This vegetarian chili will warm your bones with delicious plant-based protein this winter (and in under 30 minutes!) With tempeh, veggies, beans, and a blend of spices, this is a simple chili that you would never believe is meatless.
Have you ever had one of those foods that was never in your “culinary vocabulary”, so to speak, and then one day you discover it and your whole world changes? Like I remember back when I only knew ginger in the context of gingerbread. Then one day I learned about the so-good, hands-down magical ability of ginger to transform stir fries, and proceeded to cook ginger into every thing I ate until a golden ginger aura formed around me.
Well that same thing just happened with tempeh. Like just happened, guys. On our practice round of the 21 Day Vegetarian Reset, the tulip-man got pretty sick of tofu. Granted, he went from 0 to 100 t.m.p.h (tofu miles per hour) faster than you can say “Day 1 of the 21 Day Reset”, but I must admit, the original plan had a lot of tofu. So I changed it up a bit. I set out on a great exploration in search of plant-based proteins, and I found the answer in tempeh!
Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans. But these soybeans are whole (meaning tempeh is higher in protein, fiber, and nutrients) and fermented (giving it a really earthy, wholesome flavor). And if you grate it up and cook it up with beans, fresh veggies, and spices, you get a damn good, can’t-believe-it’s-vegan tempeh chili!
How do you make vegetarian chili?
Here’s how you make this ridiculously easy plant-based chili recipe:
- Cook tempeh in a pot until browned
- Add onion, garlic, and veggies
- Add spices, beans, and tomato
- Cook until warm
Are you ready to meet the vegetarian chili that’s about to warm up your whole winter?
Variations on this vegetarian chili
- Tofu: You can use a package of crumbled tofu in place of the tempeh.
- Tex-Mex: You can make this a Tex-Mex inspired chili by replacing the seasonings with a packet of taco seasoning (similar to what Taco Soup).
- Add Veggies: You can spruce this vegetarian chili up by adding vegetables (we sometimes add chunks of butternut, pumpkin, or sweet potato!)
- Meal Prep It: Cook up a bunch of broccoli and grains and portion this tempeh chili out for the week into tasty chili meal prep.
- 2 Tbsp olive oil 30 mL
- 1 8-oz package tempeh 226 g, roughly grated
- 1 medium white onion diced
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1 stalk celery diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 3/4 cup tomato sauce 177 mL
- 1 15-oz can kidney beans 425 g, drained
- 1 15-oz can black beans 425 g, drained
- 1 cup water 240 mL
- 1 tsp each cumin and salt
- 1/4 tsp each chili powder and crushed red pepper flakes
- To serve: chopped green onions, plain Greek yogurt
- Brown Tempeh: Heat oil over medium/high heat in a large pot. Add tempeh and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. It’s okay if some of it sticks to the bottom of the pan. It will come off when you add the liquids.
- Add Flavor Makers: Add onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic, continuing to cook until veggies are a bit soft, about 5 minutes.
- Cook Everything: Add the remaining ingredients, reduce heat to medium, and cook until warm and the flavors have blended, about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Top with green onions and serve.
Vegetarian Chili FAQs
Can you make vegetarian chili in a slow cooker? Yes! To make this tempeh chili in a slow cooker, you’ll still need to brown the tempeh and saute the onion, celery, pepper, and garlic until soft. Then simply transfer everything to a slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours (high for 3 to 4).
How long does vegetarian chili last? Store this chili in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.
Can you freeze vegetarian chili? This tempeh chili can be frozen! Freeze in portion-sized freezer-safe baggies or containers. When ready to eat, let thaw in the fridge overnight, then heat in the microwave or on the stove.