Super easy vegan chili is loaded with beans, tempeh, vegetables, and fire-roasted tomatoes! Everything you love about chili but with less prep work + it’s ready in under an hour! Vegan and Gluten-free.
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Yesterday was the first day of spring and I’m over here making chili from scratch! What the heck?! I know, I know. Well, let me explain. I live in Florida and we have really random weather. You could experience fall, winter, spring, and summer temps all in one week. I wish I was joking! We had a random cold front come through on Sunday so chili for dinner it is– even though temps will be in the 80’s here by this weekend.
You guys know that I’m all about easy vegan recipes with big flavor and that’s exactly what this chili is: super easy and super flavorful! However, it’s not your typical chili recipe either. Why? Because this chili also has tempeh and butternut squash in it along with all of the traditional chili ingredients. I’m always trying to find new ways to incorporate tempeh into our meals and it’s absolutely delicious in this chili. Tempeh takes the place of meat in this vegetarian bean chili and I think you’re going to absolutely love it too!
What Makes This Vegan Chili Recipe Easy to Make?
I know that everyone says their chili is #1 but let me tell you why my version is the easiest and best vegan chili…
- It calls for frozen vegetables (less prep work for you!).
- There’s very little chopping required (just the onion and garlic).
- Use canned beans (to save time ((unless you want to make your own)).
- It’s ready in less than 1 hour (I also included vegan chili slow cooker instructions if you want to set it and forget it)!
How To Make Vegan Chili
This vegan chili is almost a dump and go kind of recipe, it’s real close! I use a bunch of short cuts (like frozen veggies and canned beans) that cut prep work time (but don’t impact the flavor) to make it super easy for you!
Start by sauteeing the onions in olive oil over medium heat until translucent. Next, add the tomato paste, minced garlic, and all of the dry seasonings. Mix it and let it cook for 2 minutes.
Then, add the rest of the chili ingredients, except for the lime juice, bring it to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover it, and let it cook for 30-35 minutes.
Lastly, squeeze fresh lime juice over the chili and serve! Top each bowl with your favorite toppings and enjoy.
The Best Chili Toppings
In my opinion, the toppings make the chili! My favorite chili toppings are:
- Pickled jalapenos
- Vegan sour cream (we use Kite Hill plain almond greek yogurt)
- Green onions
- Avocado slices
- Fresh cilantro
- Vegan cheese (We like Violife or Follow Your Heart shreds or nutritional yeast)
- Chili flakes
Meat Substitute Options
You can make a simple vegan chili with tofu, quinoa, chopped walnuts, seitan, TVP, bulgur, or crumbled tempeh instead of meat. There are so many options! I used tempeh for this easy chili recipe because all you have to do is crumble it up right into the soup pot and let it cook with all of the other ingredients. Easy peasy! You don’t have to cook it in another pot (like quinoa or seitan) or bake it in the oven (like tofu or walnuts) and that’s exactly why I chose it. However, If you’re not a fan of tempeh, any of the other options I listed above would be delicious substitutes.
Can You Freeze Leftover Butternut Squash Chili?
Yep, this butternut squash chili freezes perfectly! You can store the leftovers for up to 5 days in the fridge or you can put it directly into the freezer for 4-6 months (then the quality starts to decrease). When you’re ready to reheat the chili take it out of the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge overnight before transferring it to a pot and reheating it.
Is This Easy Chili Recipe Gluten-Free?
Yes, this chili is naturally gluten-free. The only way it wouldn’t be gluten-free is if you added any wheat-based ingredients like barley or bulgur.
How to Thicken Chili
This hearty vegan chili recipe is naturally thick because of the butternut squash. The squash tends to break down a little bit while the chili is simmering and it creates the thickest, creamiest texture! However, if you want an even thicker chili you could use an immersion blender to blend a little bit of the chili. Or you could remove 1 cup of the chili and blend it in a blender and then pour it back into the pot.
Vegan Crockpot Chili Instructions
To make this vegan chili in the slow cooker, put all of the chili ingredients into the slow cooker and mix it well. Depending on how much time you have you can set it to cook for 3-4 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low.
What Beans Should You Put in Your Chili?
My vegan chili beans of choice are always black beans and kidney beans. You want to choose beans that are hearty and will stand up to being simmered for a while. Beans like cannellini, great northern, chickpeas black-eyed eyed peas will start to break down, and in my opinion, get too soft for this type of chili.
What To Serve With Vegan Chili
Baked potatoes with allll the toppings, roasted baby red potatoes, vegan cornbread, a big salad, or a tray of roasted veggies would be delicious options to serve with chili.
Tips For Making The Ultimate Vegan Chili
- Let the chili simmer at the end for the full 30 minutes, that’s where a lot of the flavor develops!
- I hope you will try the tempeh because it gives a lot of nutrients and a meaty texture to the chili but if you don’t care for it (I know some people don’t love it) then you could substitute baked tofu crumbles, quinoa, chopped roasted walnuts, bulgur or barley in it’s place.
- I used frozen chunks of butternut squash because cutting a fresh squash can be difficult. If you can’t find frozen butternut squash chunks, chopped sweet potatoes would be a tasty substitute.
- Make sure you use chili powder and not chile powder because chile powder is very spicy!
More Vegan Bean Recipes You’ll Love
If you make this homemade vegan chili, please tag me @Stacey_Homemaker + use the #StaceyHomemaker so I can see your tasty creation!
Super Easy Vegan Chili
- 1 tbsp olive oil (or vegetable broth)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (more to taste)
- 1/2 tsp Himalayan pink sea salt
- 1/4 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)
- 1/2 tbsp maple syrup (or agave)
- 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 pepper, diced
- (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 (juice from about 1/2 a lime)
- Saute the diced onion in olive oil over medium heat until it's translucent. Add the minced garlic, tomato paste, and all of the dry seasonings. You may need to add a splash of water or vegetable broth if it's too dry to mix. Let it cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Add the Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, diced tomatoes with juice, maple syrup, vegetable broth, (optional) water, frozen butternut squash, red pepper, black beans, kidney beans, crumbled tempeh, and frozen corn. Stir it well to combine. Bring it to a simmer and then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover it, and let it simmer for 30-35 minutes.
- Squeeze 1/2 of a lime (or more to taste) over the chili and then top each bowl with vegan sour cream, green onions, cilantro, and pickled jalapenos!
- If you'd like to make your own beans using dried beans, use 1 cup of dried black beans and 1 cup of dried kidney beans.
- If you prefer a super strong tomato flavored chili, replace the 4 cups of vegetable broth with a second can of fire-roasted tomatoes + 1-2 cups of water.
- If you're not a fan of tempeh, use crumbled and baked tofu, chopped roasted walnuts, or bulgur instead.