One-Pot Vegan Chili Mac

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A protein-packed chili meets pasta in this One-Pot Vegan Chili Mac! Easy and quick and made with simple ingredients, this is a perfect hearty weeknight-friendly and budget-friendly dinner! Easy to make gluten-free, soy-free, and oil-free.
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Total Time: 50 mins
4.9 from 62 votes

As much as I like fancy gourmet recipes and expanding my culinary skills, I also love simple meals that are fuss-free and easy to throw together on a weeknight (and I know how much you all love those kinds of recipes).

So today we have an easy recipe for One-Pot Vegan Chili Mac. It’s vegan (obvi), and easy to make gluten-free, oil-free, and soy-free!

close up of vegan chili mac in bowl

Here’s why you’ll love this One-Pot Vegan Chili Mac

Easy to make. This is one of the easiest recipes to make and it’s pretty foolproof. Nothing fancy or complicated.

Quick and Weeknight Friendly. You’ll need about 10 minutes of prep time, but you can shave time off by using a mini chopper or food processor to chop your veggies. Then you’ll need about 7 minutes to sauté the aromatics and spices, followed by 15-20 minutes of simmering the chili mac. All in all, you’re looking at just 30-40 minutes!

woman's hands holding bowl of chili mac

Staple Ingredients. I came up with this recipe because I was trying to use up ingredients that had been sitting unused in my pantry for months. Which means you might already have all of the ingredients for this recipe in your kitchen!

This recipe features simple, everyday ingredients like onions, garlic, canned tomatoes, beans, and corn, along with some spices and vegetable broth. And if there’s one ingredient you don’t have and you really want to make this recipe anyways…guess what? You probably can!

In the “how to modify” this section below, I share some ideas on how to modify this recipe to meet your nutritional needs.

Budget-Friendly. As with many bean recipes, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this meal is budget-friendly! No expensive or exotic ingredients required :)

Delicious Leftovers. This makes a big pot of chili mac. It serves 6 generously (8 servings if your appetite is smaller or you go heavy on the toppings), so you can definitely enjoy leftovers for a few days, depending on how many people you are feeding. Plus, the leftovers are even tastier!

close up shot of finished dish

Ingredient Rundown


To keep this meal easy and straightforward, I rely on ground spices—chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, oregano, and cayenne pepper,. However, if you have the time, here are some optional additions that will elevate your chili mac and give it even more flavor.

  • Dice a few jalapeño peppers and add them along with the garlic. Or a serrano pepper, which is spicier. These will add a brighter, fresher spiciness than just using cayenne pepper.

  • Or, add a chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (chop it up). It’ll add a rich, smoky, spicy flavor.


Please use fresh garlic! It is much more potent and flavorful than garlic powder, especially when it’s sautéed in a bit of oil before adding the liquids.


Chili mac is traditionally made with meat, so I love the meatiness that mushrooms bring to this dish. Not to mention, mushrooms are packed with fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants, and one of the few non-animal sources of Vitamin D.

But if you’re not a mushroom fan, just omit them and add an extra can of beans.

woman's hands adding cilantro to pot of vegan chili mac and cheese


I used kidney beans in this recipe but you could easily use pinto beans or black beans instead. Canned beans (rinsed and drained) are perfect in this recipe, but if you have freshly cooked beans on hand, of course, use those instead.


Traditionally, chili mac uses elbow pasta (the same pasta used in macaroni), but I prefer using cavatappi. It’s another short-ish pasta but it has a ridged texture and curly shape. The variety and brand of pasta you use will dictate the exact cook time.

Agave/Maple Syrup/Coconut Sugar

I know, this sounds like a strange ingredient, but adding a bit of sweetener at the end really helps balance the acidity from the tomatoes, the spiciness from the spices, and the bitterness from the tempeh. Especially if you plan to eat this chili mac the day you make it (i.e., you don’t let it rest overnight in the fridge before eating), the sweetener really helps balance everything out.

bowl of vegan mac and cheese on table

How to modify this recipe for your nutritional needs


To make this chili mac gluten-free, be sure to use a gluten-free tempeh. Many varieties of tempeh contain gluten from either soy sauce or actual grains, such as barley. If you have only a moderate intolerance to gluten and are not allergic to it, you may be able to digest tempeh varieties that have gluten since tempeh is a fermented food, making it easier to digest.

Lightlife Foods sells a gluten-free version, as it’s made with organic soybeans, not soy sauce.

Also, use gluten-free pasta. I’ve tried the gluten-free elbow pasta from Barilla. It took about 18 minutes to be cooked through.


Cook the onions, garlic, mushrooms, and spices in water instead of oil. Heat up about 1/3 cup of water, and once the water is sizzling, add the onions and follow the directions. Add a spoon or two more of water, as needed, to prevent things from burning. Keep in mind that the mushrooms will also emit a lot of water.


I love using tempeh in this recipe because it adds this wonderfully nutty flavor, but if you are on a soy-free diet, you can easily replace it. One option is to double the amount of mushrooms (i.e., use 16 ounces or 454 grams of mushrooms) and omit the tempeh. Or, omit the tempeh and use another can of beans (any variety you like).

woman's hands holding bowl of vegan mac and cheese

Tips for making vegan chili mac

1. The exact cook time for this One-Pot Vegan Chili Mac will depend on the shape and brand of pasta that you use. Elbow pasta will be done closer to 15 minutes. I used cavatappi pasta, which is a bigger pasta, so it took closer to 20 minutes.

2. You might be tempted to just toss the onions, garlic, and mushrooms into the pot with all the ingredients and not sauté them first. But since there aren’t a whole lot of fresh flavors in this chili, sautéing the aromatics beforehand is critical. It releases their volatile oils, which in turn releases flavors that would otherwise lie dormant. And then those flavors get infused into the chili.

3. For the tempeh, you’ll want to crumble it or grate it. I like to use a box grater to finely grate it, but crumbling by hand works well too.

If you’ve had tempeh before, you might have noticed that it can be quite bitter tasting, which is why many recipes recommend steaming the tempeh before further cooking it. However, I notice that when I crumble tempeh finely, especially into a stew or chili, the bitterness doesn’t come through (which is why you don’t need to steam the tempeh beforehand).

4. Let the chili mac rest before serving. As with any chili recipe, this chili mac is better the next day. Even allowing the recipe to rest for just 15-20 minutes will make it taste better. Resting helps the spices mellow out in their heat but also deepen in flavor. The result is a deep, rich, spicy yet balanced flavor, and a thicker texture.

5. Go topping happy! Toppings are my favorite part of chili, and this chili mac is no different. This is totally optional, but if you sprinkle on a generous amount of vegan cheddar cheese after cooking, and then close the lid, it melts into the chili and it is very delicious.

I also always top my chili with cilantro and either chopped raw red onion or sliced scallions!

More hearty vegan pastas

Hungry for even more hearty vegan fare? We’ve got you covered. Have a gander at these tasty recipes:

Okay, that’s it from me. If you try out this One-Pot Vegan Chili Mac, be sure to tag me on Instagram and leave a comment below with your feedback!

One-Pot Vegan Chili Mac

4.9 from 62 votes
A protein-packed chili meets pasta in this One-Pot Vegan Chili Mac! Easy and quick and made with simple ingredients, this is a perfect hearty weeknight-friendly and budget-friendly dinner! Easy to make gluten-free, soy-free, and oil-free.
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Total Time: 50 mins
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: American
Diet Vegan
Keyword: chili, nut-free, one-pot, pasta
Serving size: 6


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil*
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 8 ounces (227g) mushrooms, chopped (I use cremini mushrooms)
  • 1 (8-ounce / 227g) block of tempeh, grated or crumbled**
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (regular paprika is also fine)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, for a slightly spicy version)***
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 4 cups (946 mL) vegetable broth
  • 1 (15-ounce / 440g) can pinto, kidney, or black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 (28-ounce / 790g) can crushed tomatoes, fire roasted
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (15-ounce / 430g) can sweet corn, drained and rinsed
  • 10 ounces (280g) elbow pasta or cavatappi pasta (gluten-free as needed)
  • 2-3 teaspoons agave nectar, maple syrup, coconut sugar, or brown sugar****

Toppings (optional but recommended)

  • 1 cup shredded vegan cheese
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Sliced scallions or diced red onions


  • In a Dutch oven (or a large nonstick soup pot), heat the 1 tablespoon oil (or 1/3 cup water) over medium heat. Once the oil is hot (or once the water is simmering), add the onions and cook for 2 minutes, seasoning with a pinch of salt. Add the garlic, mushrooms, and crumbled tempeh, and cook for 5 more minutes. Add the chili powder, paprika, oregano, cumin, cayenne pepper, and salt. Stir the spices into the vegetables and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant.
  • Pour in the vegetable broth to deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot.
  • Add in the beans, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, corn, and pasta. Stir well to combine.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked through.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir in the agave or other sweetener. Taste for seasonings again and adjust accordingly.
  • If using vegan cheese, sprinkle it all over the top of the chili mac. Cover the lid and let warm through for a few minutes. Allow chili mac to rest at least 15 minutes before serving and top with fresh chopped cilantro and any other desired toppings.


* See notes on “oil-free” in the blog post for an oil-free substitution.
** See notes on “Tips for this recipe” on how to crumble tempeh.
*** To add more heat, I recommend sautéing some jalapeño peppers or a serrano pepper along with the garlic. I find that this method, instead of just adding more cayenne pepper, yields a more balanced spiciness.
*** The sweetness helps balance the spices and take some of the edges off from the heat.

Calories: 521kcal | Carbohydrates: 81g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 1979mg | Potassium: 854mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 1588IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 175mg | Iron: 5mg

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97 comments on One-Pot Vegan Chili Mac

  1. Emily Zimmermann

    5 stars
    This came out amazing!!! We added garbanzo beans too! 😊

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing your cooking experience, Emily! So happy you loved it :)

  2. Ashley

    5 stars
    I don’t go back to review often, but OH MY GOSH!!! This is soooooooo freaking delicious 🤤🤤🤤🤤

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Ashley. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  3. ryan

    3 stars
    i had wayyy too much liquid (4 c broth and 28 oz crushed tomatos) despite following the recipe, so as i was trying to cook out the liquid it overcooked the pasta. more like a stew now.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Ryan, I’m sorry to hear this recipe didn’t work out well for you. I hope you will have better luck making other Rainbow Plant Life recipes!

  4. Jen

    5 stars
    I love this recipe so much. I have probably made it about 5 times now. And my husband gets SUPER excited every time. It’s just so simple and easy and comforting but also feels really healthy, especially when I throw some extra veggies or greens in there. This will be in my recipe arsenal for life!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We love to hear it, Jen! Thank you so much for taking the time to review!

    2. Ashley

      Love the idea of throwing extra veggies into it! I will definitely do that next time too!

  5. Hillary

    5 stars
    Sooooo good! I used Beyond Meat instead of tempeh, forgot to buy the corn and used a Serrano and 2 chipotle peppers n woah! It’s the perfect smoky spicy flavor. Miyokos cheddar shreds n it’s amazing!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hillary, So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

  6. Melissa Haughay

    5 stars
    Freaking Delicious. Impossible Meat was on sale at the Acme this week, so I subbed it for the mushrooms and tempeh. I also added diced red bel pepper because I had it on hand. Flavors are perfect. Really hit the spot. I will be making this again.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing your substitutions, Melissa! We are so glad you loved the recipe.

      1. Melissa Haughay

        5 stars
        I love all your recipes!

  7. Ana

    5 stars
    Yesss, this was good! I used the jovial gf elbow pasta and a can of “bean trio” from Whole Foods – it has pinto, kidney, and black beans together. It was awesome, made a lot so I have leftovers, and easy to make. Thanks for the great recipe!

  8. Lori

    I made this and was really excited to make & eat it. I found it bland. I will need to add some acid or something if I make again. It was easy & quick 🙌🏻

  9. Melinda Hennessey

    5 stars
    Easy to make and delicious. I used pinto beans this time. I will probably use a mix of beans next time I make it just to add variety! Always love your recipes!

  10. Gina

    5 stars
    So good! I’ve tried several of your recipes and not a single one has let me down! This has been a top one for sure!

  11. Meghan M

    5 stars
    this was oh so yummy, easy to make, nutritious, and made a ton! there was a lot of liquid left when the pasta finished simmering but was glad to see it all got soaked up when I let it rest for 20 mins.

  12. Natalie

    5 stars
    My kids loved this recipe! I made some substitutions based on what I had on hand: instead of tempeh and beans I used Trader Joe’s soy chorizo (I also reduced the amount of spices because of the chorizo), and instead of corn I used lots of diced zucchini. This is definitely going in my family’s dinner rotation!

  13. Chris

    This was so good! Made it with the oil free method of cooking. That’s my next hurdle to healthy cooking I am trying to tackle. Thank you for adding those options in your recipes.

  14. Linda

    5 stars
    Delicious! I served mine over a bowl of spinach and my non-vegan husband’s over some browned ground beef! (Gotta get creative!) We both loved it!

  15. Caitlyn

    5 stars
    I made this for dinner tonight for the first time and oh my goshhhhh! New favorite meal. The brown sugar at the end definitely tempered the heat, like you said it would! I also added an adobo Chile pepper with the adobo sauce and it was transformative. I’m soooo glad we made the full recipe because now we have leftovers for a couple days :)

  16. Jill Ellen

    Hi Nisha! You’re an inspiration! Just wondering if you can make this in the Instant Pot!!

  17. Dagny

    Hi, Nisha! This looks really good! I have no mushrooms and an excessive amount of tempeh. Is it possible to substitute tempeh for mushrooms? Thanks!

  18. Amber

    5 stars
    Fantastic! So easy to make and even better the next day. My husband and I fought over the leftovers. I won!! ;)

  19. Stefanie

    Hey Nisha! Love your recipes and all the ones I’ve made so far have been a hit. For the tempeh, would you recommend steaming/boiling it before using it in this recipe? I usually do this prior to using it in other recipes to take away the bitter quality. Thanks for everything!

  20. Danielle Gray

    5 stars
    This was literally SO good! I’m new to cooking and was able to make this entirely on my own (with the use of a food chopper to do the dicing for me), and it turned out absolutely delicious. It made enough that I was able to eat over the next few days, and it held up really well. Can’t wait to try the red lentil curry recipe next. 5/5. Will be coming back to this recipe again and again!

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