This ultimate vegan chilli con carne is packed full of fresh veggies, mixed beans and lentils to create quick, easy & wholesome family feast. Most delicious Mexican classic, vegan style!
This veggie chilli is a proper comfort food, Mexican and vegan style!
Without meat or meat substitutes, this quick and easy vegan chilli con carne is full of beans (literally) for that super filling and wholesome plant based protein.
Perfect for batch cooking, meal prep and great for making in advance as even though delicious from the start, it gets even better when it had some time to rest.
This delicious one pot is also super easy to adapt to accommodate whatever veg, beans and pulses you've got in your kitchen and whatever needs using up. No food waste here!
📝 Ingredients and substitutes
Here's what you need to make my Ultimate Vegan Chilli:
Tinned Beans & Lentils - My usual go to are black beans, red kidney beans and some green lentils but feel free to use any beans and lentils you like. Choose 3 tins of your favourite beans and pulses. If you cook your own beans 1 tin equals approximately 240g/8.5oz of drained beans/pulses.
***Top Tip*** Why not use tins with mixed beans? This way you get an array of different type of beans from one tin!
Tinned Chopped Tomatoes - Feel free to use tinned plum or cherry tomatoes instead.
Tinned or Frozen Sweetcorn - Either is fine here. I usually go for tinned but it's just preference.
Vegetables - I like to use a lot of veggies to bulk my chilli up with goodness. My go to are onion, garlic, celery (my base, chopped really finely), with carrots (grated), pepper (cut into chunks) and courgette (grated).
I think this mixture works really well here but feel free to experiment.
Veggie Stock Cube - To add extra flavour. I use Kallo stock cubes (UK) but use any vegan/veggie ones you like.
Spices & Flavourings - I use dried oregano, ground cumin, ground coriander, smoked paprika and chilli powder. I also use some unsweetened cocoa or cacao powder for that extra umami flavour. Chilli and chocolate, so good together! You can substitute cocoa with a piece or two of good quality extra dark chocolate instead or simply leave it out.
Feel free to use sweet paprika instead of smoked but I prefer that deep and rich flavour of smoked one.
Some dried marjoram would work nicely in place of oregano too.
To make this veggie chilli family friendly I was really conservative when it comes to use of chilli powder and haven't used any fresh chillies at all (only as garnish) so feel free to make some adjustments in this department if you wish.
***Top Tip*** American readers might need to use more chilli powder than stated in the recipe as chilli powder in the U.S is milder than that available in Europe.***
Fresh Lime & Coriander (Cilantro) - Final touches for maximum flavour. If you happen to dislike fresh coriander, simply use fresh parsley instead.
🔪 How to make ultimate vegan chilli
Ingredient quantities & detailed instructions to be found in recipe card at the bottom of the post.
Heat up 2 tablespoons of oil in a large lidded pan and fry chopped onions, garlic, celery and carrots until softened but not coloured approx 5-8 min.
Add chopped pepper and grated courgette (zucchini) and continue frying for another 5 minutes until vegetables soften quite substantially.
Next, add all dried herbs and spices (with the exception of cacao/cocoa powder) and fry for a couple of minutes until nice and fragrant.
Add chopped tomatoes and rinse the tin with a little bit of water and add that too.
Crumble in your veggie stock cube and pour in 250ml freshly boiled water. Mix well and bring to boil.
Add drained and rinsed beans and lentils, mix well, cover and let it simmer for approx 20-30 minutes, giving it a little stir every few minutes and adding a touch of stock or water (but only if it looks dry).
Add teaspoon of cacao/cocoa powder (if using) and mix it in.
Next, using stick (immersion) blender give the chilli a brief blend (few quick pushes of a button will do). This way the chilli becomes lovely and thick as if it simmered on the stove for hours.
Add tinned or frozen sweetcorn and follow with another quick blend (optional).
Season chilli to taste with salt and pepper and follow with lime juice and fresh coriander. Use as much or as little as you like.
Serve with your choice of delicious sides and toppings!
To get that delicious, thick consistency of our vegan mixed bean chilli (as if it was cooking for ages), we need to blend some of it. That's where you will need a stick (immersion) blender.
Don't worry if you don't have one. You can blend some of the chilli in any free standing blender instead and transfer it back to the pan.
If you don't have a blender, you can use simple potato masher to mash some of the chilli instead.
🥡 Storing and freezing
This chilli will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days. Make sure you cool it quickly once cooked and transfer to the fridge as soon as possible.
Reheat in a pan on the hob or in a microwave.
If you'd like to store it for longer, simply transfer it to freezer safe container or bag and freeze for up to 6 months.
Defrost it in the fridge overnight or slowly on the hob/stovetop or in a microwave.
💭 Helpful tips
Batch cook it! If you've got some room in the freezer I would encourage you to make a double batch of this comforting chilli. It's so great to have it in the freezer for those days when you don't feel like cooking.
Make it in advance for even more delicious flavour! This quick vegan chilli tastes delicious straight away but even better the following day once all the flavour had some time to mingle.
Don't skip blending or mashing! It does make this chilli so much thicker, richer and even more comforting.
Feel free to ramp up the heat! I kept this chilli pretty mild because of the kids but you can always increase the amount of chilli powder or perhaps add some fresh chillies at the start of cooking if catering for adults only. Myself and hubby tend to garnish our individual portions with slices of fresh chillies to keep us all happy!
🍴 Serving suggestions
This lovely veggie chilli is naturally vegan, dairy and gluten free and so are our suggestions for toppings and accompaniments. If you're not vegan, feel free to adjust accordingly.
Our favourite chilli toppings are:
- Sliced avocado
- Lime wedges
- Tortilla chips (there are lots of vegan friendly ones out there)
- Thick vegan yogurt ( I love Alpro Greek Style one)
- Cashew cream
- Grated vegan cheese (we like Violife Epic Mature)
- My homemade vegan parmesan
- Freshly chopped coriander/cilantro
- Homemade Fresh Tomato Salsa (Pico De Gallo)
- Fresh chilli slices
As for the side dish we like it served with simple wholegrain rice or quinoa and maybe some green salad.
My kids love it with potato wedges or baked polenta chips.
You can bulk up this chilli with vegan soya mince if you want to. I would recommend using organic soya mince which you rehydrate prior to cooking but you could also use shop bought vegan mince alternative of your choice.
Make sure to adjust seasoning accordingly as you will have more bulk in your chilli.
Chilli makes great leftovers which you can serve with jacket potato, as a taco or enchilada filling or even with pasta (kids love it)!
You could also use it as a delicious topping for nachos or in quesadillas - both perfect and substantial party snacks with nicely chilled beers!
Have you tried my Ultimate Vegan Chilli?
Please consider giving it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in recipe card below and share your views or tips in the comments.
😋 More comforting vegan recipes
Ultimate Vegan Chilli
- 1 large onion peeled and roughly chopped
- 3 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped, minced or grated
- 1 celery stick finely chopped
- 2 carrots peeled and grated
- 1 red pepper deseeded and roughly chopped into chunks
- 1 courgette (zucchini) washed and coarsely grated
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- 1 veggie stock cube + 250 ml freshly boiled water
- 1 tablespoon (heaped) ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon (heaped) ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon (heaped) dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon chili powder see notes
- 1 teaspoon (heaped) smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dark, unsweetened cacao or cocoa powder optional
- 2 tablespoon rapeseed or olive oil
- 1 400g tin green lentils drained and rinsed
- 1 400g tin black beans drained and rinsed
- 1 400g tin mixed beans (or kidney beans) drained and rinsed
- 1 340g tin sweetcorn see notes
- small bunch fresh coriander (cilantro) chopped
- 1 lime (juice of) to taste
- salt & pepper to taste
- Heat up 2 tablespoons of oil in a large lidded pan and fry chopped onions, garlic, celery and carrots until softened but not coloured approx 5-8 min.
- Add chopped pepper and grated courgette (zucchini) and continue frying for another 5 minutes until vegetables soften quite substantially.
- Add all dried herbs and spices (with the exception of cacao/cocoa powder) and fry for a couple of minutes until nice and fragrant.
- Add chopped tomatoes and rinse the tin with a little bit of water and add that too.
- Crumble in your veggie stock cube and pour in 250ml freshly boiled water. Mix well and bring to boil.
- Add drained and rinsed beans and lentils, mix well, cover and let it simmer for approx 20-30 minutes, giving it a little stir every few minutes and adding a touch of stock or water (but only if it looks dry).
- Add teaspoon of cacao/cocoa powder (if using) and mix it in.
- Next, using stick (immersion) blender give the chilli a brief blend (few quick pushes of a button will do). This way the chilli becomes lovely and thick as if it simmered on the stove for hours.
- Add tinned or frozen sweetcorn and follow with another quick blend (optional).
- Season chilli to taste with salt and pepper and follow with lime juice and fresh coriander. Use as much or as little as you like.
- Serve with your choice of delicious sides and toppings!
- Nutritional information is approximate, per portion based on 4 servings and without sides & garnishes. It should be treated as a rough guideline only.
- Cacao/cocoa powder can be left out completely or substituted with a square or two of good quality dark chocolate.
- Chilli powder in the US is much less potent than the one used in the UK so adjust quantities according to your taste and type of powder you're using.
- Tinned sweetcorn can be substituted with frozen which can be added at the same time and cooked until defrosted/warmed through.
- Store in the fridge for 3-4 days or freeze for up to 6 months.
This recipe was originally published in March 2019. It's since been improved and updated. I hope you enjoy it.