This creamy vegan white bean chili with a kick of spice is perfect for vegans and vegetarians alike, and the ultimate comfort food with easy-to-find ingredients.
Just chop up an onion, a pepper, two potatoes, and as many chili peppers as you desire, fry them up, and add to a pot with all the other ingredients. It doesn’t get any easier.
The results? A real stick-to-your-ribs thick white chili full of beans and sweet burst of corn in a creamy garlicky tangy spicy sauce.
Altogether from chopping the vegetables to the final chili product, this recipe shouldn’t take you any longer than 40 minutes total.
If you’re a fan of chili recipes I also highly recommend my vegan chili with Guinness, chocolate, and coffee (trust me, it’s SO good). Some flourless vegan chickpea chocolate chip cookies with a kick from cayenne would also make a great dessert after you finish your chili…
White Bean Chili Toppings
White bean chili has a different flavor profile when compared to more traditional-type chili recipes. Smoother, creamier, and tangier, yet a lot of the “fixings” for topping or serving with your chili are similar to the usual ones.
Here are my recommendations, which I’m keeping vegan. If you’re vegetarian you can obviously use vegetarian versions.
- Cornbread. What chili is complete without cornbread? I suggest this easy vegan jalapeno cornbread.
- Vegan sour cream. A delicious cold creamy contrast. Try this easy vegan sour cream that’s made from white beans and coconut milk.
- Lemon or lime wedges. As with most creamy bean dishes, a squeeze of citrus is the perfect complement. Serve your chili with wedges so everyone can adjust the amount to suit their own tastes.
- Grated vegan cheese. Serve over hot chili so it melts and gets all gooey and stringy, or pop the cheese-topped chili under the grill for a minute or two. My favorite brands are Bute Island Sheese and Violife.
- Sliced avocado or guacamole.
- Sliced pickled or fresh jalapeños.
- Finely chopped cilantro (it goes so well with the creamy tangy spicy sauce).
- White rice, or if you feel like jazzing it up, try this lemon coconut rice.
- Tortilla chips or tortilla strips.
Which beans should I use?
Mostly any cooked white bean will do for this vegan white bean chili, namely:
- Cannellini beans
- Navy beans
- Great Northern beans
- Black-eyed peas
- Baby Lima beans
The exception is the large “adult” Lima beans. A handful of cooked Lima beans thrown in will add great texture but they’re not suitable for use as the only bean in this recipe. Their large size will adversely affect the texture and they won’t absorb as much flavor.
If you’re not too bothered about your chili staying pale, then some cooked pinto beans would also go well.
I’m fairly sure that this recipe can be adapted to use soaked dried beans in the instant pot or slow cooker by increasing the amount of water, but I haven’t gotten around to testing it yet so for now I’d say stick with cooked beans.
Tips, Tricks and Substitutions
Unfortunately, we don’t always have all the ingredients we’d like to hand or sometimes dislike certain ones used in recipes.
Beans were covered in the previous section. In this section, we’ll examine the ingredients and see which can be substituted, removed, or changed without ruining the recipe. First, let’s look at what ingredients are used in this recipe (in the image below).
Looking at the ingredients, the first thing to note is that while I use a green pepper and a green chili pepper to keep everything more homegenous when it comes to color, you can totally use red or yellow if you prefer.
One chili pepper is what I recommend for this mild-medium spiced chili but you can increase the amount as much as you’d prefer to up the level of spice. No more than six though, and that should be a SCORCHING hot chili.
For the onion, you can use any color you prefer, and the amount of garlic can be dialed up or down – personally I like strong bold flavors, go big or go home, but you do you.
I like to use a vegetable stock cube as that’s what I tend to have on hand but you can omit it and use four cups of vegetable stock instead of water if you prefer.
Vegetable bouillon can also be substituted, just check the brand you use and use enough to make up a liter of stock. For example, for Better Than Bouillon you’d need to use four teaspoons.
If you don’t like sweetcorn or oregano you can leave them out. The cumin must stay in, the stage where it’s toasted along with the garlic really changes its flavor.
I recommend leaving adding salt to the end and although I use one teaspoon in the recipe, always salt to taste as different stock cubes/stock/bouillon have differing amounts of salt. Keep in mind that most dishes with potatoes will require a good salting.
How to Make it
Making this vegan white bean chili is so easy I’m sure it will become a regular at your house. As usual, just in case, I go into the recipe details in-depth in this section and include photos for beginner cooks or to check if you’re unsure about any step.
First, gather your ingredients. Peel and chop the onions and potatoes. The potatoes should be cut into a dice ranging between 1cm to half an inch, any larger and they’ll throw off the cooking times.
Chop the green pepper and finely dice the green chili pepper, seeds and all. Add two tablespoons of neutral oil such as sunflower, canola, grapeseed, etc. to a large nonstick pot and set to heat on medium-high.
I forgot to add the oil to the ingredients photo by the way, sorry!
In the photos, I use a large frying pan so that you can see what’s going on more easily but I definitely recommend using a large pot instead or it will be difficult to stir your ingredients without splashing some liquid out.
Add the onion, green pepper, and green chili pepper to the pot (image one below) and cook for about three minutes or until the onions are softened, stirring as needed to prevent sticking.
Next, add in the chopped potatoes (image two above) and cook for five minutes, stirring now and then. This would be a good time to peel and mince the garlic cloves.
After five minutes, add the garlic and cumin to the pan (image three above). Mix well and fry for around two minutes, stirring often, so that the garlic is cooked and the cumin toasted (image four above).
Now add three cups of water, the stock cube, the coconut milk, the salsa verde, the cooked white beans, and the sweetcorn (image five below).
The fourth cup of water will be reserved until the end to adjust and loosen your white bean chili sauce. Note that for the salsa verde you can use any homemade or shop-bought version that you like.
Increase the heat to high and maintain until your chili comes to a full-roiling boil. Decrease the heat to medium-high so that the chili is still bubbling away and just below boiling, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring every now and then.
At the 15-minute mark, you’ll find your chili is beginning to thicken, reduce heat to medium and cook a further five minutes (image six above).
If it’s still not thick enough to your liking you can cook it for another five minutes but know that it will thicken even more as it cools and more starch is released from the beans and potatoes.
Check the potatoes to see if they are cooked through and if so you’re done. Take off the heat and leave aside five minutes. The chili should be quite thick.
Add some of the reserved water if you’d prefer a looser more “soupy” consistency. Taste and add up to one teaspoon of salt depending on how well-salted you like it. Done! Serve with the fixings of choice.
This is a great recipe for meal prepping as it also keeps really well in the fridge or freezer. Simply seal in a container with a lid or a freezer bag and it will keep in the fridge for up to five days, or for up to three months in the freezer.
Did you make this chili? Let me know how much you loved it with a star rating in the recipe box, review, or comment below.
- 1 medium onion
- 2 medium potatoes
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil (sunflower, canola, etc.)
- 1 large green pepper
- 1 green chili pepper
- 5 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1/2 tbsp oregano
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 4 cups of water, divided
- 13.5 fl oz can coconut milk (400ml)
- 1.5 cups salsa verde (360g)
- 4.5 cups cooked white beans (see notes for types, 800g)
- 1 cup sweetcorn (140g)
- 1 tsp salt
- Peel and chop the onion and potatoes. Potatoes should be cut to 1cm-1/2 inch dice and should produce about 2.5 cups peeled and chopped.
- Add oil to a large pot to heat on medium-high. Chop green pepper and finely dice green chili pepper (seeds included).
- Add onion, pepper, and chili pepper to the pot and sauté for roughly three minutes or until the onion is softened.
- Add the chopped potato and sauté for a further five minutes, stirring occasionally. In the meantime peel and dice the garlic.
- Add the minced garlic and cumin to the pan and mix well. Fry for two minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking.
- Crumble in the stock cube and add 3 cups of water, coconut milk, the salsa verde, beans, and sweetcorn. Increase heat to high until the mixture is boiling then reduce slightly to medium-high and allow to cook for fifteen minutes.
- At fifteen minutes reduce the heat to medium and cook a further five minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking. Test the potatoes for doneness and remove the pot from the heat and set to one side for five minutes.
- Add in the reserved cup of water as needed to get the consistency you prefer if you like your chili "soupy" and salt to taste (up to one teaspoon). Done!
For white beans, you can use cooked cannellini beans, great northern beans, navy beans, black-eyed peas, or baby lima beans.
This chili is somewhere between mild-medium hot. For hotter chili, increase the number of chili peppers used.
Once cooled and tightly covered will last up to five days in the fridge or three months in the freezer. It will thicken over time and can be loosed with a little water.
Serve with cornbread, sliced avocado, vegan sour cream, sliced avocadoes, lemon or lime wedges, chopped cilantro, rice, jalapeños etc.
Amount Per Serving Calories 479Total Fat 20gSaturated Fat 13gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 6gCholesterol 0mgSodium 891mgCarbohydrates 62gFiber 12gSugar 6gProtein 18g