The Ultimate Vegan Chilli

 The best vegan chilli

I've been experimenting with vegan chillies for years now - making loads of little tweaks and improvements each time, taking inspiration from several other recipes - and I'm proud to say this is definitely the best one yet.... It's a rich, deep chilli with a good spicy kick and complex flavours that rivals any meat-based chilli. The quantities in this recipe makes 8 servings, so use your biggest pan and freeze any leftovers - as with many dishes, the flavours actually become even more infused once defrosted and reheated. And check out the nutrition info below - one serving of this chilli with rice gets you close to half your daily needs for protein and iron, and all with less than a gram of saturated fat! 

The Ultimate Vegan Chilli

Ingredients (serves 8):

  • 2 Tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 large (or 2 small) white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, roughly chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • Thumb-sized piece of ginger, minced
  • 1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 heaped Tbsp chipotle paste
  • 2 tins good quality chopped tomatoes
  • 300g dried puy lentils
  • 100g quinoa
  • 100g bulgar wheat
  • 1 x 400g tin of black beans
  • 150ml red wine
  • 1-2 litres vegetable stock
  • 1 heaped Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp date syrup / black treacle
  • A pinch of salt and loads of black pepper


Fry the onion and red pepper in the rapeseed oil over a medium-high heat for 5 minutes until starting to soften. Add the garlic, ginger, and fresh chilli and continue frying for a further 2-3 minutes. Then add the dry spices and fry for a further 1-2 minutes to release their flavours, stirring continuously.

Now simply add all the remaining ingredients, but starting with just 1 litre of the stock, keeping the rest handy in case the chilli needs extra liquid. Simmer gently for 30-40 minutes until the lentils are tender, most of the liquid has absorbed, and the chilli is deep and flavoursome.

The trick to take this chilli from a 9/10 to a 10/10 is to now remove just a couple of ladles of the chilli to blitz in a blender into a kind of sauce, then return this back to the pot - this gives the chilli a thick, rich consistency and helps to infuse the flavours even further. I like to serve with rice or just some warm crusty bread, any kind of dark green vegetable, and a dollop of avocado mashed with a squeeze of lime to help cool your mouth! 

 Vegan chilli with kale, rice, and guacamole 

Nutrition (per serving with 60g uncooked weight of rice):

  • Protein: 22.1g  (Women: 44.2% / Men: 40.2%)
  • Iron: 6.1mg  (Women: 41.2% / Men: 70.1%)
  • Calories: 555  (Women: 27.8% / Men: 22.2%)
  • Sugars: 9.7g  (Women: 10.8% / Men: 8.1%)
  • Total Fats: 6.1g  (Women: 8.7% / Men: 6.4%)
  • Saturated Fats: 0.9g  (Women: 4.5% / Men: 3.0%)
  • Salt: 0.9g  (Women: 15.0% / Men: 15.0%)
  • Fibre: 15.5g  (Women: 51.7% / Men: 51.7%)

See the Nutrition Info page for more details on % of Dietary Reference Values for men and women.