4 Bean Vegan Chili with Avocado Crema

Back before I became vegan, I used to load up my chili with shredded cheese or sour cream. There was just something about combining that hearty, spicy flavor with something cool, smooth, and distinctly dairy in flavor.

Now that I don’t use any animal products, I’ve been looking for a new way to top my chili. Sliced avocado did the trick for a while, but I never could get all the way through a bowl without running out of avocado. Enter the crema.

This recipe, made from plant-based ingredients, is everything that I’ve been missing. Plus, I only need 1 full avocado to make a batch, and that batch lasts for a good, long time. Here’s how I made both recipes.

Avocado Crema


  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 large ripe avocado
  • 1 TBSP lime juice
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 to 1 cup unsweetened almond milk

Put the cashews in a 2 cup mason jar and fill the rest of the jar with boiling water. Screw on the top and let sit for 1 hour. Drain the cashews and place in a blender. Add the avocado, lime juice and garlic powder to the blender and begin to blend on low speed. The ingredients should start to form a thick paste. Depending on your blender, you may need to push the ingredients into the blades to ensure everything gets blended. Make sure to turn off the blender before doing this.

Once you have the ingredients blended as well as you can, begin to add the almond milk, about 2 TBSP at a time until the mixture has the consistency of sour cream, or hummus. Turn off the blender and scrape the crema into a plastic or glass storage container and place in the refrigerator. It will thicken just slightly as it cools, but it will soften again when you remove it.

4 Bean Vegan Chili


  • 1 cup red beans
  • 1 cup black beans
  • 1 cup pinto beans
  • 1 cup small white beans
  • 2 cans tomato sauce plus 1 can water
  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • 1 tsp hot chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 tsp Creole seasoning
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 purple onion, diced
  • 1 small jalapeño, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, plus more to taste


Rinse and sort the beans, removing any that are cracked or wrinkled, and any items that don’t belong. Soak the beans overnight, or use the quick soak method. When the beans are ready, add them to your slow cooker with the tomato sauce and water. Add the cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, Old Bay, and Creole seasonings. Stir well and put the dial to Low.

Add the olive oil to a frying pan and heat over medium until the oil glistens. Add the onion and cook for 3-5 minutes, then add the jalapeno, carrots, bell pepper, and zucchini and continue to sauté until the carrots are tender. Add all of these ingredients to the slow cooker. Add the salt and pepper.

Let the chili cook on low for 5-6 hours, or on high for 2-3 hours. Stir occasionally, and taste after the first 1 hour. Adjust seasonings if needed.

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