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Cheap & Easy Vegan Chili

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This Cheap & Easy Vegan Chili is Budget and Freezer Friendly, Nutritious & Delicious, and it makes 30 servings in under an hour!

I’ve made a lot of Vegan Chili! In fact I’ve probably made twice as much Vegan Chili as I have non-vegan chili in my lifetime. And so far this recipe has been my favorite! The good news is this vegan chili is not only the tastiest I’ve made, but it’s also the easiest and cheapest too!

Now the inspiration for this recipe came from a post on Twitter that I saw. Somebody claimed it cost them $36 to make vegan chili. A lot of folks were confused how it cost so much. I mean even if you used fancy vegan meat, the rest of the ingredients are relatively cheap. So it didn’t make much sense. Turns out they were also including things like the cost of the pot they used and other resources. Of course, this still doesn’t make sense because that is the same for non-vegan food too. And is really a critique of the food insecurity that many folks face because of our unjust food systems. Which is totally valid, and I agree!

But it’s disingenuous to claim that vegan food, especially something like chili, is expensive. There’s even THIS STUDY which found that eating plant-based can actually be cheaper in the US, UK and Australia.

But the number 36 stuck out to me. And I started to wonder, how much chili could I make for $36? So I went to a few stores such as Walmart, Ralphs / Kroger and Whole Foods to compare prices. Walmart was predictably the cheapest, and Whole Foods was the most expensive. Though admittedly, it wasn’t as expensive as I had thought it would be. It was pretty close to Ralphs prices too.

I recommend shopping at whatever store you can that has the best budget prices! For me that means Walmart, Grocery Outlet, Smart & Final, Costco, Vallarta and Food 4 Less. But this will depend on where you live. I highly suggest trying them out, you can save A LOT of money on food! It’s amazing how some stores will have the exact same products at wildly different prices!

Here’s a HANDY DANDY VIDEO!

what veggies do I need for vegan chili?

  • Peppers – I went with green bell peppers and some jalapeños, but use whatever peppers you like! Poblano, Hatch, whatever works!
  • Onions – I recommend 1 – 2 onions, white or brown / yellow.
  • Garlic – for this recipe we are using a whole head of garlic!
  • Tomatoes – I’m using both crushed and diced tomatoes in this recipe. I like a thick and chunky chili, so diced do a great job of adding some texture.

spices & Seasonings

  • Chili Powder – This is the main seasoning we are using. And it’s a mix of chile powder, cumin, salt and black pepper. It’s very common here in the US. But if you can’t find it, there’s loads of recipes on line to make your own mix.
  • Cumin – We are adding some additional cumin because it’s cumin and makes chili delicious!
  • Chipotles in Adobo – This is one of my favorite ingredients and I can’t imagine making chili without them. It just gives it a nice smokey and spicy layer that I think is necessary. That being said you can sub with some cayenne or smoked paprika if you can’t find them.
  • Cocoa Powder – This is my first time using cocoa powder in a chili recipe and it’ll be a staple from now on! It just adds a nice rich, dark layer to the chili that is freaking scrumptious.
  • Cinnamon – This might sound like a strange ingredient for chili, but it’s actually common, especially in Cincinnati Chili. It adds a nice kick without being overpowering.
  • Cayenne – Feel free to add as much spicy stuff like Cayenne that your heat loving heart desires!

Broth, Beans & Meat!

  • Veggie Broth – Now while I like a thick chili, we do need to thin it out with some veggie broth. It will also add some nice flavor as well.
  • TVP – Instead of meat we are using our good buddy TVP. We don’t need to rehydrate it in this recipe since the chili will do that. I used an entire bag of the Bob Red Mill TVP for this recipe. You can also just go for lentils or more beans. Or get bougie and use some Impossible or Beyond Meat too!
  • Beans – We have quite a few options for beans. The classic choices are Pinto, Kidney and Black. For this recipe I kept it simple with just pinto. But feel free to mix and match to your heart’s content. The other question is dried or canned? Dried beans are way cheaper, but they take longer to make. You typically have to soak them overnight, and then cook them for hours. Unless you have an Instant Pot, which not everyone does. I decided to go with canned beans for the sake of time and convenience. But if you want to see how far you can stretch your dollar with dried beans, check out THIS BLOG POST where somebody did just that!

season to taste!

It should go without saying, but the recipe I’m providing is just what I made for my palette (though my wife and neighbor loved the chili too!). So season this to taste as you go. If you are unsure about using an entire jar of chipotles in adobo, try using just a few tablespoons at first and then taste and see if it needs more. Chili is highly customizable so have fun with it!

EDITED TO ADD: I just made this again last night and felt like it needed some Smoked Paprika and Worcestershire Sauce, so I added some in! This is exactly what I mean. Add in whatever you wanna!

a ton of chili!

So for $36, I ended up making about 30 (1 cup) servings. I used a 6 Quart Dutch Oven and had to make it in 2 batches. Obviously you can half the recipe if you want to make less. But unless you plan on eating 15 servings of chili in less than a week, I would still store it in the freezer for later too.

the fixins

You got a lot of options to top you chili! Vegan Sour Cream and Cheese are great, but not exactly budget friendly. I actually prefer cheaper toppings like fresh or pickled jalapeños or onions, the little oyster crackers, chives, Fritos, the list goes on! Whatever you like will work! Or you can top the chili on a baked potato or a vegan burger, what you like!

Storage

This recipe makes about 30 servings, so unless you are feeding a small army, I suggest freezing most of it. You can store it in the fridge for 3 – 5 days, or freeze for 4 – 6 months! I will fill up some freezer bags, and then spread the chili out flat and stack the bags.

other recipes you might like!

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Cheap & Easy Vegan Chili

Thee Burger Dude
This recipe makes a TON of chili. Feel free to half it. In fact, if you make a half portion it will fit in a 6 Quart Dutch Oven, but just barely. Otherwise use a bigger pot or make it in batches.
4.64 from 33 votes
Servings 30 Servings

Ingredients
  

  • 2 – 3 bell peppers diced
  • 1 – 2 onions diced
  • 3 – 4 jalapeños diced
  • 8 – 12 Tbsp chili powder
  • 6 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 16 cloves minced garlic 1 head
  • 2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 28 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 8 – 12 Tbsp diced chipotle in adobo
  • 6 Tbsp cocoa powder optional but recommended
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon optional but recommended
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 cups TVP basically a whole 12 oz. bag
  • 8 15 oz cans beans of choice or equivalent
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Cayenne to taste
  • Oil

Instructions
 

  • To a dutch oven or large heavy bottomed pot, add 2 Tbsp of oil. Heat the oil over medium heat and then add in the onions and peppers, and stir to coat with oil. Cook for a few minutes, add a pinch of salt, and then continue to cook them until they soften and get a little color, about 6 – 8 minutes.
  • Add in the chili powder and cumin, stir to combine and then add in the garlic and stir again. Cook for 1 minute, careful not to burn the garlic.
  • Add in the cans of crushed and diced tomatoes and stir to combine, followed by the diced chipotle in adobo. Start off with a few tablespoons of the chipotles, and add in more as you see fit.
  • Same with the cocoa powder and cinnamon. Add in a little at a time until it's tasting good to you.
  • Next add in the vegetable broth followed by the TVP and stir to combine. Bring to a light simmer.
  • Add the canned beans. You can drain them as much a you like, or use as much of the bean juice. If your beans are salted, keep that in mind before you add more salt. Stir the beans in, and taste and adjust for seasoning.
  • Simmer and reduce the chili to your desired consistency. I simmered mine for about 30 minutes.
  • Taste and adjust one last time and enjoy!
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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9 Comments

  1. Always love trying new recipes in my instant pot. Only problem is the overheating with chili when you use too much. I’m very eager to taste chili with the chipotles in adobo Hoping to Try half recipe in the instant pot tonight. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for the recipe! This chili turned out really delicous. Somehow I ended up with too much liquid (probably converted a quantity charge incorrectly), so I poured in some more TVP which solved the problem.

    1. Oh nice, glad you liked it! Yeah I was kinda winging it and just adding stuff as I saw fit, and that’s the beauty of something like this chili, you can really adjust however you need to, it’ll still come out good!

  3. Great recipe! I love making huge batches of great food to freeze for later. Of course I had to add in a few extra goodies like basil, smoked paprika and Mexican oregano. I always cringe at the price when I buy chipotles in adobo so I used dried chipotle instead. Thanks for the post and the video!

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