Mini vegan chili polenta cups are a Super Bowl snack everyone will love

Jan 27, 2015 at 12:12 p.m. ET

Hosting a Super Bowl party this year? Here's a perfect party-starter appetizer that's also vegan and gluten-free, and happens to deliver the best vegetarian chili ever in easy-to-eat, "cheesy" mini polenta cups.

I started making this recipe after being disappointed with store-bought, which always seems so heavy with liquid smoke taste and doesn't have real flavor. I promise you won't go back to buying chili again.

This chili is loaded with hearty three beans, corn, quinoa, plus the secret ingredient, crumbled tofu. Using a cheesecloth to thoroughly squeeze out all the water from the tofu makes it extra firm and tasty; I promise it's worth the extra step. Enjoy! (And if I may... Go Seahawks!)

Mini vegan chili polenta cups recipe

Makes about 9 mini polenta cups


For the cups:

  • 1 cup dry polenta
  • 3 cups water
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon vegan butter or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

For the chili:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 block extra firm tofu, drained
  • 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup corn


  1. Heat a large pot or a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil. When the oil is hot, add onions and cook, lightly stirring, for about 4 minutes.
  2. Add garlic, chili powder and cumin to the pot and stir for another minute or so until it becomes fragrant.
  3. In the meantime, wrap the tofu block in a cheesecloth and gently but firmly squeeze all the water out. Then crumble it into the pot. Saute the tofu lightly for a few minutes, then add all the remaining chili ingredients, cover and bring to boil; then lower heat and simmer for 1 hour.
  4. In the meantime, bring 3 cups water to boil in a medium saucepan. Add pinch of salt, garlic powder, nutritional yeast, vegan butter or oil and polenta. Immediately reduce the heat to low and cook, occasionally stirring, for about 15 minutes, until the mixture is thick.
  5. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake baking tray with paper cups. Use a spoon to carefully spoon the polenta into the cups and to press it up the sides. (Don't worry about getting the edges perfect). Bake for 15 minutes. For a nice presentation, you can now take a pair of scissors and cut around the edge of the polenta cups to make them even.
  6. When the chili is ready, spoon about 1/3 cup into each of the polenta cups. Garnish with avocado slices, cilantro or chopped scallion.
Images: Peaceful Dumpling