Home » Recipes » Diet » Vegetarian » Vegetarian Lentil Chili Recipe

Vegetarian Lentil Chili Recipe

A hearty one-pot vegetarian lentil chili recipe is perfect for those cold winter nights! This lentil chili has a rich smoky flavor and is absolutely packed with vegetables. It’s comfort in a bowl!

Looking for more vegetarian chili recipes? Try this crockpot vegetarian chili or this Instant Pot sweet potato black bean chili!

Why You’ll Love This Lentil Chili

One area I have been trying to grow in over the past year is creating more plant-based meals, so I decided to enroll in an online cooking course called Rouxbe. Rouxbe is an online training tool that helps you enhance your culinary knowledge – from knife skills to mastering the frying pan, steaming and braising, food safety, how to cook vegetables, you name it, they literally have it all!

At any rate, to keep my knife skills sharp, I decided to cook a lentil chili this week that’s loaded with vegetables I have to cut. Here’s why I think you should join in on this vegetarian goodness too:

  • Mildly spicy. I like a little heat in my chili, but not an overwhelming amount. Made with smoked paprika, chili powder, and poblano peppers, this lentil chili has a bit of kick to it, but it won’t overpower your taste buds!
  • Rich and filling. Honestly, you won’t even miss the meat in the chili because the lentils, beans, and vegetables make for such a hearty dish.
  • Quick. This recipe takes 45 minutes from start to finish, with just 15 minutes of prep time required!
Ingredients for vegetarian lentil chili.

What You’ll Need

Yup. It’s a long list, but it’s a great way to practice your new knife skills. Each ingredient adds flavor and texture to this incredibly flavorful plant-based chili. Here’s what you’ll need (check out the recipe card below if you’re looking for exact amounts or the full set of directions).

  • Avocado oil – I like to use this oil because it has a high cooking temperature so you won’t end up with burnt oil.
  • Aromatics – You can’t have chili without a good quantity of aromatics. I use yellow onion, garlic, celery, and carrots. Otherwise known as a mirepoix.
  • Peppers – I like to use a combo of peppers, not only for flavor but also for color. After all, we eat with our eyes first. You’ll need red pepper, yellow pepper, and poblano pepper.
  • Lentils – I used regular green or brown lentils in this recipe, however you could also use french green lentils or red lentils if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Beans – You’ll need both low sodium black beans and low sodium dark red kidney beans. Make sure they are drained and rinsed to remove any of the excess liquid they were sitting in.
  • Spices – This is where the flavor comes in. I use the same spices in all my chili recipes because they give incredible depth of flavor. You’ll need ground cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika (not regular paprika), ground coriander, and salt.
  • Tomato paste – I find this highly concentrated paste gives the chili a depth that makes it taste like you’ve cooked it for hours.
  • Diced tomatoes – Any time I use diced tomatoes in a recipe I always use fire roasted. In my opinion, they’re more flavorful than the regular diced tomatoes.
  • Tomato sauce – Make sure it says “no salt added,” you want to control the salt levels as much as you can.
  • Vegetable stock – You could use water here as well. However, I like to add flavor any chance I get and this vegetable stock definitely adds depth and keeps with the vegetarian theme.
Lentil chili with toppings and a dutch oven in the background.

Do I Have to Soak Lentils Before Cooking?

No, you don’t have to soak lentils before cooking. It is a good practice to rinse them under water to clear off any debris or dirt that may still be on the lentils, though.

What Is the Best Way to Cook Lentils in Chili?

I like to add the lentils to my chili around the same time I add my harder vegetables and spices. I find it gives the lentils a smidge more flavor before I add the liquid and simmer them for 15-20 minutes.

Two bowls filled with vegetarian lentil chili and toppings.

How to Make Vegetarian Lentil Chili

I love the process of making soups and chilis. It’s therapeutic. Make sure all of your vegetables are cut ahead of time, then enjoy the smells and the process of creating culinary art. This recipe is pretty simple once you have everything prepped. Just dump and cook. Here’s how to make it:

  • Prepare the lentils. Place the lentils in a sieve and rinse them with water. Remove any debris or dirt.
  • Heat the soup pot. Bring a large Dutch Oven to medium-high heat.
  • Sauté the onions. Add in avocado oil and yellow onions. Sauté until the onions are translucent, stirring occasionally (about 2-3 minutes).
  • Cook the aromatics and peppers. Next, add in the garlic, celery, red pepper, yellow pepper, and poblano peppers. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the remaining vegetables and spices. Toss in the lentils, carrots, tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, coriander, and salt. Stir and cook for another 4-5 minutes.
  • Finish with the liquids and beans. Then, pour in your diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, vegetable stock, and beans. Stir, cover, and bring everything to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Tips for Success

These tips and tricks will ensure that your lentil chili comes out perfectly!

  • Cut your veggies uniformly. The key to a good chili is making sure that all your dices are the same size, especially on the mirepoix. This ensures even cooking times. The only vegetable I vary the cut size in are the carrots, I find it adds a nice surprise texture.
  • Gather your ingredients ahead of time. Have all of your ingredients out and all of your vegetables prepped before you start cooking. Trust me, it will make things easier and you won’t end up with overcooked vegetables because you forgot to cut the carrots.
  • Brown the onions. Honestly, the best thing I could tell you is brown equals flavor. It does not equal burnt. Browning your onions adds so much flavor to any dish.
  • For thinner chili. I like a thick hearty chili. The lentils will expand after they’ve been simmering for a while and soak up some of that liquid. If you want a thinner or more “soup” like chili, I’d recommend adding 1-2 cups of vegetable stock.
  • Don’t overcook the chili. This is a soup you don’t want to overcook. The beans and lentils could get mushy, so keep an eye on the texture as you’re cooking so you don’t overdo it.
  • Spice it up. If you like your chili to have a little “kick” to it, add in 1-2 tablespoons of diced chipotle chilis in adobo sauce!
Ladle scooping lentil chili.

Serving Suggestions

Not sure what to serve with your lentil chili? Here’s what I would do:

  • Cornbread – A slice of crumbly cornbread, or just your favorite crusty, buttery bread, would go perfectly with this chili!
  • Salad – When it comes to chili recipes, some of our favorite sides to serve with them are my everyday salad or my spinach salad with apples, pecans, and gorgonzola.
  • Tortilla chips – Crispy tortilla chips are a must with a big bowl of chili!
  • Toppings – You could do sliced jalapeños, sour cream, plain greek yogurt, shredded cheese, diced onion, etc.
Bowl filled with vegetarian lentil chili.

How to Store & Reheat Leftovers

If you have leftovers, here’s how to save them for later:

  • To store. You can store this chili in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days.
  • To reheat. I usually just use the microwave, but you could warm this chili up on the stovetop over medium heat if you like.

Can I Freeze This Lentil Chili?

Yes! Allow the chili to cool, then place it in a freezer-safe storage bag. Store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, allow the chili to thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then heat it in the microwave or on the stovetop.

More Chili Recipes

If you’re on the search for more hearty chili recipes to get you through the colder months, check out these ones:

Shop This Recipe

** This post is sponsored by Rouxbe. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Joyful Healthy Eats. As always all opinions are 100% mine.**

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
bowl filled with vegetarian lentil chili

Vegetarian Lentil Chili Recipe

  • Author: Krista
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 810 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This hearty vegetarian lentil chili is packed with vegetables, beans, and a rich blend of spices! It’s the perfect cold weather comfort meal.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1 poblano pepper, diced
  • 1 1/2 cup carrot, diced
  • 1 cup dry lentils, rinsed
  • 14 ounce can low sodium black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 14 ounce can low sodium kidney beans, drained & rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 28 ounce can Muir Glen fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 14 ounce can tomato sauce, no salt added
  • 3 cups of vegetable stock

Instructions

  1. Bring a large Dutch Oven to medium high heat.
  2. Add in avocado oil and yellow onions. Saute until onions are translucent, stirring occasionally. About 2-3 minutes.
  3. Next add in the garlic, celery, red pepper, yellow pepper and poblano peppers. Saute for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add in lentils, carrots, tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, coriander and salt. Stir and cook for another 4-5 minutes.
  5. Then add in your diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, vegetable stock and beans. Stir, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Notes

  • To store. You can store this chili in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days.
  • To reheat. I usually just use the microwave, but you could warm this chili up on the stovetop over medium heat if you like.
  • To freeze. Allow the chili to cool, then place it in a freezer-safe storage bag. Store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, allow the chili to thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then heat it in the microwave or on the stovetop.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups
  • Calories: 252
  • Sugar: 7 g
  • Sodium: 711 mg
  • Fat: 4 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 42 g
  • Fiber: 11 g
  • Protein: 12 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Keywords: lentil chili, lentil chili recipe, red lentil chili

Filed Under:

Pinterest image for vegetarian lentil chili.

DON’T MISS A RECIPE ->

FACEBOOK | TWITTER | PINTEREST | BLOGLOVIN | INSTAGRAM

Review and rate this recipe!

I love hearing from you! Submit your question or review here. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*.

Rate This Recipe! 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

16 comments on “Vegetarian Lentil Chili Recipe”

    1. It was my first time eating them and making them… kinda in love! 🙂 Thanks Cathy! Hope you enjoy!

  1. Avatar photo
    Laura at I Heart Naptime

    This looks so, so delicious! Perfect dinner before heading to the high school football game on Friday night!

  2. This looks so comforting and delicious! What kind of lentils did you use? I haven’t cooked with them much but bought some green lentils the other day on a whim. Would those work here?

    Thanks so much- I’ve only recently discovered your blog but it’s already one of my favorites!

    1. Yup, those were the ones I used. 🙂

      Hurray Tara, so glad you just found me. I honored that you’ve stuck on around and that my recipes end up on your dinner table! Totally makes my day!