This vegan chili is big on flavour while requiring minimal time and effort. The Instant Pot makes it extra quick and easy, while some “secret weapon” ingredients adds depth and richness to this vegetable loaded chili.
Each serving of this filling and nutritious vegan chili has:
- 14 grams of protein
- 10 grams of fibre
- 33% of your RDI of iron
- a source of multiple B vitamins (check the nutrition information)
How to Make Vegan Instant Pot Chili
This vegan Instant Pot chili is easy to make. In the Instant Pot, heat the vegan butter and sauté the onions, garlic, herbs/spices, and flour for a minute or 2. Add all the remaining ingredients except the beans and “beef”, and pressure cook for 6 minutes. After that, carefully release the pressure manually. Add beans and “beef” and simmer until the chili thickens to your desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings. That’s it!
Ingredients for Making Vegan Chili
The foundation of this vegan chili starts with the basics. Vegetables (onion, garlic, green pepper, tomatoes, carrots, celery, and mushrooms), beans (red kidney and black), vegetable broth, herbs and spices.
Whole canned tomatoes cook down better than diced canned tomatoes because they’re treated with less additives to help them stay firm and retain their shape. Blend half of the whole tomatoes smooth, and blitz the rest for plenty of flavour and smaller, softer tomato bits throughout.
Canned sliced mushrooms are convenient and have a distinct meaty texture. Feel free to use 1 cup of chopped fresh mushrooms if you prefer.
Vegan butter makes for a rich flavour and balanced mouthfeel. Vegetable chili is lower in fat than most meat-based chilies, so there’s room to add a little extra vegan butter. Your taste buds will thank you!
Store-bought Chili Powder vs. Homemade Chili Powder
Chili powder is like curry powder, you don’t need either one to make a great chili, or a great curry. Both are spice blends made for convenience. Every brand of chili (or curry) powder varies a little (or a lot!)
Chili powder, the kind used to make chili, is usually a blend of paprika, cayenne, cumin, coriander, oregano, garlic/onion powder, salt, and a tiny bit of cloves. By adding each spice/herb individually, you have full control of the flavour of your chili. You can tweak amounts, omit a spice all-together, or make your chili as mild or spicy as you like.
Chili powder is pretty regional. Depending on where you live, chili powder and chili powder can be two different things. Chili powder (as in the blend of herbs and spices used when making chili) ) is usually labelled as “chili powder”. But chili powder (or chile powder) is straight-up dried chili/chile peppers ground into a powder, (like cayenne.) Mistakenly using the wrong one could be painfully spicy or seriously change the flavour of your dish. If you can’t differentiate the two by sight, always check the ingredient list.
Ingredients to Add Richness and Depth to Vegan Chili
These ingredients add oomph, heartiness, richness and depth. They make vegetable chili go from, “This vegan chili tastes pretty good and it’s healthy!” to “Damn, that’s a great bowl of chili. Wait, did you say this is vegan?!”. They’re especially important for an easy, quick cooking chili recipe like this one. None of these ingredients should ever be discernible in your chili. If your chili tastes like chocolate, something has gone awry.
Flour, added at the beginning, makes a weak roux. The result is a slightly heftier, heartier broth.
Brown sugar and dark chocolate add a touch of sweetness to balance the acidity, and a mysterious, gentle bitter smokiness.
Finally, a splash of soy sauce adds umami and dark saltiness to bring out the flavours in this chili.
Vegan Chili Swaps and Substitutions
Make this vegan chili on your stovetop: In a large, thick bottomed pot, follow most of the directions as written. Instead of pressure cooking, simmer the chili until vegetables are tender. Once the vegetables are tender, add kidney beans, black beans, and vegan ground “beef”. Cook until the beans are warmed through. Taste and adjust the seasoning. The Instant Pot loses very little moisture during cooking so you may need to add some water to achieve your desired consistency.
Tips for quicker, easier vegan chili:
- The homemade blend equals out to approximately 1½ – 2 tablespoons of chili powder, which you can use as a substitute.
- Use diced or crushed tomatoes to skip the blending step.
Replacing vegan ground “beef”: Replace the vegan ground “beef” with an extra 1 cup of cooked black beans (or other cooked beans), crumbled tofu, reconstituted TVP (textured vegetable protein), or cooked rice or grains. If you add cooked rice/grains, they’ll continue to soak up liquid causing the chili to become extra thick.
Related Vegan Recipes
Vegan Chili recipes: Vegan Chili Topped with Cornbread and Easy 1 Hour Vegan Chili
Vegan Instant Pot recipes: Instant Pot Vegan Tofu & Potato Stew and Instant Pot Vegan Corn & Potato Chowder
- 1 (28-oz/800 ml) can of whole tomatoes
- 3 tbsp (45 ml) vegan butter or margarine
- 1 cup (130 grams) chopped yellow onion (approx. 1 onion)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tbsp (15 ml) all-purpose flour
- Chili powder blend (substitution in recipes notes)
- 2 cups (500 ml) vegetable broth
- 1 (10-oz/285 ml) can sliced mushrooms, drained and rinsed (approx. 1 cup)
- ½ cup (80 grams) chopped celery (approx. 1 rib)
- ½ cup (75 grams) chopped carrot (approx. 1 carrot)
- ⅔ cup (100 grams) chopped green bell pepper (approx. ½ pepper)
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) soy sauce
- ½ tbsp (7.5 ml) dark brown sugar
- 1 tbsp (8 grams) of chopped dark chocolate
- 1 (19-oz/540 ml) can cooked red kidney beans, drained and rinsed (approx. 2 cups)
- ½ (19-oz/540 ml) can cooked black beans, drained and rinsed (approx. 1 cup)
- 1 cup (130 grams) vegan ground “beef” (I recommend Gardein Beefless Ground)
- Salt, to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
- Drain half of the liquid from the canned tomatoes. Pour half of the tomatoes into a blender and blend smooth. Add the remaining tomatoes and blend briefly, just long enough to chop the tomatoes without blending them smooth.
- Turn your Instant Pot to the “Sauté” setting on “Normal”. Once hot, add the vegan butter. When the butter begins to sizzle, add the onion, garlic, flour, and spices. Cook for 2 minutes. The chili powder blend will smell overwhelming at this stage but will mellow significantly throughout the cooking process.
- Stir in the vegetable broth, mushrooms, celery, carrot, green pepper, soy sauce, brown sugar, and dark chocolate. Close the Instant Pot lid securely, (with valve is set to “Sealing”) and switch to “Manual” mode (the pressure cooking mode) and set time for 6 minutes.
- Once the cook time has completed, carefully release the pressure manually (be sure to keep the stream of steam away from your face and hands.) Once it’s safe to do so, open the lid.
- Turn the Instant Pot back to the “Sauté” setting on “Normal”. Add the kidney beans, black beans, and vegan ground “beef”. Simmer, stirring regularly, until the desired consistency is reached.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning. The flavours will meld and improve overnight.