Meatless lentil chili with simple ingredients and flavorful spices. It’s wholesome, filling, and makes one easy weeknight meal.

Love meatless lentil recipes? Try our Lentil and Butternut Squash Chili. Loaded with veggies, lentils, and spices.

Lentil Chili

Hearty, chunky, and thick. That’s what this lentil chili is all about. It’s flavorful and very easy to prepare with only 10-ingredients!

It’s made with traditional chili ingredients, plus the lentils. Lentil is an edible legume that is high in protein and fiber and low in fat making it a great alternative to meat.

Also, lentils absorb flavors really well from whatever they’re cooked in. So the chili comes out really well seasoned and flavorful.

Not to mention this lentil chili recipe is very adaptable. Just keep reading for more add-in ideas.

close up lentil chili recipe

What Type of Lentils To Use?

Brown or green lentils are best for lentil chili. Brown lentils have a mild and earthy flavor, whereas green lentils have a peppery taste. Both lentils hold their shape well when cooked.

I recommend using dry lentils for this recipe and not canned. 

ingredients for lentil chili

Do Lentils Need to Be Soaked?

Lentils do not require soaking. Simply rinse lentils before adding them to the chili, and quickly sift through for any broken bits. 

How to Make Lentil Chili

In a heavy-duty dutch oven, at least 5-quart (or bigger), cook the onions and bell pepper over medium heat until soft and lightly browned, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in garlic and chili powder, and cook until fragrant.

cooked vegetables in dutch oven

Add lentils, tomatoes, bay leaf, and vegetable stock. Season generously with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.

Katya’s TIP: Lentils are cooked as soon as they are tender but not mushy and no longer crunchy.

lentils with vegetable stock in a pot

Remove the chili from heat and discard the bay leaf. Transfer about 3-4 cups of chili into a food-processor and process until smooth.

pureed lentil chili in a food processor

Return the puréed chili back to the pot and stir to combine. Stir in cilantro and serve with your favorite toppings.

lentil chili topped with cilantro in a dutch oven

Add-Ins

This lentil chili recipe is very adaptable. You can add more flavor to the chili by adding more veggies, spices, or beans. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Vegetables – carrots, celery, zucchini, corn, jalapeño, canned fire-roasted tomatoes 
  • Spices – cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, chipotle chili powder
  • Beans – canned black beans or red kidney beans

chili without meat

Lentil Chili Toppings

To serve lentil chili, set out a variety of toppings so everyone can customize their bowls. Here are a few favorites:

  • Sliced jalapeño
  • Minced red onion or pickled red onion
  • Fresh cilantro leaves
  • Diced avocado
  • Lime wedges
  • Sour cream
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Roasted tomato salsa
  • Cheese puffs (for dipping!)

Storing Leftovers

Leftovers will keep for up to 4 days stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer.

Love meatless chili? Try Black Bean Quinoa Chili or Summer Vegetables Chili.

Video: How to Make Lentil Chili

Print
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chili without meat

Lentil Chili

  • Author: Katya
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 40 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 mins
  • Yield: 810 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Simmer
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Meatless lentil chili with simple ingredients and flavorful spices. It’s wholesome, filling, and makes one easy weeknight meal.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 (16 oz.) bag dry brown lentils
  • 2 (14.5 oz.) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 (32 oz.) cartons vegetable stock
  • 1/3 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

To Serve

  • Red onions, minced
  • Jalapeño, thinly sliced
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Limes

Instructions

  1. In a large heavy-duty dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and red bell pepper. Cook for about 8-10 minutes or until soft and lightly browned, stirring occasionally.
  2. Stir in garlic and chili powder and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add lentils, tomatoes, bay leaf, and stock. Season generously with salt and ground black pepper. Simmer partially covered over medium-low heat for 30 minutes or until lentils are tender. Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaf.
  4. Transfer 3-4 cups of chili into a food processor and process until smooth. Add the puréed chili back into the pot and stir to combine. Taste for salt and pepper.
  5. Stir in cilantro and serve with toppings of choice.

Notes

  • Add-Ins: This lentil chili is very adaptable. See post for a full list of add-in ideas.
  • Leftovers: Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days or for up to 3 months in the freezer. Chili will thicken the longer it sits. If desired, thin out with a little stock when reheating.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups
  • Calories: 231
  • Sugar: 5.6 g
  • Sodium: 588.1 mg
  • Fat: 3.6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 39.2 g
  • Protein: 12.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Keywords: easy, comfort food, meatless, vegetarian, healthy