This Instant Pot Chili is made with dried beans, delicious veggies, and healthy spices. This easy vegan recipe makes a big batch and requires absolutely no soaking! It’s an inexpensive, wholesome one-pot meal that’s sure to satisfy the whole family.
Chili is the ultimate comfort food. It’s warm, hearty, and usually served in large quantities. 😋 This recipe is super satisfying, thanks to plenty of beans, and super thick, thanks to a secret whole grain ingredient.
Best of all, this Instant Pot Chili is extremely easy to make and super economical since it uses dried beans. Eat your chili plain, put it on top of rice or quinoa, or add a variety of toppings. (Extra toppings are always a good call, right?!)
Let’s make some chili for dinner tonight and have leftovers for lunch tomorrow (and the next day too)!
About this Recipe
- Packed with flavor
- SO thick
- Moderately spicy
- TONS of fiber and protein
- So much texture
- Dump and go!!
What’s Special About this Chili?
Okay, so for starters, it’s vegan and healthy. No meat or oil, but plenty of plant-based protein and fiber.
Second, it incorporates the best parts of sweet potato chili with the classic chili flavors of peppers, onions, and tomatoes.
Third, it uses dried beans. I’m always surprised when I’m looking for an Instant Pot chili recipe and it calls for canned beans. Make use of your fabulous pressure cooker and use dried beans instead!
Finally, this chili uses coarse bulgur to achieve its delicious, chunky texture. The bulgur thickens the chili substantially and lends a texture that’s reminiscent of ground beef.
Why use dried beans for Instant Pot Chili?
Better question: Why not used dried beans in your Instant Pot chili? With dried beans, you can:
- save some money,
- remove excess salt from your diet, and
- avoid BPA and BPA alternatives commonly found in canned beans!
You’ll know exactly what’s in your beans and they’ll be seasoned all the way through with delicious flavor. They’ll also be perfectly cooked and tender.
Since the Instant Pot does all the work for you, anyway, it’s an easy swap to make. It takes a little bit longer, but not too much longer.
What is Bulgur Wheat? Is Bulgur a Whole Grain?
Bulgur wheat is a delicious whole grain! It is simply wheat that’s been cracked and partially cooked. Since it’s par-cooked, it’s an easy whole grain to prepare at home on relatively short notice. Of course, this makes it a perfect candidate for your weeknight dinner rotation.
Though bulgur is a lesser-known grain, you’ve probably seen or eaten it without even realizing it. You see, bulgur is an important component of tabbouleh, a delicious and popular Middle Eastern herb salad.
When it comes to buying bulgur, there are a few varieties to choose from. These varieties are typically labeled with a number that indicates how fine or coarse the bulgur is.
Bulgur that is labeled #1 is very fine and can usually be prepared by simply soaking in hot water. (This is your easy weeknight bulgur.) On the other hand, bulgur #4 is thick and extra coarse and needs to be cooked similarly to rice.
For this recipe, choose bulgur labeled #3 or #4 (coarse or extra coarse) to ensure a thick texture at the end of your cooking time.
Where to Buy Bulgur
For special ingredients, Amazon is an easy choice. But Amazon takes time to arrive. Coarse bulgur is not as rare as you might think, either. 🙂
In typical grocery stores, bulgur can be found in any of the following three places:
- the whole grains aisle
- the organic/specialty foods aisle
- the international/ethnic foods aisle
In the international aisle, you’re more likely to find the coarse bulgur pictured above. In the organic section, you’re likely to find Bob’s Red Mill red bulgur. Bob’s variety is a little bit finer than what I usually use, but it should also work.
Ingredients Needed for Instant Pot Chili
This plant-based chili recipe is easy, delicious, and economical. All of these ingredients, besides possibly the bulgur, can be found at your local supermarket at very little cost.
- DRIED Black Beans: Black beans are the healthiest kind of bean since their antioxidant content is the highest (source). They also couldn’t be cheaper or, in my opinion, any more delicious. (Check out my favorite Instant Pot Black Beans recipe if you want to love them too.)
- DRIED Pinto Beans: Pinto beans are also delicious. They’re high in fiber, protein, iron, magnesium, and B vitamins.
- Coarse Bulgur: Choose #3 or #4 coarse bulgur. Bulgur is a whole grain that provides a delicious meaty texture to this chili!
- Sweet Potatoes: Packed with fiber, vitamin A, and manganese, there are few foods healthier than the humble sweet potato. White sugar is common in chili, but with sweet potatoes, we can skip the processed sweetener altogether.
- Diced Tomatoes & Tomato Paste: A source of umami, a source of lycopene, and a chili staple, we’re using tomatoes in 2 forms. I like organic Muir Glen diced tomatoes.
- Green Peppers & Celery: They provide texture and earthy notes that balance the tomato flavor.
- Onions & Garlic: These aromatics provide so much deliciousness. Since we’re using water rather than broth, don’t skimp on these.
- Chili Powder: A BLEND of spices meant specifically for chili! If you have a well-stocked spice cabinet, you can make your own blend at home with the help of Google. 🙂
- Chipotle Powder: This is a pure powdered spice, NOT a blend. Chipotle powder is made from dried and smoked jalapenos. It’s smoky, spicy, and complex.
- Smoked Paprika: More smokiness!
- Oregano & Cinnamon: These spices blend into the background in the best way possible! They balance everything, add depth, and make you want another spoonful!
How to Make Chili with Dried Beans
This recipe couldn’t be easier! Simply add all ingredients to your Instant Pot, stir, then pressure cook on high pressure. Wait for the pressure to release naturally, then stir, top, and enjoy!
When using dried beans:
- SORT your beans. To sort beans, look for broken beans, shriveled beans, stones, and anything else that looks off.
- RINSE your beans. Use a strainer to thoroughly rinse your dried beans under running water.
- NO soaking. Really! There’s no need and they’ll still become perfectly tender in the Instant Pot.
That’s it! Those are the only things that you need to know about using dried beans rather than canned beans for this Instant Pot chili.
Important Tips for Success
Chili is a forgiving kind of dish. You can generally make substitutions without any ill effects.
However, please note that this recipe gets very close to the 2/3 Pressure Cook max fill line of a 6-qt. Instant Pot. Please don’t add additional ingredients. Substitute instead.
- Using dried beans is super important here. If you’re wondering why this recipe calls for more liquid and a longer cooking time than other recipes, this is why.
- When using dried beans, always be sure to sort and rinse them first.
- Since all beans cook for different amounts of time, I do not recommend substituting the beans for whatever type you have on hand. If you’d like to use all black beans or all pinto beans, though, that should work well.
- There’s no need to peel your sweet potatoes unless you strongly prefer them peeled. Save some time and retain some extra nutrition.
- Can’t handle any heat at all? Cooking for children? Leave out the chipotle powder altogether or reduce it per your preference.
- Love spice? Cook, taste, and stir in a bit of extra chipotle powder at the end.
- Everyone’s salt preference is different. Your salt level will also vary based on the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and chili powder blend you use. Feel free to adjust salt and pepper at the end to your preference.
Topping Ideas for Vegan Chili
One of the best parts about chili is that it’s a comforting, hearty base that’s easily customizable. This chili is chunky, tomatoey, and smoky. It has the right level of spice for a classic chili. You can taste the heat, but your eyes will absolutely not be watering. 🙂
Per your preference, you can amp up the spice with hot sauce or tone things down with avocado or vegan yogurt. You can also add additional texture by stirring in frozen corn at the end. Check out some of these chili topping ideas to get you started:
- Lime juice
- Green onions
- Red onions
- Fresh tomatoes or salsa
- Hot sauce
- Avocado chunks
- Nutritional yeast
- Vegan yogurt or sour cream
- Homemade tofu crumbles!
How to Store Your Instant Pot Bean Chili
This recipe is perfect for easy, vegan meal prep. This chili can be cooled and stored in your fridge for up to a week. In fact, it will taste even better the longer it sits. Just be sure to use good-quality containers that seal well.
The chili will thicken up when stored in the fridge. To reheat, microwave or heat up in a saucepan. If desired, feel free to add a bit of broth or water when reheating if you like your chili thinner.
Does this Chili Freeze Well?
Yes! Since this makes a big batch of chili, many of you might want to freeze some of it. Freeze your chili in individual glass containers, leaving a bit of room in each container to account for expansion.
Your individual, freezer-friendly, homecooked meal is now ready when you are!
Alternatively, use reusable freezer bags to store your chili. Let cool fully, then scoop your chili into freezer bags. Lay the bags flat in your freezer until solid. Once frozen, you can stand your bags up vertically so that they take up less space and are more easily accessible. Marie Kondo would be proud. 🙂
Helpful Tools for This Recipe
- Instant Pot
- Measuring Cups & Spoons
- Mesh Strainers
- Large Cutting Board
- Sharp Knife
- Food Storage Containers
- 1 cup dried black beans, picked over and sorted
- 1 cup dried pinto beans, picked over and sorted
- 1 cup coarse bulgur
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, chopped
- 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 6 tablespoons tomato paste (about 3 ounces)
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 medium green bell peppers, chopped
- 4 ribs celery, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons chili powder**
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon chipotle powder**
- 8 cups of water
- Rinse your dried beans thoroughly under running water and add them to the Instant Pot.
- Add all remaining ingredients to the Instant Pot and stir well.
- Close the lid and set the steam release valve to "Sealing". Select the "Pressure Cook" button and set to cook for 31 minutes at High Pressure.
- Once the cooking time is up, allow the Instant Pot to release pressure naturally. The float valve will drop once all pressure has been released (approximately 35 minutes for this recipe). Turn the steam release valve to "Venting" and open the Instant Pot.
- Stir well and allow to sit for a few minutes to cool and thicken. Serve your Instant Pot Chili on its own, over rice, or with your preferred toppings (ideas in the post above). Leftovers will keep for up to a week in the fridge and can also be frozen for longer-term storage.
Dried Beans: Be sure to use DRIED beans for this recipe. Always sort and rinse dried beans before using.
Chili Powder: This is a pre-mixed blend of spices specifically meant for chili. Use your favorite.
Chipotle Powder: Be sure to use PURE chipotle powder, which is simply smoked and ground jalapeno peppers (no other ingredients). You can omit this entirely if you don't like any heat at all, but it's delicious!
Storage & Reheating: This recipe makes a fairly large batch and is great for healthy, one-pot meal prep. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave, per your personal preference.
Important Note: This recipe gets very close to the 6-qt. Instant Pot max fill line. Thus, do not add any additional ingredients. You may substitute ingredients instead if you wish.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 2.5 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 400Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 253mgCarbohydrates: 79gFiber: 19gSugar: 10gProtein: 20g
Nutrition information is an estimate only, based on the recipe as written. It does not include any optional toppings. Data was obtained through MyFitnessPal's recipe creator.
The Background & Science Behind These Ingredients
- Sweet potatoes are extremely healthy, cheap, and nutritious. In fact, they have “one of the highest nutrient-rich food scores per dollar”. (source)
- Beans are so nutritious. Here’s an overview of the benefits of beans and a recommendation to eat beans and/or whole grains at every meal.
- Do you eat the rainbow? Colorful fruits and vegetables, like the sweet potatoes and tomatoes in this recipe, supply carotenoids that have been linked to a longer life.
- I recommend Ceylon cinnamon in all of my recipes. Take a look at this comparison of Ceylon cinnamon and cassia cinnamon to find out why.
- Hiding some whole-grain bulgur in your chili is a great idea, since whole grains have been shown to help prevent type 2 diabetes and reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.
What do you think?
Thanks so much for stopping by! If you make this recipe, then please leave a comment and rating. I would love to hear what you think and how it worked out for you!
Don’t forget to check out my other Instant Pot recipes as well!