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Vegetarian Chili Recipe

4 from 2 votes

posted: 09/09/19

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

This Vegetarian Chili Recipe is a delicious vegan spin on your favorite chili recipe. Full of healthy ingredients, this is a great recipe that even meat eaters will love!

overhead view of a red stock pot filled with vegetarian chili and garnished with cilantro on a black surface top

This post and my trip to Maryland were sponsored by Best Food Facts and the United Soybean Board, but as always all of my opinions are my own.

A few weeks ago, I shared with you my recipe for Edamame Hummus – such an amazing snack that would be perfect for after school – and talked all about what I learned while touring a soybean far with Best Food Facts and the United Soybean Board.

While on the trip, we also went to a soybean crush plant and had the opportunity to have a great lunch with a nutritionist and learn even more about the incredible power house that is the soybean. Probably like you, I had no idea what a soybean crush plant is. I learned at the Perdue crush plant how they take the soybean that has been dried and use ever last piece of it.

four women in hard hats and protective eye wear
Counter clock wise from the top that would be Becky from The Cookie Rookie, Lynne from 365 Days of Baking, yours truly, and Julie from The Little Kitchen.

How Every Part of the Soybean is Used

That’s right, every last part of the soybean is used. When the dry soybeans arrive at the Perdue crush plant they:

  1. Separate the bean from the hull. The hulls are added to livestock feed, primarily for cattle.
  2. The bean then goes through an intricate and amazing process where oil is extracted from it and the rest of the bean is then sifted and ground into soy protein meal. At Perdue, 98% of the soy protein meal is used for animal feed.

 I love that they use every last bit.

a colonial house with a front porch with a wreath on the door

The Nutritional Benefit of Soybeans

Probably one of my favorite parts of this trip was learning from nutritionist, Julie Garden-Robinson of North Dakota State University at a lovely breakfast at the gorgeous B&B shown above. I love getting a chance to ask nutritionists questions, because there is so much information out there about food. Nutritionists are great recourses because they spend their time reading peer reviewed scientific studies and staying up to date on the latest information.

Some of the things I learned from Dr. Garden-Robinson are:

  • The chemicals that exist naturally in soybeans don’t act like estrogen in us. Eating soy will not affect the hormonal balance in our bodies. In fact, studies are begin to suggest that a cup of soy milk a day could reduce your risk for breast cancer. (I’ve started drinking a cup a day since going to Maryland!)
  • Rather than focusing on eating organic and non-GMO, she would rather see the general public focus on eating the full amount of fruits and vegetables they should get each day.
  • Soybean oil, though it comes from soybeans, does not affect people who have soy allergies. The protein has been completely removed from it and that is the part that causes the allergy.
  • When looking for information on food, look for articles that are peer reviewed. Some great sources are National Institute for Health and Quack Watch.
overhead view of a red stock pot with a vegetarian chili recipe and a metal ladle coming out of it

How I’m Adding Soy to my Diet

With heart problems and breast cancer in my family history, the health benefits of soybeans definitely struck a cord with me. I am already making a concerted effort to add soy to my diet.

As mentioned above, I am drinking a cup of soy milk a day. It is a great afternoon snack, with only 100 calories and 8 grams of protein. It keeps me from eating cookies and brownies that I might have lying around.

Another great way to add soy to my diet and yours is with this tofu based vegetarian chili recipe!  My mom made the BEST vegetarian chili recipe growing up. I don’t have her recipe, but I think this one comes very close to it.

the best vegetarian chili recipe being ladled out of a red stock pot, garnished with cilantro and close up

The Best Vegetarian Chili Recipe

If you aren’t familiar with tofu, you’ll learn pretty quickly that it doesn’t have much of a taste on its own. The best recipes made with tofu put time and care into really flavoring the tofu. That is the number 1 step in this vegetarian chili recipe.

At the outset of this recipe, we want to break up and drain the tofu really well. Then we season it and let it sit while we sauté the vegetables in this recipe.  Where you would normally cook your meat and season it while cooking it (like in my healthy turkey chili recipe), we season the tofu before it hits the heat so that it can really absorb the flavors.

A Note About Spice

This chili has a decent amount of kick to it. If you want to lessen that, I would recommend that you leave out the cayenne pepper. You could always taste it and add a little if you want more flavor and heat.

What to Serve with this Vegan Chili Recipe

I’m going to give you some side ideas that will still keep this meal totally vegan if that is how you are cooking these days. Honestly, if were making this for my family, I probably would want to make all three of these sides. Sounds like an amazing spread to me!

If you make this vegetarian chili recipe or any of my other recipes, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

overhead view of a brown bowl with a handle holding vegetarian bean chili recipe garnished with cilantro on a dark surface with more cilantro around it
overhead view of a red stock pot with a vegetarian chili recipe and a metal ladle coming out of it
4 from 2 votes

Vegetarian Chili Recipe

Serves: 6 servings
(tap # to scale)
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Total: 1 hour 5 minutes
This Vegetarian Chili Recipe is a delicious vegan spin on your favorite chili recipe. Full of healthy ingredients, this is a great recipe that even meat eaters will love!


  • 8 ounces super firm tofu drained
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, see note)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 green bell pepper diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 15 ounces kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • In a medium size bowl, using a potato masher, mash up the tofu. Press and drain off any excess liquid.
  • In a small bowl whisk together soy sauce, hot sauce, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Pour over tofu, stir to combine, and set aside.
  • In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat for about a minute. Add the green pepper, onion, and garlic and lightly season with salt and pepper. Saute, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Add in the tofu, crushed tomatoes, kidney beans, and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer (you should be able to see very small bubbles at the surface) and cook for 30 minutes uncovered.


This chili recipe definitely has some kick to it. If you are sensitive to heat, skip the cayenne pepper (or only add 1/4 teaspoon), and taste it at the end, adding more as desired.
Serving: 1cup Calories: 298kcal (15%) Carbohydrates: 42g (14%) Protein: 18g (36%) Fat: 9g (14%) Saturated Fat: 1g (6%) Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g Monounsaturated Fat: 4g Sodium: 580mg (25%) Potassium: 1127mg (32%) Fiber: 15g (63%) Sugar: 7g (8%) Vitamin A: 3850IU (77%) Vitamin C: 80mg (97%) Calcium: 390mg (39%) Iron: 4.7mg (26%)
Author: Lisa Longley
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
overhead view of a red stock pot with a vegetarian chili recipe and a metal ladle coming out of it

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Vegetarian Chili Recipe

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Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

Reader Interactions


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  1. Mary Ann says

    4 stars
    Most of this seems pretty good, but Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies, do it’s neither vegetarian nor vegan.

    • Lisa Longley says

      I didn’t realize that Mary Ann! Thank you so much for letting me know. The Worcestershire sauce can certainly be left out and it will still be delicious.

  2. Dawn says

    4 stars
    Thanks for adding a vegetarian chili recipe. I haven’t eaten meat in over 20 years and make chili all the time. I use the ground beef crumbles instead of tofu tho. A lot of companies make them and as long as you season it up, it’s hard to tell it isn’t meat. Also, I just have to say that as a Texan, I would never put kidney beans in chili. Pinto beans. And some jalapenos make it better as well. Hey, I won a chili cook off back in the 90s!

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5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners



5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners