This easy vegetarian and vegan-friendly lentil chili comes together in just 30 minutes for a quick and easy weeknight meal. This chili is great to enjoy straight away or to meal prep in advance.

a bowl of lentil chili with cilantro on top

The best lentils for lentil chili

Lentils are a great source of vegetarian protein and can be enjoyed in a variety of different ways.

There is also a variety of different types of lentils that can be used in various lentil dishes. The most common types of lentils are brown lentils, green lentils and red lentils.

Brown and green lentils have a similar taste and texture, and hold their shape well in soups and stews, while red lentils tend to almost “melt” into dishes and become very soft.

For this lentil chili recipe, I recommend using brown or green lentils.

If you love red lentils and would like to make this recipe using red lentils, go for it! However, keep in mind that the red lentils will become very soft and the chili will take on a more soup-like texture as opposed to a heartier texture.

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Ready in 30 minutes. There’s nothing better than a 30-minute meal is there? Because this lentil chili is made with canned lentils, it only takes about 30 minutes to prepare.
  • Packed with protein and fibre. Each serving of this lentil chili has 10 grams of protein and 9.5 grams of fibre in it to help keep you feeling full.
  • Freezer-friendly. lentil chili makes a great freezer-friendly meal and will stay well in the freezer for up to 3 months!

Lentil Chili recipe ingredients

ingredients for lentil chili
  • Lentils: I use canned brown lentils in this recipe, but you could also use canned green lentils. If you’d like to use dried lentils for this recipe, cook the dried lentils according to package directions before adding them to the chili.
  • Bell pepper: one red bell pepper, or any colour bell pepper you prefer.
  • Jalapeno pepper: this is optional, but adds a little heat to the chili.
  • Onion: one small to a medium-sized cooking onion.
  • Garlic: fresh garlic only, please! Don’t replace this with garlic powder.
  • Broth: I use vegetable broth, but you can use any type of broth you like.
  • Canned tomatoes: I like to use finely chopped tomatoes. But if you prefer a chunkier chili, you can also use a can of diced tomatoes.
  • Spices: a blend of chili powder, paprika, cumin, oregano, brown sugar, salt and pepper.

How to make lentil chili

Step 1

Heat some avocado oil in a large pot on medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes. Then add the red bell pepper and jalapeno pepper and saute for another couple of minutes.

Step 2

Add the lentils, crushed tomatoes, broth and spices to the pot and mix everything together. Bring the chili to a light boil, then cover and let simmer on low for 15 minutes.

Step 3

Once the chili is cooked, you can optionally blend half of the chili in a blender and add it back to the pot and stir. (This is completely optional and can be done if you prefer a slightly more blended chili texture. If you prefer a chunkier chili texture then skip this step!)

Topping ideas

Here are a few of my favourite toppings to add to any type of chili!

  • Cilantro
  • Lime wedge
  • Shredded cheese
  • Tortilla chips
  • Sour cream
  • Chopped avocado
  • Sliced jalapenos
  • Corn

What to serve with this chili

Chili is one of those recipes that is so versatile and can be eaten in so many different ways! While it’s absolutely delicious on its own in a big bowl topped with some fresh cilantro, it can also be enjoyed in the following ways:

How to store, freeze and reheat

Fridge: store any leftover lentil chili in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat in a pot on the stovetop or in the microwave.

Freezer: to freeze this chili let it cool completely and then transfer the chili to a freezer-safe container or zip-lock back. Freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost the chili by letting it thaw on the countertop.

Tips for making this recipe perfectly

  • Use canned lentils. This recipe calls for canned lentils to make it quick and easy. Make sure not to add dried lentils to this chili otherwise, they’ll absorb too much of the liquid. (If using dried lentils, cook them first before adding them to the chili.)
  • This chili is great prepared a day in advance. Letting the chili sit in the fridge overnight will allow the flavours in the chili to intensify, so it’s actually even tastier after a day!
  • Season to taste. Depending on how you like your chili, you may want to add more spice, salt or heat to it. Taste and adjust the seasoning to make it the way you love!

Frequently asked questions

Are lentils good for you?

Yes! Lentils are a fantastic source of plant-based protein and are packed with vital nutrients like iron, potassium and folate.

Can I use red lentils in this chili?

Yes, if you prefer red lentils you can use them in this recipe. Just pre-cook the red lentils before adding them to the chili. (Red lentils will also change the texture of the chili. )

Can you substitute lentils for beans in chili?

Absolutely! Lentils make a fantastic substitute for beans in chili and can be substituted equally.

a pot of lentil chili with a beige striped napkin on the side

More lentil recipes to try

More chili recipes to try

If you tried this Lentil Chili or any other recipe on the blog let me know how you liked it by leaving a comment/rating below! Be sure to follow along on PinterestInstagram and Facebook for even more deliciousness!

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
a bowl of lentil chili with cilantro on top

Lentil Chili

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 1 review
  • Author: Jessica Hoffman
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Cook
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan


A hearty chili made with green lentils that comes together in 30 minutes!


Units Scale
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
  • 15 oz can lentils, drained
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat the avocado oil in a pot on medium-high heat, then add the onion and garlic and sautee for 1-2 minutes. 
  2. Next add the bell pepper and jalapeno pepper and continue to sautee for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add in the lentils, crushed tomatoes, vegetable broth and spices and stir everything together, bringing the chili to a light boil. 
  4. Reduce the heat to low, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Optionally transfer 1/2 the chili to a blender and lightly blend for 5 seconds. Then add the blended chili back to the pot and mix. (This is optional if you prefer a more blended texture to your chili.)  


Store in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for 3 months.


  • Serving Size: 1/4 of the recipe
  • Calories: 200
  • Sugar: 7g
  • Fat: 4g
  • Carbohydrates: 26g
  • Fiber: 9.5g
  • Protein: 10g