Meatless meat chili? YES! It’s a thing, and a delicious one! Hearty cauliflower walnut crumbles stand in for meat in this vegan spin on chili con carne. You’ll be amazed!
Before someone jumps in and gives me a language lesson: I know! “Carne” means meat, and therefore naming calling a recipe for chili con carne meatless is ridiculous.
But if I had a problem with ridiculousness I’d never get anything done.
Here’s the thing: this chili isn’t really meatless. Oh it’s totally vegan, but it has cauliflower walnut meat. So in one sense it’s kind of meatless, but also not.
I got the idea for this from my cauliflower walnut meat sauce. (Another meatless meat recipe.) I loved that one, and it got so many great reviews that I decided I needed to do something else with the whole cauliflower walnut meat concept. And this chili was born.
First you’ll chop up the cauliflower and walnuts in the food processor until they’re crumbly. Add some spices and bake. This is your vegan meat.
Cook the chili while the cauliflower walnut mixture bakes. Once the mixture is done add it to the chili and simmer a few minutes more, just to soften up the crumbles a bit and get the flavors to mingle.
I served mine with some scallions and a drizzle of tahini “cheese” (<– tahini + hot sauce + soy sauce + water).
Tips for Making Amazing Meatless Chili Con Carne
- Be sure to season the chili to your liking. I went heavy on the spices, but light on the heat. For extra heat, add some extra cayenne pepper or hot sauce.
- Make this recipe gluten-free by using gluten-free tamari in place of soy sauce.
- This chili can be frozen for up to three months in a sealed container.
Meatless Chili Con Carne
Meatless meat chili? YES! It's a thing, and a delicious one! Hearty cauliflower walnut crumbles stand in for meat in this vegan spin on chili con carne. You'll be amazed!
- 3 cups cauliflower florets (about 1 small crown)
- 1 cup shelled walnuts
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke (or to taste)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 (14 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
- 1 (14 ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup medium dark beer (like lager) or vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 375° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the cauliflower, walnuts, soy sauce, vinegar, onion powder, garlic powder, and liquid smoke into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
Arrange the cauliflower walnut mixture in an even layer on the baking sheet.
Bake the mixture for about 30 minutes, flipping halfway through, until browned around the edges.
While the cauliflower walnut mixture bakes, coat the bottom of a large pot with olive oil and place it over medium heat.
Add the onion and bell pepper. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until the peppers begin to soften and the onion is translucent.
Add the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute more, until very fragrant.
Stir in the tomatoes, beans, beer or broth, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, and cayenne pepper.
Raise the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat and allow it to simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
When the cauliflower walnut mixture has finished baking, stir it into the chili. Allow the chili to simmer about 10 minutes more, until it's nice and thick. You can thin it with some water if it becomes too thick.
Remove the chili from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust any additional seasonings to your liking.
Divide into bowls and serve.