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 21 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.
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  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.
Notes
*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.

 

66 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. Lyli
    10.13.2019

    Not sure what I did wrong but mine turned out way too spicy

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.13.2019

      Peppers and spices can vary in spice level – I’d try adding some apple cider vinegar or squeezes of lime juice to temper the spice.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.23.2019

      thank you!

  2. ccp
    11.28.2018

    I have a handful of websites I hit up when I am looking for a new recipe. Yours never disappoints! This was delicious and easy. Love a recipe that features squash in a savory/spicy way!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.30.2018

      thank you!! I’m glad you’ve been enjoying the recipes! xo

  3. Don
    11.21.2017

    Made exactly as per your recipe minus the optional stuff, all scratch ingredients, except using a small whole diced tomato instead of cherry tomatoes. Very nice, it didn’t need the optional garnishes. I mixed in about 1/3 volume of cooked long grain white rice for my second serving. That is filling. The Poblano pepper in Washington State is mild. Maybe some Louisiana hot sauce next time? Probably could use a teaspoon of salt instead of the half I used. Thanks. I’m almost totally vegan now, and this helps.

  4. Nikki
    11.02.2017

    Thanks for this great vegan recipe! I used it for a chili-themed potluck at work and vegans and meat-eaters alike all loved it. It was a bit spicy for some though. I personally like to add a bit more lime juice than is called for because I love the zip it brings to the flavor.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.02.2017

      Hi Nikki, I’m so glad you liked it! Thank you for your feedback about the spice and the lime, I’ll add a few extra notes to the recipe.

  5. HL
    10.31.2017

    Gorgeous and delicious – next time I will double the recipe and make the crema. I definitely recommend this recipe.

  6. Thanks for the recipes, Amy! Now mealtime will be much more fun.

  7. Laura Doyle
    04.04.2017

    Really tasty, highly reccomend

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.04.2017

      thanks Laura! So glad you enjoyed!

  8. Nadine
    12.18.2016

    Made this for a crowd yesterday to satisfy the vegan (me) along with salmon and pot roast for the ones I have not yet converted.The chili was excellent and enjoyed by all, but it was the cashew cream that was the hit of the night. It was used by everyone on every type of food! So glad I took the time to make this, and will be making it again and again. Thank you for another great recipe!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      12.18.2016

      Ha, love hearing that – so glad the cashew cream was so versatile 🙂

  9. Fiona Mackay
    12.17.2016

    I absolutely loved making this recipe – all elements work so well together, healthy and nutritious, as always on L&L. As partner can’t have nuts, except almonds (don’t ask me why?) used sunflower seeds for base to cashew nut cream. As with cashews, it tasted beautiful, rich and silky. The lime takes it to another level. Have dropped so many unsubtle ‘hints’ for your new book for Christmas Janine. Thank you for creating and sharing such inspiring ideas – healthy food that I enjoy making – that my family actually wants to eat!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      12.18.2016

      Hi Fiona, I’m so glad you loved the recipe! Thank you for leaving such a sweet comment 🙂

  10. Brett B
    02.03.2016

    For the people asking about using a crockpot (my preferable cooker, as I have two kids under two), this is what I did. It made so much that I made half of it into soup using my immersion blender, and I served the other half over pasta. And I froze half of those halves, if that makes sense. Win, win, win, win! My husband said this was one of the best things I’ve ever made – the soup AND the pasta dish! Awesome recipe, slightly tweaked for the current chaotic state of my life. ?

    32 oz vegetable broth
    1 can black beans – strained and rinsed
    1 can pinto beans – strained and rinsed
    2 small butternut squashes, peeled and cubed
    One yellow onion, chopped
    3 carrots, peeled and chopped
    28 oz stewed or diced tomatoes
    1 bay leaf
    Tsp of chipotle chile powder (or to taste)
    3 garlic cloves – minced
    2 TBSP Olive oil
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Sauté onions, garlic and squash in olive oil (not cooked – just a few minutes)

    In crock pot, add vegetable broth, both cans of beans, carrots, tomatoes, chipotle chile powder and bay leaf.
    Add sautéed onions, butternut squash and garlic to crock pot.
    Cook for 6 hours (or 4 on high).

    Use immersion blender to make soup out half of the crock pot mixture. After blending, add 1/2 cup (more or less, depending on how much you blend) of heavy cream, let simmer for 5-10 minutes. Serve with sour cream and cilantro.

    Serve other half (unblended) over pasta for veggie pasta.

    Side note: to serve to my kids, too, I didn’t add the pepper. That means I also didn’t add the apple cider. Still turned out amazing.

  11. lynda artesani
    01.17.2016

    I made this for dinner this evening. OMG is it delicious! I made it more chili-like by adding some quinoa to thicken it a bit. I love the cashew sauce on top. Once again, thank you Jeanine!

  12. Kat
    10.21.2015

    Lovely looking chili and tableware! Can I ask where you got the bowls from?

    • jeanine
      10.22.2015

      Hi Kat, thanks! the bowl is from clamlab.com (the pot is from west elm)

  13. Victoria
    10.18.2015

    This soup was amazing! A new favorite!

    • jeanine
      10.19.2015

      Love hearing that – thanks!

  14. lynda fitzgerald
    10.17.2015

    I made this soup today. Wow, wow, wow! Easy and amazing. It is delicious. Thank you for posting such a great recipe. Can’t wait to have it for dinner again tomorrow night!

    • jeanine
      10.19.2015

      I’m SO glad, thanks for coming back to let me know!!

  15. Alanna from bojongourmet.com
    10.11.2015

    We made this for dinner tonight – yum! The most light, fresh, delicious chili I’ve ever had, and super easy to boot. A perfect summer-to-fall recipe. Will definitely make this again and again. Thanks for the killer recipe!

    • Jaqui
      10.12.2015

      Hi Alanna,

      I’m making this now and just waiting for the carrots to cook a tad bit longer. Does yours have quite a bit of liquid left in it? I was expecting the broth to burn down some, but it really hasn’t.

      Thanks!

      • Alanna from bojongourmet.com
        10.12.2015

        We eyeballed the broth, so I can’t be of much help there. Sorry!

      • jeanine
        10.13.2015

        Mine was quite thick after it simmered with 3 cups, (which is why I added the 4th)

  16. I just made this for dinner and it is AMAZING!!! The lime juice at the end really does the trick! So good!

  17. Butternut squash + black beans = perfect comfort food. I can’t wait to make this now that there’s a chill in the air! xo

  18. May CXC from chefxchange.com
    10.09.2015

    It’s restaurant festival in London right now too but we don’t have the variety of restaurants like those in Austin. Visiting Austin is definitely on my bucket list. Will keep this as a reference.

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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.