavors together, and then it’s time to serve. Spoon this chili into bowls, pile on the toppings, and serve with a hefty handful of tortilla chips for dipping!
Three Cheers for Easy Vegan Chili
Chili is a great way to get a variety of nutrients in every bite while not having to sacrifice flavor or worry about a high cost. Beans are one of the cheapest staples you can get, especially when buying in bulk! While this recipe calls for canned beans, you’re welcome to use dried beans instead if you so prefer! Either way, be sure to rinse and drain your beans to improve digestion.
Beans are naturally high in protein, fiber, and iron. Just a half cup of cooked black beans offers nearly 10 percent of the recommended daily value for iron and around 8 grams of protein. Combined with the walnut pieces, you’ll be quite the protein machine when eating this easy vegan chili!
If you’re not keen on adding any nuts or seeds to your chili but would still like that classic, meaty texture, there are a few routes you could take!
- Try Some Tofu – If you crumble tofu and flavor it with the chili spices such as paprika, cumin, salt, and oregano then you’ll end up with a delicious addition to your chili. If you’re new to tofu or want to discover some new tricks, check out our tofu guide for a comprehensive rundown!
- Soy-Free, Please – Looking for a soy-free boost to your chili? Beyond Meat Crumbles are an excellent choice to give your meal that extra bit of oomph without having to worry about a sensitivity to soy.
- Remember TVP? – In a time where there are new vegan meat replacements popping up every day, let’s take a moment to reflect on our faithful old friend, Textured Vegetable Protein, which has been around for decades now. TVP is made from soy flour and is a complete protein that contains no fat, making it an excellent substitute for meat. Like tofu, it takes on the flavor of whatever its being cooked with, making it a natural choice for adding to chili!
- Mmm, Mushrooms – Mushrooms are a great way to add texture and flavor to dishes, including this chili! Button mushrooms, portobello, or oyster mushrooms are all excellent choices. For the ultimate infusion of flavor, be sure to sauté your mushrooms with a little salt and spice prior to adding into the chili.
How to Serve Up Your Easy Vegan Chili
While chili is plenty delicious and filling to eat on its own, it also pairs wonderfully with a variety of other dishes. Bread, salad, and sides are all great ideas for rounding out your meal. Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind when planning your culinary creations!
- Cook Up Some Cornbread – Is there truly anything better to go with your chili? Fluffy, tasty, and adorably baked in muffin tins, our Vegan Jalapeño Cornbread Muffins are a fantastic addition to your chunky chili.
- Serve Up Some Salad – Salad makes a great side to this hefty chili and offers a nice contrast in terms of color, texture, and flavor. Our How to Make A Vegan Superhero Salad guide offers some excellent ideas on how to avoid a salad that’s more blah than brilliant. If you like a little pasta in your salad, may we suggest our Fresh Picnic Pasta Salad or Super-Easy Vegan Pasta Salad?
- Sides to Try – If you’re craving a side of something warm and tasty to go with your chili, why not cook up some Asparagus With Garlic, Tomatoes, and a Tahini Drizzle, Vegan Hasselback Potatoes, or Stuffed Mushrooms? The possibilities are truly endless!
Storing Your Chili
If you find yourself with more chili than you can handle, worry not! One of the best things about chili is that it’s perfect for making in bulk to enjoy throughout the week. If sticking in the fridge, allow it to cool and then pour into an airtight container. Freezing instead? Also allow to cool and either pour into freezer-safe resealable bags or an airtight container. When ready to reheat, just defrost overnight and heat up on the stove or microwave if you’re really in a hurry.Print
This is the perfect vegan chili recipe to have simmering in the background on a lazy Sunday afternoon while you binge-watch House of Cards.
- 2 tablespoons of cold-pressed olive oil or vegetable broth
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and diced
- 1 medium poblano pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
- 1 cup of raw walnut pieces
- 3 ounces of no-salt-added, dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons of chili powder
- 1 tablespoon of smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon of sea salt or to taste
- ½ teaspoon of ground coriander
- 2 (28-ounce) cans of unsalted whole peeled tomatoes in juice
- 2 (15-ounce) cans of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (15-ounce) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup of filtered water
- 1–2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
- 1½ tablespoons of reduced-sodium tamari
- 1 tablespoon of pure maple syrup or coconut sugar
- Sliced avocado
- Halved grape tomatoes
- Thinly sliced scallions
- Fresh cilantro, stemmed and chopped
- Crushed tortilla chips
- Cashew Sour Cream (see below)
CASHEW SOUR CREAM
- 1 cup of raw cashews
- ½ – ¾ cup of filtered water
- 1½ tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
- 1–2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon of tahini
- ½ teaspoon of sea salt
FOR THE CHILI
- Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion, red peppers, and poblano pepper, and sauté for 6 minutes, or until the peppers are just beginning to soften and the onions are generously flecked with golden-brown edges, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, add the walnuts and sun-dried tomatoes to a food processor and pulse 30 times, or until roughly minced and crumbly. Transfer to the stockpot along with the garlic, chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, sea salt, and coriander. Decrease the heat to medium-low and sauté for 4 minutes, or until the spices are wafting a rich, toasted scent, stirring frequently.
- Add the whole peeled tomatoes with juice and bring to a simmer, using a spoon to thoroughly crush them to the desired size as they heat. Add the kidney beans, black beans, and water, and continue to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Then, stir in the balsamic vinegar, tamari, and maple syrup, and decrease the heat to medium-low. Partially cover, leaving the lid askew, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
- Cover completely and continue to simmer for at least another 45 minutes but preferably 1 hour or longer, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Taste and season with more sea salt, if desired.
- Ladle into bowls, layer on the toppings, and get cozy. Refrigerate leftovers up to 4 days or freeze for up to 1 month.
FOR THE CASHEW SOUR CREAM
- Add all the ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend on high for 2–3 minutes, or until completely smooth. Transfer to an airtight jar. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Tip: Always thoroughly rinse and drain canned beans. They’re much more digestible after the bubbles are washed away and will prevent your belly from hurting.
- To keep this dish oil-free, opt for vegetable broth instead of olive oil.
- To keep this dish nut-free, use raw shelled sunflower seeds instead of walnuts and omit the Cashew Sour Cream.
- To keep this dish soy-free, swap out the reduced-sodium tamari for coconut aminos.
- If you’re not using a high-speed blender (e.g., Vitamix or Blendtec), soak the cashews in water for 2 hours or boil them for 10 minutes to soften before blending.
- Got leftovers? This chili is even better on the second day after the flavors have mingled overnight!
Keywords: dairy-free, meatless, meat-free, chili, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free
More Bean-Based Recipes to Try:
- Green Chili Soup
- Vegan Chickpea Stew
- Chickpea Noodle Soup
- Simple Two-Bean Vegan Chili
- Vegan Crock Pot Refried Beans
- Easy Vegan 3 Bean Salad—Fiesta Style!
Easy Vegan Chili recipe reprinted from Blissful Basil by arrangement with BenBella Books. Copyright © 2016, Ashley Melillo. Photo by Ashley Melillo. Article written by Michelle Cehn and edited by Amanda Meth. please note that this article contains affiliate links which supports our work at World of Vegan.