Lentil Chili is a delicious, hearty recipe for Vegetarian Chili. Vegan friendly, high in protein, and full of fiber, this Lentil Chili, makes a healthy meal loved by everyone–even meat eaters! vegan chili is a hearty meatless chili made with lentils.
Once the outside temperature begins to drop, I begin to crave warm and hearty chili recipes.
This Lentil Vegetarian Chili recipe may be a bit different than your traditional beef and bean chili, but even my mid-western, meat loving husband enjoys this Vegan Chili.
It is hearty, filling, easy to make, inexpensive, and bottom line: GOOD!!!
How to make Vegetarian Lentil Chili
The base for this Vegan Chili is lentils. Beans and lentils are simmered in a thick and richly flavored tomato sauce. It is a thick chili that sticks to your ribs and fills you up–all while being meatless and low in fat and calories.
It starts with a simple saute of onions and garlic, because that is how all good recipes for chili start–right?! But my secret to turning this Lentil Chili into a memorable dish is to deglaze pan with a dry red wine after the onions have softened. The wine gives a rich depth to chili.
Then it is as simple as adding in the remaining ingredients and simmering until the lentils are tender. This only takes 20 minutes, so Lentil Chili is a perfect recipe for a busy night.
Once the chili is prepared, serve as desired. I enjoy this Lentil Chili with diced avocado, and chopped cilantro. But you can also top with sour cream and cheese if not vegan. I also enjoy serving leftover chili on baked potatoes or sweet potatoes.
Slow Cooker Instructions
To make this Lentil Chili in the slow cooker, place all ingredients into your slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours or high for 4 hours.
What are lentils?
They are a high protein part (called a pulse) of a plant that has been dried. There are many types of lentils. This recipe uses green or brown lentils. Red and yellow lentils are much too soft to lend themselves to a chili.
- Extremely high in fiber and protein
- Great substitute for meat
- Extremely inexpensive
- High in iron and Vitamin B
- Quick cooking
A Few Notes on Vegan Lentil Chili
- The red wine is optional in this Vegan Chili, but it adds a rich depth of flavor. If you omit, replace it with vegetable stock.
- Any beans–pinto beans, red beans, black beans, all work in this Vegan Chili.
- I like my chili stick to the spoon thick, feel free to thin out with more broth–just be sure to adjust seasonings.
- Mom Tip: Sneak in some veggies by adding 1-2 cups of pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling) to this vegetarian chili. It will blend in perfectly with the flavors in this chili.
More Chili Recipes
- Instant Pot Chili
- Vegetarian Butternut Squash Chili
- Sweet Potato Black Bean Quinoa Chili
- Instant Pot White Chicken Chili
- Instant Pot Vegetarian Chili
- Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili
- Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and spices. Saute until onion is softened.
- Deglaze pan with wine and allow to boil for 1 minute.
- Add tomatoes and broth (or water). Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low.
- At this point you can allow the broth to simmer for 1 hour to intensify in flavor, or you can add the lentils and beans and cook until lentils are tender--about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper as needed.
- Alternatively--you can place all ingredients into the slow cooker and cook for 6 hours on low or 4 hours on high.
- Lentil Chili can be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days and can be frozen for up to 3 months.
- I blended one can of tomatoes to give the soup more liquid and for texture preference. You can skip this step and just use 2 cans of diced tomatoes, or you can blend all the tomatoes if your family is opposed to the texture of diced tomatoes.
- I recommend kidney beans and black beans for this Lentil Chili, but you can use red beans or pinto beans instead.
- Feel free to adjust the spices to accommodate your family's preferences.
- Green or brown lentils are best for this chili recipe. Red lentils will turn to mush, so are not recommended for this recipe.
- Dry red wine, like Merlot or Cabernet, is recommended for this Lentil Chili, but feel free to use additional vegetable stock in place of the wine.