This easy vegan chili is thick, hearty, and loaded with beans, tempeh, butternut squash, and lots of vegetables! It's made in one pot and it's ready to eat in less than one hour. Serve with slices of cornbread for a delicious plant-based meal!
In my opinion, this is the best vegan chili recipe ever! It's super easy to make in one pot, it's extremely flavorful, and it's ready to eat in less than one hour!
What makes this chili extra special is the butternut squash and tempeh. Tempeh takes the place of meat and gives it a delicious chunky, ground beef-like texture, and the squash adds a unique flavor that I really think you're going to love. You can make this chili in the slow cooker or on the stovetop and it's naturally oil-free and gluten-free.
How Do You Make Vegan Chili From Scratch?
Start by sauteing the onions until they're soft and translucent. Next, add the tomato paste, minced garlic, and all of the dry seasonings. Stir and let it cook for a few minutes to toast the spices.
Add the rest of the ingredients except for the lime juice, and let it cook until the squash is tender. Lastly, stir in the fresh lime juice and taste it to see if you want to add any more salt or seasonings. Garnish each bowl with your favorite toppings before serving.
Toppings are my favorite part, I love to load it up! My favorite toppings are:
- Pickled Jalapenos
- Dairy-Free Sour Cream
- Cauliflower Cheese Sauce
- Sliced Green Onions
- Avocado Slices
- Fresh Cilantro
- Shredded Cheese
If you want to make a side dish to serve with the meal, any of the following recipes would be a great choice.
- Baked Potatoes
- Lemon Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower
- Baked Sweet Potatoes
- Creamy Broccoli Salad
- Maple Balsamic Brussels Sprouts
- Cilantro Lime Quinoa
How Long Does it Last in the Refrigerator?
Put the leftovers in an airtight container and store it in the fridge for 4-5 days.
Can I Freeze It?
Yes, this butternut squash tempeh chili freezes perfectly! Put it in an airtight container in the freezer for 3-4 months for the best quality.
How to Reheat It
When you're ready to reheat it, take the container out of the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge for 24 hours. Then you can warm it up in a covered bowl in the microwave for a few minutes, or you can put it in a saucepan on the stovetop over medium heat until it's warmed through.
Slow Cooker Instructions
You can easily make this vegan chili in a slow cooker. Put all of the ingredients into a large slow cooker and stir to combine. Depending on how much time you have available, you can set it to cook for 3-4 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low.
Notes & Substitutions
- Bean Options: I used black beans and kidney beans, but you could really use any beans you like. I've made this recipe before with great northern beans, pinto beans, and black-eyed peas and it's always delicious.
- Tempeh Substitutions: If you don't want to use tempeh, you could substitute tofu crumbles, cooked quinoa, chopped walnuts, or meatless crumbles.
- Butternut Squash Substitutions: You can substitute any type of squash or sweet potatoes for the butternut squash.
- You don't have to cook the tempeh before you add it to the vegan chili. Simply unwrap the block and break it up into crumbles with your fingers and put it in the pot.
- If this is your first time using tempeh, you might be alarmed by the white or black film that is on the block of tempeh. This discoloration is completely normal and is a result of the fermentation process.
- I used frozen chunks of butternut squash because I find cutting a whole fresh squash to be difficult. If you can't find frozen squash, chopped sweet potatoes are a great substitute.
- Make sure you use chili powder that's a blend of spices like cumin, paprika, garlic, and onion powder. You don't want to use chili powder that's only blended peppers like cayenne pepper because that would be very spicy.
- Store leftover vegan chili in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days or you can freeze it for a future meal.
Want More Hearty Bean Recipes?
Sweet Potato Black Bean Burritos
Vegan Butternut Squash Tempeh Chili
- 6-quart Dutch Oven or a Large Soup Pot
- ¼ cup vegetable broth (to saute)
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 4 medium garlic cloves minced
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 tbsp chili powder (make sure it's a seasoning blend)
- 2 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp cumin
- ¼ tsp chili pepper flakes (add more to taste)
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 4-5 drops liquid hickory smoke (optional)
- 28 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (with the juice)
- ½ tbsp maple syrup
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup water (optional - depends on how thick you like your chili to be)
- (2) 10 oz bags frozen butternut squash chunks
- 2 medium red bell peppers diced (seeds and membranes removed)
- (2) 15 oz cans black beans (rinsed and drained)
- (2) 15 oz cans kidney beans (rinsed and drained)
- 1 block tempeh crumbled or chopped
- 10 oz bag frozen corn
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- In a large pot over medium heat, saute the diced onion in ¼ cup vegetable broth until it's soft and translucent. Add the minced garlic, tomato paste, chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, chili pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Stir and let it cook for 2 minutes. Add more liquid if it gets too dry.
- Next, add the Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, diced tomatoes (with the juice), maple syrup, vegetable broth, water, frozen butternut squash, red pepper, black beans, kidney beans, crumbled tempeh, and frozen corn. Stir to combine and increase the heat to bring it to a low simmer. Cover and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Let it cook for 30-35 minutes or until the squash is tender.
- Stir in the lime juice and add more salt or seasonings to taste. Garnish each bowl with a dollop of dairy-free sour cream, sliced green onions, fresh cilantro, and pickled jalapenos.
- If you want to use dried beans, use 1 cup of dried black beans and 1 cup of dried kidney beans instead of the 4 cans of beans.
- You can use fresh or frozen butternut squash. If you need a substitute, sweet potatoes are a good option.
- Make sure you use a chili powder blend (cumin, paprika, garlic, onion, etc.) and not straight blended chile powder (like only cayenne pepper) because that would be extremely spicy.
- Store leftovers in the fridge for 4-5 days or you can freeze it for a future meal.
*This recipe was originally posted on 3/24/18, but I updated it on 12/3/20.
SO good!! And like most soups/chili's it was even better as leftovers. Only substitution we made was impossible meat for the tempeh. Thanks for the awesome recipe!
Thank you! I'm so happy you enjoyed it!
This is a yummy chili recipe (and it makes A LOT!)! I added a little extra Worcestershire and two blocks of tempeh crumbled. I also just used the whole little can of tomato paste and one can of corn (in lieu of frozen). Mine took about 45 min to cook through the butternut squash. We served ours with garlic/olive oil bread. Great fall recipe! Thank you!
Hi, Michelle! I'm so happy you enjoyed the recipe!
Yuuum! Best vegan chilli yet!
I almost gave up cooking chilli because they never had enough flavour or were just plain boring. But this is a game changer! I used Tofu instead of tempeh and it was so yummy
Thank you for the feedback! Using tofu is a great idea...yum! I'm so glad you liked it!
Easily one of the best vegan chili’s I’ve had in a long time! Paired it with some vegan cornbread and it brought back all the comforts of my childhood! Thanks for sharing an awesome recipe!
Thank you so much, Christen! I'm so glad you enjoyed the chili recipe <3