This truly is the best damn vegan chili, with a smoky rich gravy and a deep layered savory flavor from Guinness, cocoa, and a slight hit of coffee. With tender beans and chunks of vegetables, it’s perfect served over rice or eaten with cornbread and fixings.
Why you’ll love it:
- It has a rich earthy savory flavor, unlike most tomato-based chili’s which have a strong tomato flavor you don’t really notice the tomato at all here.
- It’s easy to customize. Want no-bean chili? Swap the beans out for TVP or Beyond ground beef. Want three bean chili? Use any three you like.
- It’s thick and smoky and you don’t need chili powder to make it!
- Most meat-eaters I’ve served this too didn’t even notice there was no meat in it, especially when I used soy crumbles!
- We’ve been eating this for ten years in our house – so trust me, it is very well-tested and tweaked and makes a mighty fine chili!
- It’s very simple to make – simply fry up the onions and peppers, add the garlic and spices for a minute, then everything else goes in the pot.
- It’s reasonably quick to make for a chili with this much flavor – just 35 to 45 minutes total.
- Using beans makes this a really economical dish to make, and with six large portions, you won’t be hungry any time soon!
Ingredients and substitutions
You can see the ingredients for this best damn vegan chili (it is!) in the image below. It looks like quite a lot but don’t worry it’s mainly spices and things you already have in your pantry. Scroll down below the image to see what substitutions can be made if needed.
Vegetable broth: This adds lots of extra flavor. If you don’t have any to hand you can make some with bouillon or stock cubes, or leave it out completely and use water instead. If you just use water then you may need to add extra salt.
Beans: You need about four and a half cups (800 grams) of cooked beans for this recipe. You can use any you like, I prefer a mix of pinto and kidney beans, or you can substitute for four and a half cups of Beyond ground beef or TVP. Note that if the TVP is dried and can be used as-is, you’ll only need half the amount. If it’s the type that needs to be rehydrated before cooking with then use four and a half cups of rehydrated TVP.
Cocoa: Use sugar-free unsweetened cocoa. Do not use hot chocolate mix. If you don’t have any cocoa you can use one and a half ounces of dark chocolate (roughly 45 grams) – if it has sugar that’s okay, just omit the step where you add sugar later and add to taste at the end.
Olive oil: I cook with olive oil as I live in the Mediterranean, but you can use any fairly neutral oil here e.g. sunflower or canola.
Cumin: Don’t omit this unless you really hate cumin, it really tastes good.
Paprika: For this recipe, you need to use smoked paprika. Do not substitute with sweet paprika or regular paprika or spicy paprika or any other paprika (unless you can get your hands on spicy Pimentón de la Vera which is both smoked and mildly spicy and very high quality). If you can’t get smoked paprika, then use a really high-quality chili powder mix if you must.
Sugar: This is necessary to round off the edge from the coffee and Guinness. It’s just a little (around a teaspoon), especially when you see it’s divided among six large portions.
Ground coriander: Again I highly recommend using this but if you’re one of those people who hates coriander/cilantro because it tastes soapy to you, you can omit it.
Oregano: Use it unless you hate it, then you can omit it.
Coffee: This is a must. You’ll just use half a teaspoon of instant coffee granules, trust me I hate coffee with a passion and I still add this to my chili.
Cayenne: This makes the chili spicy. If you don’t want it spicy or only mildly spicy, stick to a quarter teaspoon. Half a teaspoon for medium spicy and three-quarters and up if you like it hot hot hot!
Corn: I love sweetcorn in my chili but if you’re not a fan, leave it out and add in a cup of beans.
Garlic: Tasty but can be omitted or reduced if you are very sensitive to it. If you don’t have any garlic to hand you can also substitute with one and a quarter teaspoons of ground garlic, just add it with the crushed tomatoes and garlic instead of frying it with the vegetables.
Crushed tomatoes: I use canned crushed tomatoes for convenience but you can totally use fresh ones you’ve blended up. I don’t like using chopped canned tomatoes in this recipe as the texture is all off then but you can use them if you blend them before adding them. I don’t recommend using fresh chopped tomatoes.
Guinness: Of course I’m Irish so I’m a little biased here when I tell you this is absolutely necessary. You can substitute it with any other dark stout, even a non-alcoholic one, just check it’s vegan.
Bell peppers: Peppers are so great but again if you don’t like them, leave them out and add an extra cup of beans or substitute with any other vegetable you like. Carrots are also great in chili. I use red and yellow bell peppers but you can use whichever combination of red yellow and green you prefer or two of the same color etc.
Onions: I don’t recommend omitting or substituting the onions.
How to make it
Making the best damn vegan chili is super easy. Get your ingredients together and follow the steps below where I go into a bit more detail, with process photos to check everything is coming along nicely, or scroll down to the condensed version in the recipe card.
First, heat the oil on medium-high heat in a large pan. Chop the onions and bell peppers and add to the pan (image one below). Fry for five minutes, stirring to prevent sticking and burning as needed.
After five minutes the vegetables should be softened, the onions lightly browned. Next add the crushed garlic and the spices (cumin, paprika, ground coriander, and cayenne) as in image two above.
Stir regularly to prevent burning and allow the spices and the garlic to toast for one minute (image three below). Now add all the other ingredients: sugar, oregano, crushed tomatoes, Guinness, coffee, vegetable broth, cocoa powder, beans, and sweetcorn. Stir well until combined (image four below).
Cook at a lively simmer for between 25-30 minutes until it has thickened enough, reducing the heat to medium if needed. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking, stirring more often closer to the end of cooking.
Take off the heat and serve the chili hot with plenty of vegan chili fixings e.g. vegan sour cream, vegan shredded cheese, chopped spring onions, lime wedges for squeezing over, chopped avocado, etc. At a minimum serve with either cornbread or rice (or both!). Tajín rice goes really well!
Yes, once cooled you can transfer it to a suitable container or freezer bag and it will keep for up to three months in the freezer.
Yes. It used to not be prior to 2017 due to using isinglass (a kind of gelatin extracted from fish bladders – bleurgh) in the production of the black stuff. However, nowadays isinglass is no longer used in Guinness production.
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 medium yellow onions
- 2 bell peppers
- 5 garlic cloves
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1½ Tablespoons smoked paprika
- ½ Tablespoon ground coriander
- ¼-¾ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 28 oz. canned crushed tomatoes (800g)
- 11.15 fl. Guinness (330ml)
- 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules
- 1 cup vegetable broth (240ml)
- 6 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 4.5 cups beans (28oz./800g)
- 1 cup sweetcorn, canned or frozen (4.5oz/125g)
- Heat the oil on medium-high in a large non-stick pot or pan. Chop and the onions and peppers and add. Fry five minutes, stirring to prevent burning.
- Add the crushed garlic and spices (cumin paprika, coriander, cayenne), stir well, and fry for 1 minute until fragrant.
- Add all the other ingredients. Increase heat until the mixture is at a lively simmer, then lower to medium-high to maintain.
- Simmer for 25-30 minutes until at your desired consistency, stirring every now and then to prevent sticking and burning. Reduce heat to medium if necessary when the mixture has thickened.
- Adjust sugar and salt if necessary to taste. Serve hot with all the trimmings!
Any mild oil can be used in place of olive oil, e.g. sunflower or canola.
1/4 teaspoon cayenne will yield a mild chili, 1/2 medium spicy, and 3/4 teaspoon upwards will be hot.
Any beans can be used but I use half pinto beans half kidney beans. Beans can also be substituted with vegan crumbles/TVP.
Amount Per Serving Calories 618Total Fat 5gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 0mgSodium 1044mgCarbohydrates 91gFiber 14gSugar 26gProtein 18g