Overhead close-up view of vegan chili with cornbread and jalapenos

Growing up, I was never a fan of chili. My family would make large batches of it and I’d always strategically avoid it. I really didn’t like the flavors and I was pretty much anti-anything bean. However, I might touch try it if there weren’t beans but I was never really sure about it. A rather far cry from my current diet which has me eating beans nearly every day!

I fell in love with chili later when I attempted to recreate a lost vegetarian chili recipe for my mother that involved bulgur and chocolate. While we never determined if it was close to the one she remembers, it became a favorite/staple of the winter months. However, I don’t always remember to buy bulgur and thus, a no-grain chili was created.

This vegan chili is a riff on the flavors of the original bulgur version I developed. However, gone is the bulgur in lieu of beans (and lots of them). I also included a bit of pecan meal in this vegan chili. It’s really subtle but I think it adds an extra layer of warmth and a bit more texture.

One note: my husband would look at these photos and think I was in the wrong. I grew up with cornbread while he swears by a peanut butter sandwich with his chili. As far as I can research, it’s a very midwestern thing. However, we’ll have to agree to disagree. My chili always comes with cornbread!

Vegan Chili


Bulgur/quinoa: As with the original recipe, you can easily add bulgur or quinoa to help bolster this chili. I really love the texture the bulgur adds but with the beans, it doesn’t really need it.

Toppings: There are endless possibilities here but a few of my other favorites included minced red onion, pickled jalapeños, cheese, yogurt, sour cream, and hot sauce.

Beans: You could easily just use the beans you have on hand. Other varieties of white beans would work, including cannellini or great northern. Black beans are also a great addition to this vegan chili. It’s hard to go wrong!

Overhead shot of two bowls of vegan chili filled with beans and topped with jalapeños and cornbread.

Overhead close-up view of vegan chili with cornbread and jalapenos

Three-Bean Vegan Chili

  • Author: Erin Alderson
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 large servings
  • Category: soups
  • Method: stovetop


This hearty vegan chili is the perfect rich and filling stew for cold winter nights. Serve with a wedge of cornbread (or peanut butter sandwich) for warming dinner.


For the chili

1 medium yellow onion

3 cloves garlic

1 jalapeno (seeds removed if desired)

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

½ to 1 teaspoon sea salt (to taste)

1 28- ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 ounce (vegan) bittersweet chocolate

3 to 4 cups vegetable broth

1/3 cup pecan meal

1 ½ cups (or 1 can drained/rinsed) cooked kidney beans

1 ½ cups (or 1 can drained/rinsed) cooked pinto beans

1 ½ cups (or 1 can drained/rinsed) cooked navy beans

For the toppings

Sliced jalapenos, for topping

Toasted pepitas, for topping

Cilantro, for serving

Vegan Cornbread, for serving (see note)


  • Chop the onion, garlic, and jalapeño into large chunks. Place in a food processor and pulse until everything is minced. Drain any liquid that may have formed.
  • Heat a stockpot over medium heat. Add olive oil and onion mixture. Cook until onions are fragrant and transparent, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in spices and ½ teaspoon salt, cooking for 1 to 2 minutes or until you can smell the spices. Add in the tomatoes, chocolate, and 3 cups of the vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 5 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes, stir in the pecans and beans. Cover and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the salt/seasoning. Add more vegetable broth if a thinner consistency is desired.
  • Divide into four bowls and top with your desired toppings.


Tips + Tricks: I realize this is a lot of beans but it’s highly worth it. If I don’t have any beans in the freezer, I just go for canned beans.

As for the cornbread, I used this vegan cornbread recipe.

Use up leftover ingredients: Vegetable broth, pecans, spices


  • Serving Size: 1/4 of the recipe
  • Calories: 434
  • Sugar: 11.1
  • Sodium: 1089
  • Fat: 18.6
  • Saturated Fat: 3.2
  • Carbohydrates: 55
  • Fiber: 15.1
  • Protein: 18.8
  • Cholesterol: 0

Keywords: bean chili, vegan chili, vegetarian chili