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Vegan Black Bean Chili

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This Vegan Black Bean Chili takes just 15 minutes to make and is filled with all your favorite flavors along with black beans and split red lentils. It’s loaded with over 50% of your daily fiber in each serving and filled with fresh Mexican flavors. This chili will fill you up and fuel you through your busy day!

You’ll Love This

  • It’s filled with pantry ingredients! Most of the ingredients in this easy vegetarian chili are pantry staples and spices that you’ve likely got on hand, which makes this a stress-free meal! Be sure to check out my easy to follow instructions and process shots below to see just how easy it is to throw this chili together. Here are more pantry staple recipes!
  • It’s got the classic chili flavors you love – minus the meat! If you’re trying to eat more plant-based meals or (like me) just enjoy a veggie-loaded dinner once in a while, this lentil chili is for you! It’s so hearty that meat-lovers in your life won’t even miss the ground beef. And the fiber and protein from the beans and split red lentils will fill you up and leave you satisfied. Be sure to check out my Creamy Vegan White Chickpea Chili recipe too if you loved this one!
  • It’s a great healthy meal prep recipe! If you like to spend Sunday afternoons prepping your lunches for the week – you are going to LOVE LOVE LOVE this vegan chili! The flavors just get better with time so you can grab a bowl each day for lunch and dig in guilt-free because you know you’re fueling your body with a healthy, fiber-packed lunch! Another one of my favorite meal prep soup recipes is this Creamy Vegan White Bean Kale Soup – so easy and so good!

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Olive Oil – This olive oil is our family’s favorite. Try to find one that’s organic and cold-pressed.
  • Red Onion – You could also use white or yellow onion in place of the red onion.
  • Garlic – Fresh garlic is best for this recipe as it will give you the most flavor. But you could substitute ½-1 teaspoon of garlic powder for the fresh garlic.
  • Chili Powder – Chili powder is a pretty obvious ingredient for chili. This is where a lot of the that smoky “classic” chili flavor will come from.
  • Cumin – Cumin combines with the chili powder to give this chili a warm earthy flavor.
  • Sugar – I like to add a bit of sugar to this chili just to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes.
  • Diced Tomatoes – You could also use crushed tomatoes or even canned tomato sauce in place of the diced tomatoes in this recipe.
  • Chipotles in Adobo – This is the brand of chipotles in adobo that I use in my kitchen. I like that it comes in a glass jar so you can store in the fridge for months. If you don’t have these on hand, you could add more chili powder but I highly recommend giving these chiles a try!
  • Black Beans – You could switch out your favorite beans for the black beans in this recipe if you’d like. Pinto beans or kidney beans would also be delicious too!
  • Split Red Lentils – I like to use split red lentils for this recipe because they cook so quickly. You could use other lentils in place of the split red lentils, but keep in mind that you’ll likely have to increase the cooking time significantly to allow the lentils to cook through.
  • Tomato Sauce – For this recipe you’ll want to use canned tomato sauce (not pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce). You could also replace the tomato sauce with V8 or any brand of tomato based vegetable juice.
  • Vegetable Broth – You could use any kind of broth in place of the veggie broth in this recipe.
  • Lime Juice – If you have a fresh lime on hand, fresh squeezed is always best but if we also like this brand of lime juice that comes in a bottle.

Instructions

Saute onions with salt and pepper in a large heavy bottom pot.

Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, and sugar and cook for another minute, stirring frequently (this is my fave wooden spoon).

Stir in tomatoes, chipotles in adobo, black beans, lentils, and a large pinch of salt and pepper. 

Then add tomato sauce and 2 cups vegetable broth. Simmer for 5-7 minutes or until lentils are cooked through. Add additional broth if desired.

Stir in the juice of 1 lime and season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with Fritos, sour cream and fresh chopped cilantro. 

Use Other Beans

  • You can use whatever beans make you happy! I could eat black beans until the cows come home, but if you’re not a big fan of black beans feel free to use whatever beans are your favorite. Some great options include:
    • chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
    • pinto beans
    • light kidney beans
    • dark kidney beans
    • Great Northern beans (white beans)

Freezing

  • This easy vegan chili is one of my favorite meal prep recipes and it makes a nice big batch. Sometimes I’ll freeze half the chili in an airtight container and save it for a week when I’m feeling unmotivated to prep healthy lunches for the week.
  • Allow the frozen chili to thaw in the fridge overnight, then heat in a large pot over medium heat until warmed through.
  • The chili should keep for about 2-3 months in the freezer.

Tips

  • Don’t let the chili simmer for too long. Just 5-7 minutes is long enough to get the lentils nice and tender. Any longer than that though, and they will likely end up mushy.
  • Be sure to stir the chili every minute or so while it’s simmering. This will loosen any black beans or lentils that may try to stick to the bottom of the pan and make sure that the lentils cook evenly.
  • You don’t have to tell people it’s vegan! If you know your friends or family don’t enjoy vegan dishes as much as you do, don’t tell them this chili is totally vegan. Let them try it, go back for seconds and rave about how good it is. Then drop the truth – it’s vegan AND healthy!!

FAQ

Can you use black beans instead of kidney beans in chili?

YES! And you should! Kidney beans are great for a classic chili recipe, but black beans are best for black bean chili. And if you’re a fan of black beans – you are going to LOVE this chili recipe!

Do you drain back beans for chili?

I like to drain canned beans any time I use them. I find that the liquid can have a bit of an odd flavor, not to mention that it will add more liquid and more sodium to whatever you’re making. I prefer to drain and rinse my beans so that I am more in control of how much salt and flavor in is my dish.

What is the best secret ingredient for chili?

Chipotles in adobo is my go-to ingredient to boost the flavor of my chili recipes. It gives a delicious smoky flavor, with just a hint of spice. I prefer to buy diced chipotles in adobo that come in a glass jar because they’ll stay fresh in the fridge for months and you’ll use just a few teaspoons at a time.

Family Favorites

  • Vegan Curry Ramen Noodles
  • Vegan White Chickpea Chili
  • Vegan Lentil Tortilla Soup
  • Vegan Spicy Black Bean & Rice Soup
  • Creamy Vegan Chickpea Noodle Soup

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Vegan Black Bean Chili

Healthy food can also be hearty and satisfying! Don’t believe me? TRY THIS VEGAN BLACK BEAN CHILI! It’s loaded with over 50% of your daily fiber in each serving and filled with fresh Mexican flavors. This chili will fill you up and fuel you through your busy day!

  • Author: Kylie
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Ingredients


Scale

Garnish:

  • Fritos
  • vegan sour cream
  • fresh chopped cilantro
  • sliced jalapeno

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion along with a large pinch of salt and pepper. Cook 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, and sugar and cook for another minute, stirring frequently.
  3. Stir in diced tomatoes, chipotles in adobo, black beans, lentils, and a large pinch of salt and pepper.
  4. Then add tomato sauce and 2 cups vegetable broth.
  5. Cover, turn heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer.
  6. Reduce heat and simmer over medium-low for 5-7 minutes or until lentils are tender, stirring frequently. Add remaining cup of broth if desired.
  7. Stir in the juice of 1 lime and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. Garnish with Fritos, sour cream, and fresh chopped cilantro.

Notes

Don’t let the chili simmer for too long. Just 5-7 minutes is long enough to get the lentils nice and tender. Any longer than that though, and they will likely end up mushy.

Be sure to stir the chili every minute or so while it’s simmering. This will loosen any black beans or lentils that may try to stick to the bottom of the pan and make sure that the lentils cook evenly.

You don’t have to tell people it’s vegan! If you know your friends or family don’t enjoy vegan dishes as much as you do, don’t tell them this chili is totally vegan. Let them try it, go back for seconds and rave about how good it is. Then drop the truth – it’s vegan AND healthy!!


Keywords: southwest chili, easy vegetarian chili, lentil chili, beans and lentil recipes

This post was originally published in February of 2019. It was updated in March of 2020 to include process shots, step-by-step instructions, and tips for making the best vegan chili every single time.

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