Vegan Lentil Chili Recipe - Cookin Canuck - Meatless Dinner (2024)

Published: · Modified: by Dara · This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. · 23 Comments

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The flavors in this Vegan Lentil Chili are rich, comforting and beyond delicious! You'll never miss the meat.
Vegan Lentil Chili Recipe - Cookin Canuck - Meatless Dinner (1)

Whether you're following a plant based diet or are just trying to work more meatless meals into your life, this vegan lentil chili recipe is a fantastic addition to any meal plan! It has just the right amount of spice for our family, but feel free to reduce or increase the amount of chili powder to your taste. If you like things really spicy, stir in some chopped chipotle peppers or some cayenne pepper.

Lentils and black beans are packed with fiber, which makes this chili extra filling and satisfying. I usually serve it with a green salad - cornbread as well if I'm feeling particularly ambitious.

The recipe also happens to be gluten free and dairy free (provided you don't sprinkle shredded Cheddar cheese on top).

There are a couple of unusual ingredients in here that I stole from my favorite chili recipe. Unsweetened cocoa powder and ground cinnamon. I was originally inspired by a mole sauce at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants. Many moles include chocolate and cinnamon. So, I thought, why not give it a go in my next batch of chili. I wasn't disappointed! They add an underlying depth of flavor to the chili - though you can't actually identify those flavors when eating the chili - and I never make chili without them again.

If you're looking for more easy dinner recipe, check out my 45+ 30-Minute Healthy Dinner Ideas.

Vegan Lentil Chili Recipe - Cookin Canuck - Meatless Dinner (2)


These are the main components need for this recipe (affiliate links included)…

  • Lentils: Both brown and green lentils work in this recipe. Since the cooking time is similar, they're easily substituted for the other. Plus, they're both readily available in most grocery stores.
  • Tomatoes: You'll need tomato paste and canned crushed tomatoes. If you have the option to buy tomato paste in the tube, I highly recommend it. It's so much easier to deal with than canned tomato paste, particularly if you're not using the whole can.
  • Spices: This chili recipe calls for the usual suspects - chili powder, cumin and oregano - and a couple of unexpected ones - cinnamon and unsweetened cocoa powder. I rarely make chili without them anymore!
  • Broth: Use either homemade or store-bought vegetable broth. If you are watching your sodium, use a low sodium version.
  • Black beans: For ease, I use canned black beans. Be sure to drain and rinse well before adding them to the chili. Red kidney beans would be a good substitution.

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Tips for making this vegan chili:

This chili follows the same basic steps of most chilis, stews and soups. Start by sauteing the aromatics - in this case, that's the onion and red bell pepper. Next up are the garlic, spices and tomato paste. Be sure to stir constantly while cooking these for a minute or two so they don't stick to the bottom of the saucepan or burn.

Because you are using several spices, I recommend measuring them out and combining them in a prep bowl while the onion is cooking. Once the onion and bell pepper are cooked, you can add the garlic and all of the spices in one fell swoop.

After adding the liquid, bring the chili to a boil, then reduce the temperature so that the mixture cooks at a lively simmer. Partially cover the saucepan with the lid while the lentils are cooking and stir occasionally so that nothing sticks to the bottom.

If you find that the lentils soak up the liquid more than you would like, feel free to add more vegetable broth or water.

Can you freeze lentil chili?

Yes! Once the chili is cool, divide it into freezer containers, like these ones (affiliate link), and freeze. The chili can be frozen for 4 to 6 months. To defrost, place it in the freezer, or use the defrost mode on your microwave.

Vegan Lentil Chili Recipe - Cookin Canuck - Meatless Dinner (3)

What to serve on the side:

Since this chili already boasts a good amount of fiber and protein, I typically serve a big salad on the side. That being said, if you like something creamy with your chili, try a dollop of Greek yogurt or light sour cream (look for vegan alternatives if following a plant-based diet).

Some of our favorite salads to serve with chili:
Any green salad (kale, mixed greens, spinach) with tahini dressing

Is lentil chili healthy?

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, lentils are a good source of fiber, potassium and folate. In addition, they also contain prebiotics (hello, gut health!) Plus, they’re a great source of plant-based protein.

This vegetarian chili also contains black beans, which boast their own health benefits, including impressive levels of fiber and protein.

Vegan Lentil Chili Recipe - Cookin Canuck - Meatless Dinner (4)

Other lentil recipes:

Instant Pot Lentil Dal
Instant Pot Lentil Soup with Sweet Potato

Printable Recipe

Vegan Lentil Chili Recipe - Cookin Canuck - Meatless Dinner (5)

Vegan Lentil Chili Recipe

The flavors in this Vegan Lentil Chili are rich, comforting and beyond delicious! You'll never miss the meat.

4.75 from 59 votes

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Course: Entrees

Cuisine: Southwestern

Keyword: Chili, Vegan, Vegetarian

Prep Time: 10 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 55 minutes minutes

Total Time: 1 hour hour 5 minutes minutes

Servings: 4 Servings

Calories: 295.6kcal

Author: Dara Michalski | Cookin' Canuck



  • Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the red bell pepper and cook for 2 minutes.

  • Add the garlic, chili powder, oregano, cumin, cocoa powder, cinnamon and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

  • Stir in the vegetable broth, lentils and crushed tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat so that the mixture is simmering. Partially cover the saucepan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender, 30 to 35 minutes.

  • Stir in the black beans and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the cilantro. Serve.


Weight Watchers Points: 1 (Blue - Freestyle SP) / 6 (Green) / 1 (Purple)

Please note that I am not a medical or nutritional professional. I provide nutritional information for my recipes as a courtesy to my readers. It is calculated using the Sparks nutrition calculator and Weight Watchers points are calculated using the Recipe Builder on their site. While I attempt to provide information that is as accurate as possible, you should calculate the nutritional information independently before relying on it.


Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 295.6kcal | Carbohydrates: 52.5g | Protein: 16.4g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 0.8g | Sodium: 1117.4mg | Fiber: 17.9g | Sugar: 12.8g

Tried this recipe?If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it on Instagram! Just use the hashtag #COOKINCANUCK and I'll be sure to find it.

This post was first published on January 2, 2020 and updated with new text on June 15, 2021.

Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Vegan Lentil Chili Recipe - Cookin Canuck - Meatless Dinner (6)

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Reader Interactions


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  1. Sandra

    Vegan Lentil Chili Recipe - Cookin Canuck - Meatless Dinner (11)
    I love the flavors in this lentil chili; however, after at least 60 minutes of slow simmering my lentils are still crunchy. Was I supposed to soak them first?


    • Dara

      Sandra, this can happen with old lentils. Have they been sitting in your pantry for awhile?


  2. LauraP

    Vegan Lentil Chili Recipe - Cookin Canuck - Meatless Dinner (12)
    I made this for the first time last night and it was delicious! I wouldn't change a thing.


  3. Megan

    How soft should the lentils be? Mine seem to be a little undercooked but keep seeing they shouldn't be cooked in tomatoes because they can't cook all the way. Do they just need to simmer longer? Can this be made with canned lentils instead?


    • Dara

      Hi Megan, the amount of vegetable broth in this recipe helps to negate the effects of the tomato sauce. That being said, if they are not tender enough for your preference, I suggest cooking longer. You can add another 1/2 cup or so vegetable broth since the mixture will be simmering for longer. I like my lentils al dente - soft with a little bite, but certainly not mushy. I hope that helps.

      Edited to add - And yes, you can definitely use canned lentils. Add them into the mixture in the last 10 minutes.


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Vegan Lentil Chili Recipe - Cookin Canuck - Meatless Dinner (2024)


Are lentils healthy for you? ›

Lentils are rich in a type of fiber that helps your digestive system work as it should and fuels good bacteria in your gut. Fiber may also help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. “Fiber plays an important role in regulating our bowels and protecting the immune system,” says Homan.

What are considered lentils? ›

Lentils, sometimes referred to as pulses, are a type of plant called a legume. Beans, chickpeas, fresh peas, sugar snap peas and snow peas are also legumes. Known for their high levels of protein compared to beans, lentils bring a lot to the plate.

Are lentils good or bad for gut? ›

Lentils are high in fiber, which supports regular bowel movements and the growth of healthy gut bacteria. Eating lentils can increase your stool weight and improve your overall gut function ( 5 ).

Do lentils burn belly fat? ›

Lentils and beans are rich in soluble fiber, which is the single best carbohydrate to help you burn belly fat. "Soluble fiber forms a thick gel when it binds with water in the body," Tracy said. "This gel that forms therefore slows digestion in the body, which keeps you feeling full for longer!

Can I eat lentils every day? ›

However, it's worth bearing in mind – if you are planning on eating lentils every day – that the fibre they contain can be difficult to break down and can potentially cause gas and cramping if you eat too much of it.

Can you eat too many lentils? ›

Eating half a cup of cooked lentils gives you lots of essential nutrients and their high fiber content makes you feel full. However, the fiber in lentils can be hard for your body to break down. Eating too many lentils can cause gas, bloating, and cramping.

What are the healthiest lentils to eat? ›

Urad dal or black lentil

Urad dal or black lentil is one of the most nutritious pulses known to mankind. Low in fat and calories, Urad dal helps to improve digestion.

Is it okay to eat lentils every day? ›

Eating half a cup of cooked lentils gives you lots of essential nutrients and their high fiber content makes you feel full. However, the fiber in lentils can be hard for your body to break down. Eating too many lentils can cause gas, bloating, and cramping.

Is it good to eat lentils every day? ›

Lentils conceal their superpowers with a dowdy exterior. Pound for pound, raw lentils have more protein than steak. While not as protein-dense once cooked, they pack even more iron than meat, in addition to other vitamins and minerals.

Are lentils good or bad carbs? ›

Lentils are not suitable for those following a strict low-carb or keto diet. While they are rich in protein and fiber, they contain a high number of total and net carbs, with one cup of cooked legumes having 39.8 grams of total carbohydrates — that's already 50% of the daily carb allowance of a keto dieter.

Are lentils a carb or protein? ›

Lentils are high in fibre, and complex carbohydrates, while low in fat and calories. Their high protein content makes lentils a perfect option for those looking to boost their protein intake. They are naturally gluten-free, making them a delicious staple in a gluten-free kitchen.

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