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Tofu Chili: A Spicy, Fiery, Meat-free, Vegan Recipe

Tofu chili is a fantastic and easy vegan chili recipe that's bursting with flavour, fire, and spice. Our totally meat-free dish is a new take on the classic chili con carne, but it's entirely plant-based!

You'll need plenty of chili powder, a lot of spices, and our secret meatless chili ingredient: extra-firm tofu. Fire up the skillet, get your press for tofu ready, and start chopping up those chilis and peppers. Spicy tofu recipes are a great winter warmer, so keep reading to find out how to prepare this vegan delicacy!

Here's our fiery, spicy, tofu chili recipe!

How to make tofu chili

Makes 6 servings


  • 14 ounce package of extra-firm tofu*
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 large diced onion
  • 1 large diced red bell pepper
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp of chili powder
  • 2 tsp of cumin powder
  • 1 tsp of paprika powder
  • ½ tsp of ancho chile powder
  • Cayenne pepper powder to taste
  • 2 cans of tomatoes 
  • 1 can of drained black beans
  • 1 can of drained kidney beans
  • 2 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1 cup of vegan ale
  • 1 cup of corn
  • Salt and pepper to taste

*For the best results, we suggest freezing, then thawing your extra firm tofu before you start preparing our vegan chili recipe. You'll also need to press the tofu once it's thawed to drain the excess liquid that will be present.  


    1. Leave your tofu in the freezer until frozen (overnight), then allow it to thaw naturally on the side. When it's soft, place your tofu into a tofu press and leave the excess liquid to drain thoroughly before preparing your homemade vegetarian chili. 
    2. Pour oil into a large skillet or large pot on the stovetop and turn the heat to medium. 
    3. Dice your onions and peppers, then saute them in the heated oil until they start to soften.  
    4. Mince your garlic cloves and mix them with the onions and pepper. Take your block of tofu and crumble it into the skillet. 
    5. Pour in your chili powder, cumin powder, paprika powder, and ancho chile powder. Mix all your ingredients together.    
    6. Give your vegetarian chili with tofu a taste, then add in cayenne pepper powder as per your tastes. If you like your spiced tofu extra hot, then keep adding cayenne pepper!
    7. Cook all the spices and ingredients in the skillet for another 5 minutes before turning down the heat. 
    8. Next, add your cans of tomatoes, black beans, and kidney beans to the mix. Pour in your vegan ale and add some tomato paste to thicken the chili tofu. Keep stirring, then allow your vegan chili with tofu to simmer for at least 30 minutes. You can keep it simmering for longer to thicken the sauce up. Alternatively, if it's too thick, just add a splash of water to the skillet while it's simmering.
    9. Towards the end of the simmering process, add your corn to the dish and stir through. Take another taste, and add more cayenne pepper powder and salt and pepper as you like. Allow to simmer for another 2 minutes, then turn off the heat.
    10. Allow to rest, then serve your freshly cooked vegan tofu chili to your hungry family and friends!

Tofu chili preparation tips

How to crumble tofu?

For tofu to work well as a meat-free alternative to the ground beef that's used for chili con carne, you need to ensure that you crumble the tofu into the dish.

The best way to do this is by using your hands. Simply break off chunks and stir them straight into the other ingredients. Keep stirring to break up the tofu, and you'll soon have crumbled tofu that has a consistency that's similar to ground beef.

Another important step to take is freezing, then thawing your tofu before you even begin cooking with it. This gives the tofu a much chewier texture while also making it easier to crumble. 

How spicy is tofu chili?

Tofu chili can be prepared as spicy as you like. We like our recipe to have quite a kick to it, especially when we're making it as a winter warmer. The extra spice also helps to give the tofu more flavour, making this a great meat-substitute. 

Of course, if you don't like spice, then you can leave out the cayenne chili powder, as this is where most of the spice comes from. Keep taste testing as you add the chili powders, and make sure you don't overdo it if you're not keen on a fiery chili.

Alternatively, if you love your chili to be super spicy, then add more cayenne pepper powder to the dish. You can even add in freshly chopped habaneros or fresh cayenne peppers if you want to up the spice levels of our vegetarian chili recipe!

What toppings can I serve with tofu chili? 

You can serve your tofu chili with a delicious array of toppings and side dishes to complement the meal. You can easily cook up a bowl of rice to accompany the tofu chili, or you can prepare a green and leafy side salad if you're looking for a fresh, light, summer taste. 

We also like adding sliced avocado, chopped scallions, and of course, some vegan cheese. Sauces won't go amiss either, and we'd recommend vegan sour cream, cashew cream, or some vegan yogurt to take away the spicy edge of the tofu chili. 

You can also use the tofu chili as a great filling for other Tex-Mex style dishes. Tofu chili goes great with tortillas, and you could wrap it up with vegan cheese, rice, and vegan sour cream for a delicious, spicy burrito, fajita, or taco. 

You could even use your spicy tofu chili to make nachos. Place a layer of tortilla chips in a baking dish, add your tofu chili, then top with vegan cheese. Bake in the oven until you have crispy, golden brown vegan nachos.

What can I do with the leftovers?

If you've got any leftovers, then you can safely keep them stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days before you need to eat it or throw it away. We suggest transferring the leftovers to a resealable container or a Ziploc bag.

When you're ready to reheat the leftovers, you're best slowly heating through the tofu chili on the stovetop. Keep the heat low to medium and keep stirring. Add some fresh chili or some extra chili powder if you want to keep it spicy.

You can serve your leftovers with freshly cooked rice, or you can add the chili to tortillas to prepare some spicy tofu tacos or tofu chili burritos. Another great option for leftovers is tofu chili nachos!

Can I freeze leftover tofu chili?

You can also freeze your leftover tofu chili if you're not sure when you're going to want to eat the remainder of the dish. Tofu chili will freeze well and should keep for up to 6 months if stored correctly.

Make sure to keep your tofu chili in a resealable container or a Ziploc bag. We suggest dividing any leftovers up into individual portions and freezing each portion separately. This makes it easier when you're ready to defrost the chili.

Try to thaw the tofu chili on the side, but if you're in a rush, you can defrost it in the microwave on low power. For the best results, reheat the tofu chili on the stovetop once it's been allowed to thaw. 

How spicy do you like your tofu chili?

How spicy do you like your tofu chili? This great recipe is totally meat-free, and it can be made as spicy as you like. Add your favourite toppings, wrap up the leftovers in tortillas, or smother your vegan chili all over those nachos.

Why not bookmark our tofu chili recipe for the next time you're craving a little spice in your life?