Tempeh Chili Recipe

What, exactly, is tempeh? You may be aware that it is a type of plant-based meat substitute that predates both Impossible and Beyond "meats," but do you know what differentiates it from other mock-meats such as tofu or seitan? While tofu is made from soy bean curd and seitan is an equally neutral product made from wheat gluten, the chief feature of tempeh is that it is made via the process of fermentation and has a flavor that could best be described as earthy. While tempeh is often made from soybeans, it can be produced from other substances including barley and other cereal grains.

Recipe developer Miriam Hahn, a wellness coach, calls tempeh "a great source of plant-based protein" and notes that it is also high in calcium and gut-friendly resistant starch. She adds that tempeh "is less processed than tofu and is really adaptable in recipes!" It makes an excellent meat substitute for chili since she says it has a similar texture to ground beef and is also very hearty, and its flavor blends nicely with all of the other ingredients in this chili.

Gather the ingredients for this tempeh chili

Speaking of chili ingredients, better check the cupboards to see what you've got on hand and start a shopping list for all the items you may need to go out and buy. Luckily, as Hahn tells us, tempeh is getting very popular now, so she says you can get it at just about any grocery store. In addition to the tempeh, you'll need oil for cooking (your choice), an onion, a red pepper, a poblano pepper, and some vegetable broth or stock. You'll also need a few canned veggies: black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, and fire-roasted tomatoes. For spices, you'll be using chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder or granules.

As you can see, this chili's got a lot going on, nutrition-wise! The peppers are packed with vitamins and fiber, and all three kinds of beans, Hahn says, are "loaded with fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals." She goes on to point out that beans are a staple in all five of the world's "blue zones." Don't know what a blue zone is? Neither did we, but Hahn explained: "The blue zones are the five areas in the world with the largest number of centenarians."

Prep the veggies for the tempeh chili

With so many veggies going into this super-healthy chili, there is going to be a bit of prep work involved. You'll need to peel and dice the onion, then stem and chop the peppers. You'll also need to rinse and drain all three kinds of beans.

When you're draining the beans, don't toss out the water! Hahn tells us she routinely saves the liquid from garbanzo beans, but it is also possible to use the liquid from any other type of canned bean for baking purposes. If you are worried about the color, you can just save the darker liquids (like the ones from the black beans) for baking chocolate treats such as brownies.

The chili itself comes together pretty quickly

Measure the oil into a large pot, then heat it up over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and both types of peppers to the pot. Sauté the veggies for eight minutes, stirring frequently. Crumble the tempeh, then add it to the sautéed veggies with the broth, beans, tomatoes, and spices. Season the chili with a teaspoon of salt, although you can add more or less to taste. Stir the chili, then let it simmer for 30 minutes to allow all of the flavors to come together.

Serve the chili with your favorite toppings

You can serve this chili topped with whatever toppings you prefer. While you can always add cheese and/or sour cream, Hahn herself prefers to keep this chili vegan by using sliced avocado, red onions, chopped tomatoes, and cilantro.

As Hahn tells us, "This chili is a meal all in itself." She says she always just has a bowl of it with veggie toppings, but her husband prefers his wrapped in a tortilla. Since this chili is a one-pot meal, that means there's no need to worry about side dishes. But that's not even the best part. According to Hahn, "You can eat as much as you want of this chili because it is brimming with health. The more, the better!"

Tempeh Chili Recipe
5 from 30 ratings
Tempeh makes an excellent meat substitute for chili since it has a similar texture to ground beef and is also very hearty.
Prep Time
Cook Time
spoonful of tempeh chili
Total time: 48 minutes
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, chopped
  • 1 (8-ounce) package tempeh
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (28-ounce) can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder or granules
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Optional Ingredients
  • Avocado
  • Cilantro
  • Red onion
  • Fresh tomatoes
  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high.
  2. Add the onions, red pepper, and poblano pepper to the oil and saute for 8 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Crumble the tempeh, then add it to the sauteed veggies along with the broth, beans, tomatoes, and spices.
  4. Stir the chili, then simmer it for 30 minutes.
  5. Serve and enjoy.
Calories per Serving 342
Total Fat 8.3 g
Saturated Fat 1.4 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 49.1 g
Dietary Fiber 15.5 g
Total Sugars 7.4 g
Sodium 1,042.0 mg
Protein 21.8 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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