The Best Tofu Chili recipe with 35 grams of plant-based protein, is comforting, and loaded with the delicious flavors of a traditional chili. The secret to the best vegan chili is crispy crumbled tofu. It adds a meaty texture and more protein and gives the chili a rich umami taste. (Gluten-free with an oil-free option.)
This comforting vegan chili warms you up in the winter months, and keeps you cool in the summer! Did you know that spicy food helps the body cool down by sweating? Plus, it's meal-prep friendly and easy to freeze.
Vegan Tofu Chili is loaded with heart-healthy fats, fiber, protein, and vitamins and minerals. It will keep you satisfied with a pleasing mix of textures from the crumbled tofu, beans, and veggies.
This recipe was inspired by my Easy Vegan Chili on this site, as well as this High-Protein Quinoa and Lentils recipe without oil.
- Olive oil (optional)
- Red onion
- Poblano pepper
- Chili powder
- Ground cumin
- Diced tomatoes
- Tomato sauce
- Extra-firm tofu
- Vegetable broth (optional)
- Fresh lime juice
See the recipe card for quantities.
- Nonspicy - omit the jalapeño and reduce the chili powder for a less spicy chili
- Beans - use black beans, pinto beans, red kidney beans, or double the quantity of tofu and omit the beans entirely
- Tofu - Use 16 ounces of tempeh instead. Simmer the two 8-ounce blocks of tempeh for 5 minutes. Drain and cool. Then crumble the tempeh using your hands and follow the recipe as written. Or omit the tofu and double the quantity of beans.
- Poblano pepper - substitute with green bell pepper instead as needed
- Vegetable broth - instead of vegetable broth, use water as needed
- Diced tomatoes - use diced fire-roasted tomatoes for an even more flavorful tofu chili
- Roasted sweet potato - Chop two medium sweet potatoes into ½-inch pieces. Transfer to a large rimmed nonstick baking sheet. Toss them with olive oil, garlic powder, dried thyme, and salt. Roast them at 400ºF with the grated tofu for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Top the Tofu Chili with the roasted sweet potato to balance the spices.
- Crispy quinoa - add crispy quinoa to Tofu Chili for even more protein and texture.
- Avocado Crema - make this 5-minute Avocado Sauce to drizzle on the Tofu Chili
📖 How to Make Tofu Chili
Cook the aromatics in olive oil, or vegetable broth for oil-free.
Step 1. Dry the block of tofu with a clean dish towel, gently squeezing any excess water out.
Shred the tofu using the larger holes on a box grater.
Step 2. Transfer the shredded tofu to a large rimmed nonstick baking sheet. Toss it with olive oil, chili powder, and salt. Bake at 400ºF for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown, tossing halfway through.
Step 3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan. Transfer the onion, poblano pepper, jalapeño, garlic, chili powder, and cumin to the pot.
Step 4. Cook the aromatics and spices until the onion is just softened.
Step 5. Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and oregano.
Step 6. Add the black beans to the cooked aromatics and tomatoes.
Step 7. Add the baked shredded tofu. Simmer and stir to incorporate.
Step 8. Season the chili with fresh lime juice, salt, and pepper. Garnish with fresh cilantro for serving.
💡 Expert Tips
- For the tofu: Dry the tofu well before grating, but you do not need to press it. Use a large nonstick baking sheet and spread the tofu in a thin layer so it cooks evenly. Oil is optional but gets the tofu more crispy and brown.
- Storage: Refrigerate any remaining vegan Tofu Chili in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Or freeze in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.
🙋🏽♀️ Recipe FAQs
Large, green, and heart-shaped, poblano peppers are commonly used in Mexican cooking. As they mature, the poblano turns dark and red-brown. At this stage, they can be dried, and are referred to as ancho or mulato. They are only mildly spicy, earthy in flavor, and slightly sweet.
This Tofu Chili is freezer-friendly and perfect for batch cooking. Freeze it in single-serve portions to make it easier to thaw individual servings as needed. Souper Cube trays or similar portion-sized freezing trays are ideal. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, in the microwave, or simply add the frozen cubes to a saucepan and thaw on the stovetop over low heat.
Crumbling or grating tofu, seasoning it, and then baking it until browned and crispy transforms it into tasting extremely similar to chicken or pork. See my 'How to Cook Tofu' post for the best methods for freezing, marinating, cutting, and cooking tofu.
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- 14 to 16 ounces extra-firm tofu
- Drizzle of olive oil (optional)
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons chili powder
- Salt to taste
- 1 large red onion finely chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves minced
- 1 large poblano chili seeded and minced
- 1 small jalapeño seeded and minced
- ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
- 14 ounces diced tomatoes or diced fire-roasted tomatoes, canned, with juice
- ½ cup tomato sauce canned
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 15 ounces black beans canned, drained and rinsed
- Vegetable broth or water as needed
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice or to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- Cook the tofu: Dry the block of tofu with a clean dish towel, gently squeezing any excess water out. Shred the tofu using the larger holes on a box grater. Transfer the shredded tofu to a large rimmed nonstick baking sheet. Toss it with a drizzle of olive oil, 2 teaspoons of chili powder, and salt. Bake at 400ºF for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown, tossing halfway through.
- Meanwhile, cook the aromatics: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook the onion, garlic, poblano, jalapeño, 1 tablespoon chili powder, and cumin, stirring occasionally. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is just softened.
- Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and oregano. Reduce the heat and gently simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add remaining ingredients: Stir in the black beans and baked shredded tofu. Stir to incorporate. Simmer for 10 minutes more, partially covered. Add vegetable broth or water as desired. Add lime juice to taste. Season with salt and pepper.
- Garnish with cilantro.
- For oil-free: Use vegetable broth in place of olive oil for cooking the aromatics. Bake the tofu without oil.
- Make a Tofu Chili Bowl with roasted sweet potato. Chop two medium sweet potatoes into ½-inch pieces. Transfer to a large rimmed nonstick baking sheet. Toss them with olive oil, garlic powder, dried thyme, and salt. Roast them at 400ºF with the tofu for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Top the Tofu Chili with the roasted sweet potato to balance the spices. Add crispy quinoa and Avocado Crema.
- Storage: Refrigerate any remaining Tofu Chili in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Or freeze in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.
This information is provided as a courtesy and is an ESTIMATE only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased can change the nutritional information in any given recipe.