Meatless Lentil Chili is a vegetarian chili recipe that’s mostly hands-free and ready in an hour! It’s made with carrots, onion, garlic, tomatoes, dried lentils, seasonings, and one secret ingredient. This chili recipe creates a mild, hearty flavor the whole family will love. It’s vegan and gluten-free too!
Meatless Lentil Chili
Everyone needs a go-to lentil chili all up in their collection. This chili recipe has saved me on soooo many occasions, I can’t even count on one hand.
This recipe requires such a small amount of prep and enough passive cooking, you could make it on-demand in one hour…without a slow-cooker.
In a few steps, the fresh ingredients get sautéed, the pantry stuff goes in, all gets simmered, and you give an occasional stir.
Whole, green lentils cook through in about 40 minutes with NO SOAKING required. And in that time, those babies soak up the tomato sauce like nobody’s business. It’s pretty magical actually!
Do you know how nutritious lentils are?
The fiber, protein, and iron in lentils have convinced me to eat more of them and more regularly.
I keep hearing the buzz about how eating more nutritious ingredients (and less meat) can help stave off undesirable cravings because the body gets what it truly needs without having to work too hard.
I love that concept!
Why do I use French Green Lentils?
When I first developed this recipe, I used standard, no-frills, brown lentils.
Nothing against ’em, but the green lentils take less time to cook and they hold their shape better during the cooking process.
So, it’s a texture thang!
I would gladly substitute brown lentils for French green because this chili will bring out the best in any lentil!
Why are lentils so budget-friendly?
Dry lentils average about $1.50 lb. Here in Northern California, organic lentils can be as much as $2.50 lb.
It might sound like a jump in price, but, I’ve never found a sustainable meat product that packs the same nutritional punch AND competes with those prices…not even close, in fact!
If you’re toying with the idea of loving lentils, but haven’t dialed it in, now is your chance to find out just how easy and delicious they are with my Going Meatless Lentil Chili.
This might become your new, in-a-pinch, comfort food that can feed the family for a few days.
Meatless Lentil Chili Ingredients
- extra virgin olive oil
- fresh garlic
- chili powder
- vegetable stock
- French green lentils (or brown lentils)
- whole peeled tomatoes
- tomato paste
- crushed red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt
- black pepper
- cocoa powder
- bay leaf
Tools I used for this recipe:
- chef knife
- cutting board
- Titan Vegetable Peeler and Julienne Slicer
- 4 Qt sauce pot
- air-tight storage containers
Meal planning tip:
Make this Lentil Chili on a Sunday evening, eat some for dinner that night, refrigerate the rest, and devour it on a few busy weeknights that follow.
Trust me, the flavor develops even further during the second or third day in the fridge. It’s magical, really.
Nothing against meat…
And btw, nothing against meat, I eat it all!
But, I do believe when it comes to animal products, less really is more and sustainably raised is even mo-better!
If you read the comments below, you’ll see that Lauren from Lauren Caris Cooks LOVES this chili!
I couldn’t be more excited about that because…have you seen her gorgeous website? When it comes to vegan, she’s the real deal, guys!
She writes simple, easy to follow recipes for busy people like you and me.
Go check her out…and say hello to her for me!
Check out my other vegan soup and chili recipes:
Cheers to eating nutritious, affordable, plant-based ingredients…and always to our health!
Meatless Lentil Chili
- 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/2 small Onion 1/2 cup diced
- 2 cloves Garlic minced
- 2 tsp Chili Powder
- 4 cups Reduced Sodium Vegetable Broth
- 1 cups French Green Lentils or Brown Lentils 1/2 lb sorted and rinsed
- 1 14.5 oz can No Salt Added Diced Tomatoes keep juice
- 2 Tbsp No Salt Added Tomato Paste
- 1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
- 1/2 tsp Cocoa Powder the secret ingredient
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 large Carrot 1/2 cup shredded or chopped
- In a 4-qt sauce pot on medium heat, heat OLIVE OIL until shimmering (about 2 minutes).
- To the pot, add ONION and GARLIC; sauté until tender and fragrant; stir frequently (about 3 minutes).
- Stir in CHILI POWDER; heat a few seconds until fragrant; add VEGETABLE STOCK, LENTILS, WHOLE PEELED TOMATOES with juice, TOMATO PASTE, CRUSHED RED PEPPER, SALT, BLACK PEPPER, COCOA POWDER, and BAY LEAF; stir to combine; bring just to a boil.
- Stir in CARROTS; turn heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until lentils are soft and chili thickens; stirring as needed (30-40 minutes)
- Serve warm over pasta, rice, or quinoa…or all by itself! Remember that the flavor will develop further each day.
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