I will be the first to admit I hated chili growing up- but maybe that's because I didn't eat beans or tomatoes until college! Now, I make this vegan tempeh chili recipe pretty regularly in my apartment. 

Since I didn't have a parent that made chili growing up, I never really understood what went into the perfect chili. I pondered around on Pinterest trying to find a good recipe before I just decided to do my own research & development to curate the perfect recipe. 

Normally, I would rehydrated textured veggie protein (TVP) as the "meaty base" for this recipe. TVP has a little more meaty-crumble texture to it, so it's a little more palatable for people who don't have much experience with ~vegan alternatives~. Tempeh works just as well though, and provides more protein and fiber (and I have a couple packs in my fridge now that I need to get rid of). If you want to make this recipe with TVP instead, add 1 cup of dehydrated TVP and 1 cup boiling water to a bowl and let sit for 3-4 minutes until fluffy. Pour into pot when you add the beans and optional veggies. 

This recipe is also customizable if you want to add extra veggies or fiber. Many people use hot peppers in their chili- but jalapeños and I have never agreed with one another so I chose to omit them. 

Vegan Tempeh Chili

  • Prep Time:20 mins
  • Cook Time:20 mins
  • Total Time:40 mins
  • Servings:4
  • Easy


  • 1 pack 3-grain tempeh ground
  • 1 can kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 can black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 can pureed tomato sauce
  • 1 can roasted tomatoes
  • 1 medium yellow onion chopped
  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. olive or avocado oil for sautéing
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp. hot sauce more/less to taste
  • Salt/Pepper to Taste
  • optional 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • optional 1/2 cooked quinoa
  • optional 1/2 cup roasted red peppers
Sara Klimek
  • Step 1

    In medium-sized pot, add oil, garlic, cumin, salt/pepper, and onion. Cook on medium heat or until onion begins to soften.

    Sara Klimek
  • Step 2

    Add chopped temeph to pot. Stir to incorporate into onion and garlic mixture. Since the tempeh is naturally very dry, it has a tendency to burn quickly. If you notice the tempeh sticking to the bottom of the pan, add another tablespoon of oil to the pot and stir. Cook for 3-4 minutes.

    Sara Klimek
  • Step 3

    Add beans to pot. If you're looking for a more hearty chili, add corn, roasted red peppers, and/or quinoa here as well.

    Sara Klimek
  • Step 4

    Pour in can of roasted tomatoes. Depending on what brand of canned tomatoes you use, there might be more/less liquid. Stir to incorporate.

    Sara Klimek
  • Step 5

    Gradually add your canned tomato puree to the chili. Season with hot sauce and cayenne pepper to taste.

    Sara Klimek
  • Step 6

    Once all ingredients have been added to the pot, simmer on low heat for 15 minutes.

    Sara Klimek
  • Step 7

    Serve hot into your favorite mug or atop a baked potato! Leftover chili can be refrigerated for 3-4 days (perfect for leftovers- and when you don't feel like cooking)!

    Sara Klimek