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Easy Lentil Chili

Easy Lentil Chili

This simple vegetarian chili recipe uses lentils instead of beans. Serve over brown rice or with whole-grain hearth bread.


  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 8 Cups low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 Teaspoons salt-free chili powder
  • 2 1/4 Cups brown lentils
  • 2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 Cup chopped fresh cilantro


Calories Per Serving304

Folate equivalent (total)375µg94%

Riboflavin (B2)0.3mg16.7%

Easy Lentil Chili

This vegan chili has exactly what you want:

  • No meat.
  • Lots of protein.
  • Mouthwatering flavor (that’s good immediately as well as reheated days later!).

It’s Parental Lentil Chili and it’s so good, your people will ask for it by name.

No meat, no problem

Chili purists be damned. This Lentil Chili is a champion (despite not yet winning a chili cook-off like our more bean-heavy, beer-enhanced 5-alarm chili). It has:

  • Complex flavors.
  • Varied consistency.
  • A foundation thats delicious as-is (but that’s worthy of some added spiciness).

Really guys, it’s just great chili. And the best part?

Side note on cruelty-free chili: South Park S5E4

I can’t write about cruelty-free chili without talking about one of the all-time greatest episodes of South Park: Scott Tenorman Must Die.

(Stop reading now and watch the episode if you haven’t already seen it.)

You know the feeling you got knowing what’s in Scott’s chili? That nauseous, uneasy feeling in your stomach?

That’s how practicing vegans feel about eating chili made with meat.

So this chili is made with lentils. No parentals.

Go make this chili. It’s delicious, lasts for days (easy meal planning!), and is really simple to throw together. Make some and show off your work with #lifeisnoyoke !


Lentil White Bean Chili

Cozy on up with a bowl of this bold & flavorful lentil white bean chili! It’s packed full of wholesome ingredients and is ready to go in just 1 hour!! This is the perfect easy-to-make meal for those cold winter nights.

Our family is kind of obsessed with lentils. We also really like chili. So it just seemed obvious to combine the two! This thick & hearty chili is made just like the classic version only with green lentils instead of kidney beans.

Why lentils? Because they’re packed full of potassium, calcium, zinc, niacin and vitamin K, dietary fiber, lean protein, folate and iron! And their texture is perfect in chili! It’s also nice to switch things up every once in a while. Our toddler ate his bowl of chili before we even had a chance to sit down at the table… it was that good .

The overall method for this dish is quite simple. Sweat the veggies, brown the meat (I used half ground beef and half pork, but ground turkey would work too), add the seasonings, add the tomato-based products, pour in the liquids, bring to a boil and then add the beans & lentils. As soon as the lentils begin to burst and they are tender throughout, the chili is done! Super easy, right?!

I’d highly recommend garnishing it with a sprinkle of freshly minced parsley and serving it up with a side of buttermilk cornbread or a few cheddar bay biscuits! I hope you’ll enjoy this lentil white bean chili as much as we did- it’s a tasty twist on a classic!

How to Make Easy Vegetarian Chili:

To make this chili recipe, simply:

  1. Sauté – Add olive oil to a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper to pot and season with salt and pepper. Sauté, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until onion is translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant.
  2. Add tomatoes & spices – Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, water, chili powder, cumin, and paprika, stirring until fully combined. Bring to a low boil over medium to high heat.
  3. Simmer – Once chili is boiling, add the lentils and lower the heat to low so it comes to a gentle simmer. Cook for 15 minutes. Add more water if necessary.
  4. Add beans & corn – After lentils have cooked, add the black beans, kidney beans, and corn. Mixing until fully combined. Bring the chili back to a simmer on low heat and cover for 15 minutes so the flavors can come together. Stirring occasionally.
  5. Taste & adjust – Adjust the seasonings to your taste.
  6. Garnish – Garnish with your favorite toppings. Sour cream, cheese, jalapenos, and avocado are ours!

Best Lentil Chili Ever!

  • * Water/broth for sautéing
  • * 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • * 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • * 1 or 2 jalapeños, seeded and minced (I omitted this for the kid’s sake)
  • * 1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped (any color – I usually use a fresh red one but I used a jarred roasted red pepper last time and it was GOOD!)
  • * 3 Tbsp chili powder (Yes, 3)
  • * 1 tsp dried oregano
  • * 1 tsp ground cumin
  • * 1 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed and picked over (I’ve been using the sprouted lentil/bean mix from Costco)
  • * 1 cup dried red lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • * 1 (29oz) can crushed or diced tomatoes
  • * 1 Tbsp coconut aminos (or tamari or shoyu)
  • * 1 tsp sugar (optional but gives it a different flavor)
  • * 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • * Salt and fresh ground pepper
  • * 4 cups water

Black Bean and Lentil Chili

This may be one of the most delicious vegetarian chilis you’ll ever make! Hearty lentils and black beans paired with so much flavor will satisfy everyone, vegan, vegetarian or not! This reader favorite has even won a couple of chili cook-offs!

Vegetarian | Vegan Options | Gluten Free

Many years ago, good friends of ours held a chili cook-off party. It was so much fun! We all brought our own versions of chili and blindly taste-tested. Blindly, in that we didn’t know who’s was who’s…but admittedly, there were margaritas involved!

It was so interesting to see the different interpretations of what we all refer to as “chili”. Some had no beans at all, just ground meat, while others had a mixture of the two and then some used chunks of beef instead of ground.

The hostess had made hers with lentils. It was really delicious and it’s always stuck with me. Since then, I’ve been meaning to try making a chili made with lentils…so, ten years later…

I really made this with my vegetarian daughter in mind. This dish has so many flavors and ingredients that she loves. Especially the spicy factor! That girl uses hot sauce on everything!

The chipotle and the Tabasco add some heat to the pot, but I like to serve this with some more Tabasco on top…along with avocado cubes, sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese and some cilantro.

You can make a pot of rice to go along with this, some corn bread or even just some tortilla chips. I know you’ll love this! Even my anti-vegetarian husband gave this two thumbs up!

So, if I’m ever invited to another chili cook off…this is what I’m bringing!

25 Tasty Lentil Recipes for Healthy and Easy Weeknight Meals

From hearty soups to refreshing salads, these tender legumes make healthy dinners so easy.

Of all the convenient pantry staples commonly found in the kitchen, lentils are probably one of the most underrated ones out there &mdash not only are these humble legumes full of healthy protein and fiber, they're also inexpensive, tasty, and super easy (and quick) to cook with! Best of all, these healthy plant-based proteins are the perfect ingredient for an easy low-calorie yet still-filling meal, from hearty soups and stews to flavorful curries, salads, and even pasta dishes. Luckily, if you're not exactly sure how to cook up these tasty legumes in your next meal, we've rounded up some of the best lentil recipes for you to try ASAP &mdash including an aromatic dish of red lentil curry, a variety of fresh salads, and (of course) some of the coziest lentil soups, stews, and chilis. Whether you're simmering them in your slow cooker or looking to whip up something quick and easy, these lentil recipes will fill you up for a satisfying and delicious meal for any time of day &mdash and will definitely have you calling them your new favorite pantry staple.

Origins of Chili

While many think chili was created in Mexico, apparently that’s not where it originated! Who knew?

However, one ingredient central to chili — chilies — are native to Mesoamerica (a region that includes parts of Mexico and Central America). And they are an important ingredient in Mexican cuisine. So we get the confusion!

The exact origin of the dish chili isn’t clear, but most historians trace its roots to San Antonio, Texas. You can take a deeper dive into the history of chili here.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (from 1 medium onion)
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper (from 1 medium pepper)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (1 Tbsp.)
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 8 cups unsalted vegetable stock
  • 2 (15-oz.) cans no-salt-added fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 pound dried black lentils
  • 1 (15-oz.) can unsalted kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 3 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced

Nutritional Information

  • Calories 415
  • Fat 9g
  • Satfat 4g
  • Unsatfat 3g
  • Protein 24g
  • Carbohydrate 62g
  • Fiber 12g
  • Sugars 11g
  • Added sugars 3g
  • Sodium 736mg
  • Calcium 14% DV
  • Potassium 14% DV

As a vegetarian, lentils are one of my favorite ingredients to cook with! But they sometimes still get a bad rep for being boring, or unimaginative, or just a little too healthy. I am on a one woman mission to change the image of this humble but oh so versatile legume.

If you’d told me 10 years ago I’d be championing lentils on the internet for a living, I’d have fallen off my chair but here we are.

Lentils have many virtues. Let’s discuss.

Lentils are cheap

Canned lentils or lentils in a pouch? Pretty darn cheap. A bag of dried lentils? Ridiculously cheap. There are some very economical meals you can make with lentils.

If you want to slash your grocery budget, pleeeease buy some dried lentils and read on.

Lentils are nutritious

Lentils have so much going for them in terms of nutritonal benefits:

  • An excellent plant based protein source
  • High in fibre
  • High in plant based iron (remember to add some vitamin C to the party to make sure it can be absorbed)
  • A great source of folate… so if you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, get on board with lentils!

(Source of nutritional wisdom is the highly qualified Katie @ Hey Nutrition Lady)

Lentils are adaptable

You will find recipes here that span all sorts of different cuisines. We can use lentils to replace meat in American, Mexican and Italian dishes (to name a few). We can also look at cuisines which have traditional lentil recipes, cooked to perfection.

Whatever your fave cuisine, I bet we can work some lentils into it.