Best Vegan Chili

In this vegan chili recipe, butternut squash, chipotles & poblanos make a delicious sweet & smoky flavor combination. It's quick, easy & so darn good.

Best vegan chili recipe

Are you as excited as I am that it’s soup season? I love making a big batch of a soup or stew on Sunday and eating it all week. This butternut squash vegan chili recipe is my current Sunday soup obsession. It’s hearty and healthy, warming and slightly spicy. Plus, it’s one of those soups that gets a little better every day, so unlike most leftovers, I loved eating this chili for lunch just about every afternoon last week.

Veggie chili ingredients

Best Vegan Chili Recipe Ingredients

To make this vegan chili recipe hearty & flavorful, I added butternut squash. It gives the chili bulk without making it overly bean-y, and it adds a mild sweetness to contrast with the other spicy, smoky flavors. When I made this chili, I had 3 tiny butternut squashes on hand, but you won’t need 3 to make it. Just cube up enough squash to equal about two cups. If you don’t have squash, sweet potato would work well in its place.

Along with the butternut squash, I used poblanos in this vegan chili recipe. If you prefer, or if you’re sensitive to spice, green bell peppers would work equally well. Aside from these veggies, here’s what you need to make a show-stopping vegan chili:

  1. Onion, garlic & carrot are the aromatic base.
  2. Chili powder & chipotle powder give it essential spicy, smoky flavor.
  3. Fresh cherry tomatoes or canned diced tomatoes add a tangy contrast to the sweet squash and spicy chili powder.
  4. Apple cider vinegar adds brightness and tones down the heat.
  5. Black beans bulk it up. Pinto beans, kidney beans, or a mix would be good too!
  6. Vegetable broth thins it out.
  7. And lime gives it a bright finish.

Vegan chili recipe ingredients Best vegan chili recipe

Vegan Chili Serving Suggestions

I topped my bowls of veggie chili with leftover cashew sour cream, crispy tortilla chips, and cilantro. Feel free to top yours with whatever you like – fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels, diced avocado, green onion, or hot sauce would also be delicious.

Serve your chili with spicy cornbread or a baked or stuffed sweet potato. Enjoy!

Vegan Chili

If you love this vegan chili recipe…

Try my easy vegetarian chili, curried lentil soup, tomato soup, or butternut squash soup next!

5.0 from 22 reviews

Best Vegan Chili

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
You'll love this vegan chili recipe! Butternut squash adds a delicious sweet contrast to the smoky, spicy peppers and chili powder.
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 4
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced, about 1½ cups
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 1 poblano pepper, stem and seeds removed, and diced*
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder*
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle paste or powder*
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes, or 1 cup canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 to 3 cups vegetable broth
  • Juice of ½ to 1 lime
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Optional toppings:
  • Grilled corn kernels
  • Handful of cilantro
  • Baked tortilla strips (or crumbled chips)
  • Lime slices
  • Dollops of poblano cashew cream
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and pepper and cook until soft, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic, carrots, poblano, butternut squash, and another pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until the vegetables just start to become tender and the onion is lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Reduce the heat if necessary.
  2. Add the chili powder, chipotle powder, and tomatoes and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the apple cider vinegar and black beans and then add 2 cups of vegetable broth (or enough to cover everything). Simmer until the butternut squash and carrots are tender, 20 to 30 minutes, adding more broth as needed.
  3. Add a big squeeze of lime. Season to taste with more salt, pepper, and spices to your liking. If your chili is too spicy, stir in a small splash of apple cider vinegar. If it's too thick, add another cup of broth.
  4. Serve with grilled corn, cilantro, tortilla strips, lime slices, and poblano cashew cream.
*if you're sensitive to spice, start with less, you can always add more. If your chili is too spicy in the end, add more lime juice and/or splashes of apple cider vinegar to tone it down.



Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. Peggy

    I wish I doubled this! Made as written and it’s a wonderful way to use the tomatoes, poblanos and butternut squash I harvested from my garden. It’s spicy – but not too spicy – and I topped it with tons of fresh cilantro. Perfect with a corn muffin or tortilla chips.

  2. Elisa

    I have a complaint: You need to have a warning label on this chili. The warning label should state that the recipe should be doubled (or perhaps tripled)if you don’t want to run out of chili. The “serves 4” does not include the second and third helpings that those eating this will wish to have. \(*o*)/

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Ha, I’m glad you all loved it so much!

  3. Bri Schneider

    I’ve made this chili so many times now that I figured it was time to leave a comment and review! ha! When I first made this chili, I had never used poblano peppers before. I was a little nervous because I wasn’t sure how spicy they were. But I’m obsessed now! I’m never using a plain green pepper again – poblanos have such a more robust flavor!

    The only thing I changed in this recipe was I added some chipotles in adobo sauce instead of the paste/powder because I always have a partly used can in my fridge.

    I pair this with you cornbread recipe! It’s a combination made in heaven!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Haha, thank you for the comment – I’m glad to hear it’s been in the rotation so frequently 🙂

  4. Jillian

    Super delicious chili! I added the corn to the chili and I served it over brown rice. Yummy!!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      ooh yum, I’m glad you enjoyed!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.