Recipe: Deliciously Easy Vegan Chili

eating veganDelicious Vegan Chili

Good news! Not only is October Vegetarian Awareness Month, it’s also National Chili Month. What a perfect opportunity to explore vegan chili recipes! This one’s ideal for busy weeknights, or when you’re just too hungry to wait for dinner. Enjoy!


  • 1 tablespoon light or regular olive oil
  • 1 small mild white or yellow onion, chopped, or 1 cup frozen diced onions
  • 1/8 teaspoon each: salt and sugar
  • 1 teaspoon jarred chopped garlic (about 2 cloves)
  • 1 (16 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (16 oz) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (8 oz) can sweet corn, rinsed and drained, or 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/3 cup jarred salsa (mild for kids, medium or hot for spice-fiends)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon each: ground cumin, paprika, and liquid smoke flavoring
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon chili powder, to taste (for spicier chili, use half ground chipotle pepper and half chili powder)
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste
  • optional: 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro, to garnish


Empty black beans, pinto beans, and corn into a colander together, rinse well, and let drain while you proceed.

Heat oil over medium heat for about 15 seconds; add onion and sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon each sugar and salt. Saute 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and cook 1 more minute, stirring constantly.

Add undrained tomatoes, drained beans and corn, salsa, nutritional yeast, water, smoke flavoring, and spices. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes, stirring once or twice. Taste and adjust salt and spiciness (chili or chipotle powder) as needed. Sprinkle with fresh chopped cilantro if desired; serve with crackers or corn chips, or over rice.

Ta-da: delicious vegan Tex-Mex dinner in 30 minutes or less!

Production Notes

Don’t be intimidated by the ingredient list — this chili comes together super-fast!

For the salt and chili (or chipotle) powder, start with the smaller recommended amount and add more to taste, to avoid overseasoning — sodium levels vary in canned ingredients.

As always, read your food labels, especially on the beans — the sneaky bean-canning folk sometimes try to hide animal junk in there. The most cost-effective strategy is to buy dried beans, and cook according to package directions before you want to use them; you can make a big batch and freeze one- or two-cup servings for easy future use.

The recipe is written for mostly pantry ingredients, but don’t forget pre-cooking and freezing beans (and tomatoes and corn, especially during summer abundance) is also an option for quick-fix ingredients — and a great way to minimize BPA use. Some companies also offer BPA-free canned goods, excellent for quick pantry cooking. One 16-oounce can equals about 1-1/2 cups cooked beans.

Buy organic if it’s available and financially feasible, of course — especially the corn. Also, look for natural organic cane sugar whenever possible instead of processed white sugar.

For days when you have a little more time, this chili is especially good in a freshly baked bread bowl.


Image credit: Creative Commons photo by cj&erson.

  1. Norma Jean Tio

    I followed the directions exactly, and the chili was superb! A wonderful meal for a rainy day! One question, though: Why wash the canned vegetables to get rid of sodium and then “salt, to taste”?

    1. Tanya Sitton

      Yay, I’m so glad you liked it! I recommend rinsing for a couple of reasons… first because that way the cook is more in charge of HOW MUCH salt is in the finished dish, rather than the canning company . The other thing is that you’ll also rinse away some of the other things like preservatives and color retention agents some companies use, since they’re not especially tasty ingredients. :-P

      Thanks for using this recipe, and for sharing your results! :)

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