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The Ultimate Tempeh Chili

The Ultimate Tempeh Chili is loaded with protein, fiber, and flavor! My favorite tempeh chili recipe is made with a secret ingredient—vegan beer—for the BEST chili recipe! It includes stovetop and slow cooker methods.

top down view of a serving of vegan tempeh chili in a bowl with spoon.

I have wanted to make tempeh chili for a while now, and with temperatures steadily on the decline it’s the perfect time of year to add a new recipe to the vegan chili recipe collection.

Why We Love This Recipe!

Tempeh makes for a great addition to any chili giving it an extra hearty feel and enhancing the protein & fiber content. With almost 20 grams of protein per 100 grams (about 3.5 oz.) of tempeh, along with protein-rich beans, you’ve got yourself a great high-protein chili to keep you feeling full while meeting your daily protein requirements easily.

Since trying to incorporate an extra dose of protein into my diet lately, without having to use protein powders, this tempeh chili has been on my weekly rotation. Please do note that tempeh is a soy product, and although it is a ‘good’ soy product for you, unlike some, it is best in moderation – once or twice a week is fine.

Full of flavor, this really is the ULTIMATE tempeh chili and is an easy one-pot recipe that’s fairly simple. It’s easily customizable and can be made on the stovetop or in your slow cooker.

side by side photo of vegan beer in a bottle and glass

Add Beer To Chili For Depth and Flavor!

I did include a bottle of dark beer and loved the depth and flavor it added. This Negra Modelo is perfect for cooking with and it’s vegan friendly! This can be optional but well worth the added flavor and rounds out the chili beautifully, making it one of the best chili’s I’ve ever had!

You could also try a chocolate stout like Boatswain Chocolate Stout, which is also vegan-friendly. Whatever liquids you choose, just be sure it equals about 2 cups.

The alcohol, for the most part, will burn off while simmering, leaving the delicate characteristics behind. If you’re looking to minimize the alcohol content, take a look at the Alcohol Burn Off Rate Chart to find how long you should simmer your chili.

If you’ve never made chili with beer before I recommend trying it, at least once!

side by side photos showing the process of making tempeh chili.

How To Make Tempeh Chili

Making tempeh chili is super easy and requires a few simple steps using the stovetop or slow cooker. All you need to chop is the onion and garlic, and the rest is as easy as can be! See the recipe card below for full instructions.

  • Stovetop: Heat oil in a large Dutch oven and saute the onion for 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients (shown above), bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour (shown below). The chili will thicken upon standing.
  • Slow Cooker: Add the ingredients to the bowl of your slow cooker, ending with the liquids. Cook on LOW for 6 – 8 hours or HIGH  for 3 – 4 hours. The chili will thicken as it cools.

Serve with sliced green onions and a dollop of vegan sour cream. It pairs perfectly with Jalapeno Cornbread Muffins or Sweet Chia Cornbread!

top down view of dutch oven with freshly made tempeh chili.

How Long Will Leftovers Last?

Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for 5 – 6 days, in a covered container. Re-warm on the stovetop or the microwave. It makes a great meal prep for the week with vegan cornbread or jalapeno cornbread muffins on the side.

Can You Freeze Chili?

Yes, it freezes wonderfully for up to 2 – 3 months! My favorite way to freeze chili is in individual portion sizes using freezer-safe containers. Then, when I want to cozy up with a bowl of warm chili, I can just pull it from the freezer and warm it up. You can also freeze larger portions in large ziplock bags or containers.

More Recipes You’ll Love!

side angle view of a serving of vegan tempeh chili in a bowl with spoon.

If you try this tempeh chili recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment and rate it below. I love to hear what you think, or any changes you make.



5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 11 reviews

Tempeh chili is an easy one-pot meal that’s hearty, protein packed and one of my favorite chili recipes to date. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

  • Author: Julie | The Simple Veganista
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 45 min
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 generously 1x
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: simmer
  • Cuisine: Vegan


  • 1 (8 oz.) package tempeh, crumbled
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or 1/4 cup water, for sauteing
  • 1 can (15 oz.) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (28 oz.) diced fire-roasted tomatoes and juices or 3 cups fresh diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (14oz.) sweet corn, drained, optional
  • 1 can (4 oz.) diced mild green chilies or 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/21 teaspoon garlic powder, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder, optional
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 bottle (8oz.) dark beer (Negra Modelo 1 bottle = 1 1/2 cups) plus 1/2 cup additional water or 2 cups water

Optional garnish:


Stovetop: In a large dutch oven or stock pot, heat your oil/water over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, spices and tempeh and cook for 5 minutes stirring frequently. Add beans, tomatoes, green chili and dark beer/water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, partially cover and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Chili will thicken upon cooling.

Slow Cooker: Add the ingredients to the bowl of your slow cooker, ending with the liquids. Cook on LOW for 6 – 8 hours or HIGH  for 3 – 4 hours. Chili will thicken as it cools.

Serve with optional garnish. Also, pairs perfectly with Jalapeno Cornbread Muffins or Sweet Chia Cornbread

Serves 4 – 6

Store: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for 5 – 6 days in an airtight container. To store longer, store them in the freezer in freezer-safe containers for 2 – 3 months.


Mix the beans up however you like using all of one type or your favorite combination. If you would rather use only 2 cans of beans, that’s great too! I like adding more ingredients as it makes the chili go further. If using your own cooked beans you’ll need about 4 1/2 cups.

Feel free to use 2 packages of tempeh instead of just 1. At times, I like the extra dose of protein the tempeh adds and will double the amount, making for an extra hearty chili. It’s just so good!

For those who do not care for the taste of tempeh, I recommend making this a day ahead so the flavors really meld into the tempeh, masking most of its natural flavor. You can also try using the three-grain tempeh, as its flavor is not as strong.

If you find that you added too much heat from the chipotle, try adding a teaspoon or so of cocoa/cacao powder or organic sugar.

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  1. The flavor and texture of the tempeh is fantastic! I couldn’t find Modelo dark but found a tall can of Modelo Chelada. It’s like a fizzy Bloody Mary in a can with strong tomato and lime flavors (which is why I chose it) So delicious! The chili and a new beer for me. 😂

  2. martha coleman says:

    Question. The sodium count was very high.. Was that for 1 serving or the whole batch? I might have to stay away from this if it is really that high because of high blood pressure.

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      Great question, Martha! I double-checked the ingredients, and it is 10% sodium per serving. I recalculated using low sodium and no salt ingredients. I hope that helps!

  3. Madeline Armstrong says:

    Delicious! I made this tonight — I used veggie stock in place of the beer, and left out the chipotle powder and garlic powder. It was honestly some of the best chili I’ve ever eaten! My very non-vegan boyfriend also said it was one of his favorite chilis ever. Thank you for this great recipe!

  4. Delicious! I left out the beer and used water, also left out the chipotle powder but took the tip from above and added a teaspoon of cacao powder. I also added corn. Topped with vegan cheese, chopped sweet onions, guacamole, and some crumbled tortilla chips. It was a hit!

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      I LOVE corn! That and the cacao powder along with everything else was so good I can imagine! Great sub ins!

  5. Made this following the directions to the letter — well, I did sub one can of beans for an extra 8oz tempeh and doubled the chipotle powder (love me some chipotle). It has got to be the best chili I’ve ever had, INCLUDING all the meat-based chili my chili fanatic dad ever made growing up (and that’s saying something)!! I’m making it again tonight and adding a can of fire roasted corn kernels as an experiment.

    My two cents: the longer you cook it on low, the more mellow and complex the flavor gets, so don’t be afraid to go over the 1 hour mark while simmering. And don’t dare skip on the scallions — they are the perfect finishing touch and really make this chili unique.

    Thanks for the awesome recipe!! :D

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      I’m so happy you loved this recipe! I love your idea of more tempeh, chipotle and letting it simmer a little longer if you can! I also love the idea of adding corn, that little bit of sweetness will be so good with the chipotle and other spice flavors…oh my, I must try it soon. It’s just too hot for chili right now here in So Cal. lol

      Thank you so much for sharing. Cheers :)

  6. Tonight will be the 3rd time making this! Hubby is a true carnivore, and HE LOVES IT! Great recipe!

  7. I’m making this today with a few minor variations… but I’m looking forward to chili on this overcast Colorado day. Had Negra Modelo in the fridge – so this was perfect for me. It is simmering and smells wonderful. I do like beer in chili. :)

  8. Great Recipe! I have previously made Tempeh Chili from 2 different recipes for the past 20+ years now. I wanted to try a different take on it – This was yummy! Made it with a super dark beer leftover from Halloween + used a fresh poblano pepper & increased the chili powder (Texans are used to lots of chili, paprika & cumin/coriander taste.)

  9. I absolutely love this recipe! So yummy! I have been instructed to up my protein intake – this is a delicious way to do it! I added corn to the chili, and topped it with diced avocado and coconut bacon (I put avocado and coconut bacon on everything).

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      So glad you loved it! I love your additions too. Thanks for the inspiration!

  10. Made this tonight for the family. We loved it! I added corn. Thanks!

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      Thanks for sharing Kerry! Cheers :)

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