Thai Chili

5 from 3 votes
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This vegan Thai chili, featuring a hearty mix of sweet potato, bell pepper, onion, and a melody of red curry paste, creamy coconut milk, fragrant cilantro, and a zesty squeeze of lime.

Not only is it bursting with mouthwatering flavor – but it’s also packed with an array of essential nutrients, making it a wholesome and satisfying meal that is healthy, nourishing, and delightful!

A bowl of soup with a lime wedge and thai chili on top.
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A bowl of soup with Thai chili and limes.

Vegan Thai Chili

This vegan Thai chili, brimming with sweet potatoes, bell peppers, onions, and a rich blend of red curry paste and cumin, is not only a feast for the senses but also a powerhouse of nutrition.

The creamy coconut milk perfectly complements the hearty beans and lentils, creating a comforting and satisfying meal.

Each spoonful is a harmonious dance of flavors, from the earthy sweetness of the vegetables to the vibrant kick of the spices, finished with a refreshing burst of cilantro and lime.

During lent my family eats vegan and this chili is a great way to have a filling meal without breaking the bank or using a ton of obscure ingredients. This chili can be made in the slow cooker or instant pot and freezes well! Perfect with some crusty bread – yum!

A person is holding a bowl of thai chili soup and bread.

How to Make Savory Thai Chili

First assemble the following ingredients:

  • Sweet potato (1) – Rich in beta-carotene, sweet potatoes add a creamy texture and a subtle sweetness that balances the heat of the chili.
  • Green bell pepper (1) – Crisp green bell peppers introduce a fresh, slightly bitter contrast to the dish, adding color and a wealth of vitamins.
  • Red bell pepper (1) – Red bell peppers offer a sweet, vibrant burst of flavor and color, enhancing the chili with their nutritional antioxidants.
  • Yellow onion (1) – Yellow onions provide a foundation of savory depth and sweetness, becoming tender and aromatic as they simmer.
  • Red curry paste (4 teaspoons) – The heart of the dish, red curry paste, infuses the chili with a complex, spicy, and aromatic flavor profile unique to Thai cuisine.
  • Cumin (2 teaspoons) – Earthy and slightly nutty, cumin adds a warm depth of flavor that complements the spicy notes of the red curry paste.
  • Vegetable broth (6 cups) – Vegetable broth serves as a flavorful liquid base, allowing all the ingredients to meld together harmoniously while cooking.
  • Diced tomatoes?(15 oz 2 cans) – Diced tomatoes contribute a tangy acidity and moisture that helps to break down the robust flavors and thicken the chili.
  • Beans (15 oz 3 cans) – Beans add a hearty, protein-rich element to the chili, offering a satisfying texture and fiber boost.
  • Lentils (1 cup) – Lentils, quick-cooking and nutritious, thicken the chili while providing an excellent source of plant-based protein and iron.
  • Can coconut milk (15 oz) – Creamy coconut milk softens the chili’s spiciness, adding a silky texture and a hint of tropical sweetness.
  • Fresh cilantro (½ cup) – Fresh cilantro lends a burst of citrusy, herbal brightness that cuts through the richness and heat of the dish.
  • Fresh limes (5) – A squeeze of lime juice adds a final touch of zesty freshness, elevating the flavors and balancing the chili’s richness.
A person is dipping bread into a bowl of soup with a Thai chili.

Use this Method

Cook Onions. Heat about 2 tbs of oil in a stock pot. Add the sweet potatoes, bell peppers, and onions. Cook on medium heat until they begin to soften. 

Add Spices. Add red curry paste and cumin. Sauté with vegetables until fragrant (about 2 minutes).

Combine Liquids. Add the broth, diced?tomato, and beans and bring to a boil. 

Cook Lentils. Then add the lentils, cover pot and reduce temperature and let everything cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes. 

Add Coconut Milk. Add the coconut milk and continue to simmer until the lentils are cooked through.

Serve. Just before serving add the fresh cilantro and lime. Garnish each bowl with more cilantro and lime! Enjoy!

A bowl of soup with Thai chili and lime on a table.

Tips and Tricks for Making Thai Chili

Tofu and Tempeh: Utilize tofu and tempeh as protein substitutes. Marinate them in a mixture of Thai chili, soy sauce, lime juice, and spices before cooking to infuse them with flavor.

Jackfruit for Texture: Young green jackfruit is excellent in vegan Thai recipes, especially curries, as it has a meat-like texture that absorbs flavors well, including the spiciness of Thai chili.

Herb It Up: Don’t skimp on fresh herbs like basil, cilantro, and mint. They add freshness and help balance the heat from the Thai chili, enhancing the overall flavor profile of your dishes.

Roast or Dry-Fry Chilies: To deepen the flavor of Thai chili, try roasting or dry-frying them before adding to your dishes. This method brings out a smoky flavor that adds complexity to vegan recipes.

Lime and Lemongrass: Use generous amounts of lime juice and lemongrass to add citrusy brightness to dishes, which helps balance the spiciness of the chili and adds a layer of freshness.

Experiment with Sweeteners: Traditional Thai cooking often uses sugar to balance flavors. For a vegan twist, experiment with alternative sweeteners like coconut sugar, agave nectar, or maple syrup to achieve the desired sweetness.

Adjust Heat Levels: Thai chili can be very spicy, so adjust the amount used according to your heat tolerance. You can also remove the seeds to reduce the heat while maintaining the chili’s flavor.

Rice and Noodles: Serve your vegan Thai chili dishes with a side of jasmine rice or rice noodles to help temper the heat and round out the meal.

Taste and Adjust: Always taste your cooking and adjust the seasoning as needed. The balance of spicy, sweet, sour, and salty is key in Thai cuisine.


Can I use any type of beans and lentils in this chili?

Yes, you can use a variety of beans and lentils in this dish. Common choices include kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas, or red lentils. Each type will offer a different texture and flavor, so feel free to experiment to find your favorite combination.

Is it necessary to use red curry paste, or can I substitute it with another type?

Red curry paste is recommended for its specific flavor profile, but you can substitute it with green or yellow curry paste depending on your taste preference and spice tolerance. Each type of curry paste will bring a unique flavor and color to the dish.

How can I adjust the spiciness of the dish?

The spiciness can be adjusted by varying the amount of red curry paste and by deseeding the chilies if you’re sensitive to heat. Start with a small amount of curry paste, taste, and gradually add more until the desired spiciness is achieved.

Can I make this chili in a slow cooker?

Yes, this vegan Thai chili is perfect for slow cooking. Combine all ingredients except for the coconut milk, cilantro, and lime in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. Stir in the coconut milk towards the end of cooking, and garnish with cilantro and lime before serving.

How long can I store leftovers, and can this chili be frozen?

Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. This chili also freezes well; allow it to cool completely before transferring it to freezer-safe containers. It can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat gently on the stove or in the microwave.

Can I add other vegetables to this chili?

Absolutely! This recipe is versatile, and you can add other vegetables such as zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, or spinach. Add them according to their cooking times to ensure everything is perfectly tender.

Is it important to use fresh lime juice and cilantro?

While bottled lime juice and dried cilantro can be used in a pinch, fresh lime juice and fresh cilantro will provide a brighter, more vibrant flavor that significantly enhances the dish.

Can I use light coconut milk instead of full-fat?

Yes, you can use light coconut milk if you prefer a lighter version. However, keep in mind that full-fat coconut milk provides a richer flavor and creamier texture that complements the spices beautifully.

How can I thicken the chili if it’s too liquidy?

If the chili is too liquidy for your liking, you can thicken it by simmering it uncovered for a longer period to reduce the liquid. Alternatively, you can mash some of the sweet potatoes and beans directly in the pot to naturally thicken the stew.

A person is dipping bread into a bowl of soup with a Thai chili.

What to Serve with Thai Chili

Thai Dishes: Incorporate Thai chili into authentic Thai recipes such as Pad Thai, Green Curry, Tom Yum Soup, and Som Tum (Papaya Salad) to add a spicy kick. It’s also great with spring rolls!

Hot Sauces and Dips: Use Thai chili to create spicy sauces and dips like Nam Prik or a spicy mango sauce, perfect for dipping or drizzling over your favorite snacks and meals.

Marinades: Spice up your meats and vegetables by using minced Thai chili in marinades, imparting both heat and flavor to dishes before grilling or roasting. Try miso dressing!

Stir-Fries: Add sliced or diced Thai chili to stir-fries for an instant heat boost. Works great with vegetables, tofu, chicken, beef, or seafood.

Salads: Finely chopped Thai chili can be added to salads to introduce an exciting layer of heat, pairing well with sweet and tangy dressings. Try miso noodle salad.

Pickles: Create spicy pickles by adding whole or sliced Thai chili to the pickling mixture, great as a side dish or to add zest to sandwiches and burgers.

Salsas and Chutneys: Use Thai chili in fresh salsas or fruit chutneys to serve alongside chips, crackers, or as a complement to grilled meats and fish.

Infused Oils: Infuse cooking oils with Thai chili to create spicy oils that are perfect for drizzling over pizza, pasta, or salads for an added heat.

Cocktails: Muddle Thai chili in cocktails to add a spicy twist to your favorite drinks, such as a spicy Margarita or a Bloody Mary.

Desserts: For the adventurous, incorporate a small amount of finely minced Thai chili into desserts like chocolate truffles or fruit sorbets to create a surprising heat that contrasts with the sweetness.

Try these other vegan recipes:

A bowl of Thai chili soup with a slice of bread.

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A bowl of soup with Thai chili and lime on a white plate.

Thai Chili

This delicious vegan Thai Chili is packed with protein and refreshing herbs and lime – yum!
Course soups
Cuisine Thai
Keyword best chili, chicken chili recipe, soup, stews, thai, thai soup, vegan, vegan chili
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 158kcal
Author Courtney O’Dell


  • 1 large sweet potato peeled and cubed
  • 1 medium green bell pepper diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper diced
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 4 teaspoons red curry paste add more if you want it more spicy
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 3 15 oz cans beans of your choice I usually use a few different kinds to add color, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup uncooked lentils rinsed
  • 15 oz can coconut milk
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro chopped, and more to garnish
  • 5 fresh limes, juiced and more to garnish


  • Heat about 2 tbs of oil in a stock pot. Add the sweet potatoes, bell peppers, and onions. Cook on medium heat until they begin to soften.
  • Add red curry paste and cumin. Saute with vegetables until fragrant (about 2 minutes).
  • Add the broth, diced tomatos, and beans and bring to a boil.
  • Then add the lentils, cover pot and reduce temperature and let everything cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes. 
  • Add the coconut milk and continue to simmer until the lentils are cooked through.
  • Just before serving add the fresh cilantro and lime.
  • Garnish each bowl with more cilantro and lime! Enjoy!


Serving: 1g | Calories: 158kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 857mg | Potassium: 361mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 959IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 51mg | Iron: 2mg

About Courtney

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  1. Katherine says:

    5 stars