This simple meat free chilli recipe will have even the biggest mince-meat fans tricked into thinking they’re eating a meaty chilli dish. The first time I made this was for my 10 and 12 year old niece and nephew. I served the chilli with tacos and all the accompaniments you would normally, and they hoovered it all before realising it was meat free! Win-win.

This time I made my own dairy free naan from coconut milk, coconut flour and tapioca flour. I wouldn’t call them a huge success but they were a good flavour combination.

This recipe has been adapted from an Anna Jones classic. 

Meat Free Chilli Ingredients

Splash of olive oil

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

Thumb size piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1 red chilli, finely chopped

1 tablespoon chilli powder or cayenne pepper (whatever you have handy and according to taste)

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, bashed in a mortar

1 tablespoon chipotle paste (or a tinned chipotle pepper, diced with some juice)

3 x 400g diced tinned tomatoes

300g puy lentils

100g bulgur wheat (I used freekeh)

100g quinoa 

1 x 400g tin small beans (haricot, cannellini etc)

1 – 2 litres vegetable stock (powdered form available at your Co-op)

1 heaped tablespoon good cocoa powder

Salt and pepper

To Serve

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 red chillies, finely chopped

A small bunch thyme

Natural yoghurt



Get a very large pot and place on medium heat. Add a splash of olive oil, cook onion, garlic, ginger and chilli for 10 minutes until soft and sweet. Now add the chilli powder and cumin seeds and stir for a minute or two. 

Next, add all the other chilli ingredients, keep stirring and mixing as you go. Add 1 litre of stock to start with and keep the rest on hand to add when needed. Bring to a gentle boil, then turn the head down to low and leave to simmer for 30 to 35 minutes, until the lentils are cooked and the chilli is deep and full of flavour. 

simple chilli

Keep a close eye on the chilli as it cooks and if it starts to look dry then add more stock. 

Make thyme oil by mixing thyme, olive oil, chopped chillies and a little salt and pepper. 

Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve in bowls, topped with a little yoghurt, a drizzle of thyme oil and tortillas.