Ultimate Vegan Chili

Wow, is this the BEST vegan chili! It’s bursting with flavor and is totally plant based. Dollop with vegan sour cream and load with toppings!

Vegan chili

Looking for delicious, filling plant based recipes? This vegan chili is for you. Yep, this one is our best chili recipe yet and it’s totally plant based! Alex and I love finding ways to make vegetables delicious that go over well no matter what your personality or diet choices. And this chili is that: it’s hard to find someone who will turn it down! It’s full of savory flavor starring beans, quinoa, and a hint of adobo sauce for complexity. Top it with our vegan sour cream and some pickled jalapenos and well: it’s out of this world good.

Vegan chili

What are the secrets to the best vegan chili?

Good question. Alex and I have been making vegan chili recipes for quite a while. Actually, many of the chili recipes on this website are vegan, though they don’t say it! Our Vegetarian Chili is vegan, but we like to top it with cheese. Our Sweet Potato Chili and Mango Black Bean Chili, and even our Quinoa Chili are also vegan. But we wanted to create a Classic BEST EVER Vegan Chili that would outshine them all. And then load it up with all the vegan chili toppings.

Here are the secrets to this best vegan chili:

  • Secret veggie blend. You’ll blend together tomatoes with parsley, carrot, vegan Worcestershire sauce, and adobo sauce to create the body for this sauce. Oddly enough, it was inspired by a chili we had once with V8 in it. But we wanted to make an all-natural version!
  • Adobo sauce! Adobo sauce adds smoky, tangy complexity to this chili that cannot be substituted! See the section below for more on this magic sauce.
  • Quinoa. Quinoa adds a meaty texture. (See more Vegan Quinoa Recipes.)
  • Vegan sour cream. It’s just a topping, but it truly makes for that classic chili experience.
Vegan chili

What is adobo sauce?

Adobo sauce is our secret weapon to add meaty, smoky flavor to our vegetarian and vegan recipes. Chipotles in adobo sauce are sold in most major grocery stores here in the US, available in the Mexican products section. The can includes two things: 

  • Chipotle chiles: smoked and dried jalapeños that then are rehydrated and canned
  • Adobo sauce, a puree of tomato, vinegar, garlic, and some other spices.

Most of our recipes use only a small amount of the adobo sauce because the chiles are super potent! You can freeze the remainder of the chipotle chiles and adobo sauce for future use.

Vegan sour cream

Serve with vegan sour cream!

Sour cream is our favorite chili topping. So for this vegan chili, we went the extra mile and created a Vegan Sour Cream for dolloping! Oddly enough, it has a texture and richness just like the real thing! It’s impossibly creamy, but only has a few ingredients: cashews, tofu, lemon juice, vinegar, and salt. Blend them up, and it comes together into something so sour-cream like, you’ll want to dollop it on everything!

Pickled jalapenos add a zing! (Or use pickled onions.)

The other topping that’s key here is the pickled jalapenos! Our Homemade Pickled Jalapeños are perfect, and only take 10 minutes to make. Or, you can use store-bought. Why are they important They add just the right tangy flavor and back-end heat. If you can’t handle spicy foods, no problem! Our Quick Pickled Onions also add that signature tang without the heat. They’re quick to make, too. That said…let’s talk toppings!

Pickled jalapeño peppers

10 best vegan chili toppings

One of the best things about chili is the toppings, right? With a vegan chili, you have to get creative without the use cheese and sour cream. Here are all the best ways to top a vegan chili:

  1. Vegan Sour Cream It’s rich and creamy, with just the right texture! A must make.
  2. Chopped chives or green onions: A classic!
  3. Pickled Jalapeños Adds a spicy, tangy kick.
  4. Easy Quick Pickled Onions Bright pink slivers add color and zingy flavor.
  5. Roasted salted pepitas: Add a salty crunch.
  6. Vegan Nacho Cheese Brings a gooey, cheesy essence
  7. Thinly sliced radishes: Add a peppery bite. Dress it up with Pickled Radishes.
  8. Diced avocado: Brings richness and makes it more filling
  9. Cilantro: Adds a bright green color and freshness
  10. Crushed tortilla chips or tortilla strips: For a crunch!
Chili recipe

What to serve with vegan chili

There’s one side dish that everyone thinks of when it comes to chili! (Yep, it’s our number one too.) But there are many more sides that go with chili. Here’s what we’d accessorize with it, vegan style:

  • Easy Vegan Cornbread You may not have thought cornbread was life changing…until now. This tender, moist vegan cornbread tastes the Jiffy box, but 100 times tastier.
  • Best Tossed Salad Colorful and fresh, this salad features colorful veggies, crunchy homemade croutons, and a variety of salad dressing options. Try it with our Vegan Ranch Dressing or Creamy Avocado Dressing.
  • Fennel Orange Salad Here’s a refreshing and easy side dish: fennel orange salad! It pairs juicy orange and the subtle licorice essence of fennel with a citrus vinaigrette.

Try our Chili Seasoning in this recipe! Add 3 tablespoons of the mix instead of the spices.

This vegan chili recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant based, dairy free and gluten free.

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Vegan chili

Ultimate Vegan Chili (The Best!)

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (49 votes, average: 4.18 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 6 to 8 1x


Wow, is this the BEST vegan chili! It’s bursting with flavor and is totally plant based. Dollop with vegan sour cream and load with toppings!


  • 228 ounce cans fire roasted diced tomatoes, divided
  • 1 small carrot
  • 1 cup parsley leaves and tender stems, loosely packed
  • 2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce (or use this substitute)
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from 1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce), plus more to taste
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes, fire roasted if possible
  • 1 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon each chili powder and garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon each onion powder, cumin and oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Garnishes: Pickled Jalapenos (or Pickled Onions), Vegan Sour Cream, lime wedges, sliced radishes


  1. In a blender, blend the one can of diced tomatoes, carrot (peeled and chopped into a few pieces), parsley, Worcestershire sauce, and adobo sauce until fully combined.
  2. Dice the onion and green pepper. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and green pepper and sauté for about 6 to 7 minutes until tender.
  3. Carefully add the blended vegetables, the second can of diced tomatoes, the crushed tomatoes, drained beans, quinoa, spices, kosher salt, and 1/2 cup water. Simmer gently for 25 to 30 minutes until the quinoa is tender and cooked through, stirring occasionally. Taste and add additional salt and adobo sauce as desired (we added 1 teaspoon adobo sauce and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt).
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Vegan

Keywords: Vegan Chili

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.


  • Reply
    January 22, 2020 at 5:46 pm

    We used to love your “Best Vegetarian Chili” but we became a GF home this year. I was so excited to see this new recipe and it is absolutely delicious – love the carrot & quinoa texture! The extra five minutes to pickle the jalapeños is worth it. If looking for a safe GF adobo sauce, here’s a recommended list: http://nogluten-noproblem.com/2010/09/adobo-awareness.html

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      January 22, 2020 at 7:48 pm

      Awesome! And thanks for the tip on the GF adobo.

  • Reply
    January 26, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    Hi ! we did this over the weekend… didn’t have adobo sauce but I just mixed all the ingredient of it in the blender with my tomatoes. Added a bit of miso paste to be sure. It was awesome. Like… we ate it all in just two meals and even our one year old had it with great pleasure ! I’m going to look for adobo sauce or even do a homemade one. Thanks for the inspiration !

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      January 27, 2020 at 10:03 am

      I love the idea of miso! Glad you enjoyed :)

  • Reply
    Jessica Flory
    January 27, 2020 at 8:43 pm

    DANG this was good!!! So much flavor!!!

  • Reply
    January 27, 2020 at 10:37 pm

    Today is day 1 of my vegan journey and this is the first dish I’ve cooked – Really nice! I added 1/2 cup corn kernels and a tsp cacao powder. Will make again and can’t wait to try more of your recipes – thank you!

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      January 28, 2020 at 9:00 am

      Glad you enjoyed! :)

  • Reply
    Sean Cain
    January 28, 2020 at 6:10 pm

    How many ounces are in one serving?

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      January 28, 2020 at 7:58 pm

      I’m not sure, sorry!

  • Reply
    March 4, 2020 at 8:28 pm

    My chili came out pretty tangy any tips to help with that?

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      March 5, 2020 at 9:05 am

      Did you use fire-roasted tomatoes? Usually those add the depth of flavor required for the chili to not be too tangy in this amount of time. If desired, you could cook the soup for several minutes to deepen the flavor before adding the quinoa.

  • Reply
    Charlotte Brown
    April 22, 2020 at 3:30 pm

    Um question in the instructions you advise to add a can of crushed tomatoes but that is not listed under the ingredients. So what size can of crushed tomatoes do we need?? Please add this to the list of ingredients.

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      April 22, 2020 at 9:25 pm

      Hi! The ingredients list has:

      1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes, fire roasted if possible


  • Reply
    Keiry Fernandez
    May 19, 2020 at 6:21 am

    This was amazing! I’m not necessarily vegan but I’m lactose intolerant and this was amazing!!! The flavors are SO good!

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      May 19, 2020 at 8:53 am

      So glad you enjoyed!

  • Reply
    July 16, 2020 at 1:34 pm

    I had high hopes for this recipe but was a little disappointed. It seemed very liquidy, so I added a third can of beans and about a cup of frozen corn. I let it cook for about an hour, but I agree with other commenters that it was more tangy than I’d like. It was good, it just didn’t knock my socks off like your cornbread recipe. Thanks though!

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