This hearty vegan chili uses walnuts instead of meat for a filling, plant-based chili! It’s packed with tons of umami flavor, so you won’t miss the meat!
The cooler temperatures have finally arrived, and I love it. Obviously, the first thing you do when the weather cools down is make chili! I wanted a hearty and filling recipe, so I used walnuts to give this a meatier texture while keeping this totally vegan! I’m super happy with how this came out, and I have a feeling this recipe will be popping up a lot on our dinner table.
How to Give Vegan Chili a Meaty Flavor
Between the meaty walnuts and the umami from the soy sauce and tomato paste, I promise you won’t miss the meat in this recipe! Let me get a little science-y here. Soy sauce and tomato paste are both highly concentrated sources of glutamates, a type of amino acid that gives you that delightfully savory “meaty” taste. Finding other sources of glutamates can be great for meat-eaters who miss that savory flavor. That’s why this vegan chili delivers such a deliciously meaty flavor with plant-based ingredients!
Tips for Perfect Vegan Chili
- Blending the first 5 ingredients in a food processor gives this chili a hearty, chunky base. It’s an easy way to turn walnuts into a meaty texture.
- If you like things spicy, add the entire jalapeno (minus the stem), but if you want to keep this milder, remove the seeds and pith before adding to the food processor.
- For even more flavor, use fire-roasted tomatoes instead of plain diced tomatoes.
How to Make Vegan Chili in a Crockpot
If you want to make this recipe in a Crockpot, follow directions in steps 1-5 then transfer the onion mixture to your slow cooker. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook on low for 5-6 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
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This hearty vegan chili uses walnuts instead of meat for a filling, plant-based chili! It’s packed with tons of umami flavor so you won’t miss the meat!
- ½ cup walnuts
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1 jalapeno, roughly chopped
- 1 28oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce (see note)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 large white onion
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 15oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 15oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- ½ cup water
- In a food processor or blender, pulse the walnuts until finely chopped.
- Add the garlic, jalapeno, tomatoes, and soy sauce to the food processor and pulse 5-10 times until chunky. It should look like a finely chopped salsa.
- In a large pot or dutch oven, add the olive oil and onion.
- Cook the onion over medium heat for 6-8 minutes until translucent.
- Add the tomato paste and cumin and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the tomato mixture, black beans, and kidney beans and stir to combine.
- Cook for 20-25 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.
- If the chili gets too thick, add the water and continue to simmer.
Gluten Free Tips: If you want to keep this recipe gluten-free, be sure to use gluten free soy sauce or tamari.
Slow Cooker Directions: If you want to make this recipe in a Crockpot, follow directions in steps 1-5 then transfer the onion mixture to your slow cooker. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook on low for 5-6 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
Keywords: Vegan Chili
Vegan Chili Toppings Suggestions
Serve with avocado, vegan shredded cheddar cheese, vegan sour cream, and tortilla chips! I like crumbling a few tortilla chips on top for some extra crunch. Alex topped his with avocado and cheese. You really can’t go wrong on the toppings!
Looking for something to serve on the side? Try a slice of this vegan beer bread!