It’s pretty much a polar vortex in Chicago right now. With the bone-chilling temps comes the need for something warm and comforting AF, so we put together this vegan chili con tempeh.

What is vegan chili con tempeh?

Chili, as most folks call it, is actually short for chile con carne (or chili with meat). That means that, by design, the dish can’t be plant-based. Because of that, we’re calling this vegan chili con tempeh by its full name.

In its most basic form, all stews known as chili consist of a pepper base. And that’s why they’re called chili—you know, like the band Red Hot Chili Peppers.

To make our plant-based chili, we swapped tempeh in for the typical ground meat and added some of our favorite hearty veggies.

For the chili powder, we freshly ground a dried arbol chili. If you can’t find whole dried chilis at your local store or don’t have a spice grinder, you can use whatever chili powder you prefer.

If you’re in a pinch or don’t have or want to use all the spices, there are a lot of chili spice mixes available, as well.

What is tempeh?

There are a lot of vegan protein options—lentils, textured vegetable protein, tofu, seitan and more. We made this vegan chili with tempeh simply because we had it on hand.

Tempeh, pronounced tem-PAY, is a fermented soy-based protein source. Tempeh is more solid than tofu and is comprised of whole beans. This gives it a nice texture and also makes it pretty ideal for a stew like this.

You can slice tempeh, dice it or crumble it, sauté, deep-fry, stew or bake it. Basically, you can treat tempeh like you would an animal protein.

As with all vegan proteins, tempeh comes with the added benefit of having no cholesterol. That means you can feel less guilty when you go back for seconds!

How do you make your chili?

There are millions of chili recipes out there. Both our moms use beans in their recipes, but both of their chilis are completely unique. Ian’s mom opts for beef and adds elbow macaroni to hers. Smith’s mom typically goes the white chicken chili route.

If you have a tried-and-true chili recipe of your own, share it with us! Leave us a link in the comments or contact us. We’d love to make a vegan version like we did with this vegan chili con tempeh!

P.S. Did you see our Halloween-inspired plant-based pumpkin chili? It’s a little more involved than this one, but if you like spice, we dare you to give it a try!

CategoryDifficultyBeginner

Vegan Chili con Tempeh

Yields6 Servings
Prep Time10 minsCook Time30 minsTotal Time40 mins

 1 yellow onion (chopped)
 1 carrot (chopped)
 2 stalks of celery (sliced)
 1 poblano pepper (chopped)
 1 red pepper (chopped)
 1 yukon gold potato (diced)
 1 yam (diced)
 1 block of tempeh (crumbled or diced)
 1 jalapeño pepper (finely chopped)
 5 garlic cloves (minced)
 2 tbsp chili powder
 1 tsp cumin
 1 tsp smoked paprika
 salt and pepper (to taste)
 2 cans of beans, not drained (we used 1 black and 1 kidney)
 1 large can of fire roasted (or regular) diced tomatoes
 4 cups water
Garnishes (optional)
 vegan sour cream
 cilantro (or other fresh herbs)
 vegan shredded cheese

1

Heat a thin layer of oil in a large pot on medium-high. When hot, add the first seven ingredients (all of the hearty veggies) and sauté, stirring frequently, for about 8-10 minutes until the onions cook down and the potatoes start to soften.

2

To the pot, add the tempeh, jalapeño, garlic and spices and sauté until fragrant, about a minute or two.

3

To the pot, add the last of the ingredients. We used the water to rinse out each of the cans of beans and tomatoes before adding it in.

4

Bring to a boil and then turn the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 20 minutes. The chili should thicken up nicely and the veggies should all be tender.

5

Check and season with salt and pepper one last time before serving. Garnish with your favorites, if you'd like.

Ingredients

 1 yellow onion (chopped)
 1 carrot (chopped)
 2 stalks of celery (sliced)
 1 poblano pepper (chopped)
 1 red pepper (chopped)
 1 yukon gold potato (diced)
 1 yam (diced)
 1 block of tempeh (crumbled or diced)
 1 jalapeño pepper (finely chopped)
 5 garlic cloves (minced)
 2 tbsp chili powder
 1 tsp cumin
 1 tsp smoked paprika
 salt and pepper (to taste)
 2 cans of beans, not drained (we used 1 black and 1 kidney)
 1 large can of fire roasted (or regular) diced tomatoes
 4 cups water
Garnishes (optional)
 vegan sour cream
 cilantro (or other fresh herbs)
 vegan shredded cheese

Directions

1

Heat a thin layer of oil in a large pot on medium-high. When hot, add the first seven ingredients (all of the hearty veggies) and sauté, stirring frequently, for about 8-10 minutes until the onions cook down and the potatoes start to soften.

2

To the pot, add the tempeh, jalapeño, garlic and spices and sauté until fragrant, about a minute or two.

3

To the pot, add the last of the ingredients. We used the water to rinse out each of the cans of beans and tomatoes before adding it in.

4

Bring to a boil and then turn the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 20 minutes. The chili should thicken up nicely and the veggies should all be tender.

5

Check and season with salt and pepper one last time before serving. Garnish with your favorites, if you'd like.

Vegan Chili con Tempeh
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