A cozy, comforting and appetizing bowl of vegan chili is so easy to make in the Instant Pot! This protein-packed chili has tempeh, pinto and red kidney beans and you can add optional vegan sausage for more meaty texture and flavor. Mushrooms, celery, carrots and onions make it even healthier and more delicious--and a one-pot meal. Ladle some on top of a bowl of mashed potatoes, or a bed of noodles, dunk in a crusty chunk of bread or scoop up with tortilla chips. It's the ultimate meal for your soul.
Who doesn't love a big bowl of chili?
Today I have for you the ultimate vegan chili. It's delicious and cozy and it'll infuse your belly and your soul with warmth and comfort.
I love making a big pot of chili in winter and the Instant Pot just makes it SO much easier. Best of all, most chilis are kid-friendly, especially if you throw some tortilla chips of fries in the mix, as this mom can attest.
But what the cook in me really, really loves is that it is so easy to make this delicious chili so quickly. And it's so healthy with so many great-for-you veggies and good protein for my growing lad.
What we love about this chili
- It's delicious.
- It's hearty.
- It's healthy.
- It's packed with protein.
- It's packed with veggies.
- It has so much flavor.
- It is super versatile.
Ingredients and tips
Beans: I used pinto beans and red kidney beans in this chili--a cup of each (dry). You can substitute black beans or even a white bean like navy or great northern or cannellini beans.
Tempeh: The tempeh adds heart-healthy, delicious protein and it is amazing in this chili. Be sure to crumble it before adding it to the IP.
Vegan sausage: I added Beyond Italian sausage because I wanted this vegetarian chili to really pack a protein punch. You can sub any vegan sausage--make sure you break it into crumbs before using or slice it, or leave it out altogether.
Vegetables: I used mushrooms, onions, carrots, celery and green bell peppers. They are perfect together in this recipe, adding a ton of flavor. There is also a small can of tomato paste in this recipe and on top goes a shower of chopped scallions. You can use other veggies to replace the bell peppers and carrots--zucchini or sweet potatoes would be great. Don't do away with the mushrooms, however, as they add great flavor.
Beer: Yes! Beer adds an amazing layer of flavor to this chili. Any vegan-friendly beer will do, just make sure it's one you love drinking as well. The alcohol cooks out, in case you have kids, but if you don't want to use it, leave it out (it's really good, though).
Spices: Spices add smokiness and flavor to the veg chili, so don't skimp on them. There's coriander powder, cumin powder, paprika and a chipotle chili in adobo sauce in this recipe. You can add cayenne for even more spice.
Herbs and flavorings: I love sage and rosemary in the chili because both add so much rich flavor. A splash of vegan worcestershire sauce adds more complexity, but leave it out if you don't have it.
The mushrooms, in addition to being a veggie, flex their flavoring muscles for this recipe too, by adding delicious umami. Chop them really fine so they melt into the chili (great if you have someone around who doesn't love these fine fungi--they'll never know).
How to make the ultimate vegan Instant Pot chili
- Use a mix of beans. This really helps add more flavor. You do not have to remember to soak the beans way ahead of time. I do recommend soaking the beans for a short time, in hot water for an hour before you start cooking. If you forget to, you can just cover them with hot water as you begin the recipe and let them soak until you need to add them to the pot.
- Brown the tempeh. This really kicks up the flavor of the tempeh. The tempeh, crumbled, should be the first ingredient to go into the Instant Pot, after the oil, and get it browned and nicely crispy before following with the vegan sausage, if using.
- The sausage doesn't have to brown but stir-fry it briefly in the IP before you begin adding the other ingredients.
- There are six cloves of garlic in this recipe. Mince them fine. Add more or less if you want to, but six work just right for me.
- Chop the onions, carrots, celery and bell peppers in similar-sized pieces, not too big, but don't mince them either. I like the veggies to be in small but discernible bits in the chili so they add texture.
- The mushrooms, however, should be chopped really fine--I do this in the food processor. Like I said, this helps them melt into the sauce and adds a ton of flavor.
- The beer will go in next. Give it a few minutes in the Instant Pot so it cooks out a bit, although it doesn't have to dissipate entirely.
- Add a 6-oz can of tomato paste. Color + flavor.
- Add in the seasonings--coriander powder, cumin powder, paprika, cayenne, if using, and the chipotle chili with a tablespoon of the adobo sauce it's packed in. It may seem like a lot, but remember this is a big pot of chili.
- Next add in the sage and rosemary along with the worcestershire sauce, if using.
- The drained beans go in next. Add five cups of water, add salt and ground black pepper to taste, and give it all a good stir.
- Turn off the saute function, click on the Instant Pot lid, and set it to the "beans" function (or to pressure cook for 30 minutes).
- Let the pressure release naturally. If you absolutely can't wait, give it at least 15 minutes after cooking is done before releasing the pressure manually.
Toppings: I am not big into toppings--cilantro or scallions are all I need to add a boost of freshness to this veg chili. But if you want to gild the lily, you can take your pick from vegan sour cream to guacamole to crushed tortilla chips.
What to serve with the chili
My favorite way to eat chili is ladled over a bowl of creamy vegan mashed potatoes.
Vegan cornbread is a delicious and easy side that goes great with chili.
French fries. For a healthy meal try these crispy, crunchy Air Fryer French Fries made with very little oil.
A bowl of tortilla chips. A classic and kid-friendly.
Or just eat it with a fresh, leafy green salad on the side for a healthy, tasty meal.
Make-ahead, freezing and reheating
This chili is a great dish to make ahead because it tastes even better the longer it stands.
You can freeze the chili in smaller portions and reheat as needed. Thaw and heat in the microwave or on the stovetop.
Instant Pot Vegan Chili
- Instant Pot
- Food processor
- 2 cups beans (dry. I used a cup of pinto beans and a cup of kidney beans. Black beans, white beans or almost any other bean is fine)
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 8 oz tempeh (crumbled into small bits)
- 16 oz vegan Italian sausage (crumbled or sliced. This is optional but really nice)
- 6 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 medium onion (finely diced)
- 2 ribs celery (cut in a ½-inch dice)
- 1 medium carrot (cut in a ½-inch dice)
- 2 green bell peppers (cut in a ½-inch dice)
- 8 oz mushrooms (crimini or white, chopped into small bits, preferably in a food processor)
- 8-12 oz beer (any full-flavored kind, a wheat beer or ale would work great. Use one you love drinking)
- 6 oz tomato paste
- 1 tbsp coriander powder
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- 1 chipotle chili (canned, with 1 tbsp of the adobo sauce it is packed in, Chop the chili before adding to the pot.)
- 2 heaping tsp paprika (You can use less, but it adds great color)
- ½ to 1 tsp cayenne (optional. There is already some heat here, but this is a big pot, so if you like your chili spicy use the cayenne.)
- 2 tsp sage (dry)
- 1 tsp rosemary (dry)
- 2 tsp vegan worcestershire sauce (optional)
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 4 scallion (or 2-4 tbsp cilantro, chopped)
- About an hour before cooking, soak the dry beans in boiling water to cover. If you forget, you can just do it as you begin cooking.
- Place the liner in the Instant Pot and set to the saute mode.
- Add the oil to the liner and once it's hot, add the crumbled tempeh bits. Saute them until they start to brown.
- Add the vegan sausage and saute for a couple of minutes. Scrape up any bits as they stick to the bottom.
- Add the garlic, onions, carrots, celery and bell peppers. Season with salt and pepper. Saute for a couple of minutes until the onions are soft.
- Add the mushrooms to the pot and mix well. Add the beer and let it cook for a couple of minutes. You don't want it to evaporate entirely. Use the moisture from the beer to scrape up any tasty bits sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- Stir in the tomato paste, coriander powder, cumin powder, chipotle chili with adobo sauce, paprika, cayenne, if using, sage, rosemary and the worcestershire sauce, if using. Mix well.
- Add the beans (drain out all water they were soaked in first) to the pot along with 5 cups of water. This amount of water will make the beans seem a little soupy when just cooked, but if you let the chili stand for a few hours, it will thicken nicely. The chili tastes even better a few hours after cooking so this is a great make-ahead dish.
- Add salt to your taste. Stir everything and turn off the saute mode. Click on the Instant Pot lid.
- Set the IP to pressure cook on the "beans/chili" mode or for 30 minutes on high pressure.
- Let the pressure release naturally, which is best, If you want to release it faster, wait 15 minutes after cooking has ended to force-release. Check seasoning before you serve and add more salt and ground black pepper, if needed.
- Garnish with scallions or cilantro.
- Serve the chili hot.