With just 7 ingredients, this lentil chili recipe is incredibly easy to throw together on the stove! Packed with flavor and ready in under 45 minutes, it’s a healthy, high protein meal your friends and family will love.
I’m a big fan of chili when it comes to feeding crowds, emptying out the pantry, or just having something cozy to eat on the couch. We’ve done a classic vegetarian chili, a hearty black bean chili, a sweet potato chili, and now…we lentil chili.
Why You’re Going To Love This
I brought this chili to my book club meeting and everyone went crazy over it (they actually fought over the leftovers!) If that alone doesn’t convince you, you’ll also love that this chili:
- requires just 7 ingredients
- is ready in under 45 minutes (max!)
- can be customized to whatever you have in your pantry
- is high protein (28 grams per serving)
Lentil Chili Ingredients
You’ll need just 7 pantry staples for this chili!
- Oil: A splash of oil will help the onion to cook up nicely. Feel free to reduce the amount of oil if you’re watching calories!
- Onion: The one non-pantry staple in the recipe! White onion is best here but you can also use yellow (here’s how to dice onion).
- Chili Seasoning: Flavors the chili with a blend of spices, including chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder (here’s our easy McCormick Chili Seasoning Copycat Recipe!)
- Vegetable Broth: Lentils need a lot of liquid to soak up and cook properly, and a flavorful broth fits the bill.
- Lentils: Brown lentils are our favorite type of lentil for chili because they’re the perfect combination of soft (but not too soft).
- Diced Tomatoes: Two cans of tomatoes add major savory flavor to this chili.
- Black Beans: While you could really use any type of bean here, black beans are our favorite! Don’t drain the can before adding it, that liquid is packed with flavor and helps to thicken the chili!
Which Vegetable Broth Is Best?
You can use any kind of broth here, including cartons of broth or broth made from bouillon cubes. Our personal favorite? Make your own vegetable broth using veggie scraps!
How to make Lentil Chili
There are just 3 steps to making this easy vegan chili, and they all happen in the same pot on the stove. So easy!
- Create a flavor base by cooking the onions and adding the spices
- Assemble everything by adding the rest of the ingredients to the pot
- Serve hot with your favorite toppings!
Make It Spicy
I love a spicy chili, but this lentil chili is middle of the road on the spicy spectrum – a little heat from the chili seasoning mix but not too spicy. To make this a truly spicy chili, I would add a sliced jalapeno at the same time that you add the chili seasoning mix, and top with slices of jalapenos!
You can also make it spicier by making your own chili seasoning and adding a bit more cayenne pepper.
Storage & Meal Prep
This lentil chili is great as leftovers or made as meal prep, because the lentils don’t become too soft when cooked! This chili stores well for 5 days in the fridge, and can also be frozen for longer term storage. (Our complete guide to freezing chili here!)
How To Thicken Chili
This chili is pretty thick thanks to the absorbent power of the lentils. For an even thicker chili, you can:
- Blend: Ladle a small amount of the chili into a blender and blend, then pour is back into the pot. This creates a thicker chili by simply using the magic starches hidden in those beans, without having to add any ingredients.
- Simmer: Let the chili simmer uncovered for an extended period. As the liquid evaporates, the chili will naturally thicken. This method can take some time, so be patient.
- Add Cornstarch Slurry: Mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with an equal amount of cold water. Stir until it forms a smooth mixture. Add this slurry to your chili, stirring continuously. Allow it to cook for a few more minutes until it thickens.
- Add Masa Harina: Mix a few tablespoons of masa harina (a type of corn flour) with water to form a slurry. Add it to the chili and let it cook for a few minutes. This method also adds a nice corn flavor to the chili.
Chili is a fun recipe because it can be the dish, or it can be a topping! Here’s how I like serving up this hearty lentil chili (grab our full list of what to serve with chili here).
- By itself with Greek yogurt instead of sour cream (weird food combination or just me?)
- On baked potatoes (or air fryer potatoes!)
- On hot dogs (have you tried my viral carrot hot dogs?)
- On nachos (vegan nachos for the win!)
- Flavor Base: Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook until soft and a bit translucent, about 4 minutes. Add chili seasoning and cook for another 1 minute.
- Assemble: Add broth, lentils, tomatoes, and black beans (undrained). Cover and let simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, or until lentils are tender.
- Serve hot topped with your favorites, like cilantro, jalapeno, avocado, and crushed corn chips!