Wholesome Vegan Chili With Lentils

6 servings
2 hr 10 min

By Marley Goldin on June 26, 2020

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

The epitome of heartiness and warmth, this Wholesome Vegan Chili with Lentils is comfort food at its finest. Its subtle spice and meaty texture will keep you satisfied for hours!

Looking for a wholesome family-style meal, but don’t have time or energy to stand over a hot stove for hours?

This Vegan Chili With Lentils only requires one pot, a handful of ingredients, and a casual 10 minutes of your time before it does all the work for you on its own.

Totally dreamy, right?

Sometimes I want to cook a warm, cozy family meal, but I only have two minutes here and there in between diaper changes, chasing a new crawler around the house, and cranking out baby food and bottles.

As a new mom, I appreciate this Wholesome Vegan Chili With Lentils recipe more than ever because you just sort of dump all the ingredients in, leave it on the stove, and let it work its magic.

It makes meals FOR DAYS and is one of those foods that actually may even taste better as leftovers.

My best friend’s mom made THE BEST turkey chili growing up, and we would just sit on the couch and eat it by the pound with our favorite blue corn tortilla chips.

And with a full-time job, three kids, and ALL their friends constantly running around her house I am now realizing how GENIUS making this dish was. Throw it in the pot and feed a small army with it.

So as soon as I became a mom I was like “okay, time to perfect a meatless chili”. This wholesome vegan chili with lentils gives me all the nostalgia, heartiness, and flavor of Helaine’s famous turkey chili, but just without the meat.

Vegan Chili with Lentils Tips and Tricks

Gather All Your Ingredients First

Every good chili has a mix of beans, seasoning, and a healthy amount of garlic and onion, but this chili has two unique ingredients that make it stand out.

Let’s talk lentils! They are such a great plant-based protein. They have a meaty texture, absorb flavor well, and are packed with fiber and vitamin B.

They’re great in veggie burgers and as a meat-alternative in tacos, and you guessed it! GREAT in vegan chili! I used to make this the exact same way without the lentils and just felt something was missing.

This “beefs” it up (pun intended) and gives it that heartiness any true chili achieves.

Green Tip: Consider using legumes as your main protein source in family meals instead of meat. Factory farming is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, water contamination, and deforestation.

Reducing your meat consumption is a great way to lower the demand for animal products.

Corn is a highly debated chili add-in, but I would never chili without the corn. While classic chili leaves it out, you will find it in most southwestern style chili’s, and here’s why it’s an absolute YES in my book.

Between the beans, the lentils (or meat), and the warm spices, chili is a HEAVY dish.

It is begging for something slightly sweet and fresh to break up your bite. Corn can successfully stew for 2+ hours while retaining its crisp, juicy, freshness. Plus, it doesn’t interrupt the texture.

Cook Down The Onions First

Dice your onions and add them to a large pot or Dutch Oven with olive oil. Crank your heat up to medium and allow the onions to sweat.

After 5 minutes over medium, the onions should be super fragrant and start to turn translucent.

Set It and Forget It

Turn the heat down to low and add the rest of your ingredients. Give the pot a couple of stirs so everything is submerged in the vegetable broth.

Your vegan chili should be at a low simmer. Cover and cook for at least two hours.

Stir the chili with lentils every 30 minutes or so, just to ensure that nothing sticks to the bottom.

How to Serve Vegan Chili with Lentils

The short answer is with anything and everything. But, I’ll share my top five faves for my wholesome vegan chili with lentils:

Smothered in cheese and served as a dip with chips. Chili makes for THE ULTIMATE dip. I like it best with cheddar cheese.

There are some really awesome vegan cheddar options that melt well, but my favorite is Violife Just Like Cheddar Shreds. Or just leave off the cheese and dive right in with the tortilla chips.

Over pasta. No, I’m not crazy. It’s awesome. We had a local chili restaurant growing up that introduced me to this unlikely combo and it’s A+. I like it best with penne. But I can make an argument for spaghetti, too.

On a bun. It’s basically a sloppy joe. Enough said.

Over quinoa or rice. Add some cheese, and guacamole and you have the perfect Tex-Mex bowl. You can also add some veggies and red onion to bulk it up and hit every flavor note.

In a tortilla with lime. Like a taco. Or in a burrito-sized tortilla and add some rice and other fixings, too.

So, there ya have it! The easiest, most filling, ever-versatile, healthy and hearty, almost-every-diet-friendly chili recipe you never knew how much you needed. The epitome of heartiness and warmth and comfort food at its finest.

If you’re loving this Vegan Chili with Lentils and are looking for other vegan dinner ideas, check out these Meatless Chickpea Meatballs in Marinara and these Smoky and Spicy Black Bean Burgers!

Wholesome Vegan Chili With Lentils
Recipe details
  • 6  servings
  • Prep time: 10 Minutes Cook time: 120 Minutes Total time: 2 hr 10 min
Show Nutrition Info
Hide Nutrition Info
Vegan Chili with Lentils
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes (no salt added)
  • 15.5 ounces (1 can) black beans
  • 15 ounces white kennel corn (frozen)
  • 1 cup lentils (uncooked)
  • 2 tablespoons chili seasoning
Optional Toppings
  • 1 raw scallion
  • 1 Handful cilantro
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 2 slices jalapeno

Dice onions and cook in a large pot or Dutch oven with a lid in olive oil for about 5 minutes, just to release some of their juices.
Add the vegetable broth, garlic, crushed tomatoes, black beans, corn, lentils, and seasoning. Mix well, cover, and simmer on low for about two hours, stirring occasionally.
Serve warm with toppings of choice.
  • Try making your own seasoning. I even have a go-to chili and taco seasoning recipe for you. It’s simple and let’s face it—nothing is better than fresh and homemade!
  • You can leave it more than two hours to simmer, just make sure you are stirring so it doesn’t stick to the bottom. The longer the flavors have to meld together the better.However, you may need to add more veggie broth if the chili starts to get dry. Just check it and stir it every 30-45 minutes or so.
Marley's Menu
Want more details about this and other recipes? Check out more here!
  • Melissa Holmes Melissa Holmes on Mar 17, 2022

    Can you advise how may grams or oz 1 cup of lentils is please, and can you advise how many ltrs 1 cup of borth is, thank you xx

    • Marley's Menu Marley's Menu on Mar 17, 2022

      Hi Melissa! 1 cup of lentils is 128 g or 4.5 oz, and 1 cup of broth is just under 1/4 of a liter -- 237 ml to be precise! Hope this helps and you enjoy the recipe!