Protein-Packed Chili with Cornbread

Vegan & Gluten-Free

Two bowls of vegan chili and cornbread seen from above

Also known as the “World’s Simplest Pantry-Clean-Out Chili,” this delicious recipe is perfect for camping, travel, or an anytime emergency meal.

This recipe is a favorite and regular meal in our house. It is hearty, delicious, and takes almost no fresh ingredients (for better or worse). That means that your pantry can be stocked, ready for the perfect chili and cornbread any day!

It is also very versatile and you can skip, adjust, or modify ingredients as desired. Different types of beans can be swapped out, but I like to keep the base with at least one can of black beans and one can of pinto beans. The textured vegetable protein (TVP) can be skipped altogether, though I love the chewy texture that it adds.

Cornbread

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp ground flaxseeds
  • 5 Tbsp water
  • ½ cup neutral oil
  • 1½ cup unsweetened plant-based milk
  • 1 package Gluten-Free Cornbread Mix (see below “Ingredients 101: Gluten-Free Cornbread Mix”)
  • Vegan butter (optional, for serving)

Directions

  1. To make cornbread, follow the instructions given on the package—they may vary slightly from the steps provided here.
  2. Preheat your oven to 375°F. Prepare a bread pan by lining it with parchment paper or use a silicone bread pan instead.
  3. Using a large mixing bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds with 5 tablespoons of water. This replaces 2 eggs. Mix with a fork and allow to sit for 5 minutes
  4. Next, add the oil, milk, and cornbread mix. Combine all ingredients using a whisk or a fork, until the mixture is consistent.
  5. Pour mixture into the bread pan and place in the oven for 25-30 minutes, baking the bread until it is golden brown.
  6. Once cooked, place the cornbread aside, allowing it to cool for at least 20 minutes prior to slicing.

Chili

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup textured vegetable protein (TVP)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 can (7 oz) chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (divided)
  • 1 Tbsp neutral oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes (I prefer fire-roasted)
  • 1 can (4 oz) mild green chilies
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • For Serving (optional):

  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Green onion, chopped
  • Lime, cut into wedges
  • Avocado, sliced

Directions

  1. Prepare the TVP in a medium-sized mixing bowl by combining the dry TVP with boiling water. Add about 1 teaspoon of the adobo sauce from the chipotle peppers can. This will add a lot of spice, adjust up or down based on your preference. Allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes as it thickens.
  2. Heat a large pot over medium heat with a tablespoon of oil. Add the chopped onion and mix frequently to sauté until it is translucent, about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add the beans, tomatoes, and green chilis to the pot. Stir well to combine and continue to cook on medium heat with a lid on, for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the TVP mixture, chili powder, paprika, and salt to the pot. For additional spice, add a few chipotle peppers with some sauce (you can do this at the end to make sure that the chili doesn’t turn out too spicy). Stir well and allow to cook on low-medium heat for 20-30 minutes with the lid on, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust spice levels as needed.

Serving and Storage:

  • Serve the chili with optional garnishes and a slice of cornbread with vegan butter. Enjoy this hearty, warm meal!
  • Both the chili and cornbread can be stored in the refrigerator (separately) for up to 7 days in airtight containers.


Ingredients 101: Gluten-Free Cornbread Mix

Cornbread can be a relatively straightforward recipe to make if you have cornmeal and some other basic baking ingredients on hand. But for the sake of simplicity, I prefer to use a pre-packed mix. I have tried several different types including the Trader Joe’s, Bob’s Red Mill, and Pamela’s brands. All have gluten-free options and all are vegan (although they call for an egg in preparation, a replacement can be used).

After trying out all three, my top choice is Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Cornbread Mix. The reasons? It’s lower in added sugar than the Trader Joe’s brand and more widely available (where I live) than the Pamela’s brand. It’s also delicious, sturdy enough to handle, and easily dessert-ified. Easy choice!

Kitchen 101: Can Opener

It’s perhaps one of the least glamorous kitchen accessories. Truly, any can opener will do. But given the 6 cans that you’ll be opening for this recipe, I thought we’d take a closer look.

My family uses a basic, keychain-sized one when we’re camping—courtesy of my husband’s minimalist habits. But at home, I prefer a can opener that is easy to use and doesn’t leave sharp edges, which is very important when cooking with a toddler or a dog who likes to “clean” your recycling.

Years ago, I had picked up the Kuhn Rikon can opener at a discount store (like T.J.Maxx or Tuesday Morning) and have been delighted with my choice ever since. I highly recommend it, in case you’re looking for a new can opener.