Chipotle and Black Bean Tempeh Chili


Making chili should be an easy, homemade treat, but chili competitions and throwdowns can make it feel like it should be Instagram-ble or complex. Typically meat is central to chili, yet this tempeh chili is a contest contender for a comforting, satisfying homecooked meal.

Even though it’s meatless, you end up with a dish that pays homage to chili flavors and textures but uses the plant-rich tempeh to boost fiber and nutrients.

Ultimately chili is about the flavor and texture. Make a sassy spice mix and create an appetizing chew or density and tempeh can sub in for a meat protein.


Spice Mix:
4 teaspoons chili powder (if mild, add more)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
Tip: Make a double batch and store half for second chili batch or rub on other ingredients.

Chili Ingredients
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound (2-8 ounce packets) soy or grain tempeh, crumbled by hand
1 medium yellow onion, diced (about 2 ½ cups)
3 medium-sized cloves of garlic, minced
Spice mix—about 3 tablespoons
1 tablespoon low-sodium tamari or soy sauce (of use ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt)
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce–canned (about 2 tablespoons minced) (substitute—see notes)
3 cups water or vegetable stock
2 (15 ounce) cans petite diced tomatoes, undrained (or use diced tomatoes)
2 cans (15 ounce) black beans, liquid poured off or drained (see notes)
Juice of 1 lime (about 1 Tablespoon) (a second-best option is red or cider vinegar)
Optional Toppings: 1 avocado, diced, ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, dab of Greek yogurt
Chipotle options: Substitute with chili flakes and smoked paprika


  1. Heat oil in a large pot (4-quart) over medium-high heat. Add crumbled tempeh to hot oil—do not stir. Stirring encourages steaming and reduces surface contact that browns the tempeh faster. Once it starts to brown, stir periodically while it browns in parts (about 5 minutes more). Reduce heat if it begins to stick or burn.
    2. With a spoon, push tempeh to the sides of the pan leaving the center of the pan exposed. Reduce the heat to low. To the center of the pan, add the onion, garlic, spices, tamari and chipotle. Stir the onion mix leaving the tempeh against the sides of the pan. Cook 5 minutes or until onions soften.
    3. Add the water and tomatoes. Bring to a rapid simmer, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
    4. Add the black beans, stir and prepare the topping garnishes.
    5. Stir in the lime juice, taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Remove from the heat. Garnish each bowl with avocado and cilantro.


  • Wear gloves when handling chilies–the oils are difficult to wash off your fingers. Canned chipotle peppers (smoked jalapeños) in adobo sauce add heat and a smoky flavor and are available in supermarkets. Refrigerate extra in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks or 6 months in the freezer

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    About Me

    The pleasure of food, good health and well-being through simple habits for eating well and flexitarian low-key cooking.
    Michele Redmond

    Michele Redmond

    French-trained Chef, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Food Enjoyment Activist

    It's about Making Food First

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