Homemade Lentil Chili is a hearty, budget-friendly meal that is ready in under an hour! 

Lentils, canned tomatoes and beans, fresh bell pepper and a handful of spices are simmered on the stovetop to create this delicious chili dish.

Lentil Chili with bread

Simple Pantry Ingredients

This homemade lentil chili recipe is foolproof. It uses simple, inexpensive ingredients that are most likely in the pantry already, and can be on the table in less than an hour to feed that hungry crowd!

Just toss ingredients in a pot on the stove, and simmer until flavors blend together!

Lentil Chili ingredients on a counter


This lentil chili recipe uses ingredients that are probably already in the pantry!

LENTILS Brown lentils are added to this chili, but yellow, red or green will work perfectly too. You can also add canned lentils!

If using canned lentils, double the quantity of lentils and reduce the broth in this recipe. You will also want reduce the simmering time just until the vegetables are soft.

VEGGIES Onion and fresh bell peppers are chili must-haves. Stretch this dish even further by adding corn, celery, sweet potatoes, carrots or whatever you have on hand!

CANNED GOODS Diced tomatoes, kidney beans, and tomato sauce all add to the flavor of this chili. Try using canned tomatoes that are already seasoned for an extra kick!

SPICES Keep the chili mild if preferred, or take it to the next level by adding even more homemade chili powder or red chili flakes!

VARIATIONS Add meat to this Lentil Chili for a super hearty version! Use ground beef, ground chicken or Italian sausage!

Lentil Chili ingredients

How to Make Lentil Chili

It’s as easy as 1-2-3 to make this delicious one-pot wonder!

  1. Saute the onion then add garlic and spices.
  2. Add lentils and tomatoes with juices and broth. Simmer until mixture is thickened.
  3. Serve immediately with desired toppings.

Top chili with shredded cheese, sour cream or jalapenos. Serve with chile cheddar cornbread or homemade french bread to sop up all that sauce!

For lentil chili with beef, just cook ground beef with the onion and garlic.

For turkey lentil chili, add cooked, shredded turkey to the chili when the lentils are added. Great for using up leftover turkey!

Lentil Chili ready to serve

Tips for Perfect Lentil Chili

  • To thicken chili, simmer uncovered until excess liquid is cooked off. Alternatively, blend or mash approximately half a cup of lentils and add back into the chili.
  • For slow cooker lentil chili, cook on low for 8 to 10 hours (perfect for overnight or a workday) or 4 to 5 hours on high.
  • For an Instant Pot, cook 30 minutes on high and then slow release for 13 minutes (or follow user guide directions).
  • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for 3-4 days in the fridge.


  • To reheat, put back in pot on medium heat until heated through. Or, put in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in 30-second intervals until heated through!
  • Freeze for up to 1 month in an airtight container.

More Meatless Mains

Did you enjoy this stovetop Lentil Chili? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below! 

Lentil Chili being served in bowls
4.95 from 19 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Homemade Lentil Chili Recipe

This Lentil Chili is a fun twist on a classic comfort food!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 36 minutes
Total Time 51 minutes
Servings 6
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  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 cup bell pepper chopped red or green
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 ¼ cups brown lentils
  • 19 ounce kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • 28 ounce canned diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 4 cups low sodium beef broth or vegetable or chicken broth


  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat.
  • Cook onion and bell peppers until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Add garlic, chili powder, and cumin. Cook 1 minute more.
  • Add lentils, beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and broth.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer cook covered 25 minutes. Uncover and cook an additional 15 minutes or until chili reaches desired thickness.


  • 1 lb lean ground beef can be cooked and added to the chili along with the onion.
  • To thicken chili, simmer uncovered until excess liquid is cooked off.
  • To use canned Lentils, double the lentils listed in the recipe and do not add the broth. Also reduce the cook time to simmer for 15 minute uncovered as the lentils are already cooked. 
  • For Slow Cooker Lentil Chili, combine all ingredients and cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 8-10 hours. 
  • For Instant Pot Lentil Chili, combine all ingredients in the Instant Pot and cook on high for 30 minutes. Slow release the pressure for 13 minutes (or follow user guide directions). 
4.95 from 19 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 348 | Carbohydrates: 58g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 747mg | Potassium: 1603mg | Fiber: 23g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1915IU | Vitamin C: 52mg | Calcium: 117mg | Iron: 8mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Lentil Chili in a white bowl with title
lentil chili being served with writing
Lentil Chili served in a white bowl, garnished with jalapenos and tomatoes.


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Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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Recipe Rating


  1. This was great. However, I did take your suggestion and used Italian spices and basil instead of chili powder and cumin. I don’t care for bell peppers so I deleted that and I increased from 4 to 6 cloves of garlic – finely sliced. I also used 3 1/2 cups of beef broth and added 1/2 cup of red wine. Instead of the 1 pound of hamburger you suggested, I used 1 pound of medium hot Italian sausage and I added about 6 medium mushrooms, sliced.
    Other than that, I followed your recipe exactly and it turned out fantastic. It took me back to my youth when my uncle would make lentils and beans. I think next time I will add more beans.
    I sure do like your recipes and look forward to them every day. Thank you for your work.5 stars

  2. When you state tomato sauce” as per this recipe do you mean ketchup? Or puree or passata? I used passata and found it to be a bit sharp, excellent recipe though.4 stars

    1. Hi Mervyn, the tomato sauce would be more similar to tomato puree. In tomato sauce the tomatoes are cooked as opposed to passata where they are raw and have a sharper flavor.

  3. This is fantastic. I will definitely make it regularly. I used the crock pot, threw everything in, and cooked it on high for about 5 hours. So easy!5 stars

  4. I made this Chili in the Instant Pot. The only modification I made was that I used a chili seasoning packet. Great recipe! Taste was outstanding!5 stars

  5. This recipe is delicious!
    Made a couple of changes to the spices for myself…
    1 heaped teaspoon of ground cumin, 1 heaped teaspoon of sweet paprika and only a half teaspoon of chilli powder as my chilli powder is really hot, adjust as required I guess.
    So good in my burrito bowl! Thank you so much!5 stars