Yeah, I know, it’s 90 degrees outside and most people don’t want to be eating chili right now, but I’m a year ’round chili eater. Especially back in the day when I worked in a building that kept their AC set to 68 and it felt like winter all year long. I know I’m not the only one who suffers in summertime office AC, so this one goes out to all you fellow members of the always cold club. And the rest of you? Just bookmark this page and set a reminder in your phone to revisit this awesome Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lentil Chili two months from now. ;)
It’s All About The Toppings…
I’ve written and priced this recipe for Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lentil Chili as just the chili itself, without toppings because toppings are very personal, and often depends on what is already on hand. I love adding something creamy (cheese, sour cream, or avocado), something green (green onion, cilantro, or avocado), and sometimes something starchy (tortilla chips, oyster crackers, cornbread, or crusty bread for dipping). Make the chili your own with the toppings and take advantage of this opportunity to use up some leftovers from your fridge!
Vegetarian or Vegan?
The chili itself is actually vegan! But I titled it with vegetarian because I’m picturing it with non-vegan toppings, but you can customize that to your needs. ;)
This chili is extremely freezer friendly, so as soon as you’re done cooking it, I suggest dividing it into single portions. Once those portions have cooled completely in the fridge, transfer at least a few to your freezer for long term storage. You can take one out at a time whenever the craving for chili hits and reheat either in the microwave or in a pot on the stove.
Chili Seasoning Short Cut
For this recipe, I used a slightly modified version of my Homemade Chili Seasoning, but if you want a shortcut you can use a store-bought packet of chili seasoning in its place. But I have to say, I think the herbs and spices listed in the recipe below will definitely yield a better result. ;)
Serve with a side of Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread
Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lentil Chili
- 1 yellow onion ($0.33)
- 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
- 1 15oz. can petite diced tomatoes (with juices) ($0.48)
- 1 6oz. can tomato paste ($0.48)
- 1 15oz. can black beans, drained ($0.59)
- 1 15oz. can kidney beans, drained ($0.59)
- 1 cup brown lentils, uncooked ($0.70)
- 1 Tbsp chili powder ($0.30)
- 1 tsp smoked paprika ($0.10)
- 1 tsp ground cumin ($0.10)
- 1/2 tsp onion powder ($0.05)
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder ($0.03)
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper ($0.03)
- 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
- freshly cracked black pepper ($0.03)
- 2 Tbsp coconut oil* ($0.13)
- 4 cups vegetable broth ($0.52)
- Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Add the onion and garlic to the slow cooker along with all the other ingredients and stir to combine.
- Place a lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours (or low for 8 hours). After cooking, the lentils should be tender. Taste the chili and add salt to taste, if needed (this will depend on the salt content of your broth).
- Serve the chili hot, with your favorite toppings.
See how we calculate recipe costs here.
How to Make Slow Cooker Lentil Chili – Step by Step Photos
Dice one onion and mince two cloves of garlic. Add the onion and garlic to the slow cooker along with one 15 oz. can petite diced tomatoes (with their juices), one 6 oz. can of tomato paste…
One 15 oz. can black beans (drained), one 15 oz. can kidney beans (drained), one cup of uncooked brown lentils…
1 Tbsp chili powder, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp salt, and some freshly cracked pepper (about 20 cranks of a pepper mill). If you don’t have a well stocked spice cabinet, you can substitute one packet of store bought chili seasoning.
Also add 4 cups vegetable broth and 2 Tbsp coconut oil. I like to use coconut oil because it has a similar mouth feel to animal fats (because it’s a solid saturated fat), but you can use your favorite fat or oil in its place. Give everything a good stir to distribute the spices and tomato paste.
Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours (or low for eight hours). Once it has cooked the lentils should be tender. Give it a taste and add salt if needed.
Then grab whatever toppings you have in your fridge and GO TO TOWN.
Each bowl can be unique, which means leftovers of this Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lentil Chili will be a little less tiring…
But don’t you just want to dive in, tho?? 🤤
Made this recipe in my instant pot instead, swapped out the coconut oil for vegetable oil as I didn’t have any on hand and wanted to keep cost down. Swapped beef broth for the vegetable broth purely for preference and added a small serano pepper for just a bit more kick.
Based cooking time on the lentils, instant pot recommends 10 minutes for brown lentils, so went with that.
It turned out amazing, the chili should hopefully get even hotter overnight, and the spice level came out juuuust under truly hot, so a jalapeño should be just fine for anyone looking for a bit more kick, but nothing too crazy.
Total instant pot cook time was around an hour. Had it sit for natural release for 30 minutes after the pressure cycle, and then vented because I got impatient lol.
So yummy! Swapped coconut oil for olive oil. Onion powder bc I didn’t have an onion. 9 oz of tomato paste. 3 cups of broth. Def will make again!
So good, and so easy! I didn’t have chili powder, so I used creole seasoning (I didn’t add an extra salt). This was super yummy and very easy to put together.
Have made this a few times with swaps based on whatever I have and always love it. Times are particularly tight with the obv inflation but also moving and car repairs so looked in my cupboards to determine what to make for my Sunday meal prep. This immediately came to mind when I spied my lentil jar. Even when times are harder, we eat well. Your site and cookbook have helped me greatly over the years. Thank you
My husband really liked this recipe especially the leftovers. He said the spices were nicely balanced.
My whole family is obsessed with this recipe! I was out of vegetable broth so I used beef broth but it was still delicious! I also sautéed the onions first. Yum!