RECIPES:
Nov 15, 2021

3 Bean Vegetarian Chili

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
All the flavor and texture of a meat filled chili made vegetarian with three types of beans and tofu.

jump toRECIPE

This vegetarian chili made with a combination of kidney beans, pinto beans, and black beans with tofu for texture is the same delicious flavor as a traditional chili minus the meat. When added to the chili, bits of tofu work to mimic the texture of ground meat. The recipe is inspired by one of my favorite canned chilis, a since discontinued product from Trader Joe’s. I love this recipe because it’s great for both meat-eaters and non-meat eaters. 

This vegetarian and vegan chili recipe is hearty and delicious while quick and easy to make! It’s a fairly hands-off recipe which means once the ingredients are in the pot – there’s not much room for error! It’s a great cozy recipe for a chilly day and makes a great dinner or lunch over a baked sweet potato. Easily make it ahead of time and freeze for days when time is lacking. 

3 Bean Vegetarian Chili 

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Tofu – The tofu is crumbled in this recipe. The key to cooking with tofu in recipes like this is to press it to remove excess water. 
  • Beans – I use a combination of red kidney beans, pinto beans and black beans to round out the flavor of the chili. Black beans are creamy and have a mild flavor while kidney beans have a red exterior and white center and pinto beans have an earthy flavor. 
  • Sweet corn – While I opt to use frozen sweet corn in this recipe it can easily be substituted with kernels of fresh corn or canned corn instead. 
  • Bell pepper – Bell peppers are sweet with a mild flavor. They don’t have any heat but add a sweet flavor, especially when sautéed. The colors of bell pepper differ based on maturity – it comes down to the time of harvesting. The green bell pepper can be substituted with another color of bell pepper in this recipe as the difference is subtle.
  • Vegetable broth –  Using a vegetable broth keeps the recipe vegetarian. It is made by simmering onion, celery and carrots with aromatics in water over a long period of time. In a pinch chicken stock can be used instead.

Instructions to Make 3 Bean Vegetarian Chili

  1. Remove water from tofu. Press down on tofu with paper towels to release as much excess water as possible.
  2. Cook the vegetables. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of the oil and heat through. Add the onion, bell pepper and jalapeño pepper and sauté, stirring occasionally until the onions are soft and opaque, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until the garlic is fragrant, about an additional 30 seconds.
  3. Simmer the chili. Add the tomatoes, beans, corn, vegetable broth, chili powder and cayenne to the pot. Bring the soup to a simmer and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt.
  4. Brown and crumble tofu. Heat a medium non-stick sauté pan, add the remaining oil and heat through. Add the tofu and cook until browned on both sides. Remove to a bowl and crumble until it resembles ground meat. Add to the pot and continue to simmer for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. Assemble and serve. Ladle into bowls and top with avocado, jalapeño and red onion. Serve hot.
3 Bean Vegetarian Chili Recipe

3 Bean Vegetarian Chili Tips

Easy variations on this recipe
  • Use any variation of the three beans. 
  • If you aren’t a fan of tofu simply omit it though it adds texture to the recipe and mimics ground beef used in meat-based recipes. 
  • Add a few handfuls of kale or spinach to add some greens to the chili. 
How to thicken the 3 bean chili 

If you prefer a thicker chili I recommend simmering the soup for a bit longer than 30 minutes. Simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally. The combination of the crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes will reduce and the soup will thicken.

What to garnish the chili with 

I like to garnish the chili with slices of avocado, diced red onion and sliced jalapeño to keep it a vegan chili recipe. Feel free to use other toppings like cilantro, diced green onions, shredded cheese or sour cream based on preference. Top with some crushed tortilla chips for some added texture. This can also be set up like a chili bar so people can add their own toppings. Plan on about ½ cup of each topping. 

How to make this recipe in a slow cooker

Rather than making this recipe on the stove it can also be made in a crockpot. Simply cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours and prepare the tofu in a pan according to the instructions below.

How to make this recipe ahead and store

This recipe can easily be made ahead of time. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week. To freeze the 3 bean chili add to a resealable bag or vacuum seal. I like to place the bags on a quarter sheet pan so they freeze flat for easy storage. 

3 Bean Vegetarian Chili Recipe

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this recipe, I recommend checking out these:

3 Bean Vegetarian Chili

3 Bean Vegetarian Chili Recipe
Print Pin
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Serves 8

Ingredients:

For the chili:

  • 6 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper cored and finely diced
  • 2 medium jalapeno peppers seeds removed and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans
  • 2 cups frozen sweet corn
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt, as needed

For serving:

  • Haas avocado, pitted peeled and sliced
  • Sliced jalapeño
  • Diced red onion

Instructions:

For the chili:

  • Press down on tofu with paper towels to release as much excess water as possible.
  • Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of the oil and heat through. Add the onion, bell pepper and jalapeño pepper and sauté, stirring occasionally until the onions are soft and opaque, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until the garlic is fragrant, about an additional 30 seconds.
  • Add the tomatoes, beans, corn, vegetable broth, chili powder and cayenne to the pot. Bring the soup to a simmer and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt.
  • Heat a medium non-stick sauté pan, add the remaining oil and heat through. Add the tofu and cook until browned on both sides. Remove to a bowl and crumble until it resembles ground meat. Add to the pot and continue to simmer for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.

For serving:

  • Ladle into bowls and top with avocado, jalapeño and red onion. Serve hot.

DID YOU MAKE THIS?

TAG ME ON INSTAGRAM TO BE FEATURED ON MY STORIES! @cookingwithcocktailrings

Rate + Review

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THIS RECIPE?

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

Recipe Rating