Three-Bean Vegan Chili

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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
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Three-Bean Vegan Chili

4 large servings
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.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Calories: 434kcal
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))
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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: 1/4 of the recipe | Calories: 434kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 18.8g | Fat: 18.6g | Saturated Fat: 3.2g | Sodium: 1089mg | Fiber: 15.1g | Sugar: 11.1g
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time :25 minutes

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9 comments on “Three-Bean Vegan Chili”

  1. I had no idea that a peanut butter sandwich with chili is a thing! So weird to me...but also strangely sounds yummy? I'm skeptical but also excited! I'm gonna try it with your chili!!

  2. I never had chili until I was a somewhat older adult. I would probably change out some of the beans in this because I don't care much for kidney beans. I've always known cornbread as an accompaniment, never a peanut butter sandwich! I am also very picky about my chili - I get tired of most of the recipes I've tried very quickly. But I still try new recipes, always looking for the one I really want to keep.

  3. I'm allergic to chocolate, do you think the chocolate is a important ingredient? What would be a good replacement?

  4. This was so extremely spicy I had to throw out the whole batch unfortunately, if you're using regular chili powder 2 tablespoons seems like over kill

  5. I've made this recipe several times now. The chocolate really adds a lot to the chili. Very tasty chili.


Welcome to my little internet nook. On this site you'll find over a thousand vegetarian recipes, pantry knowledge, and more. I'm ever obsessed with food from gardening, cooking, and preserving. I hope you'll find endless inspiration on these pages and visit often. 

Virtual hugs, Erin (aka: e.l.l.a.)

a few good grain recipes

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