Not to brag or anything, but my dad’s chili is pretty famous in Franklin, TN. It has won countless awards at the First United Methodist Church’s annual chili cook-off (an accomplishment that requires no further embellishing), and I recently took first place at my company’s chili cook-off with his recipe. Every time he cooks it, he makes a massive batch to share with family and friends. Everyone looks forward to chili season and seeing my daddy at their door.
I guess you can say I’m the daughter of a celebrity.
My mom isn’t vegan, and she loves Dad’s chili more than anyone. But my best friend Haley (who is vegan) dropped by one blustery fall day, and this is what my mom whipped up for lunch. She was so thrilled that both of us girls were in town, she went all-out on a vegan spread. Hummus and pita chips, vegan chili, kale salad, and Oreos for dessert! (Did you know Oreos were vegan?)
I’ve been making the stuff ever since.
It starts with some sautéed onion, jalapeño and garlic.
Then just dump that into a crock pot, along with a whole mess of delicious ingredients – including lots and lots of black beans. (Sorry, chili purists. This one ain’t for y’all.)
Then cook it on low for 8 to 10 hours – really as long as you need.
I like to serve mine with plenty of (non-vegan) fixins – sour cream, shredded cheese, raw onions, avocados (of course), and a little hot sauce. Because why not?
And yes, I know. V8 is one of those “convenience items” that I typically stay away from. But trust me, we can make an exception here. It’s the secret ingredient that makes this vegan crock pot chili mysteriously delicious.
Here’s the handy printable!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 large onions
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 jalapeño pepper
- 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cans yellow corn, drained
- 2 tablespoon chili powder (or more if you like it spicy)
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon celery seed (optional)
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chiles, undrained
- 1 (28 oz.) can chopped tomatoes, undrained
- 1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
- 3 ½ cups V8 Spicy Hot
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- Juice of 1 lime
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. (You could also just use cooking spray — it works fine.)
- Chop onions. Add to skillet.
- Mince garlic. Add to skillet.
- Remove the seeds and membranes from the jalapeño, then roughly chop. Add to skillet and give everything a stir.
- While that cooks, dump the rest of the ingredients into the crock pot (except for liquid smoke and lime juice).
- By now, your onion mixture should be done. Add it to the crock pot.
- Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.
- Before serving, add liquid smoke and juice of 1 lime.
- Serve with your favorite fixins!
- There is apparently a conspiracy theory about V8 not being vegan. Something about the “natural flavors” containing animal parts. As a non-vegan (and a cynic), I disregard such concerns (and so does Haley). But if you want to use regular old tomato juice instead, be my guest. I can’t guarantee how it will turn out – I really think the V8 gives this chili something special – but if you try it, please let me know!
- This chili freezes great, so I never feel bad about making a gigantic batch. I like to freeze them in individual freezer bags, laid flat in the freezer so they stack neatly.
- To make my dad’s meat version, just make a few tweaks: leave out the corn, use 1/4 amount of black beans, and add 1 pound each ground beef and hot breakfast sausage to the onion mixture during step 2. Super simple.