How To Make Vegan Chili

I’d like to say that Karol Gajda is a good friend of mine. But in reality, I’ve only met him twice. But in virtual reality, I know him really well since I read his blog Ridiculously Extraordinary all the time and think he is a very smart and sensible human with whom I could be good friends if he wasn’t constantly globetrotting his ass all over the globe.

But I guess Chris has been email buddies with him for a while now and somehow, through his vague and mystical powers, found out that Karol was going to be in Austin. We had to get him on the show!

Fortunately for us, he wasn’t that hard to get, since he’s really nice and helpful. It was pretty serendipitous timing, too, since we just sent out a survey (big love to those who responded!) and found a surprising number of requests for more vegetarian fare. And I mean surprising in a good way…nay, I say, in a GREAT way! I was really happy to see that. Anyway, the serendipitous part comes in when you learn that Karol is vegan. Take that, people. You ask for vegetarian and we’re gonna go one step further. Taking it to the LIMIT! As per usual.

So this recipe is one he suggested. Funny story about that. You might know that I detest mushrooms. You will soon find out that Karol’s recipe is dependent upon the inclusion of many, many mushrooms. But, ever the Good Sport, there was no way IN HELL I was going to mention my feelings for fungi to Karol; I was going to make and eat that chili if it killed me, by Jiminy, and no one need be the wiser.

And then Chris showed up.

Long, boring story short: Karol found out about my feelings for mushrooms but I convinced him that it was no big deal and I would survive and then we made it and then I was pleased because the mushrooms had been cooked for so long that all their mushroomy taste and texture was gone, lost to the chili pequins and the cumin seeds, and it was delicious and then I had the last bowl for lunch yesterday, except I gave some of the mushroom chunks to my mom. The End.

If you don’t like mushrooms but are under no pressure from the Southern Belle that languishes deep within your heart to use them anyway, I bet big chunks of squash would be good instead.

But here is Karol’s recipe, as he sent it to me (I took out all the x’s and o’s and smiley faces. JUST KIDDING. They were never there.), PLUS some notes of my own, in italics.


Vegan Chili

5 from 2 reviews

Soy-Free, Gluten-Free, 3-Bean Vegan Chili

  • Yield: 4


  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 medium-large white onion
  • 1 pound sliced mushrooms
  • 1 15 oz can black beans (drained and rinsed) or equivalent dried/soaked overnight beans (This would probably be about 1/2 cup of each bean type, dry. I don’t know because I forgot to set them a’soaking, so we used canned beans)
  • 1 15 oz can kidney beans (drained and rinsed) or equivalent dried/soaked overnight beans
  • 1 15 oz can great northern (err, white) beans (drained and rinsed) or equivalent dried/soaked overnight beans
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (or 9 fresh Roma tomatoes)
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • Optional: 12 oz dark BEER (Make sure it’s vegan and gluten-free if that is important to you)
  • 2-6 jalapeno peppers, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper


  1. Add oil to a big pot on medium. Let it warm up for 3-4 minutes..
  2. Chop up your onion and bell pepper and mince your garlic in the meantime.
  3. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic to the pot and sautee for a few minutes. (don’t let the garlic burn…might have to turn down your heat a bit) Add mushrooms and sautee until mushrooms are soft and squishy… ~5 minutes.
  4. Add all the beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and spices. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil.
  5. Once at boiling lower heat to medium low, stir, and put a lid on the pot. Let it do its thing for 20 minutes.
  6. Stir. Taste. Add more spices (or don’t). (We did! We added more cumin, chili powder and peppers.)
  7. Stir. Cover again and let it do its thing for 20 more minutes. (If using dry/soaked beans will need ~10 more minutes.) (If you used the beer, cook with the lid off for the last 20-30 minutes to thicken the chili.)
  8. BEER + EAT

Serve this with cornbread and you will be a happy camper!



  1. Two spice questions–

    * Do you ever toast your spices before (or after) you grind them?
    * How clean should I have to make a mortar between recipes (and how do I clean it)?

    • Hilah Cooking says:

      Oh I love questions!
      1. I do sometimes, especially when making curries, and other times when I think of it. πŸ™‚
      2. I just wipe my mortar out occasionally with a damp cloth. I really only use it for pepper, cumin and coriander seeds and I love those spices so I don’t mind a little “bleed over” from one spice grinding day to the next!

    • So you guys are my hero for posting this on here. I’m 100% sure its the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth !

  2. Hilah this looks so darn delicious that i’m considering going vegan for a day or two.
    What do you think if i were to add 2 or 3 Tbsp of potato flakes just to thicken it up a bit?

  3. ooooooweeeee Halih…..Look out Chris! You and Karol look really cute together! Question: Why do you drain and rinse the beans? I always just dump the whole can of stuff into my chili. Am I doing it wrong? Loved it and it looks delicious!

    • Hilah Cooking says:

      Hey Sherry! Good question. The liquid that beans are packed in is loaded with salt and I like to start with as clean a slate as possible (so to speak!), so that I can season to my taste. Thanks for watching and writing!

  4. For anybody trying this recipe, 2 things:

    1) I don’t usually use beer in my chili, and it was pointed out on YouTube that beer makes it not-gluten free. My bad! Don’t use the beer if you want it gluten free.

    2) We forgot to add cayenne pepper on the show, but cayenne rules and I use it in everything. πŸ™‚

    And bonus 3) Thanks Hilah and Christopher for having me on your show! πŸ™‚

    • Hilah Cooking says:

      I take full blame for the gluten/beer fiasco. Or full credit. Whichever is better. πŸ™‚
      Thank you, Karol, for being on our show!

  5. love this video. your conversation is spontaneous and enjoyable.
    as for the vegan chili, how does it keep in the frige for leftovers? gluten and soy i have found make meals frige stable longer. i would totally crush it and have no leftovers, how many days do you think it would last?

    • Hilah Cooking says:

      Hmm, interesting thought about the preserving effects of gluten and soy. Do you have any idea about why that would be? I know that tofu goes off fast (like within 24 hours) if it’s not covered in water (one day I will learn!), so maybe soy protein is more susceptible to aerobic bacteria? Or maybe it’s just something about the fermenting process of tofu.
      I’m not positive about how long it would keep since it was gone within 72 hours, but I’d guess a week would be safe as long as no one was sticking their grubby paws in it!

      • this chili wouldnt last 3 days in my fridge either. the gluten and soy from what i understand are such excellent binders that aerobic bacteria have a brutal time getting to it for a couple of days.
        i love fermented food so much that the good bacteria obliterate the bad guys. kefir, yogurt, kimchi are all room temp at my house but i have never fermented for tofu. guess i am lazy and tofu is so cheap i wont fool with it.
        my son and my grubby paws lead from food to mouth. only the mom of the house is civilized i guess. it is a leftover so it is fair game for the barbarian men, right?

        • Hilah Cooking says:

          Okay, that makes sense. You got your gluten-and-soy wall that is impenetrable to bacterium.
          Still, I bet this chili would keep a week. And I bet it would hold up to freezing perfectly.
          You are correct, Caveman, in your assumed right to any and all leftovers. I am right there with you: eating food cold from a plastic container with my pinchy fingers.

          • I’ve made this chili and quite a few like it. I don’t like keeping things refrigerated more than a few days because nutrient values diminish. If you really think that this will stay in the fridge longer than a few days, freeze your extra. And, yes, like most soups, this freezes very well!

  6. Hilaaaa. πŸ˜€ I made the vegan chilly last night for my family. They all loved it. My mother asked me where i got the recipe and i told her. Now she is also watching your videos. πŸ˜€

    Thank you for the wonderful dinner i had.

    • Hilah Cooking says:

      Alex, you are my new number one fan! I’m so glad you and your family enjoyed it. AND thanks for turning your mom onto the show! πŸ™‚ xo

  7. This is my new favorite from you, Hilah, and hi there, Karol! I really like that you went all-in-balls-to-the-wall VEGAN and it wasn’t with something wussy, either, like lettuce. Definitely planning to make this next time our vegan friends come over for dinner!

  8. Wife and I looked over the recipe and we probably will make it soon, but will replace one can of beans with an equal amount of canned or frozen corn kernels, just to shake things up a bit.

  9. Hilah,

    Ok, my first time here…via Mr. Gajda and you are freaking funny! Haha!

    Great show…I will be back.

    Also, if Karol had picked a better player he wouldn’t have had to eat so many burgers:-) He would have had to do more push-ups though πŸ˜‰ Haha, that was such a nasty experience…that I for some reason came up with. Sorry Karol πŸ™‚ fyi: we now just do push-ups…no burgers.

    I’m about to try this recipe…well, when I get back home πŸ™‚

    • Hilah Cooking says:

      Hi Kenny! Thanks for watching! Glad you liked the video. And funny is a two-way street so I have to give Karol credit. He is funny, too!
      Can I ask: Do you no longer do the burger thing because everyone is vegan now? Did you ruin burgers for all your friends?!?! πŸ˜‰

      • OK, the burger eating was a punishment for punking out and choosing a weak player. We are all fairly healthy dudes, so the goal was to get each person to pick a Kobe, Paul Pierce, etc and do TONS of push-ups (5 for each point scored). Karol (not a big fan of push-ups at the time) went with Perkins, so he ate a lot of burgers:)

        In the end, I’m happy he did…because without that…there would be no How To Make Vegan Chili post, or at least not with Karol…haha.

        So yes, I still eat burgers and the other guys do too…just not as a punishment during a game:-)

    • haha! I did hate those pushups. I was on the edge anyway, but those burgers definitely pushed me over.

  10. Ummm, yes please! πŸ˜‰ That would be great! Thanks!

  11. corn masa thickens chili and adds a touch of mexico from where chili originated before texans made it an art form. i liked all the fresh vegies. now i have plan for my surplus crop of romas if it doesn’t freeze soon. dad

  12. Great post, Hilah! You two were freakin’ hilarious together!

    BTW, how did you get a 15-min video onto YouTube?
    I ask only because I thought YouTube had a 10-min length limit.

    • Hilah Cooking says:

      Thanks, Curtis! Karol was a huge hit apparently!
      YouTube extended the limit to 15 min a few months back I think. Not sure when, but it’s been a while.

  13. I made this last week and absolutely loved it!!! (And actually just ate a bowl for lunch) Unfortunately, I cut the f out of my finger right in the middle of chopping and sautΓ©ing the veggies and such…but I rallied and came out with a delicious vegan Chili! Might add some delicious red peppers next time and half the mushrooms (not a big fan of those)..but this is a fantastic recipe and I especially loved the heat from the spices!

    • Hilah Cooking says:

      Awesome, Josh! Thanks for writing! I hope your finger is healing up well and that you didn’t get too much blood in your chili. Red peppers are a great idea!

  14. Here’s a list (with ratings) of gluten-free beers: (click on “Available Beers” on the left)

    I’ll be making my first batch this afternoon with Anchor Porter!

    • Hilah Cooking says:

      Oh, that is awesome, Randy! Thanks so much for sharing! Very helpful. I hope your chili turns out as good as ours did.

      • You’re welcome! Okay, let’s do some math. Breakfast Taco Book. Hilah Cooking, now in second season. I’d say that this leaves me only 500 gajillion good deeds in debt to you.

        As for the chili: this now joins your migas recipe as the latest additions to my heavy recipe rotation list. It also makes my doubles list, as in: always make a double recipe.

        As for the addition of beer to Karol’s recipe: as a staunch believer in the principal that, when making a recipe for the first time and for which a video is available one should adhere not only closely to the recipe itself but to the methodology as well, I was presented with a major dilemma. I’ve only got 1 bottle of beer. Do I drink it while I’m making the chili or do I save it FOR the chili? Do I go with Karol’s original recipe or do I go with Hilah’s, yet to be proven, genius tweek? Okay, I know. I could have gone to the store for more beer, but where’s the drama in that? Besides, I was hungry. I asked myself: “what would Hilah do?” Not that I think I should try to put words into Hilah’s mouth, but I immediately replied: Bumbaclot!!! And so, the bottle of Anchor Porter went into the chili; the Bumbaclot went into me. Before I added the beer to the chili, I tasted. After I added the beer to the chili, I tasted. Maybe it’s unfair to do a taste comparison at that stage (not giving the spices much time to do their thing), but the addition of beer WAS a stroke of genius. I think it exploits not one, but two cooking principles. Booze of any sort brings a lot to most recipes because the alcohol acts as a flavor enhancer even if you can’t actually taste it (try adding a little vodka the next time you make a pasta sauce).
        And since the booze in this case happened to be a relatively sweet beer, the old balancing act of sweet vs. spicy happens. I don’t think a dry stout like Guinness would have worked nearly so well.

        Thank you Karol and Hilah for a great recipe!

        • Hilah Cooking says:

          Oh Randy, I think YOU had a serious stroke of genius with the beer and the Bumbaclot! And you are correct: that is EXACTLY what I would have done. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  15. Oh man, we made this recipe last night and it is DEEEE-Licious, with an emphasis on the “Lic.” I am about to eat leftovers right now. Seriously, way better than any boring old meat chili, and I didn’t even get the dreaded you-know-whats (classic bean-induced affliction).

    ps we used guinness because it was the darkest beer they had at Fiesta.

  16. ellyn geller says:

    First YOU bring (and make) the stuffing next Thanksgiving.

    You are funny (!!!!), sexy, creative and, I think, onto something. Can’t wait to watch the others AND to pass you on to my culinary buds.

    Look forward to meeting up w/you again!


  17. Really enjoyed the beer show! Cooking was an interesting twist πŸ™‚

    Seriously though, that chili looked pretty ace. I loathe onions though…could I substitute something else? Or maybe forget them entirely. Or overtranslucentize them?

    Heh cool to see one of my Internet heroes on your show, too. Karol is the one that inspired me to quit my job and live my life. I owe him a beer.

    I hear rumours of vegan cornbread on twitter too…

    • Hilah Cooking says:

      Hi Jack! This chili is really incredibly ace! If I were you, which I am not, I would just mince the onions to death and then cook them down into nothingness. Then re-name it “Death and Nothingness Chili”. RADICALLY SCARY! Also, beer is great. Amen. xo,h

      • OK we just made this and it is super easy and fast. We only had black beans and canned tomatoes, so it was only “Death and Single-minded RADICAL nothingness.”

        Of course, we didn’t add any beer either. We do not waste, oh no. Even though I’m in San Fran, I’m from Houston, so I also said ya’ll a lot whilst cooking it, which I think did improve the flavor significantly.

        Thanks for turning us on…to it…Karol.

    • Although I think your taste buds insane, you could try a few things to sub for onions (which I regrettably use when cooking for my boyfriend):
      — a different onion (shallot, green/chives, red or sweet -vidalias are the best, though only available for a few months)
      — leeks or daikon
      — asafoetida or onion powder
      — garlic

      • Great Stone Face says:

        @Jami K —
        Garlic, yes. The other stuff, no. Chili needs to be bold. Those other onion cousins are light on boldness. Sweet onions are great on salads, but you need an old-fashioned white or yellow onion for chili.

  18. Might have to try this! Karol send me a bowl πŸ™‚

  19. MaxstersMom says:

    Do you think adding some Mexican chocolate still qualifies this as vegan? I use to add it to my meat chili.

    Not to change your ways, but would you have any recipes that would be less fattier? I would like to try your veggie lasagna, but it looks a little fatty (and delicious). And I enjoy watching your posts! Thanks for helping me be a more confident cook and a kinder person for eating less meat.

    • Hilah Cooking says:

      Hi! I’m not sure about the chocolate – you’d have to read the label. If you’re talking about cocoa powder, I think that would be vegan.
      I’ll surely be doing some lighter things once Spring and Summer come ’round again. Any specific suggestions?
      Thanks for watching and commenting!

  20. I left out the mushrooms (because I didn’t have any), but it was delicious! So hot, made me sweat when eating! πŸ™‚

  21. Love this recipe. I’ve been making it for my vegetarian daughter for a while now and she loves it.
    Up’d the spices a bit but otherwise no other changes are needed.
    Thanks Hilah πŸ™‚

  22. The Other Randy says:

    UPDATE: I guess it’s just one of my idiosyncrisies that I hate being in a situation where I get a craving for something for which I have all but one of the ingredients either in my freezer or my pantry. I’m not going to go to the store just to buy that one thing I don’t have. That was a problem as far as this recipe goes, which I love and get regular cravings for. Early on, I’d started using canned, fire-roasted tomatoes rather than fresh. Later, once I’d fallen in love with red-pepper hummus and started always having them in my pantry, I started using bottled roasted red peppera rather than fresh green ones. I always have 3 or 4 types of beans in my freezer. That left the mushrooms. I virtually never have fresh mushrooms unless I’ve planned to make beef stroganoff. The obvious substitution is dried mushrooms, but I always found them too expensive. That is until I discovered dried, sliced shiitakes at Costco at $7 for a jar with enough to make 2 batches of this chili. Costco doesn’t always carry them, so I buy 3 jars at a time when they do. At first I would take an extra 20 minutes or so to reconstitute the shiitakes, but then realized that that was a waste of time and water: now I just toss them into the pot with the beans and tomatoes. I love how the shiitakes give a meatier (omnivore speaking) flavor to the dish and think that having them soak up the broth makes them even tastier than reconstituting them in water.

    • The Other Randy says:

      I have got to hire a proof-reader. That’s peppers not peppera.

    • Dried shiitakes are a great meaty-textured shroom! I’ve never seen them at our Costco, but I will look next time. I usually get them at the Asian market where they’re about a dollar for an ounce (compared to $4-5 an ounce in the regular grocery).
      Thanks for sharing your evolved version of this chili, Randy!

  23. is it just me or did this video on vegan chilli get deleted? was looking forward to it.

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