Vegan Lentil Chili – Instant Pot + Slow Cooker

This deliciously easy vegan lentil chili is sure to impress! With stove-top, Instant Pot, and slow cooker versions all in this post, you can whip it up any way you choose with minimal effort. Whoo!

This deliciously easy vegan lentil chili is sure to impress! With stove-top, pressure cooker, and slow cooker versions all in this post, you can whip it up any way you choose with minimal effort. Whoo! #instantpot #crockpot

Even better? This tasty chili can be made in one pot! Less effort + less dishes + a whole lot of veggie action = one ridiculously happy mama!

Wait…

Are you freaking out? You’re totally freaking out, aren’t you?

The lack of cheese on top of this chili has got to be shocking at least a few of y’all right now, especially those that have been with me long enough to know that cheese is basically it’s very own food group around here!

While I do love an extra cheesy pot-o-chili in my face once the temperature drops, I also need to fit into my pants on a regular basis. This healthy chili is a great way to veg it up and slim it down during the cold Fall and Winter months.

Absolutely feel free to jazz up this hearty recipe with a little bit of cheese if you’re of the vegetarian variety. Same goes for my T-rex friends – I’ll allow you to add a mountain of cheese as long as you promise me you’ll go veggie today!

Four card carrying carnivores gave this recipe an enthusiastic thumbs up, so let’s ditch the meat and slam some veggies today, shall we?

This deliciously easy vegan lentil chili is sure to impress! With stove-top, pressure cooker, and slow cooker versions all in this post, you can whip it up any way you choose with minimal effort. Whoo! #instantpot #crockpot

Because we all have a different chili cooking method of choice (and different appliances handy!) I’m going to go balls to the wall and include stove top, slow cooker, and electric pressure cooker instructions for this recipe. Crazy awesome right?!

Each method certainly has it’s perk.

I love using my Instant Pot for chilis and soups because I get slow cooked, well developed flavor in a fraction of the time. The traditional stove top method takes about the same time prep and cook, but I always suggest adding some extra time to simmer and mingle *or* you can cheat and make it the night before to serve the following day.

Leftover chili is the absolute best and this recipe is no exception. I guard my leftovers fiercely; they’re just so good!

As for the slow cooker, you have to carve out more time for cooking, but have the ease of making this while you’re at work or running errands. The cool thing about many newer slow cookers and even the Instant Pot, is the auto shutoff feature. My pressure cooker switches to warm when it’s done so I don’t have to drop what I’m doing and rush back to it. My food is hot and ready when I am!

I know, I know. I’m totally playing favorites here. I just LOVE my Instant pot! Plus once this delicious vegan lentil chili is done, I can toss some rice in it and have fluffy white rice in 8-12 minutes. YES!

This deliciously easy vegan lentil chili is sure to impress! With stove-top, pressure cooker, and slow cooker versions all in this post, you can whip it up any way you choose with minimal effort. Whoo!

Vegan Lentil Chili

A legume-packed twist on my popular Quinoa Chili recipe that we absolutely fell in love with!

No matter which cooking method you choose, this healthy vegan lentil chili is sure to warm you up on a cold night. Grab a bowl, add a mountain of your favorite toppings, and get ready to rock your taste buds!

This deliciously easy vegan lentil chili is sure to impress! With stove-top, pressure cooker, and slow cooker versions all in this post, you can whip it up any way you choose with minimal effort. Whoo!

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Vegan Lentil Chili

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This deliciously easy vegan lentil chili is sure to impress! With stove-top, pressure cooker, and slow cooker versions all in this post, you can whip it up any way you choose with minimal effort.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups yellow onion, diced
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 jalapeños plus extra to garnish
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup corn (frozen or fresh)
  • 1 can spicy chili beans with sauce (15 oz])
  • 1 cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 TBSP chili powder
  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, plus extra to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups veggie broth
  • 1 cup dried red lentils
  • 2 cups crushed tomatoes

EXTRAS:

    • diced jalapenos or cayenne pepper for a kick
    • veggie broth or tomato sauce to adjust thickness if desired
    • all the tasty toppings your heart desires!

TOPPING INSPIRATION:

  • sliced or diced jalapeños
  • chopped red onion
  • fresh pico de gallo or salsa
  • sliced avocado
  • fresh cilantro
  • sour cream or greek yogurt (if vegetarian/t-rex)
  • shredded cheddar cheese (if vegetarian/t-rex)
  • crushed tortilla chips
  • corn chips
  • corn bread crumbles
  • and so much more...

Instructions

  1. Below are the electric pressure cooker instructions. For stove top or slow cooker instructions, see blog post below.
  2. First chop your veggies and measure out the ingredients.
  3. Switch your pressure cooker to the saute funtion and saute 1 TBSP oil with onion for 3-5 minutes, until edges are golden and browned.
  4. Then add garlic, peppers, and corn, and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes to soften slightly.
  5. Add lentils, veggie broth, chili beans, black beans and spices.
  6. Set to high pressure for 15 minutes and allow to come to pressure.
  7. Allow a natural pressure release.
  8. Lastly, stir in crushed tomatoes and adjust broth/tomato/seasoning to taste, adding more of what you prefer to get your ideal thickness and flavor punch.
  9. I added the crushed tomatoes at the end to avoid overstuffing my pressure cooker and score a quicker cook time as well. Since my crushed tomatoes were canned (LOVE muir glen's organic tomato basil) they took zero time to heat up once swirled into my piping hot pot-o-chili. Sweet!
  10. If you want to dive in sooner, feel free to manually release the pressure on your Instant Pot by flipping the little lever from seal to vent. Worst case scenario, if your chili needs a little extra time you can seal it back up and give the veggies extra time to soften. Pressure cookers are pretty forgiving like that!
  11. Add all your favorite toppings and dive in!

Notes

Feel free to adjust the consistency of the chili to your liking. As written it's perfectly thick and full of delicious texture, but can be thinned with a little broth or tomato sauce if desired! If you add a lot of extra liquid, consider amping up the spices a smidge to compensate. You can also make this as mild or as spicy as you'd like. As written it is pretty mild, then the jalapeños I added on top of one bowl really amped up the heat!

Want a super chunky chili? Feel free to add extra beans and veggies! Simply amp up the seasoning as needed depending on how much extra goodies you add to the pot!

A Note on Salt and Pepper :: I leave salting the dish to the end to prevent over-seasoning. Depending on the brand and type of broth, tomatoes, and beans that you use, the sodium content will vary. I used low sodium broth, regular organic canned tomatoes, and didn't salt my chili.

Pressure cooker recipes always leave out the details so here's a breakdown of what you can expect time-wise: About 13 minutes to come to pressure plus 15 minutes cook time and 15 or so to release pressure. You won't need to be anywhere near your kitchen for this all to partake, the Instant Pot will handle it all and switch to warm once it's done. So fabulous right?

This deliciously easy vegan lentil chili is sure to impress! With stove-top, pressure cooker, and slow cooker versions all in this post, you can whip it up any way you choose with minimal effort. Whoo!

My stove top and pressure cooker versions of this chili looked dramatically different. The lentils held shape on the stove, but the pressure cooker pulverized them into “ground lentils” – kind of like ground beef minus the moo-cow! They were creamy and delicious and I couldn’t get enough!

The pulverized lentil version would be stellar for anyone trying to convince a lentil skeptic that they do indeed love these versatile legumes. Instant Pot for the win!

No Instant Pot? No problem!

If you don’t have a pressure cooker simply use the stove top or slow cooker instructions below. Easy peasy!

stove top instructions

Bring a large pot to medium heat and add a drizzle of your favorite cooking oil. Sauté your onion until edges are golden, then add your garlic, bell pepper, and jalapeño. Cook until peppers are tender, approx. 5 minutes.

Next add veggie broth, crushed tomatoes, corn, chili beans, black beans, and spices; stir to mix. Let mixture come to a boil and add your dried red lentils. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 25-30 minutes. The longer you let it cook the more pronounced the flavor will be. Feel free to cook a little longer if time permits, up to you! Scoop out a bowlful, pile on the toppings, sit back, and enjoy!

slow cooker instructions

Add all ingredients to your slow cooker (minus your toppings) and walk away. It’s that easy! This recipe takes about 5-6 hours on high. You’ll basically want to let this one simmer away until the lentils and veggies are super tender. The chili will thicken as it cools. For extra flavor you can 100% sauté your onion and garlic before adding it to the slow cooker, but it’s not essential. As I mentioned above, adjust the thickness to your liking with extra crushed tomato or broth and season to taste based on any changes. Pile on the toppings and dive on in!

Leftover chili? That’s cause for celebration!

I have it on good authority that this vegan lentil chili is even better the next day. It will stay fresh for a few days in the fridge or a month or so in the freezer. We ran out a few days later and cannot wait to make it again! My friends and family adored it.

If you feel like getting super creative, you can also stuff the leftovers into a baked sweet potato or even a roasted spaghetti squash! Helloooo delicious!

Feeling snacky? I always save 2 cups of this chili to make my AMAZING Vegetarian Chili Cheese Dip which is perfect for movie night, game day, and parties galore!

Don’t forget the homemade cornbread!

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Comments

  • Brittany

    This was absolutely delicious!! I made this for a Christmas party and even my omni relatives loved it and asked for the recipe! It’s now one of my favorite meals to make 🙂

  • Love reading your writing. Looking forward to making your recipes.

    • Thanks David! I can’t wait to hear all about what you make! 🙂

  • Bri

    Just made this tonight and it was amazing. Love the texture the lentils added. I used the stove-top method and let it simmer for about 3.5 hours. A delicious and easy Winter dinner!

  • Gina

    I make this almost every other week now. It’s super easy and amazing. Thank you so much!!

  • Ashley

    I have this in my slow cooker right now, and I’m trying to log it on my fitness pal, but was wondering if anyone can tell me how many servings the recipe makes? Thanks in advance!

    • Hey Ashley! The chili yields anywhere from 6-10 servings but will vary on how big/small of a portion. Sometimes I’ll have a big bowl with cornbread and other times I’ll heat up a small cup to pair with a salad or sandwich. Hope you ADORE it! 🙂

  • Sherry Parks

    I made this today and we loved it! I did add a can pure pumpkin when I added tomatoes, as well as more broth. I took the seeds out of the Jalapenos and it was still plenty spicy. My husband like it too and he is a big meat guy. He didn’t even mention that there was no meat in it.

    • Sherry that added pumpkin sounds magical!!!! So glad y’all both enjoyed it 🙂 Yay!

  • Carissa Tripp

    I made this recipe for my lunches this week. It is absolutely delicious! It is so flavorful and jam-packed with veggies! I ate it over a brown rice and quinoa mix and added nutritional yeast on top. I am definitely planning to make this again!

    • Thank you Carissa! LOVE that you served it over brown rice and quinoa (YUM!) and I bet the sprinkle of nutritional yeast on top was awesome! So thrilled you enjoyed it! 🙂

  • Sandra

    Are the lentils supposed to be cooked before I add them ?

    • Hey Sandra! Toss them in raw and you’re good to go. I used bagged dried lentils for this recipe.

  • Cindy Tanner

    This was delicious. Met my criteria of easy and fast, and to my surprise it was hard to tell it was meat free. Thank you for the recipe!

    • So super happy to hear it Cindy, thank you! 🙂

  • Luv a Lab

    OK, confession time: I doubted you. I’m sorry, I just didn’t think chili could truly deliver without meat. I decided to give it a try in my crockpot yesterday and didn’t even like the smell for the first 4 hours or so. Then it started smelling like chili and the magic happened. After 6 hours, everything came together into wonderfulness! I’m a texture freak and absolutely loved the texture of this chili. Adding lentils was a stroke of genius because they made it creamy while letting the beans and corn give it chunkiness. I served it over a little bit of groats and it was super filling. I added chipotle powder in addition to the regular chili powder and will add more chipotle and more jalapeños next time but other than that, I won’t change a thing. Well, I’ll double the recipe!! Thank you, Jenn, for another great recipe!

    • Thank you for your sweet review! I am so super glad you loved the recipe and totally go nuts with those jalapeños — just how I like it!

  • I’m a huge fan of lentils, and am new to experimenting with vegan recipes. I really like that this meatless chili still packs a ton of protein! Excited to try this one out!

    Thanks for posting Jenn! Cheers!

    • Thanks Seth! The best part is that you can even add extra beans to make it chunkier and more protein packed which I love! Hope you adore the recipe! <3 xo

  • Dina

    Just wanted to let you know that in the pressure cooker directions it doesn’t say when to add the lentils! I’m making this now and just realized I didn’t add them to the pot, so I just added them and am going to do high pressure for another 15 min and do quick release- hope it turns out. Looks delicious, I just wish I’d noticed the lack of lentils when I was following the directions. I’m sure it will still be tasty.

    • Ohmygosh Dina where is my brain?! I have it in my recipe notebook but somehow I goofed and didn’t type it into the recipe widget — thank you SO SO MUCH for telling me and I’m beyond sorry that I left it out in the first place. Everything (seriously thank you!) is fixed now and I hope you adore the chili! I actually just reheated a bowl for dinner tonight – we’re on our third batch!

  • Trisha

    Sometimes I have trouble getting lentils to cook all the way in the slow cooker when there are tomatoes around. Has anyone tested this in the slow cooker? I might give it a whirl this weekend anyway.

    • Hey Trisha! I’ve been making it in the pressure cooker but I’ll give it a whirl in the slow cooker today since I had planned on making another batch for the week! I’ll keep you posted 🙂 I plan on using the high setting for about 4 hours.

    • Update :: So it took until the 5/6 hour mark on high for my red lentils to get nice and soft. They still hold their form (unlike the pulverized pressure cooked lentils in the batch I photographed) but they’re nice and soft and fully cooked. Hope this helps Trisha! xoxo

    • Carissa Tripp

      I made it in the slow cooker and the lentils did cook all the way. But I used tomato sauce instead of crushed tomatoes, because that’s what I had on hand. I don’t know if that would make a difference, but it worked great for me!

  • Beth

    This looks great! Leftovers would be great for a meatless taco salad too! Thank you!

    • Looove that leftover idea Beth! The combination sounds amazing! 🙂

  • Yum-oh! This chili looks so delicious, and filling. I can see myself serving it over a bed of chips and serving as nachos. And I love when you can cook everything in one pot.

    • Thanks Celeste! Veggie chili nachos sound so good right now!!! 🙂

  • I’m really excited to make this this weekend!! I’ve been looking for a good lentil chili recipe and this looks SO good. 😀

    • So stoked you’ll be trying it Sarah – thanks! I’m making another batch this weekend once I drag my butt to the store for more lentils! The leftovers were my fav! 🙂

  • I’m digging the addition of lentils. Also, I too guard my leftovers fiercely. This looks glorious.

    • I knew I’d like it when I threw them into the pot but OMG GIRL — I had no idea how buttcrazy in love I’d be! Lentils are so perfect for chili <3 Do it!

  • I have been craving chili so bad lately! I really want to add dark chocolate to it… that’s my favorite! Yum this recipe is fabulous!

    • Thanks Mary! Oh gosh I’ve had cocoa in chili before and loved it – dark chocolate sounds totally luxe! 🙂

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