vegan tempeh chili in a bowl topped with sliced avocado

Tempeh Chili (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

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This tempeh chili is an easy, filling, and tasty meal. Crumbled tempeh makes the chili extra “meaty” while providing hearty plant protein.

Make this tempeh chili when you’re in need of an easy, filling, and delicious plant-based dinner! High in protein thanks to the tempeh, beans, and nutritional yeast; plus gut-healthy fiber from all the veggies and beans. Using crumbled tempeh helps mimic a ground meat texture and is a great way to introduce tempeh into your diet. You can’t really taste it, but you will still get all the health benefits of this fermented superfood! (You can also try it in this tempeh & chickpea peanut curry.)

Key Ingredients

  • Tempeh ⟶ Tempeh is usually made of soybeans and maybe some grains, but ingredients, flavor, and texture will vary depending on brand. If you find your tempeh to be particularly bitter, you may want to try a different brand. I personally like Trader Joe’s 3 Grain Tempeh – it’s affordable (used to be $1.99 but now $2.29, still the cheapest option I’ve found near me) and has a fairly mild flavor.
  • Beans ⟶ For chili I prefer black beans or kidney beans, but you can use any bean you like, or even lentils.
  • Vinegar/Lime Juice ⟶ A little tang complements the flavors of chili so well! My go-to is always lime juice (or lemon if I’m out of lime), but recently I’ve been adding a little of balsamic vinegar as well. It adds a deeper, slightly sweet flavor.
  • Veggies ⟶ Onions, carrots, celery, and bell peppers are perfect for adding flavor and slightly crunchy texture. Mushrooms would be delicious as well to add a little umami and chewy texture.
  • Spices ⟶ Along with the typical chili spices, I like to add nutritional yeast* and a tiny bit of cocoa/cacao powder. The nutritional yeast adds umami and protein, and the cacao powder adds a little extra depth of flavor while also giving the chili that beautiful dark red hue.
bowl of vegan tempeh chili with avocado slices on top

Tempeh Chili FAQ

Can I make this chili ahead of time?
Yes! In fact, chili is one of those dishes that tastes even better the next day as the flavors have time to meld overnight.

Can I freeze chili?
Yes! I recommend making a big batch so you have leftovers to freeze for the future. Let the chili cool completely at room temperature, then transfer to freezer-safe containers or bags. If using freezer bags, be sure to tightly close them to remove all the air from the bag, then place the bag down flat in your freezer. This way the chili will freeze flat and it will be easier to store other things in your freezer.

What should I serve with chili?
Tempeh chili pairs well rice or cauliflower rice, crusty bread (or served in a bread bowl!), and cornbread (maybe even this blueberry cornbread?) For garnishes, try avocado, guacamole, green onions, cilantro, jalapeños, pickled onions, cheese, sour cream, or crushed tortilla chips!

More Hearty Vegan Stews

If you try out this tempeh chili, don’t forget to leave a comment/rating down below and tag me in your photos on instagram I love seeing all of your tasty recreations!

bowl of vegan tempeh chili with avocado slices on top

Tempeh Chili

This tempeh chili is an easy, filling, and tasty meal. Crumbled tempeh makes the chili extra "meaty" while providing hearty plant protein.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 3



  • 1 ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 ½ tsp chili powder
  • ¾ tsp paprika
  • ¾ tsp oregano
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast*
  • ¾ tsp cacao powder, optional


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ large onion, diced
  • 1 celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 4 oz tempeh, crumbled**
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups chopped or crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • 1 ½ cups black beans, or other beans of choice
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • ½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ½ tbsp lime juice

**See notes for garnish ideas


    • Mix spices: Add all the spices to a bowl and mix together.
    • Cook onion and celery: Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and celery and cook until the onions start to brown, 3-5 minutes.
    • Add garlic and carrots: Stir in garlic and carrots and cook 2 minutes.
    • Add tempeh: Add crumbled tempeh and cook for 1 minute. You can also add the bell pepper now if you want it to be soft – I prefer a crunchy texture so I add the bell peppers near the end.
    • Add spices: Add spices and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
    • Add tomato paste: Add tomato paste and stir another 30 seconds.
    • Add tomatoes, broth, and beans: Pour in tomatoes, vegetable broth, and beans.
    • Simmer: Give the chili a good stir, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and simmer the chili for 15-30 minutes (15 if you're in a hurry, 30 for better flavor).
    • Add bell peppers and acid: Add the bell peppers if you didn't add them previously, and drizzle in balsamic vinegar. Stir and cook another minute or two until bell peppers are crisp-tender. Stir in lime juice.
    • Garnish as desired (see notes).


    To crumble tempeh: You can crumble tempeh with your hands – just break the tempeh into small pieces. For finer crumbles, you can process the tempeh in a food processor.
    Garnishes: avocado, sliced green onions, vegan cheese, vegan sour cream, jalapeños, red onions, lime wedges, cilantro

    *Disclosure: This page may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, but the price remains the same to you. Thank you for supporting Ellie Likes Cooking!

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