Vegan lentil chili (made in the Instant Pot or on the stovetop) is an easy, inexpensive, and healthy plant-based dinner. This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which means we may earn a commission when you shop through them. 

A white bowl filled with lentil chili topped with lime wedge, green onions, and sour cream in front of an Instant Pot.

A few of our most highly rated recipes are lentil recipes and chili recipes, so why not share one more that combines the two? Check out our Mexican Lentil Soup, Instant Pot Chili, and Hearty Vegan Chili recipes while you’re here. 

Legumes such as lentils are pantry staples that make eating nutritious meals inexpensive and convenient, especially for those of us who eat plant-based, vegan, or vegetarian. They are so versatile that you can even use lentils to make vegan sloppy joes and bolognese

Why This Recipe Works 

This vegetarian chili is made with similar spices and vegetables as our other chili recipes, so it has the same classic flavors. You can make it mild, or spice it up with more chili powder or a splash of hot sauce. 

Lentils provide a hearty alternative to beans or ground meat. Plenty of toppings like avocado and cilantro add delcious texture and flavor. 

All the ingredients for lentil chili sit on a white countertop: green bell pepper, onion, salt and pepper, diced carrot, spices, vegetable broth, lentils, and tomatoes.

What You’ll Need

  • Onion 
  • Bell Pepper 
  • Carrot 
  • Spices
  • Tomatoes 
  • Broth 
  • Lentils 
  • Toppings 
  • Instant Pot or large pot 
An Instant Pot is filled with all the ingredients for vegan lentil chili.

Tips for Making Lentil Chili in the Instant Pot

This recipe is very quick and easy to make both on the stove and in the Instant Pot. I use the Instant Pot Ultra in the 6-quart size.  The only concern is burning at the bottom of the pot. To avoid this, be sure to deglaze the liner before pressure cooking, use enough liquid (broth) and keep the tomatoes at the top. 

What Type of Lentils to Use 

I have only tested this recipe with pre-cooked lentils. You could use dried (rinsed) lentils, though you would use much less and need to increase the broth and cook time. For Instant Pot lentil soups with dried lentils, I use 2 cups of lentils and 6 cups of broth. 

I’ve used the entire 1-lb. package of steamed lentils from Trader Joe’s here. They are convenient to keep in the fridge for quick and easy meals. We love them in this Vegetarian Lentil Casserole and lentil bruschetta. You can also use 2 cans of lentils, just drain and rinse them first. 

A close-up photo of vegan lentil chili in a white ceramic bowl on a white countertop. The chili is garnished with lime, green onions, and sour cream.

Is Lentil Chili Healthy? 

Did you know that many of the longest living populations on earth eat legumes every day? Beans and lentils provide protein, vitamins, and minerals. And unlike animal-based proteins, they are also loaded with fiber. 

Top this healthy lentil chili with avocado for some healthy fats and you have a nutritious plant-based meal that will keep you satisfied. 

Serving and Storing Suggestions

My kids love cornbread served alongside chili. It’s also great with corn chips for dipping. 

Vegan lentil chili tastes just as good, if not better, the next day and reheats wonderfully. Once cooled to room temperature, refrigerate the chili for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months. 

More Warm and Cozy Plant-Based Recipes 

For more plant-based Instant Pot recipes, see our full post of Vegan Instant Pot recipes or grab a copy of my cookbook, Vegan in an Instant

Yield: Serves 6-8

Lentil Chili

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

This hearty vegan lentil chili is so quick and easy to make. It's a great weeknight dinner that's cozy and satisfying, healthy, and delicious. Make it in the Instant Pot or on the stovetop.

Lentil chili in a white ceramic bowl topped with green onions, sour cream, and a lime slice.


Lentil Chili

  • 1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable broth
  • 3 cups cooked brown or green lentils (see note)
  • 1 (28 oz can) diced tomatoes
  • 4 oz. can diced green chiles
  • 1 ½ tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 ½ tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (plus more to taste)


  • Grated cheddar cheese or nutritional yeast
  • Cilantro
  • Avocado, cubed
  • hot sauce


  1. Select sauté on the instant pot and add the oil. Once the oil is hot add the onion, bell pepper, and carrot cook for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are softened. Diced onion, carrot, bell pepper saute in an Instant Pot.
  2. Cancel sauté mode. Add the vegetable broth and deglaze the Instant Pot liner, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom to prevent burning during cooking. Add the rest of the ingredients, but do not stir, as tomatoes often burn at the bottom. Close the lid, and place the valve on sealing. All the ingredients for vegan lentil chili in an Instant Pot before cooking.
  3. Select high pressure and set the timer for 5 minutes. It will table about 15 minutes for the Instant Pot to come to pressure.
  4. Once cooked, do a quick release, open the lid carefully. Serve in bowls topped with your favorite garnishes. A ladle serves lentil chili out of an instant pot.



I use the 1 lb. vacuum-packed steamed lentils from Trader Joe's. You can also use 2 (15 oz.) cans of lentils, drained and rinsed. I have not tested this recipe with dry lentils. If you would like to try it, you'll need 2 cups of dried lentils (rinsed) and approximately 6 cups of water, and will need to let the chili cook longer so natural release. Do not use red lentils, as they become very mushy.


  • You can keep the chili in the fridge for up to 4 days or freezer for up to 3 months.
  • To reheat the soup, thaw it overnight, then reheat on the stove or in individual bowls in the microwave.


Lentils: Chickpeas

Chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder: taco seasoning

Stovetop instructions 

  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, add the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onion, bell pepper, and carrot, cook for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are softened. 
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir, bring to a boil. 
  3. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. You will probably need to add more broth to account for evaporation when cooking on the stovetop.
  4. Serve in bowls and garnish with the toppings of your choice.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 bowl
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 120Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 195mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 7gSugar: 13gProtein: 5g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your favorite calculator.