Recipe: Pinto Bean & Vegan “Sausage” Chili!

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I seem to post a lot of chili recipes here on QV, but what can I say? I love chili! It’s versatile, it’s spicy, it’s warming and it’s usually the easiest thing to throw together when I have no idea what to make for dinner. Plus it’s a great dish to bring to potlucks to ensure you have a tasty vegan option among the other dubious selections.

Just about every vegan cookbook out there has at least one chili recipe–usually more than one. A particular favorite of mine is a white bean and vegan “sausage” concoction from Vegan Planetthat includes orange juice and zest in the liquid. The resulting citrus undertones make it a very unique chili that I enjoy when I’m looking for something outside the usual scope of heavily Mexican flavors, and it was the inspiration for this Pinto Bean & Vegan “Sausage” Chili recipe.

pinto bean sausage chili pan
I can’t say it’s as innovative as the Vegan Planet chili, but it does have a few special touches to it. In addition to the spiciness you’d expect (in this case, from a combination of chili powder and fresh jalapeno), it has just a little bit of tang thanks to the addition of apple cider vinegar near the end of cooking time. A touch of natural sweetener serves to balance that out, and I kept the thyme from the original recipe because..well, I like thyme! It lend a nice herbal, earthy note to just about anything. I especially like putting it in tofu or chickpea scramble.

pinto bean sausage chili closeup
Texture is another biggie for me with chili–in fact, with any kind of food. If something has a texture I don’t like, I can’t eat it, even if the flavor is otherwise good. Oddly, that was what first started to turn me off to meat. To me, the texture started to seem very cloth-like, and I couldn’t stand how it felt to chew. I’m also not a huge fan of slippery foods or anything pasty. The latter is what made it take so long for me to make peace with lima beans–I remember eating them when I was younger, unadorned as a side dish, and yuck were they awful!

Fortunately, this chili has both a good flavor and a mix of pleasing textures! I used my favorite homemade vegan sausage, which is nicely chewy, and the beans contribute a soft, smooth feel that goes well with the tenderness of the veggies. Serving it over rice adds the hearty bite of whole grains. Add a sprinkling of nutritional yeast for that “cheesy” taste and you’re all set!

Don’t be intimidated by the long cook time. Most of it is inactive, so you can use it to make a side dish like corn muffins and throw together a nice salad to round everything out.

Recipe: Pinto Bean & Vegan "Sausage" Chili!
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 4-6
  • 1½ cups chopped onion
  • ¾ cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded & minced
  • 3Tbsp chili powder
  • 1tsp dried thyme
  • 1Tbsp Sucanat or agave
  • 1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups pinto beans (or 2 15.5oz cans, drained & rinsed)
  • 2 vegan sausages (preferably homemade), chopped
  • 1½ cups water, divided
  • 1Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • hot cooked rice, for serving
  • nutritional yeast, for serving (optional)
  1. Place the onion, green pepper and jalapeno in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes, adding small splashes of water to the pan to keep things from sticking if necessary.
  2. Add the chili powder, thyme, Sucanat or agave, both kinds of tomatoes, beans, sausage and 1 cup of the water. Stir well to combine. Cover and bring to a simmer, then remove the cover, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in the remaining ½ cup water, the cider vinegar and black pepper. Simmer 5-10 minutes more, until desired thickness is reached. Serve over rice and sprinkle with nutritional yeast, if desired.
  4. stir in ½ cup water + 1Tbsp cider vinegar, also pepper, simmer 5-10 mins more
  5. serve w/ rice & nootch!
pinto bean sausage chili meal

Don’t forget the side salad!

Do you avoid any foods because of their textures? Which ones?


About the Author:

Sam has been eating a plant-based diet since summer of 2009 and has spent the subsequent years experimenting with all manner of plant-based food. She holds a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and is a graduate of the Bauman College Nutrition Consultant Program. She is a former member of Toastmasters International and was awarded a Competent Communicator designation for public speaking. When she's not blogging or cooking, Sam likes to read and study the Bible, play silly card games and knit socks.
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