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!
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!
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?
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!
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!
Vegan Lentil Chili
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.
- 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
- 15 oz can spicy chili beans with sauce
- 1 cup 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
- 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!
- 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...
First chop your veggies and measure out the ingredients.
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.
Then add garlic, peppers, and corn, and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes to soften slightly.
Add lentils, veggie broth, chili beans, black beans and spices.
Set to high pressure for 15 minutes and allow to come to pressure.
Allow a natural pressure release.
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.
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!
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!
Add all your favorite toppings and dive in!
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!
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?
Nutrition facts below are an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. Add your favorite toppings and adjust as needed.
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 to make this tasty lentil chili. 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
To make this lentil chili in the crock-pot, add all the 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 it 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 lentil 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.
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!