Easy Vegan Chili

Get ready to spice up your mealtime with this hearty vegan chili recipe! Packed with a medley of beans, vegetables, and zesty seasonings, it's the perfect way to add a "kick" of flavor to your day with only 15 minutes of active prep time!
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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 your favorite tv show.

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!

Why You’ll Love This 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.

Need more reasons to love chili? Here’s why you’ll be wanting this recipe on repeat in your household:

  • Bursting with Flavor: This vegan chili is a flavor-packed delight, with a harmonious blend of spices and savory ingredients that will tantalize your taste buds.
  • Easy to make: It’s a breeze to prepare, making it an ideal choice when you don’t want to spend too long in the kitchen. You only need 15 minutes of active prep time and the occasional stirring of the pot so you can easily multitask and not be stuck in the kitchen the whole time.
  • Extra Wholesome: Loaded with protein-rich beans, fiber, and a variety of veggies, it’s a hearty and nutritious choice that will keep you satisfied.
  • Customizable: Easily adapt the spice level to suit your taste, and add your favorite toppings for a personalized twist.
  • Perfect for Meal Prep: Whip up a big batch and enjoy it throughout the week, as the flavors tend to get even better with time.

Key Ingredients and Substitutions

Yellow Onion: Yellow onions are a versatile and milder option for this recipe, but you can substitute with red or white onions if you prefer or have them on hand.

Red Bell Peppers and Poblano Pepper: These peppers add a delightful balance of sweet and mild heat to the chili. If you desire more spiciness, consider using a hotter pepper variety.

Raw Walnut Pieces: Walnuts provide a unique, rich texture to the chili and are a great source of healthy fats and protein. Be sure to finely chop them for the best results.

Sun-Dried Tomatoes: Using unsalted, dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes allows you to control the sodium and oil content.

Spices: This vegan chili uses Chili Powder, Smoked Paprika, Ground Cumin, Dried Oregano, and Ground Coriander for a flavorful blend. Adjust the spice level to your liking. Feel free to increase or decrease the quantities based on your preference for smokiness, heat, and flavor depth.

Whole Peeled Tomatoes: Opt for whole tomatoes with no added salt or seasoning for a purer taste.

Kidney Beans and Black Beans: Canned beans work well in this recipe for convenience, but you can also cook dried beans from scratch if you have the time. Rinse and drain canned beans to reduce their sodium content.

Balsamic Vinegar: This adds a subtle tangy note to the chili. You can use your favorite vinegar variety if you don’t have balsamic on hand.

Reduced-Sodium Tamari: For a gluten-free option, use tamari instead of soy sauce or try liquid aminos for a soy-free option.

Maple Syrup: Maple syrup adds a touch of sweetness to balance the flavors. Adjust the amount to suit your personal taste preferences. You can also use coconut sugar or even agave syrup if you prefer.

Vegan Chili Protein Ideas

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!

  • 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 – 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. 
  • 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!
  • 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!

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.

More Vegan Comfort Recipes to Try

Easy Vegan Chili

Author: Ashley Melillo | Blissful Basil
5 from 6 votes
This easy chili is the perfect vegan recipe to have simmering in the background on a lazy Sunday afternoon while you binge-watch your favorite show. With just 15 minutes of active prep, you can let it simmer away, filling your home with the irresistible aroma of hearty goodness, and come back to a delicious, satisfying meal.
picture of chili in bowls on a light-colored table with blue cloths and measuring spoons around them. The chili is drizzled with cashew sour cream and slices of avocado on top.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings 6



  • 2 tablespoons 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 raw walnut pieces
  • 3 ounces no-salt-added dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 28-ounce cans unsalted whole peeled tomatoes in juice
  • 2 15-ounce cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  •  tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup, or coconut sugar

Recommended Toppings

  • 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 raw cashews
  • ½ –  ¾  cup filtered water
  • tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1-2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon tahini
  • ½ teaspoon 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!


Calories: 393kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 13g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Sodium: 866mg | Potassium: 594mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 2711IU | Vitamin C: 71mg | Calcium: 80mg | Iron: 4mg
Course dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Keyword meatless chili recipe, vegan chili recipe, vegetarian chili recipe
Book cover for Blissful Basil cookbook.

Easy Vegan Chili recipe reprinted from Blissful Basil by arrangement with BenBella Books. Copyright © 2016, Ashley Melillo. Photo by Ashley Melillo.

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Recipe Rating

  1. 5 stars
    Perfect Sunday chili recipe! 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    This is one of those recipes where you just have to keep going back for seconds and thirds. Yum!! I also mix it up with whatever ingredients I have on hand. Chilly is always flexible that way 🙂

  3. Beatriz Buono-Core says:

    5 stars
    Chili is my favorite! So good!

  4. 5 stars
    Chili is definitely a staple in my house and, since my hubby loves basil, I think he’s going to be heads over heels for this recipe. Can’t wait to give it a go!

  5. Andrea White says:

    5 stars
    This chili looks amazing! YUM!

  6. 5 stars
    Now THIS is a hearty chili recipe! Yum!

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