The Best Vegan Chili

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This vegan chili is incredibly rich and velvety and packed with layers of complex flavor, just like a classic chili should be. An easy homemade chili powder and slow simmering take this bean chili over the top.
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr 50 mins
Total Time: 2 hrs
4.9 from 115 votes

No exaggeration, this is the best vegan or vegetarian chili you will ever try. Thanks to the a few key techniques, this baby has layers of complex flavors and an incredible velvety texture.. 

Most vegan chili recipes have you take so many shortcuts that you end up with a bowl of bean soup dressed up with some chili powder. But if you’re willing to follow the steps in this recipe, you’ll be rewarded with an authentic bean chili unlike any other.

In this post:
1. 5 Secrets for the best vegan chili
2. Step-by-step instructions
3. How to make homemade chili powder
4. Tips for making this chili
5. Frequently Asked Questions
6. Video Walkthrough

bowl of vegan chili with sour cream and cilantro

5 Secrets to Incredible Vegan Chili

1. Start with real chile peppers.

You might be tempted to use store-bought chili powder when making chili, but here’s why that’s a mistake (except in limited circumstances…more on that below!). Whole dried chile peppers, which are used to make homemade chili powder, add so much complexity in taste, the kind you can never achieve with store-bought chili powder.

Many dried chile peppers carry notes of fruit, berries, chocolate, coffee, and/or raisins, adding layers of rich flavors. And when you layer homemade chili powder with fresh jalapeños and canned chipotle peppers, you get layer upon layer of complementary warming flavors: smoky, fruity, grassy, all in one bowl of chili.

If you don’t want to take my word for it, listen to what professional chefs say:

A bowl of chili starts with chiles.”

Texas-born chef Ben Berryhill for Fine Cooking

The best thing you can do to up your chili game is to leave those jars of pre-ground chili powder on the shelf. Starting your chili with real, honest-to-goodness whole dried chilies will save you money, while adding layer upon layer of complex flavor that you never thought was possible.”

J. Kenji López-Alt for Serious Eats

I think a lot of people really aren’t aware of how much natural sugar exists in [dried chile] peppers…it’s almost like having dried fruit in your dishes. So definitely [using dried chile peppers] is a much better way to make this dish than with chili powder ’cause you won’t get that sweetness in a chili powder.” 

Rick Martinez for Bon Appetit

Plus, it only takes about 10-15 minutes to make chili powder, and it will stay fresh for 6 months. Which means you can make a killer chili whenever the mood strikes.

Note: Instructions for my homemade chili powder are in the second recipe card at the bottom of this post. While I think it’s worth making your own chili powder, I have tested this particular recipe with store-bought chili powder and it’s still great (because this recipe uses many other “secrets”/techniques to amp up the flavors).

If using pre-made chili powder, I recommend ancho chili powder (made from just ground ancho chile peppers). It’s more flavorful than the standard chili powder, which is a blend of seasonings.

homemade chili powder in a glass jar

2. Toast the spices

There are two reasons you should always toast your ground spices rather than just plopping them into liquid. 

First, many spices are bitter when uncooked (taste a pinch of ground cumin or oregano, and you’ll know what I mean). As a result, your final dish ends up with bitter notes. 

Two, when you toast spices first (in a bit of oil, usually after or along with the aromatics), you draw out their essential oils. This heightens the spice’s true flavor, so that you actually taste a hint of cumin or oregano in your final dish.

Takeaway: Always toast your ground spices (e.g., chili powder, cumin, oregano) before adding the liquid (e.g., vegetable broth) to draw out their flavor. The toasting will happen quickly, in about 30 seconds.

3. Boost the umami

Traditional chili has a ton of natural rich savory flavor from the meat. To add savory notes to vegetarian chili, it’s necessary to add in a little extra umami. In this chili, I do that in three ways.

First, cook tomato paste for a few minutes. This caramelizes it and unleashes the natural umami found in tomatoes, especially a concentrated form of tomato.

Second, add soy sauce, which lends a potent form of plant-based umami and saltiness that salt alone can’t bring.

Third, use whole peeled canned tomatoes and crush them by hand (they have more pure tomato flavor and no additives, compared to pre-diced or pre-crushed tomatoes).

Note: If you have vegan Worcestershire sauce on hand, it would be a great sub for the soy sauce.

4. Add some richness and body

Classic chili recipes are very rich, but many of the vegetarian chili recipes I tried online were more loose, like soup. To ensure my chili is very rich, I rely on a few ingredients.

First, red wine, which intensifies all the aromatics, spices, and chili peppers in a way that vegetable broth alone cannot. Also, it adds to the rich body of the chili (you’ll notice as the wine deglazes, the mixture becomes SO jammy). While beer is more traditional in chili, every time I’ve made chili with beer, it ends up too bitter for my taste.

Second, cocoa powder. It sounds funky, but lots of chili recipes actually add a small amount of dark chocolate or cocoa powder. Chocolate not only adds depth of flavor but also accentuates the fruitiness of the dried chili peppers.

Third, instead of using only pinto beans, I add in one can of navy beans. Since they’re so small, they partially disintegrate during simmering, which naturally thickens the chili.

Finally, masa harina, AKA Mexican corn flour. When stirred in at the end, it thickens the chili even more, gives it a velvety texture, and a nice subtle corn flavor. This chili recipe is already quite thick, so I’d say this ingredient is optional.

Takeaway: Chili should be rich both in taste and texture. Red wine, cocoa powder, and masa harina all contribute to that.

5. Slow simmering is key for texture and flavor

Many chili recipes (including a few of my old recipes!) tell you to simmer for just 30 minutes. You can get a good chili this way (if the other tips are followed), but chili is designed to be a slow-simmered dish.

This is because the flavors of chili always improve with a long, slow simmer. Slow simmering also contributes to a thicker, more unctuous consistency, so that every bite has the same flavor and texture (check out that velvety texture in the photo below!).

Takeaway: Gently simmer this chili for 1 1/2 hours (or up to 2 hours) for maximal flavor and the most luxurious texture.

velvety, rich vegan chili in a dutch oven on linen tablecloth

Step-by-step instructions

Gather your ingredients!

flatlay of ingredients for vegan chili

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions with a pinch of salt. Cook until nicely golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic, jalapeños, and tomato paste. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the tomato paste darkens.

Add the chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, and Mexican oregano and stir vigorously for 30 seconds (for homemade chili powder, see the next section)

Deglaze the pot with the red wine, scraping up the browned bits.

Add the vegetable broth, and scrape up any additional browned bits. Add the pinto beans, navy beans, chipotle peppers in adobo, bay leaves, salt & pepper, cocoa powder, maple syrup, and soy sauce. Crush the tomatoes and add in.

Bring the chili to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 10 minutes, until thick and velvety.

Stir in the masa harina, if using, and simmer for 3 minutes, until further thickened.

Add the cilantro, lime juice, and vinegar. Taste, adding more maple syrup or lime juice as needed. Season with salt and pepper.

How to make homemade chili powder

I highly recommend making your own chili powder. It might seem daunting, but I promise it’s actually quite simple. If you’re unable to do this, substitute with store-bought ancho powder and check out the notes in the recipe card.

Where can I buy dried chili peppers?

You can find a variety of dried chile peppers at Mexican grocery stores, some standard grocery stores such as ALDI, as well as online. If buying online, I recommend the chili peppers from the brand Ole Rico. They are super fresh and have a much softer texture (an indicator of freshness) than other dried peppers I’ve tried. They also sell a three-pack of the exact variety of chili peppers I use in my chili powder! (affiliate link).

How to select dried chile peppers for chili powder

For complex yet balanced flavors, I use three different chile peppers. Check out the graphic below for the flavor profile, heat level, and substitutes for each chile pepper.

guajillo peppers, ancho peppers, and chile de arbols on wooden cutting board with labels and descriptions

Tip: You can tailor the spiciness with the amount of chile de arbols you add. Omit entirely for a mild chili powder (same heat level as a store-bought chili powder). Add 2 peppers for a moderate heat, or up to 5 peppers for a spicy, spicy(!) heat.

Tips for working with chile peppers

First, open up the peppers to remove the seeds and membranes (they’re bitter). I find it’s easiest to gently tear open the peppers with my hands, but some people use kitchen shears. Be sure to wash your hands afterwards (or wear food-safe gloves if you have sensitive skin).

Second, toast the peppers. It releases their natural oils and reinvigorates them, giving the chili powder (and final chili) more complex flavors. We tested this recipe with untoasted chile peppers and it was good, but lacked some of the warm depth of flavor and tasted overall lighter and less complex.

When toasting the peppers, watch them closely and cook very briefly, maybe 1 minute per side. If they blacken or scorch, they get bitter. Small peppers, like chile de arbol, don’t need much time–maybe 20-30 seconds per side.

Allow the chilies to cool before grinding them. You’ll need a spice grinder (affiliate link), a high-powered blender like a Vitamix, or a food processor. Grind the peppers with the toasted whole spices until pulverized. Add in your pre-ground spices, blend again, and that’s it!

bowl of vegetarian chili on green surface with cilantro and scallions

Tips for making this recipe

Balance the flavors:

A great chili should have “a rich, complex chile flavor that combines sweet, bitter, hot, fresh, and fruity elements in balance.”

J. Kenji López-Alt, Serious Eats

The reason I add maple syrup to my chili is that it sweetness balances both the spiciness and bitterness inherent in chile peppers. I finish the chili with lime juice and vinegar because sour flavors also mellow bitter tastes; they also enhance the umami found in soy sauce and tomatoes.

It’s critical to taste the chili after it’s simmered to see what flavors it needs more or less of. If you use a store-bought ancho chili powder, for instance, your chili might be slightly less bitter. So you won’t need as much less lime juice or maple syrup to balance it out. 

Chili always tastes better the next day.

When chili rests overnight, the chili powder and spices have a chance to meld with the other flavors so you end up with a chili that has more harmonious flavors.

Adjust the heat to your tolerance.

As y’all probably know, I like my food very spicy. Here’s what I add to my chili, but this will be too spicy for most folks: 2 jalapeños (with membranes); 2 chipotle peppers in adobo + 1 tablespoon adobo sauce; and for the homemade chili powder, I add ~ 3 chile de arbol peppers.

If you don’t love spicy food as much as I do, here are different ways to scale back on the heat.

Jalapeños: use one pepper and remove the the membranes (I wouldn’t omit the jalapeños entirely).

Chipotle peppers in adobo: use just 1 chipotle pepper and 1 teaspoon adobo sauce.

Homemade chili powder: omit the spicy chile de arbol peppers (or use just 1 to 2 of them).

vegan chili on green surface with cilantro and pickled onions

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I add vegan ground meat to this chili?

Sure! I prefer a bean-based chili without any faux meat, but adding vegan ground meat is a great option if you want to add a more traditional meaty texture or taste. We tested this recipe with Impossible Meat’s plant-based ground burger.

Option 1: Cook the onions until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add in your vegan ground meat and break it up with a wooden spoon. Cook until it’s starting to brown, 8 to 10 minutes, adding a splash of water as needed to deglaze. Proceed with the rest of the recipe.

Option 2: Brown the vegan ground meat in a separate pan, then add it to the chili when you add the beans.

I don’t drink wine – can I omit it?

The alcohol does cook off, but if you don’t drink any alcohol, you can try replacing the red wine with 1/2 cup (120 mL) of red grape juice (no added sugar variety).

Or just deglaze with more vegetable broth. I’d suggest the best vegetable broth you can find. Imagine Organic is my favorite for store-bought veggie broth (rich and flavorful). For more deeply savory notes, you can try these “vegan chicken” or “vegan beef” broth powders (they are quite salty, so use less than the jar calls for) (affiliate links).

Your chili will have less complexity and body without the red wine, but it will still be good if you omit it!

How should I serve this chili?

With your favorite toppings, obviously! The toppings you choose help bring more balance to the final dish. For instance, vegan sour cream (I like Kite Hill or Tofutti brands) and avocado are great for cooling down the heat. Extra lime wedges and pickled onions bring a nice tanginess (find my recipe in the recipe card below). Cilantro and scallions offer a fresh contrast. Tortilla chips, obviously, add a nice crunch!

If you like adding a vegan cheese to your chili but don’t love store-bought shredded vegan cheese, a spoon of this Vegan Queso stirred in would be really good!

To stretch this chili further, serve it alongside warm corn tortillas (char the tortillas by placing them directly over a gas burner for ~20 seconds per side). Or, scoop over a bed of rice.

It’s also INCREDIBLE with my homemade cornbread, which adds the perfect slight sweetness to this chili.
vegan chili with cornbread

How do you store homemade chili powder? How long does it last?

In a glass jar in a dark place, like your pantry. When stored this way, it’ll stay good for 6 months!

How do you store and reheat this chili? Can you freeze it?

Simply store in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 to 6 days. You can reheat on the stove (my preference) or microwave.

And yes, chili freezes great for 3-4 months. I prefer to freeze it individual-sized portions (it defrosts much more quickly). These Souper Cubes in 1-cup or 2-cup portions are great for that (affiliate link)!

Can I make this oil-free?

There is really very little to no fat in this recipe besides the oil. I actually tried this recipe with half the amount of oil and it was less rich and harmonious in flavors. That’s because fat is an excellent carrier of flavor! The oil also enables the onions to get nicely golden brown and allows the full depth of flavor to be released from the spices.

I understand that some of my readers are oil-free, so if you must skip it, please stir some vegan sour cream or cashew cream in before serving!

bowl of vegetarian chili on green backgrop with pickled onions and sour cream

Watch! How to make vegan chili

How to make the best vegetarian chili of your life
How to make the best vegetarian chili of your life

That’s all you need to know about making this incredible vegan chili! If you love this recipe, please rate and review it below!

The Best Vegan Chili

4.9 from 115 votes
This vegan chili is incredibly rich and velvety and packed with layers of complex flavor, just like a classic chili should be. An easy homemade chili powder and slow simmering take this bean chili over the top.
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr 50 mins
Total Time: 2 hrs
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Southwestern, Tex-Mex
Diet Vegan
Keyword: gluten-free, nut-free, pinto beans
Serving size: 6

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 2 jalapenos, diced (remove membranes for less heat)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 tablespoons homemade chili powder (recipe below), or store-bought ancho chili powder*
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano (or 2 teaspoons regular oregano or marjoram)**
  • 3/4 cup (180 mL) dry red wine, such as Malbec, Syrah or Pinot Noir
  • 2 cups (480 mL) vegetable broth
  • 2 (15-ounce/425g) cans of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce/425g) can of navy beans (or other small white beans), drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (I prefer Dutch process cocoa powder)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 ½ tablespoons tamari or soy sauce if you have vegan Worcestershire sauce, you can use that
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo, chop the peppers + measure out 1 tablespoon adobo sauce**
  • 1 (28-ounce/800g) can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand (include juices)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt plus more as needed
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup, plus more to finish as needed***
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 3 tablespoons masa harina (Mexican corn flour) (optional)
  • 1 cup (12g) cilantro leaves and tender stems, chopped

Toppings of choice

  • Vegan sour cream or diced avocado
  • Sliced scallions or chopped cilantro
  • Shredded vegan cheese or Vegan Queso
  • Quick Pickled Red Onions****

Instructions

  • Read all the instructions and notes before getting started, especially about moderating the spiciness level.
  • Heat a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, and once it’s shimmering, add the onions and season with a few pinches of salt. Stir frequently and cook the onions until nicely golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. If they start to burn around the edges, stir more frequently and/or add a splash of water.
  • Add the garlic, jalapeños, and tomato paste, and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring very frequently, until tomato paste is darker in color. If it starts to dry out, add a splash of water and scrape up any browned bits.
  • Stir in the chili powder, cumin, paprika, and oregano and stir vigorously for 30 seconds.
  • Pour in the red wine to deglaze the pot, scraping up any browned bits. Simmer rapidly for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the smell of alcohol has cooked off and it's jammy.
  • Pour in the vegetable broth, pinto beans, navy beans, cocoa powder, bay leaves, soy sauce, chopped chipotle peppers + adobo sauce, hand-crushed tomatoes + their juices, salt, black pepper to taste, and 1 tablespoon maple syrup. Stir well.
  • Bring the chili to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a gentle simmer (this is lowest heat on my small burner). Take care to not boil or too rapidly simmer the chili, as it will break down the beans too much.
    Cook, stirring every 10 minutes, until thick and velvety and the flavors have melded together, about 1 1/2 hours (or up to 2 hours). Discard the bay leaf.
  • Stir in the masa harina, if using. Simmer for 3 minutes, until the texture has further thickened.
  • Stir in 1 tablespoon lime juice, the vinegar, and cilantro. Taste and add more lime juice as needed for tanginess and add up to 1 more tablespoon maple syrup for sweetness to balance any bitterness. Season with salt and pepper, as needed.
  • Serve with toppings of choice, such as pickled onions, chopped cilantro, sliced scallions, vegan sour cream, avocado, tortilla chips, etc.

Notes

This chili recipe is spicy, so here are ways to moderate the heat.
Jalapeños: remove the the seeds and membranes and/or use 1 pepper instead of 2. Chipotle peppers in adobo: use 1 chipotle pepper + 1 tsp adobo sauce. Homemade chili powder: omit the spicy chile de arbol peppers (or use just 1).
*My homemade chili powder recipe is below. If using store-bought, I recommend an ancho chili powder (simply ground ancho peppers, in contrast to a standard chili powder which has other seasonings and is usually less flavorful). 
*Store-bought chili powder is not spicy, so you might want to make some adjustments: (1) you may not need as much maple syrup or lime juice to balance the flavors in step 8. (2) if you like your chili spicy(!), consider adding 3 jalapeño peppers. 
**Mexican oregano (citrus, bright, floral) is most traditionally used in chili and better suited to Mexican dishes than standard/Mediterranean oregano (bitter, mint, peppery). If you don’t have Mexican oregano, sub with 2 teaspoons marjoram or standard oregano. 
***Need to clarify that this is just 2 peppers from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, not 2 whole cans (one reader has done that before in another recipe!!). If you’re looking for milder heat, use 1 pepper only and 1 teaspoon of adobo sauce. 
****For quick pickled onions
  • Very thinly slice 1 medium red onion. Add to a large mason jar. 
  • Mix together freshly boiled water (3/4 cup or 180 mL) with 1/2 cup (120 mL) apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar. Add in 1 tablespoon organic cane sugar or maple syrup, stir until dissolved. 
  • Pour the hot liquid over the onions. Cool to room temperature, at least 30 minutes. 
  • You can serve now, but I prefer to refrigerate them for a more developed flavor

Homemade Chili Powder

4.9 from 78 votes
Making chili powder is easier than you think and this homemade chili powder made with three different dried chile peppers and lots of spices is packed with warming flavor. It makes for a much more complex, deeply flavored chili!
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
15 mins
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Mexican, Southwestern, Tex-Mex
Diet Vegan
Serving size: 12 tablespoons

Ingredients

  • 4 ancho peppers*
  • 4 guajillo peppers*
  • 2 to 5 chiles de arbol**
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds optional
  • 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano (or 2 teaspoons regular oregano or marjoram)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder or granulated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder or granulated onion
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

  • Using your fingers, remove the stem from each chili pepper and gently tear the peppers apart. You can use kitchen shears, but using your hands is easier. Be sure to wash your hands after handling the peppers, or wear food safe gloves if your skin is sensitive.
  • Once the peppers are open, loosen all of the seeds and any membranes, or scrape them out. This is necessary to minimize bitterness.
  • Heat a cast iron skillet or other heavy, dark pan over medium heat, but don't heat for too long. Add the larger chilies (anchos and guajillos) in a single layer without overlap. Toast just until fragrant, about 1 minute, maybe 1 1/2 minutes, then flip and toast for 30-60 seconds. Smaller peppers like chile de arbol need 30 to 45 seconds, so I toast those separately.***
    Take care not to scorch them or they will taste bitter. Remove and allow to cool completely. Take off the heat and allow to cool.
  • Add the cumin and coriander seeds to the hot pan. Toast until very fragrant, about 45 to 60 seconds, shaking the pan or stirring frequently to prevent burning, until toasty and aromatic. Remove and allow to cool.
  • Once cool, add the chile peppers and toasted whole spices to a spice grinder or high powered blender. If using a small spice grinder, tear up the chilies with your hands into smaller pieces and do this in two batches. Blend until the peppers and spices are pulverized.
  • Add the ground spices (oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and cinnamon). Blend until a fine powder has formed. Allow the powder to settle before removing the lid.
  • Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months. Makes 12 tablespoons, enough for 3 batches of this chili recipe.

Notes

*You can sub ancho peppers with guajillo, pasilla, mulato, or New Mexico red chile peppers. You can sub guajillos with ancho, pasilla, or mulato peppers. The flavors across these peppers aren’t all the same but will still yield a good chili powder. 
**Omit chiles de arbol entirely for a mild chili powder. Use 2 chiles de arbol for moderate heat. I typically use 4 or 5. 
***If toasting peppers in two batches, lower the heat a bit after the first round because the pan will already be hot.

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188 comments on The Best Vegan Chili

  1. Sherry Ingle

    Absolutely delicious! I love all her recipes the flavors are just so good from the spices and things she uses.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Sherry, we’re thrilled to hear you enjoyed this recipe! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating alongside your review? Star ratings are big help to readers who are thinking of making the recipe. Thanks!

  2. Kevin

    5 stars
    Absolutely amazing chili, I can’t wait for it to rest over the night and mature. I believe the methods you used in your cooking really brought out the spices and the flavors and the way you addressed the chili’s and onions and other ingredients. With a dollop of cashew sour cream and a crumbled fried corn tortilla this knocked it out of the park. I have to say that I was worried in the beginning as the taste were not where I thought they should be when I sampled it and it wasn’t thick however, I continued to add the ingredients and trusted in the process then then the vegan magical unicorn showed up. Crazy! Disclaimer, I did add a cup of red lentils (thought I saw that in one of your videos of chili, must have confused it with this one. and also substituted Oat Flour- Keep up the great work your videos, they are a pleasure to watch and the out-takes are even better. I am really looking forward to making your indian dishes. Thank you so much for what you do!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We are so happy you love the chili, Kevin! Enjoy all of the Indian dishes :)

  3. Kana

    5 stars
    I made this chili twice. My husband who loves chili loved it lol ! We have baby mouths so I took easy on the chipotle and also added leftover impossible meat. It was very satisfying! Thank you for sharing your recipe!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Kana!

  4. Amber

    5 stars
    So fabulous! I don’t have access to dried chilis in my small town, so I used store-bought chili powder and it was still out of this world good! I’m excited to see how good it is with the homemade chili powder once I get my hands on some chilis. P.S. What’s the protocol/etiquette around entering someone else’s recipe in a chili cook-off?🤣

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Glad you enjoy the chili, Amber! And we hope you enjoy the version with homemade chili powder even more! Also about the chili cook-off question, we see some others have entered this recipe in their chili cook-offs but it may be something to ask the organizer. Also please give credit if you do use this recipe, thanks! :)

  5. Jenni L

    5 stars
    I made this for Thanksgiving. I decided to go the extra mile and make the chili powder for the recipe and it was amazing. My husband who is a meat eater said it might be one of the best chilis he has ever eaten. It’s amazing!! But am I surprised? No- every recipe I’ve ever done of Nisha has been amazing.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Jenni, So glad to hear you two loved this recipe! Thank you for sharing :)

  6. Aimee

    5 stars
    This is by far the best chili recipe. I resorted to using store bought chili powder, but with the depth of flavour of all the other ingredients, it was still the most delicious chili I’ve ever made. Thank you for this wonderful recipe!!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Great, Aimee! We are so happy to hear that. Thank you for making the chili!

    2. Hannah Ruth

      5 stars
      Same!

  7. Sandy Brocious

    5 stars
    Wow! This was amazing. I made your chili powder and followed all directions but forgot the masa Hadrian. Next time I’ll add it and add carrots and maybe another veggie. Definitely a keeper.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

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

  8. Jamie

    Made this chili today and it is delicious! I will definitely add it to the rotation. I also made the chili powder and I don’t think I’ll be able to buy it again. Thank you 😊

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      That’s so great to hear, Jamie! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating alongside your review? Star ratings are big help to readers who are thinking of making the recipe. Thanks!

  9. Diana

    5 stars
    This Texas girl loves this chili!!!!!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      What a compliment, Diana! Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  10. Rachel

    5 stars
    This was my first ever vegan chili. Holy cow! Soooo…oooooo delicious! 5 stars isn’t enough!

    I almost used beer but decided to follow the recipe but next time I’m going to try it with beer, just seems more chili like to me. Also added a chopped up sweet potato because I always made chili in my pre vegan days with chunks of beef instead of ground up.

    My church has a chili cook off every fall (missed it this year) and I already have big plans for this recipe in the cook off next year!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re honored you’re going to use this chili in your cookoff, Rachel! And happy you really enjoy it :)

  11. Kelly

    5 stars
    Made this today and it came out fantastic. I doubled the recipe since I’m going to bring some to a chili cook-off in a couple weeks. (That’s right, I’m gonna freeze it and let things really meld before taking it to the cook-off.) That said, even eaten immediately after the long simmer, this stuff is great. With the exception of the cocoa powder, I followed this recipe exact. I just reduced the cocoa powder from what would have been 4 tablespoons in a double batch to 3. I think it turned out good, regardless, and would have probably been fine with the full amount (I just wussed out-haha).

    Will be making this again. Have lots of plans for my personal leftovers – aside from serving as-is with unsweetened vegan yogurt, cilantro and pickled onions, I think I’m going to add this to some vegan mac & cheese for chili mac, and also serve some over a baked sweet potato. Lots of versatility to this recipe, too! Thank you, Nisha.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Kelly! We hope the chili cookoff goes splendidly! All of those other ideas you have for using up the chili sound so tasty as well :)

  12. Linda

    5 stars
    This was so delicious — the depth of flavors was amazing! Even my meat-loving husband was impressed and said he did not miss the meat at all. I followed the recipes and recommendations exactly, including making the chile powder. So worth the effort! Thank you, Nisha!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Linda, So glad to hear you two loved this recipe!

  13. Emily

    5 stars
    Amazing! The other vegan chilis I’ve tried do not compare. Bravo!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Aww, thank you so much Emily! :) We are glad you love the chili!

  14. Rebecca

    Can this be done in an instant pot? Also can this recipe be doubled? I can’t wait to make it for Friendsgiving tomorrow!!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Sorry if this reply is too late, Rebecca. We haven’t tried this particular recipe ourselves, but have made other chili recipes in the IP so we would say yes. We recommend 8-10 minutes pressure cook at high pressure, with a 10 minute natural pressure release. Hope you get a chance to try it!

  15. Beverly

    5 stars
    This chili. SO GOOD! I made it for a chili competition we had at my church…in TEXAS (where chili apparently isn’t chili if it has no meat). Well let me tell you that after making this and feeling a bit skeptical of the ingredients I had never used to make chili before, it turned out so so flavorful and amazing. Our chili was called “Beyond amazing chili” because we did add some beyond ground mock meat. We won third place and that said a lot given that no one was vegan. Nisha, thank you for this recipe! I will be making this our staple go-to chili recipe from now on!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Beverly. We are happy to help you open peoples minds regarding vegan food! Thank you for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  16. Chris Cameron

    5 stars
    I love the instantpot Smoky Pinto Bean and Sweet Potato recipe (and make it all the time!), so after going through what was a pretty involved process and ingredient list to make this chili, I was wondering if it was going to be worth it in the end. And boy, was it ever! Such a complex flavor, and perfectly spiced. You’ll seldom come across a vegan recipe with this much powerful umami flavor and richness without the guilt! Nisha nails it when she says homemade chili powder unlocks special toasty and fruity notes. Every step makes a huge difference!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

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

  17. Mary

    2 stars
    Well rats! Wanted to love this, but after 25 ingredients, and quite a bit of kitchen effort, maybe it was too complex for my palate. It was headed in a good direction, kind of, then after i added the masa – yuk! Couldn’t finish even a bowl of it. For me, if i try it again and am ok with it before the masa, will end it there. To be really honest though, the multitude of flavors was a little overwhelming, and not in a good way. First recipe from here that i’ve struck out on though.♥️

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re sorry to hear the recipe didn’t hit the mark, Mary. We appreciate your feedback nonetheless and are glad to hear its the first recipe you weren’t a fan of.

  18. Barb

    5 stars
    This chili felt like a warm secure hug. It has depths of flavor and is worth every step involved. It was perfectly spicy and had a lovely “back heat” to it. It wasn’t the type of spice where you’re mad about it….it was everything I wanted on a cold fall day. This is going to be a winter staple for me. It even impressed my skeptic boyfriend who wants meat in everything. 11/10 recipe! This is my favorite vegan recipe site ◡̈

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

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

  19. Emily

    5 stars
    I’m from Texas so I know my chili, and this is the real deal!! It’s velvety, smoky, and nuanced in flavor. You absolutely don’t miss the meat, although even before going vegetarian, I never understood chili without beans and preferred a veggie chili —meat chili is basically a bowl of bolognese sauce, no thanks. All that to say, this is the chili you should serve someone who loves chili.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Emily!

  20. Karen

    5 stars
    Nisha, thank you for another fantastic recipe! The flavors were so rich and amazing. This is definitely the best homemade chili I have ever had.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Karen!

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