Red Lentil Chili! We are total chili lovers over here, and we aren’t afraid to mix it up a little with this tasty comfort food.
Loaded with flavor, protein, and nutrients, this oil-free, low-fat Red Lentil Chili is easy to make and sure to be a fun and simple twist on a traditional chili. It’s everything a great chili should be and so much more. You won’t believe how hearty and delicious it tastes. The whole family will thank you!
Whole Food Plant Based, Vegan, plant based, oil free, refined sugar free, no highly processed ingredients and gluten free.
Hi there, Ameera here!
We could eat chili every day of the week! It’s so comforting and filling, what’s not to love? Switch up the beans, veggies, and flavors and you’ve got endless options of chili.
Some of our absolutely favorites include:
- Three Bean Chili
- Buffalo Chili
- White Bean Potato Chili
- Sweet and Spicy Chili
- Five Bean Chili
- Vegan Cincinnati Chili
Stay tuned for more delicious variations on this American classic! In the meantime, grab a bowl, and some baked tortilla chips, and lay back with a wholesome bowl of yummy chili!
This Red Lentil Chili is hearty enough to serve as a main dish, couple it with some cornbread and you’ll be all set!
Tips for Success:
- Instant Pot: We used an 8-quart Instant Pot. If you use a 6-quart Instant Pot or a different lentil, you may need to reduce the time in the Instant Pot accordingly.
- Jalapeno Peppers: We loved using 2 jalapeno peppers in this chili. If you are concerned about the heat, then scale back to 1 jalapeno. We have found that most store-bought jalapeno peppers are hit/miss when it comes to heat. Slice a tiny bit off the end and taste it. Does it pack a lot of heat or is it mild? If mild, add 2 jalapenos, if there is a lot of heat, add 1.
- Chili Broth: This chili has more broth than a normal chili. You can easily increase the thickness by cutting back on the amount of water and/or by adding more split-red lentils. Or our suggestion is waiting to see how it turns out, and then adding more black beans and kidney beans at the end, if needed. We enjoyed a different change of pace with the extra soup-like broth. We loved adding crushed tortilla chips into the chili which totally took the chili over the top.
- Flavors to Marry: Make sure you allow at least 5 minutes for the flavors to marry. The flavors continue to develop once the soup slightly cools.
- Instant Pot Sauté: We tried using the sauté function with the Instant Pot and it really made no discernable difference. It did make a slight difference on the stove top.
- Stove Top Simmer: Do not cook this chili at a rolling boil, but rather a low tempered boil (simmer.) Use a tight-fitting lid to ensure that you do not evaporate too much liquid.
- Spiciness of Chili: Our family was completely divided over the amount of chili powder and smoked paprika. Feel free to adjust the chili powder and smoked paprika per your taste preferences. Additionally, we used a minimal amount of cumin, simply because we have family members who only like a hint of cumin. If you are a cumin lover, feel free to ramp up the cumin as well.
- Baking Soda: Baking soda is often used as a neutralizer for dishes that contain a lot of acidity, typically from tomatoes. We use it in this dish to remove some of the tomato acidity (from the tomato paste, tomato sauce, and petite diced tomatoes) without losing the tomatoey flavor. When you add it, the mixture may bubble up, then settle down as it neutralizes the acidity. The baking soda also helps speed up the cooking process when combining tomatoes with the red split lentils.
Leftovers and Freezing:
Leftovers will generally keep for 4-5 days in the refrigerator. Store in a covered container. Reheating can be done on the stovetop, or in the microwave.
This chili freezes well. If frozen, for best results, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Pantry Products Used:
- Vegetable Stock: We use Pacific Organic Low Sodium Vegetable Stock. We love this brand because it is Whole Food Plant Based compliant, as it does not contain MSG, has no oil, and does not contain any highly-processed ingredients.
- Chili Powder: We used Penzeys Regular Chili Powder. It has great flavor, with a tiny kick that is not overwhelming. Feel free to use your favorite chili powder, just be sure to select a mild one and not one that has a lot of heat to it.
- Tamari: We used San J Tamari Soy Sauce, Gluten Free, Reduced Sodium. You can substitute the tamari with reduced sodium soy sauce, Braggs Liquid Aminos, or Braggs Coconut Liquid Aminos.
Kitchen Products Used:
- Instant Pot or Ceramic/Enamel Lined Dutch oven or similarly large stock pot with a tight-fitting lid. We like this 8-quart duo Instant Pot and Round Dutch Oven
We certainly hope you give this deliciousness a try.Print
Loaded with flavor, protein, and nutrients, this oil-free, low-fat Red Lentil Chili is easy to make and sure to be a fun and simple twist on a traditional chili.
- 1 cup red onions, fine dice
- 1 celery rib, diced
- 1 carrot, sliced
- 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded, fine dice
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth *
- 2 cups water
- 1 – [ 14 oz. can ] petite diced tomatoes
- 1 – [ 8 oz. can ] tomato sauce
- 1 Tablespoon reduced-sodium tamari *
- 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- ½ to ¾ cup dry split red lentils, sorted and rinsed
- 1 – [ 15 oz. can ] kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 – [ 15 oz. can ] black beans, drained and rinsed
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda *
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 Tablespoons dried minced onions
- 1 Tablespoon + ¼ teaspoon chili powder (+/-) *
- ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika (+/-)
- ¼ teaspoon cumin (+/-)
- ½ to 1 teaspoon sea salt (+/-) *
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper (+/-)
- Avocado slices
- Freshly chopped cilantro
- Tortilla chips
Instant Pot Instructions
- Place the Spice/Herb Ingredients in a small bowl, mix well, set aside.
- Add all the Base Ingredients and Spice/Herb Mix, stir well to combine. Set the Instant Pot to Manual Pressure Highfor 5 minutes. When finished, press Cancel and allow to sit for 2 minutes, then do a Quick Release. Unplug the Instant Pot.
- Once all the pressure is released, carefully remove the lid. Taste test the flavors and add any additional seasonings. Stir to combine.
- Allow at least 5 minutes for the flavors to marry. Serve with your favorite toppings.
Stove Top Instructions
- Place the Spice/Herb Ingredients in a small bowl, mix well, set aside.
- In a large ceramic/enamel-lined pot or similar stock pot, add the diced onions, jalapenos, carrots and celery, sauté over medium-high heat until the veggies begin to soften, approximately 7 to 9 minutes, stirring periodically to prevent burning. Add a tablespoon or so of water if they start to stick and/or to prevent burning.
- Add the minced garlic and tomato paste, sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly, then add all remaining the Base Ingredients and Spice/Herb Mix, stir well to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower to a low-boiling simmer, stir to combine. Cover with a tight-fitting lid. Simmer for 20 to 35 minutes until the red lentils are tender, stirring occasionally.
- Once the red lentils are tender, taste test the flavors and add any additional seasonings.Stir to combine, allow at least 5 minutes for the flavors to marry. Serve with your favorite toppings.
*Please reference the blog post for Tips for Success, Pantry Items Used, Storage and Freezing, and Kitchen Products Used.
*Sea Salt: Please adjust the sea salt based upon your family’s sea salt preferences and/or based upon dietary needs.
*Serving: 4 to 5 (makes 9 ½ cups)
This post contains affiliate links, and we may receive a very small commission if you purchase through those links at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Monkey and Me Kitchen Adventures! For more information, see our disclosures here.