A bowl of Red Lentil Chili is the best bean-centric way to warm up with beans! This thick chili has red lentils, black beans and kidney beans, and is completely vegan.
Today is a very exciting day at Bean Recipes. This is the very first lentil recipe on the site!
When I first started the site, I knew I would have black bean recipes, white bean recipes, green bean recipes, and so on. But, I was undecided if I was going to venture all the way into every pulse category.
While I love lentils and peas, I wanted to wait before featuring them. But then, while creating my Vegetarian Chili recipe made only with beans, I remembered the thickening power of red lentils.
Red lentils dissolve when cooked, and they leave behind a thick, super nutritious broth. They're the perfect vehicle for thickening chili, and I even use them to make my Chickpea Noodle Soup thick.
As such, lentils are now a viable category here on this site, and I look forward to all the things we will do with them!
Beyond lentils, this chili also contains black beans and kidney beans. Is it really even a bowl of chili if it doesn't have kidney beans, I have to ask! If you love my Crockpot Chili, you'll be happy to know this recipe can be made in the slow cooker, too.
How to Make Red Lentil Chili
This red lentil chili recipe comes together in just one pot, but it is easily adapted to the slow cooker. To make it in the crockpot, saute the onion, garlic, and bell pepper in the olive oil in a skillet until soft before pouring it in the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker. Then, add all remaining ingredients, cover and set the crockpot heat to LOW for 4-6 hours. Check out all of my crockpot bean recipes here.
- Olive Oil.
- Garlic. You need one tablespoon of minced garlic, which is 3-4 cloves.
- Onion. White or yellow onion work here.
- Bell Pepper. Highly recommend a red bell pepper for the best flavor, but if you're partial to green or yellow, that works, too.
- Vegetable Broth.
- Diced Tomatoes. One 15-ounce can of diced or crushed tomatoes, your choice. If you like your chili super chunky, used diced; if not, use crushed.
- Tomato Paste.
- Chili Powder. Chili powder is a blend of spices (usually cumin, oregano, and a few types of chiles). Do not confuse it with chilE powder, which is one type of pepper, dried and ground.
- Smoked Paprika. Smoked paprika isn't the same as regular paprika. Using smoked paprika gives any vegan dish a meaty, smoky flavor.
- Cumin. Ground cumin, not cumin seeds.
- Oregano. Dried oregano leaves.
- Red Lentils. Just ¾ of a cup; rinse and drain before use.
- Black Beans. One 15-ounce can, rinsed and drained.
- Kidney Beans. One 15-ounce can, rinsed and drained.
- Corn. It can be frozen or fresh. If canned, drain before using.
- For serving: cilantro, jalapeños, lime wedges, vegan sour cream, vegan shredded cheese, and/ or tortilla chips.
- Gather all ingredients for the red lentil chili, and go ahead and rinse and drain your lentils and both beans.
2. Place a dutch oven over medium heat, and add the oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add the onion and red bell peppers. Saute until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute one more minute.
3. Once the vegetables are soft, stir in the vegetable broth, tomatoes, tomato paste, chili powder, paprika, cumin, oregano and ½ teaspoon of salt.
4. Bring the mixture to a simmer, and let simmer (uncovered) while occasionally stirring for about 5 minutes.
5. Add the lentils, stir, and then reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, until the lentils are super soft and nearly dissolving. You can remove the lid a few times to stir to prevent them from sticking to the bottom.
6. Remove the lid, and stir in the black beans, kidney beans, and corn. Turn the heat up to maintain a simmer, and cook for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. When the mixture starts to thicken a bit, turn off the heat. Add the chopped cilantro and it's ready to serve with any toppings. I like to serve with vegan sour cream, lime wedges, sliced jalapenos, and tortilla chips.
FAQ: Red Lentil Chili
Yes, lentils are super healthy! They're a great source of protein and iron, and they contain micronutrients and minerals, like potassium and zinc.
The reason I use red lentils in my chili is because they dissolve and thicken the chili. Brown or green lentils hold their shape when cooked, and do not thicken a chili in the same way. Please note that red lentils are actually bright orange before being cooked, but soften into a yellow color after they dissolve.
- You can swap out the kidney beans for pinto beans.
- Replace the black beans with white beans.
- Add cayenne pepper with the smoked paprika to make the red lentil chili spicy.
- For a more soup-like consistency, add an extra cup of vegetable broth.
How to Store
This chili freezes very well! Just divide it into freezer-safe containers, and freeze for up to 3 months. To defrost, place in the fridge overnight, and then gently heat over low heat in a dutch oven.
Leftovers keep in the fridge for up to 5 days in an air-tight container. Reheat on the stove top of microwave gently.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup red lentils washed and drained
- 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- ¾ cup frozen corn
- 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
- For serving: sliced jalapeños, lime, tortilla chips, vegan sour cream
1. Gather ingredients, and have a dutch oven pot ready on the stove.
2. Turn the heat to medium on the dutch oven, and all the oil. Once the oil is shimmering hot, add the chopped onion and bell pepper. Let saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Finally, stir in the minced garlic and saute for 1 more minute.
3. Stir in the vegetable broth, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, chili powder paprika, ground cumin, oregano, and salt. Let it simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Add in the rinsed red lentils and reduce the heat to low. Close the lid and cook the lentils for 15-20 minutes until the lentils are perfectly cooked.
5. Add in the black beans, kidney beans, and corn; allow the chili to simmer for 20 more minutes.
6. When the chili starts to thicken a bit, add the chopped cilantro and turn off the flame. Transfer the chili to a serving bowl and top them with sour cream and garnish with lime wedges and sliced jalapenos.
Chili Powder: Chili powder is a unique blend of spices that usually contains cumin, oregano, and a few types of chiles. It is NOT the same as chilE powder.
Smoked Paprika: Using smoked paprika gives a vegan dish a meaty, smoky flavor, and is loads better than regular paprika.
Corn: Fresh, frozen or canned all work here.
For serving: cilantro, jalapeños, lime wedges, vegan sour cream, vegan shredded cheese, and/ or tortilla chips.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 295Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1026mgCarbohydrates: 46gFiber: 14gSugar: 9gProtein: 15g