Sit by the fire with a big bowl of this vegan lentil chili for a cozy Sunday evening. This recipe is easy to make, ready in just about 30 minutes, and loved by both vegans and meat eaters. It’s also freezable and perfect for meal prep!
There’s nothing quite as comforting as some fuzzy socks, a warm fire, lentil chili and some of your favorite people on a Sunday afternoon. Ugh, how perfect does that sound?!
There are so many ways to make chili, but I decided to stick to the basics for this one. It’s made with lentils, beans, veggies, a whole lot of spices and tomatoes. It’s hearty, thick and perfectly spiced.
This recipe is made similarly to my vegan chana masala, so if you’ve ever made that, you know just how simple it is. I’ll walk you through it step by step so you can make it perfectly every time.
You generally can’t use lentils in place of beans in a chili recipe, so it’s key to find a recipe that already uses lentils if that’s what you want.
It’s made in just one pot, full of flavor, plant-based protein and perfect for meal prep since it freezes well! It has a meaty texture so it’s bound to impress but is made with just lentils, beans and veggies.
How to make vegan chili
Before I do anything, I like to first prep all of the veggies. So, I’ll mince the garlic, (this garlic press makes it super easy), chop the peppers, measure the corn, dice the onion, celery and set them all aside.
Next, add the diced onion to a large pot with oil. Let it saute for 5-10 minutes or until translucent. Add in the garlic, peppers and celery and saute for a few minutes.
Then add in all of the spices and the bay leaves. Saute for anout 2 minutes to let the flavors blend.
Finally, add in the beans, lentils, corn, tomato sauce, veggie broth and bring to a low boil. Let the mixture simmer, covered, for about 25 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
This final step is optional, but I often will take about 2 cups of the chili and puree it in a blender and then pour it back in. This give this chili a slightly meaty texture and adds more substance.
I love serving this lentil chili with cornbread, fresh cilantro and avocado on top. It is also delicious with sour cream or just as is!
If you aren’t super sensitive to spice like I am, some jalapeno peppers on top adds a nice flavor and a little crunch.
No matter how you have it, this lentil chili is a high protein dinner recipe that is perfect for a chilly Fall or Winter day.
How to store and freeze
Once prepared, this recipe will store in the fridge for 5 days. However, chili is also freezer friendly! Allow the chili to cool completely and store it in the fridge in an air tight container for up to 1 month.
This vegan lentil chili freezes well! Just let it cool completely, then transfer to a freezer safe and air tight container for up to 2 months. Let it thaw in the fridge overnight, then reheat on the stove.
It helps to freeze it in smaller containers so you don’t have to thaw it all at once if you don’t want to reheat it all right away.
Make it spicy!
How spicy it is totally depends on your preference! For a spicy chili, use 2 serrano peppers WITH seeds. For a mild chili, use 1 serrano pepper with no seeds.
I personally like 2 serrano peppers with no seeds plus a small pinch of cayenne for medium spice. Feel free to play around and see what you like!
Try these recipes next!
One Pot Vegan Lentil Chili
by: claire cary
- 1 can black beans drained and rinsed
- 1 can kidney or pinto beans drained and rinse
- 1 cup red lentils
- 28 ounce can tomato sauce or finely diced tomatoes
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 medium red onion chopped
- 1 cup corn
- 2 stalks celery finely diced
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 2 serrano peppers chopped*
- 2 tbsp oil I used olive
- 1 tbsp coconut sugar
- 3 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 bay leaves
- 1-1 ½ tsp sea salt
- Black pepper to taste
- Optional: Pinch of cayenne
- Chop the onion into small pieces and add to a pan with the oil.
- Saute until translucent, about 5-10 minutes.
- Add in the chopped celery, bell pepper, corn, serrano pepper (see notes about spice), garlic and saute an additional 5 minutes.
- Add in all of the spices, coconut sugar, salt, and bay leaves and mix well.
- Add in all remaining ingredients and bring to a low boil.
- Cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer for about 25 minutes stirring occasionally to ensure the chili doesn’t burn or stick to the bottom.
- After about 25 minutes, taste and adjust flavors as desired. Discard the bay leaves, then transfer about 2 cups of chili to a blender and blend until mostly smooth, leaving the lid slightly ajar to let the heat escape. Start the blender on the lowest setting and work up.
- Transfer back to the pot and stir to combine.
- Serve warm with sour cream, cilantro, avocado and enjoy!