Psssst...want to know a little secret? Tofu chili is the best vegan chili you will ever eat! Hearty, crumbly, and packed with protein, tofu is the game changing addition to meatless chili that you've been missing.
Guys, I've been holding out on you.
I can't believe it took me five years of blogging to share this secret: tofu is amazing in chili.
I can almost hear all the tofu haters out there scoffing. But you know what? One day, waaaaaaay back, I was a tofu hater myself. And tofu chili is definitely one of the top (at least in the top three) dishes that made me love it.
Let me explain.
You know how people say tofu takes on the flavor of what it's cooked with? Well, that's only sort of true. It depends on how you prepare the tofu. So, for example, if you dice up a bunch of tofu and pan fry it (say, using this method) and then drench it in sauce, it's just going to taste like tofu covered in sauce.
But if you crumble up your tofu and cook it in flavorful sauce, then your tofu sucks up the flavor, and it actually does end up tasting like what you cooked it with.
Chili is the perfect example of a dish where this method works. And bonus: the crumbly texture of tofu is perfect for taking the place of meat in chili.
Tip: to give your crumbled tofu an extra hearty, chewy texture that's perfect for chili, freeze it first! I talked a little bit in this taco recipe about how freezing tofu is a game changer in terms of texture. All you have to do is stick the tofu in the freezer (in the original packaging, or sealed up in a freezer bag), let it freeze solid, and then thaw it completely. Need more guidance? Read: How to Freeze Tofu.
If you forget to freeze your tofu the chili will still be awesome, so no worries there. But try to remember to freeze it if you can, because it's better that way!
How to Make Amazing Tofu Chili
So let's talk about how this chili comes together. First you'll sauté some onions and peppers, then the tofu gets crumbled up and added, along with some spices. This gives the tofu a chance to brown, and the spices get a little toasted, which enhances the flavor.
From there you add the tomatoes, beans and (my second favorite chili ingredient) some beer. Let it simmer for at least 30 minutes, but longer if you like the flavors to really mingle. I added a bit of corn at the end for extra texture and a touch of sweetness.
And that's it! Super easy right? Dish it out and top with avocado, cashew cream, scallions, cilantro, or whatever you like.
A Few More Pointers...
- This stuff is freezer friendly! Make a double batch and freeze half for later.
- If you're not into beer, just swap it out with an equal amount of vegetable broth.
- If you do use beer, check with barnivore to make sure the variety you choose is vegan.
- Adjust the spice level to your liking. I keep mine mild because my husband isn't into super spicy food, but feel free to up the heat with as much cayenne pepper and hot sauce as you like.
Spicy Tofu Chili
Hearty, crumbly, and packed with protein, tofu is the game changing addition to meatless chili that you've been missing.
- 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (14 ounce) package extra firm tofu, preferably frozen and thawed
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon ancho chile powder
- Cayenne pepper to taste, (optional)
- 2 (14 ounce) cans fire roasted tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 (14 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (14 ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup vegan ale
- 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Vegan sour cream, cashew cream, or yogurt
- Hot sauce
- Chopped scallions
- Avocado slices
Coat the bottom of a large pot with oil and place it over medium heat.
When the oil is hot, add the onion and pepper. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent.
Add the garlic and crumble the tofu into the pot. Add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, ancho chile powder, and cayenne. Continue to sauté everything until the tofu begins to dry up a bit, about 5 minutes more.
Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, black beans, kidney beans and ale. Raise the heat and bring the mixture to a simmer.
Lower the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for at least 30 minutes, and up to 90 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a bit of water if it becomes too thick during cooking.
Stir in the corn and allow to continue simmering for about 2 minutes, until heated throughout.
Remove the pot from heat and taste test. Season with salt and pepper to taste
Ladle into bowls and top with toppings of choice. Serve.