Chili season is the best season and this crockpot red lentil chili is the best chili! Packed with protein from lentils and TVP, and loaded with flavor, you'll want to have this at least one night a week during the cold seasons!
Chili is that one meal that says cold weather is really coming. If there's one thing I love more than the cold season, it's getting to have chili with a peanut butter sandwich.
There are real life arguments over chili having beans in it or not. If that bean is a lentil, I am all over it! Growing up, my mother would put those red kidney beans in the chili and I hated it. I would physically pick them all out before I could dig in and enjoy it. Seriously, I couldn't wait to be able to make my own dang chili the way I wanted it.
This lentil and TVP chili can also be made using my vegan ground sausage recipe!
You can use any lentils for this recipe. I happen to be using red. Note that if you decide to make this chili on the stovetop, and you are using a different color of lentils, like brown or green, see instructions in the Equipment section below.
TVP is optional. But I must tell you that it really 'beefs' this recipe up! Perfect if you love a really thick chili!
Feel free to use any veggie bouillon or similar seasoning powder.
Add some spice and throw some jalapenos or serrano peppers in. Optionally, a dash or two of cayenne would do just as fine.
Sugar is optional.
Please see recipe card for exact quantities.
Step One - Clean your lentils well, and dump them into the basin of the slowcooker.
Step Two - Add water.
Step Three - Add in everything else.
Step Four - Mix it all together and cook!
Go overboard with your seasonings! Chili is meant to be super flavorful!
Chili can be served in so many ways that I couldn't possibly list them all here, but I will share some!
- Pair with a peanut butter sandwich. If you know you know...
- Top with your favorite vegan cheese shreds.
- Top with avocado slices, add sour cream or green onions.
- Top this chili off with my homemade croutons
- Mix in some crunchy oyster crackers.
- Top with or add in some pickled jalapenos.
But wait, there's more! What if we took the chili and used it on ... other things?
- Burritos - Remember chili cheese burritos from Taco Bell? I miss those.
- Serve over rice - Or beside it!
- Atop tator tots or french fries - Or you could use it in place of the mixture in my tator tot casserole!
- Plant-based hotdogs topped with some delicious chili? Yum!
- Chili mac and cheese! (Mix them together!)
- Ice crea... okay that's a joke... or is it?
📖Substitutions & Variations
Maybe you don't have everything I've used on hand or are curious of other ways?
- Use brown or green lentils, you can also use canned lentils.
- Use other types of beans in place of lentils.
- Don't have TVP? Use mushrooms, more beans, or other plant-based meaty crumbles. Store-bought is fine.
- Try it with my vegan ground sausage.
This recipe is written for cooking in a slowcooker, however it can be done in other ways such as
- Stove Top - Cook the lentils in water for 15 minutes before adding everything else and simmering until finished. If using brown or green lentils, cook them for 20-25 minutes before adding everything else. Typically the water used to boil the lentils is nearly used up after the 15 minutes so there should be no need to drain or remove. You can make this recipe all in one-pot no matter the method.
- Instant Pot - Add everything to the pot, cover and cook on high pressure for 10 minutes, then release naturally until finished.
Refrigerator - Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Freezer - In an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months.
Reheat - Thaw naturally in the refrigerator, or in cold water (still covered), microwave for 1 minute intervals until desired temp, or dump into a soup pot (that is big enough) and heat on the stove until warmed.
❓Frequently Asked Questions
Much like rice and other beans, lentils are harvested and put straight into bags. There is no processing involved, so you should always wash your lentils to remove any dirt or bugs that may have gotten a ride.
If you are using red lentils, you can add them raw into your chili. Brown and green lentils take a bit longer to cook and you would do best to pre-cook them for 15 minutes if doing stove-top. Crockpot cooking you can just throw them in.
Depending on what you add to it, it can be considered a healthy alternative to common meat-filled chilis. Lentils boast amazing protein content as well as high fiber and low fat.
Decided you didn't want Chili? Have a peak at some more soups and stews!
If you've tried this recipe and enjoyed it, I would love it if you could rate it 5⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a comment! It's a great, and free way to support me!
Slowcooker Red Lentil Chili
- 1 crockpot medium to large size.
- 1 cup TVP
- 1 cup red lentils
- 2 28 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes
- 3 cups water
- 1 cube veggie bouillon
- 2 Tablespoon cumin
- 1 Tablespoon chili powder
- 1 Tablespoon paprika
- 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 Tablespoon Garlic powder
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon sugar optional
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch optional
- 1 teaspoon salt to taste
- ¼ teaspoon pepper to taste
- Start by rinsing/cleaning your lentils.1 cup red lentils
- Add the lentils to the pot of a crock, along with everything else.1 cup TVP, 2 28 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes, 3 cups water, 1 cube veggie bouillon, 2 Tablespoon cumin, 1 Tablespoon chili powder, 1 Tablespoon paprika, 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast, 1 Tablespoon Garlic powder, 1 Tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, 1 cup red lentils
- Turn on the slowcooker for 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.
- Close to finishing, check in on the chili and decide if it needs thickening help with cornstarch slurry. If not, don't worry about it. If you feel it it is too thin, add it.1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- Rinse and clean lentils and place them into a pot on the stove with water just over the top of the lentils (about 1 cup) and cook for 15 minutes on medium-high heat or until the water has evaporated, then proceed to add everything else and cook on simmer for 30-40 minutes.
- Rinse and clean lentils, then add everything to the pot, high pressure for 10 minutes, natural release for 10 minutes, then quick release.
- This Chili is/should be naturally gluten free. Just make sure the veggie bouillon is.
- Want Soy-Free? Use your favorite store-bought meatless crumbles, they are usually soy-free.
- Need more spice? No problem, just add cayenne pepper, jalapenos, or serrano peppers, or try adding a can of Rotel for some added heartiness.
- Storage - Can be placed in the refrigerator for up to 6 days or you can freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator from frozen and heat in a microwave at 1 minute intervals, or on the stove top in a pot as normal.
This recipe belongs to Planty Of Eats
This recipe was first posted on June 3rd, 2021 and has been updated on 3/28/23.