Hey Internet, I’m excited to bring you a fun recipe today: Vegan and Gluten-Free Chili Cheese Pot Pies!
Okay, now I seem really off my rocker, but hang tight.
Pot pie is delicious. Chili is delicious. Cheese is delicious.
Why not combine them? The result is a hearty, smoky, chili with a buttery cornmeal crust and a surprise of melty, gooey, stretchy mozzarella cheese.
Oh, and it’s vegan AND gluten-free (and oilfree + nut-free). Say what?!
This recipe is super comforting, crazy delicious, and actually really easy.
So, let’s talk about what you’ll need to make these adorable little pot pies (everything’s cuter in a ramekin, am I right?).
WHAT DO I NEED TO MAKE THE CHILI?
The chili is easy and super customizable (shut up Spell Check, that’s totally a word), so if you hate beans use lots of veggies, omit the mushrooms if you like, etc. But I’ll tell you what I recommend and you can just use my recipe as a base for your own creations!
I like a 3-bean mixture in my chili because it gives different flavors and textures. My 3 favorites to use in chili are dark red kidney beans, black beans, and white beans. Feel free to experiment with little red beans, chickpeas, black eyed peas, etc. I used canned beans to save time, but feel free to make yours from scratch ahead of time.
Corn is a delicious, sweet addition to this chili. Note that this recipe is as corny as I am, so if you are allergic, you may want to try using my gluten-free pie crust recipe (try to ignore the rest of the chocolate pecan deliciousness in the recipe) instead of the cornmeal crust. Also omit the corn from the chili. :)
I LOVE diced tomatoes in my chili. I actually buy fire-roasted diced tomatoes for this recipe because I love how they add to the BBQ feel and smoky taste. Sub with regular tomatoes, fresh tomatoes (even cherry / grape tomatoes for a sweeter taste), or omit if desired. Note that you may need to add a liquid like vegetable broth or water to make up for the moisture loss if you omit the tomatoes.
Onions and Garlic
Sauteing onions and fresh garlic provides another layer of delicious flavor in this recipe. You can omit if you cannot or do not eat onions / garlic, but I highly recommend keeping them in. If you simply don’t like eating them by themselves, you won’t taste them directly in this recipe.
Again, if you don’t like mushrooms, feel free to leave them out. I find that they add a certain meaty texture to the chili, and they add more smoky and umami flavor. Also consider substituting with lentils, TVP, soy curls, or a vegan ground meat.
You can use a pre-made spice mix but I like to make my own from chili powder, cumin, black pepper, salt, and smoked paprika. Smoked paprika really adds to the flavor here so it’s highly recommended.
Making the Chili
Making the chili is super easy. All you do is start by sauteing your onions, garlic, and mushrooms. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes to an hour. Really, that’s it.
HOW TO MAKE THE CRUST
The gluten-free (and vegan) cornmeal crust is super delicious AND easy to make. Again, if you can’t eat corn, try the crust in my pecan pie recipe (it’s not super sweet so it will be fine with chili).
Use a food processor or blender to blend up a little mustard (optional), flax eggs (1 flax egg = 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed + 3 tablespoon water), nondairy milk, and tofu (sub coconut cream or vegan butter if you are allergic to soy), then add gluten-free flour (or sub all purpose flour), cornmeal (I used medium grind but fine will work too), nutritional yeast, a pinch of turmeric for color, a little baking powder (for a bit of puff), and salt.
After the mixture is combined, refrigerate it for 30 minutes so it’s easier to work with. Grab a bit of the dough (about a half cup) and make a ball with your hands.
Place it in one of the ramekins and press it out so it covers the inside of the ramekin in an even layer. Build out the crust so it reaches the top--if you're short dough, add a little extra from the bowl to cover any blank space.
Repeat the process with the rest of the dough. You can also just use all of the dough in a square baking dish or pie dish.
Place ramekins on a rimmed cookie sheet and pre-bake for 10 minutes (at 375 degrees Fahrenheit or 190 degrees Celsius) so they’re not totally wet when you add in the cooked chili.
Now we can build our chili cheese pot pies!
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Putting these little savory pies together is pretty easy. Once you’ve pre-baked the crust, you’ll want to scoop the cooked chili into the ramekins and fill almost to the top, leaving about ½ inch of space.
If you’ve decided to use my easy, 6-minute mozzarella cheese, Use a spoon to add it now, spreading it over the chili, but not the edge of the crust.
Take a smaller ball of leftover crust (about ¼ cup worth) and roll it into a ball, then flatten it with a rolling pin or with your hands. Place over each pot pie, gently connecting the edges with your finger tips and pressing. If your crust has dried out a little, revive it by adding a little more nondairy milk and working it in with your hands.
You’ll want to poke a few holes in the top for air to escape. Use your fingers or a pastry brush to spread a little nondairy milk over the tops of all the crusts to help it crisp in the oven (I used about 1 teaspoon for all 6 pies). Then bake for about 10 – 15 more minutes, until the top is lightly golden brown. (You may need to bake slightly longer if using a full size baking dish.)
That’s it! Serve to your family and friends, guests while entertaining, or keep them all to yourself. These reheat well from refrigerated either in the oven or microwave (oven will yield crisper results).
As always, let me know if you make this recipe and please tag #Zardyplants and mention me @Zardyplants so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG or Facebook, I will share your post in my stories :) With your permission, I might also include your photo on this site!