This hearty vegan mushroom bulgur bean chili is a one-pot comfort food dish that’s packed with plant protein and nutrient-dense ingredients. It’s great for feeding a crowd, and it’s a perfect vegan recipe for meal prep.
There’s nothing I love more than to make a giant pot of chili over the weekend. It’s a fun Sunday ritual, especially in cold weather. And I’m always happy to have tons of leftovers for freezing and my weekly meal prep.
I’m not great about varying my chili ingredients. I’ve relied on my chick’n bean chili for years. Although it’s a delicious and easy recipe, I could stand to branch out and try new things. Variety is the spice of life, right? It’s also the cornerstone of a healthful diet.
This vegan mushroom bulgur bean chili is one of those “use up what you have” recipes that surprised me with its tastiness and hearty texture. In spite of the fact that mushrooms are a common ingredient in vegan cooking, I really don’t cook with them as often as I could. This is a shame, as they’re both super nutritious and also have a “meaty” texture that works well for making filling dishes of food.
The real star of this recipe, though, is the bulgur wheat. It thickens the chili and is the base ingredient that holds everything together.
Bulgur is a grain that’s made from cracked wheat. It’s traditionally used in tabbouleh and other Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes. I love using it in grain salads including my sweet potato bulgur citrus salad and my lemony bulgur chickpea salad.
Bulgur is parboiled, then dried before packaging and selling. This means that the grain cooks relatively quickly in comparison to other forms of wheat, such as wheat berries. It has a pleasantly chewy texture—think of something that’s about the size of quinoa, but denser and with more spring.
Bulgur is also nutritious. It’s got about 5-6 grams of plant protein per serving, as well as a significant amount of dietary fiber. It’s a good source of iron, and it provides B-vitamins, including folate, vitamin B-6, and niacin.
I usually cook bulgar with two parts water and one part grain. I bring it to a boil, simmer for about 12-15 minutes, fluff with a fork, and allow it to cool. If there’s any liquid left after simmering, I just drain it off before serving or storing the bulgur.
For this bulgur bean chili, though, the bulgur is added to a big pot of simmering ingredients. You won’t need to drain or fluff the grain. The first time I made this recipe, I was surprised at how well bulgur thickens the chili, lending it a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs quality.
Bulgur is a form of wheat, so it isn’t suitable for gluten-free diets. If you avoid gluten, you can replace the bulgur in this recipe with quinoa.
A few plant-based foods come together to make this bulgur bean chili as substantial as it is.
A thickener, protein sources, and a complex carb for sustained energy. Replace the bulgur with quinoa for a gluten-free variation of the recipe.
I use regular old white button mushrooms in the bulgur bean chili. Nothing fancy. If you have a different mushroom that you love to cook with, such as cremini, portobello, or shiitake, feel free to make a replacement. I have a hard time keeping track of mushroom varieties and am not an expert, but this is a pretty good primer.
You’ll need one and a half cups of cooked beans for the recipe, which is about a standard-sized can in the US. I really like to use red kidney beans in this recipe, but you could also use black beans, pinto beans, or chickpeas if you prefer.
Tomatoes create a flavorful, umami-rich base for the chili. You’ll need a 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes here. I like to use fire-roasted, diced tomatoes for their depth of flavor.
You can make the bulgur bean chili more nutritious and even more filling by adding at least two cups of your favorite chopped vegetables.
Feel free to get creative and use what you have here! Some options include:
I usually make this chili with the first two options, leafy greens and corn.
One of the best things about eating chili is the endless variety of toppings, right?
You can make the bulgur bean chili as fully loaded as you’d like it to be. I love to top it with any combination of the following:
I love the bulgur bean chili because it creates so. many. leftovers.
This is an excellent chili for meal prepping over the weekend and enjoying as the week goes by. The chili will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 days. It can also be frozen for up to six weeks, either in a large portion or in smaller, single-serve portions.
Hunkering down for a long winter? Exploring a vegan meal prep routine? Just a hardcore chili lover? Here are some of my other favorite vegan chili recipes to keep you warm and satisfied.
This recipe is a great reminder that whole grains aren’t just great candidates for bowls, breakfasts, or grain salads. They are also an inexpensive, wholesome, fiber-filled way to add texture and heartiness to all of your favorite soups and stews. I hope that this bulgur bean chili will keep you warm on a chilly evening soon!