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Need a meal in a flash? This speed demon quick chili recipe is just the thing: in under 25 minutes you’ve got an easy dinner!

Quick chili recipe
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Here’s our new favorite kitchen trick: this Quick Chili recipe! Yes, we dare say: this recipe is lightening fast. In just 25 minutes you have a fast and easy dinner idea. 25 minutes! And most of that time is hands off. All you have to do is cut one onion: otherwise it’s dump and stir. Even better: the flavor is fantastic! There’s nothing about it that tastes like a short cut. We’ve made this many times already, and every time we make it, I think: Wow, that was easy. This simple recipe will be a staple in our kitchen for years to come.

Ingredients for this quick chili recipe

In a world full of chili iterations, is just one more necessary? Yes, we think. This one is one of the fastest and easiest you’ll find: and it’s healthy with great flavor. After cooking it, you might feel like you’re a super hero (we did). How is it possible to get flavor so quickly? Here are our secrets:

  • Onion: You can’t cover up for real onion flavor. This is the only thing you have to dirty your knife for, and it takes only a minute to saute.
  • Canned fire roasted tomatoes: These tomatoes are roasted over an open flame before canning them. It makes them have a developed, sweet flavor right out of the can. If you can’t find them, use the best quality tomatoes you can find.
  • Kidney beans: The best chili beans, in our mind: pinto beans! But you can use any type of kind beans you like.
  • Chili powder, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder and cumin: A hefty chunk of spices does the heavy lifting in the flavor department.
  • Plant based veggie crumbles: Yes, you heard us right! Now, you can use straight up ground beef if you prefer. But this is the very first recipe ever on this website that we’ve used a vegan substitute for meat. Wondering why?
Quick chili recipe

What are the best plant based or vegan meat substitutes?

OK, here’s the thing. In 10 years of writing a mostly vegetarian and vegan food blog, we’ve never used a vegan meat substitute in a recipe until this quick chili. Why? Well, it seems like cheating. But more importantly, plant based meat substitutes of 10 years ago were much more processed. These days, there are some better options on the market that are more natural and less like processed food.

Keep in mind, this food group is not always super virtuous. But you can find some decent options these days. Here’s what to look for when trying to find the best vegan meat substitutes:

  • Look for a short ingredient list and whole food ingredients. Overall, the ingredient list should be relatively short and contain foods that you know. Of course, there will be some ingredients used as binders to hold it all together.
  • Consider dietary restrictions. Many vegan meat substitutes are similar to seitan, which is made of vital wheat gluten. Yes, a protein source that’s actually just made of solid gluten! We don’t eat exclusively gluten free, but we do prefer meat substitutes that have protein and aren’t all gluten.
  • Experiment for texture. We tried several different brands in this Quick Chili recipe. We liked Beyond Meat crumbles best: they’re made of pea protein and have a meat-like texture. Experiment to find a brand you love!
Quick chili

Use ground beef if you prefer a standard chili

In another ground-breaking first: this is the first time we’ve mentioned ground beef as an option in a recipe! This mostly vegetarian food blog typically doesn’t talk about eating beef because we don’t eat a lot of it. But if you’re craving a classic chili and beef is part of your diet: go for it! All you have to do is cook and drain 1 pound of ground beef., Then use it in this quick chili recipe in place of the veggie crumbles.

Best quick chili toppings

Of course, the best part of a eating chili is all the toppings! Use the simmering time for this quick chili recipe to assemble all your favorite toppings. Here are some of our top choices, some standard and some more unique:

  1. Sour cream: A must! Use vegan sour cream for a fully plant based chili.
  2. Shredded cheese: Use cheddar or Monterey jack, or get funky with smoked gouda.
  3. Green onions: Add a little green with thin-sliced green onions.
  4. Hot sauce: Naturally! A favorite is a Mexican hot sauce like Cholula.
  5. Pickled jalapenos or onions: These pickled jalapeños add a kick; pickled onions add a pink color and tangy flavor.
  6. Thinly sliced radishes: These veggies add a crunch.
  7. Chopped cilantro: The best way to add fresh flavor!
  8. Tortilla strips: Make a batch of tortilla strips: or just crumble tortilla chips on top.
  9. Diced avocado: Chopped avocado adds richness and makes it more filling.
  10. Roasted salted pepitas: This unique option adds a salty crunch.
Quick chili recipe

Sides to go with chili

To us chili is a meal itself, usually! But if you can, it’s great to sneak in a side to make it a filling meal. Adding a few sides is great to turn this quick chili into a fall or winter meal for a crowd. Here are a few sides to go with chili:

More chili recipes

There are lots of other other ideas! Here are a few more of our best chili recipes to try:

This quick chili recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free (make sure your veggie crumbles fit your dietary restrictions).

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Quick chili recipe

Quick Chili Recipe (23 Minutes!)

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5 from 6 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 3 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 23 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings 1x
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Need a meal in a flash? This speed demon quick chili recipe is just the thing: in 25 minutes you’ve got an easy dinner!


  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 3 cups (10 to 12 ounces) plant-based crumbles* (or 1 pound cooked and drained ground beef)
  • 2 28-ounce cans diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 15-ounce cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 ½ tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • ½ tablespoon garlic powder
  • ½ tablespoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup water (or broth), optional
  • Mexican hot sauce (we like Cholula), optional
  • For topping: Shredded cheese, sour cream (or vegan sour cream), sliced green onions, pickled onions or jalapenos


  1. Dice the onion.
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in pot or Dutch oven. Cook the onion for 4 to 5 minutes until translucent.
  3. Stir in the veggie crumbles and cook 1 more minute. Add the diced tomatoes and their juices, drained and rinsed kidney beans, chili powder, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and kosher salt.
  4. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes. If it’s very chunky, add up to 1 cup water or broth: all brands of diced tomatoes and veggie crumbles have different levels of moisture.
  5. Taste and add a few pinches kosher salt and some shakes of hot sauce to taste. Serve warm garnished with your favorite chili toppings.  


*Plant-based crumbles vary widely based on the brand. Review the label to make sure they are not overly processed. We used Beyond Meat Beyond Beef Plant Based Crumbles, which are made of pea protein and have a meat-like texture. Different brands have different textures and ingredients to fit different diets (vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free). Experiment to find a brand you love! 

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Maggie S says:

    I found this recipe a year or so ago and decided to make it for a neighborhood chili cook off – and I won!! This has been my go-to recipe ever since. It’s so quick and easy, though I do find that I have to cook it for quite a long time to cook down the excess liquid. But I that just makes it better. About to try this using stew beef instead of ground beef. I also like to mix kidney beans and black beans.

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