This healthy 30-minute chili recipe can be made with tofu or ground meat and any combination of canned beans you have in the pantry.
I believe that the best weeknight meals are more templates than they are recipes, allowing you take inventory of your kitchen, then swap ingredients in and out as necessary. And, thankfully, chili fits that ideal to a tee.
Below you'll find my favorite chili recipe, which offers vegan and meat options, is packed with flavor and nutritious veggies, and can be customized according to your (or your family's) heat preference.
But what makes this chili special, you ask?
My favorite part is the shredded sweet potato. Not only does it add a boost of fiber, vitamins, and minerals to this meal, but it also gives the chili some extra heft and will make you think there's shredded cheese in every bite. Seriously!
30-Minute Chili — Your Way
Whether you're following a plant-based diet or want to make it extra meat, I've got your back. Here are a few tips for making the recipe your own:
- Pick your protein. Keep it vegan with crumbled tofu, or use your favorite ground meat, such as beef, bison, turkey, chicken, or even pork.
- Turn up (or down) the heat. I love the subtle spiciness of poblano chile in this recipe, but feel free to add a jalapeño pepper with the other veggies to make it spicier. On the other hand, if you like your chili super-mild, swap out the poblano for a green bell pepper.
- Switch up the veggies. Onion and peppers are chili classics, but that doesn't mean they're the only vegetables that work in this recipe. If you like, add some chopped zucchini or summer squash and/or frozen sweet corn, and use shredded carrot instead of the sweet potato.
- Use whatever beans you find in the pantry. Any combination of canned beans works great in this recipe. For the batch I photographed, I used pinto and black beans, but kidney beans, chickpeas, any any type of white bean are all delicious choices, too.
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30-Minute Chili with Meat or Tofu
- Food processor
- Box grater (if your food processor doesn't have a grater blade)
- Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot
- Wooden spoon
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 large onion (red, yellow, or white)
- 2 large bell peppers (I like using one red and one green, but any colors will work)
- 1 large poblano chile (or another green bell pepper)
- 1 large sweet potato (or 2 small), peeled
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound ground meat (beef, turkey, or chicken) or 1 (14-ounce) block extra-firm tofu, crumbled
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 (15-ounce) cans kidney, pinto, or black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chiles
- 2 (15-ounce) cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes (or regular diced tomatoes if you can't find fire-roasted)
- Sour cream
- Shredded cheese
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Thinly sliced scallions
- Sliced avocado
- Hot sauce
To prep the vegetables in a food processor
- Smash the garlic cloves with the side of a large knife, then peel off their skins. Cut the onion in half, peel it, and chop it into large chunks. Core the green bell pepper, red bell pepper, and poblano and chop them into large chunks. Transfer the onion, garlic, and peppers to the food processor and pulse until they are finely chopped.
- Scrape the chopped vegetables into a bowl. Remove the food processor's chopping blade and insert the grating disc. Cut the sweet potato, if necessary, to fit inside your food processor's feed tube, then shred it. (You should have about 3 cups of shredded sweet potato.)
To prep the vegetables by hand
- Peel and mince or press the garlic. Finely chop the onion, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, and poblano. Shred the sweet potato using a box grater.
To make the chili
- Place a Dutch oven or other large pot over medium-high heat. Pour in the olive oil and let it heat up for about 1 minute, then add the ground meat or crumbled tofu, chopped veggies, and grated sweet potato. Cook, stirring frequently, until the meat is cooked through and the vegetables are soft, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Add the chili powder, oregano, cumin, salt, and black pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the beans and canned tomatoes. Bring to a bubble, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chili is bubbly and thickened.
- Serve the chili with your favorite toppings.