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Vegan Chili with Barley

 Today I’d like to share my new recipe for vegan chili with barley.

I know – chili is supposed to be a wintertime meal, a perfect dish for those long, dark evenings when you’re all cozy on the couch with a hot steaming bowl of this velvety goodness…

Well, I’ve never been a fan of limiting deliciousness, so why not give it a try in the summer?

Three bean and Barley Chili Recipe - vegan chili recipe

I first read about the idea of adding a hearty grain to a vegan chili recipe in Scott Jurek’s book, Eat and Run. In the book, Scott admits to never having liked chili before until he tried a chili recipe with grains.

According to Scott, grains can give a vegan chili that heartiness that meat-based chili has. He provides a recipe that he calls Minnesota Winter Chili and suggests using bulgur wheat along with beans and other ingredients.

I’ve had my own chili recipe for a few years when I was still eating meat. It always came out perfect but was too time-consuming since you have to simmer meat chili for hours to let all of the ingredients blend together. I was intrigued to try substituting a grain for meat…

It took a few attempts to make it just right, but finally I have it!

vegan three bean chili

My Three Bean Barley Chili is perfectly hearty, filling, smoky, spicy, but never so heavy that you have to take a nap after having a couple bowls. Hooray to the power of plants!

Also, see my high protein vegan chili recipe made with textured vegetable protein (TVP) and sweet potatoes.

Yield: Serves 6

Vegan Three Bean Chili with Barley

Vegan three bean chili with barley

This vegan three bean chili with barley is smoky, spicy, filling, and very satisfying. Feel free to use any combination of cooked or canned beans: black, kidney or cannellini, etc. You can also try another type of whole grain instead of barley, preferably the kind that takes at least 30 min to cook.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes


  • 2 cups cooked beans*
  • 1/3 cup barley
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 parsnip, diced (optional)
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp vegan BBQ sauce, store-bought or homemade**
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth*** or water, plus more to cover the bottom of the pan



  1. Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add a couple Tbsp of vegetable broth or water to the bottom of the pan. When the broth/water start bubbling, add onions, celery, carrots, and parsnip. Saute for 5-7 min until the vegetables are soft, adding more broth/water if necessary.
  2. In a separate saucepan, bring the rest of the broth/water to a boil.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients (except for salt and pepper) to the big pot with the celery-carrot mix. Stir well, cover with the boiling broth/water until the vegetables are just covered.
  4. Let simmer for 25-35 min, adding more broth/water if the chili starts getting too thick. Add salt and pepper towards the end.
  5. Fish out the chipotle pepper and discard if you prefer a milder chili. If you like it spicy, cut off 1/2 of the chipotle and mash really well, then add back to the pot. Want it fiery spicy? Mash up and use the whole thing!


*I used a mix of pinto beans, speckled butter beans, and black eyed peas.

**Also see my easy homemade BBQ sauce recipe.

***See my homemade veggie broth recipe.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 bowl

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 154Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 7gSugar: 14gProtein: 6g

Please note that the provided nutritional information data is approximate.

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author avatar
Alina Zavatsky - Vegan Runner Eats
Alina first made a switch to a vegan diet in 2013 to optimize her athletic performance as a marathon runner. Eventually she embraced veganism as a way to be kinder to fellow living beings and the environment. Alina hopes that this blog helps its readers on their path to becoming vegan and making this world a better place.

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