Black and Red Lentil Chili

by on March 11, 2014
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Black and Red Lentil Chili: Black lentils hold their shape and add a hearty texture while red lentils soften and thicken this smoky, flavorful vegan chili.

This is probably the fastest chili I’ve ever made without using canned beans. The secret is black beluga lentils, which cook quickly and keep their shapes, giving this chili a very hearty texture. I combined them with split red lentils, which cook just as quickly but break down to create a thicker broth. Together they made a very different but most delicious chili.

If you’ve never seen black lentils, they are tiny:

Black Beluga Lentils

Black Lentils with One Brown Lentil for Comparison

I found them in bulk at Whole Foods, and I think I got distracted by their cuteness as I was filling the bag because I came home with a couple of pounds of them. But this chili was such a success that I will be using them all the time now.

They cook in practically no time under pressure in my Fagor Multicooker, to which I have recently added a stainless steel liner. I love the weight of the stainless steel pot, and I think it cooks more evenly than the non-stick.

Here’s another time-saving tip. Whenever I have a lot of garlic to peel for a recipe, I use a trick I discovered a couple of years ago:

I take two plastic Mardi Gras cups of different sizes, making sure that one fits snugly inside the other, toss in the garlic, and shake for about 10-20 seconds. The sound of the garlic clattering around actually changes as the peels come off, alerting me to when it is peeled. Sometimes a stubborn clove or two remains unpeeled, but they’re easier to peel after shaking. You can even do this with a whole head of garlic.

To chop the garlic quickly, I just whirled it in my food processor, which, I realize in hindsight, I could have used for the onions and peppers, too. Even with chopping the vegetables by hand, this chili was so quick and easy (and good) that it is destined to be a Family Favorite. It’s a very basic recipe that I’m sure you could add any vegetables you like to (like kale!) I kept it simple and served it with our other new family favorite, Simple Chopped Salad.

Black and Red Lentil Chili

Black and Red Lentil Chili
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Black lentils hold their shapes while red lentils break down slightly to thicken the chili. This is one of those dishes that tastes best after the flavors have a chance to blend, so if possible, make it ahead of time and reheat before serving.
Serves: 4
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups or 1/2 lb.)
  • 1 large bell pepper, any color, chopped (about 1 cup or 5 oz.)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon mild chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon mexican oregano (or regular oregano)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder (or to taste)
  • 1 cup black (beluga) lentils, rinsed and picked over (see notes below)
  • 1/4 cup split red lentils (I use Swad Masoor Dal), rinsed and picked over
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (I use Pacific Foods Organic)
  • 1 16-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce or gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt (optional or to taste)
  1. Heat your pressure cooker (use the “sauté” or “brown” setting on electric PC’s). Add the onions and cook until they begin to brown, adding water by the tablespoon if they start to stick. Add the peppers and garlic and cook for another couple of minutes, adding water as needed.
  2. Add all the dry spices and the lentils and cook while stirring for another minute. Stir in the vegetable broth and tomatoes. Lock the lid in place, and bring to high pressure (switch to high pressure setting on electric PC and set timer for 10 minutes). After 10 minutes at high pressure, remove from heat or turn off and allow pressure to come down naturally for at least 10 minutes.
  3. Use a quick release method to release the pressure and open the lid carefully. Stir and check that lentils are tender; if not, cover loosely with the lid and heat on low (“warm” setting) until they are soft. Add the vinegar, soy sauce, and salt to taste. If the chili seems too thick, add additional broth or water. Check seasonings and add extra to taste. Serve sprinkled with chopped fresh parsley or cilantro.
If you don’t have a pressure cooker, follow the first steps to brown the vegetables in a large Dutch oven or pot. Then simply cook, covered, on low until the lentils are done, adding additional water or broth if it gets too thick. Allow at least 30 minutes.

If you can’t find black beluga lentils, try using French green lentils, also known as puy lentils.

Sodium content assumes 1 teaspoon of salt; if not using salt, actual amount per serving is 230mg.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/4 of recipe Calories: 266 Fat: 1.5g Carbohydrates: 47.3g Sugar: 5.7g Sodium: 811.6mg Fiber: 19.3g Protein: 16.9g



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{ 65 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Danielle March 11, 2014 at 9:34 am

Sounds good! I love the look of the chili, it looks very rich and succulent. I will make this soon.


2 Cheryl March 11, 2014 at 9:50 am

As much as I love chili, (I’m in Texas, after all), I have to admit I was so anxious to open this blog post in hopes of seeing Loki again. LOL!
I love those beautiful playful eyes 🙂


3 Susan Voisin March 11, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Cheryl, I’m so sorry there’s no Loki in this one but glad you like seeing him. Maybe he should start his own blog!


4 Kate Ellington March 11, 2014 at 10:08 am

One of the photos looks like it has squash in it as well. Or is that a yellow pepper? This looks like it would be great with squash like your fantastic Gold Rush Chili has in it. What do you think?


5 Susan Voisin March 11, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Kate, that’s the yellow bell pepper, but you have a good idea about the squash.


6 Kate April 13, 2014 at 5:18 pm

We finally tried this for supper this evening and it was a huge hit. I accidentally added twice the chipotle chili powder and it was still really good. 🙂 Next time I’ll try the squash too. Thanks!


7 moonwatcher March 11, 2014 at 11:01 am

Hi Su) san,

I love the comparison photo of the lentils–just wonderful. And I love the photo of the chili with the beautiful napkin as an accent–it’s as if someone made that napkin to go with your chili (or maybe you made the chili to go with the napkin–either way they are meant for each other! And now to the recipe–I love the idea of pairing the different consistencies of those two kinds of lentils. With all my lentil eating I’ve yet to try the black ones, so now I have a good reason to!! Even without a pressure cooker this is a nice one-pot dish. Thanks!




8 Chana March 11, 2014 at 11:23 am

I only have black split lentils. Do you think this will work ? Or I could try French lentils. What do you think?


9 Susan Voisin March 11, 2014 at 4:24 pm

The black split lentils won’t hold their shapes like whole ones, so I think you’re better off with the French lentils.


10 Chana March 11, 2014 at 7:45 pm

Thanks for answering.


11 Beth February 15, 2015 at 4:12 am

Hi Chana, I had some confusion over this recipe because there seem to be two pulses that go by the name of black lentils – the beluga lentils used in this recipe and black gram/vigna mungo/urad beans. Although the recipe is written for the beluga lentils I’ve used urad dal and it works. I tried this recipe with split urad dal (black gram) and split/washed urad dal. The beans hold their shape and cook after about 40 minutes of simmering.


12 Sally March 11, 2014 at 12:21 pm

This is so great sounding. I am actually eating some lentil chili for lunch today made with some green or brown or whatever lentils. And I have seen those black lentils and thought they were cute but … And now I know what to do with them! Thanks Susan!


13 Shellie March 11, 2014 at 12:24 pm

This sounds delicious. I don’t have a pressure cooker. So what I understand is I brown the veggies, and then I add all the rest of the ingredients to the pot?


14 Susan Voisin March 11, 2014 at 4:23 pm

That’s right, Shellie. Just let it simmer on low, covered, until the lentils are done.


15 Tami@NutmegNotebook March 11, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Susan the timing of this recipe is perfect as I too bought some black lentils at Whole Foods but had no idea what I was going to make with them. I love pressure cooker recipes – this is going to be lunch today! Thank you!


16 Jeanette Nyberg March 11, 2014 at 1:06 pm

This chili looks SO good to me right now, and I’m beyond amazed at your garlic trick!


17 Paul Toftness March 11, 2014 at 3:21 pm

I love the Beluga lentils for stunning presentation. But for lentils that hold their shape, yet don’t command a premium price, try small lentils from Hispanic sources, even a supermarket.



18 Christine (The Raw Project) March 11, 2014 at 6:25 pm

Looks wonderful, very vibrant! Thanks!


19 Tami@NutmegNotebook March 11, 2014 at 7:02 pm

I made this for lunch and we loved it! I wish I had doubled the recipe as it’s so delicious we will be fighting over the leftovers. Thanks for a winning recipe!


20 Dreena Burton March 11, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Looks amazing, Susan, as always! I love lentils so much, need to source some black lentils (not easy to find here, tho french are). Off to pin. 🙂


21 Seb March 12, 2014 at 2:19 am

Yes! I love chilies and I love lentils. What a great idea to use black lentils instead of beans.

Oh, and I tried the garlic peeling trick, but I have to say since I usually only use 1-2 cloves I’m fine with just using a knife. Fun how it works with 2 cups though and always good if you need a lot of them peeled!


22 Live Love Vegan March 12, 2014 at 5:07 am

This recipe looks amazing and such a great garlic idea


23 Caroline Combs March 12, 2014 at 5:10 am

I love the garlic trick! Awesome. I have never seen black lentils before. I can usually only get the standard green-brown ones. Now I just got to figure out a way to sneak this dish onto the menu because my hubby has no real love for lentils. hehe


24 Danielle Hughes March 12, 2014 at 5:13 am

Lentil chilli. Hmmm will have to think about that one. But I do like that neat trick with the garlic. That’s cool.


25 Loraine March 12, 2014 at 8:15 am

My husband and I ate black lentils in a dish at a nice restaurant about a year ago and they were divine. I picked up a bag when I came across them at my TJ Maxx Home Goods store but have yet to know what to do with them. Since we are in Cleveland and kids have yet another snow day off school and I have to use what is in my pantry, I will be making this dish for tonights dinner. Thank you for the directions on what to do if you don’t have a pressure cooker. I will be making them in my dutch oven. Thanks!


26 Susan Voisin March 12, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Hi Loraine, I am at this minute stranded in a hotel outside Cleveland, so I know the weather you are facing. Stay warm and enjoy the lentils! I was looking forward to seeing your city for the first time, but I’m not going to take a chance with my Southern driving skills on any more frozen highways. 🙂


27 Loraine March 12, 2014 at 12:45 pm

LOL – oh no, certainly not a good day to be near Cleveland. Not even experienced CLE drivers want to be on the roads and many of the exits are closed due to accidents. Love being “plant based” as long as I have some fresh veggies on hand (which I always do) and legumes in the pantry, I can make great dishes. Going to start this dish right now!


28 Loraine March 12, 2014 at 2:26 pm

OMGosh Susan… just finished this very easy dish. Used your garlic technique and it actually did work like you showed. I then used my Cuisinart blender that I use for making my protein shakes and used the nut blade to chop the garlic… so fast. Wish I would have known this sooner. Anyway, I just tasted it and the chili is delicious. Made it early for dinner just in case the power goes out and it will give it time for the flavors to come together. I am also going to steam some quinoa to “beef” up this dish for my hubby who is training for the Lake Health 20 mile drop. He is going to love this dish! 🙂


29 Mandy Dugas March 12, 2014 at 8:28 am

Hello Susan!!

Thanks so much for the lentil chili recipe! I can’t wait to try it. I’ve been looking for a good new lentil recipe and this one is perfect! Mmm comfort food. I don’t think I’ve ever seen fire toasted tomatoes in a can before. If I can’t find them could I use say…10 oven roasted tomatoes?

I just wanted to let you know that your blog is one of the blogs that inspired me to make my own. I have used many of your recipes in the past and have loved everyone!

Thanks for being an inspiration to the “new cooks” of the world.

-Mandy Dugas @


30 Susan Voisin March 12, 2014 at 12:42 pm

I would guess a can of fire-roasted tomatoes holds probably 5-6 tomatoes. You could always just use regular canned tomatoes or somewhere on my blog I have directions for roasting tomatoes. I’m happy to hear my blog was an inspiration to start your own!


31 Lori March 12, 2014 at 3:07 pm

I like your garlic peeling idea with the plastic cups! Ingenious! Would that work to peel ginger? Or, do you have a trick you could share? I need help! Thanks!


32 Mindy March 12, 2014 at 6:20 pm

Yummy! I had a bag of black lentils just waiting to be used up so I made a double batch. Thanks 🙂


33 Gillian March 13, 2014 at 8:18 am

I just wanted to thank you for all of your efforts! I don’t usually look at blogs but, I am new to this no fat vegan thing and there is a bit of learning/doing that goes into it! Trying to make these receipes for a family sucked me in initially but then you started to become my “go to” gal when “out there” concepts needed clarification. Ex. Nutritional yeast, make your own salad dressing, ketchup, mayo. ( I took for granted just pulling junky store bought ones out of the refrigerator)

Thanks for helping me streamline the process !


34 Shellie March 13, 2014 at 6:54 pm

Reheating this on the stove as we speak. I made it earlier today but wanted to give it a chance to blend as mentioned. Snuck a taste and it’s delicious at room temp. Thanks. 🙂


35 Diana March 13, 2014 at 11:41 pm

Sounds good! I’m going to make it tomorrow for Saturday’s lunch. I’ll let you know how it goes. 🙂


36 Elisa March 14, 2014 at 7:48 am

Oh, I’ve been craving lentil soup lately so bad! I have to try this out. And thanks for sharing this amazing tip for peeling garlic. Never seen that before…

Love from Germany,


37 Sheri March 15, 2014 at 8:48 am

Susan…. Would the small french puy black lentils work in this recipe? Thank you! 🙂


38 Susan Voisin March 15, 2014 at 9:28 am

Sure! They may cook at a different speed than the belugas, so just adjust the timing as needed.


39 skonscapes March 16, 2014 at 6:52 am

This recipe was not only easy but delicious. I served it up to a bunch of non vegans who all ‘yummed it up’.
Thank you, Susan, for another keeper!


40 Nubian Veganess March 16, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Mmmm we need this right about now in Chicago can’t wait to make this!! =))


41 Janet March 17, 2014 at 9:34 am

I made this yesterday. SO easy and SO delicious! I think it would be great over pasta. Thank you for another great recipe. I’ll be making it again! More Loki, please!


42 Virginia March 17, 2014 at 9:34 pm

I need to try this recipe soon!


43 mike March 18, 2014 at 4:55 pm

Thanks so much for posting. I don’t have a pressure cooker so I was curious to know if you think this recipe could also work on a stove. Im sure it will take a bit longer but do you think its worth a shot?

Thanks! 😉


44 mike March 18, 2014 at 4:57 pm

my apologies, didn’t see the note at the bottom. please ignore me SMH


45 veganjunction March 18, 2014 at 7:25 pm

That definitely looks, and sounds, filling and delicious, will have to try it out! I also like the idea of possibly adding some squash to the mix.


46 chris March 23, 2014 at 5:20 pm

Just wanted to wish you all the best with your
Surgery. All positive energy your way for a
Speedy recovery.


47 Carry March 27, 2014 at 2:04 pm

This was outstanding! We omitted the soy sauce and subbed cayenne for the chipotle b/c we didn’t have it. Hubby had all of the veggies chopped before I got home, so it came together in a snap, too!


48 Wendy1211 March 27, 2014 at 10:38 pm

I’ve had black beluga lentils in my cupboard for months now, wondering what to do with them. Well, this recipe didn’t disappoint! This is so delicious that it will now become one of my all time favourite chili recipes. Thank you Susan for another great recipe!


49 Thomas April 18, 2014 at 6:31 pm

I love your little short video of how to peel garlic! Even though I came here for the chili, I still like the video! Now back to the chili, this sounds so amazingly good! After having made your cookies earlier, I might have found a great Saturday lunch. Soon I’ll just be coming here to plan out my entire days meals!


50 bethlp August 16, 2014 at 9:38 pm

I made this tonight – served over polenta – and it was delicious! I am so happy to have found your blog last year. Not just great recipes but great recommendations for kitchen gear. I love my VitaMix and the pressure cooker and all the hummus I could ever wish for!


51 Esther J November 2, 2014 at 2:21 pm

I made this with an orange pepper and the black belugas (which I spotted on sale half off in a local market, so I knew I had to get them to try this recipe). In the spirit of the season, I thought, “Oh, look! This is Halloween chili!”

Thank you, Susan. I’ve no doubt this week’s lunches will be delicious.


52 Jean Heath December 21, 2014 at 5:44 am

Just made this but had to use Green Lentils instead of Black ones as they are only from specialist shops here in UK and not one near to me. But it was delicious – thank you for the recipe.


53 Jean Heath December 21, 2014 at 5:46 am

p.d – made it in my Instant Pot – so easy to make in no time at all.


54 Krista January 31, 2015 at 7:46 pm

Wow, this is a great recipe–so quick, easy and delicious! It is this week’s cook -along recipe for the WFPB Instant Pot FB group and I’m so happy I tried it. Thank you!


55 Bill February 28, 2015 at 8:49 am

I like the use of the Mardi Gras cups Susan! But is it improper to use them during Lent?

Making this for some friends today – good stuff!

Yo bro, Bill


56 bethlp April 12, 2015 at 3:42 am

I love this recipe and just made it again. Even though I am cooking just for me, I do not get tired of leftovers of this chili!


57 Oranneko April 25, 2015 at 5:08 am

Hi! Just as an indication, French green lentils are called Lentilles du Puy: in English a literal translation would be lentils from the Puy (so you must high cap the P because Puy is actually a place.)
That recipe is delicious by the way 🙂


58 Susan April 29, 2015 at 1:34 am

I made this tonight, stovetop without a pressure cooker. Delicious! I am a big fan of Beluga lentils. What a great recipe. Thanks!


59 Beth June 10, 2016 at 5:56 pm

This is my second most-often made recipe from your site. I love it and friends love it! Your hummus recipe is the only one that beats it out for most-often made because I keep that one stuck to the fridge. Thank you for sharing your creativity for those of us who are hungry but less creative!


60 Liz September 21, 2016 at 6:42 pm

This looks delicious! Do you use the 6 quart Instant Pot for your recipes?


61 Susan Voisin September 21, 2016 at 9:23 pm

Yes, 6 quart.


62 Abe October 5, 2016 at 4:28 pm

Thanks so much for your delicious recipes!!
I am getting an electric pressure cooker which brand would you suggest Instant pot or Fagor?


63 Susan Voisin October 5, 2016 at 4:44 pm

Both are good. The main advantage of the Instant Pot is that it comes with a stainless steel interior pot, while the Fagor has a non-stick pot. The stainless steel is thicker and more durable. The Instant Pot Duo also has a yogurt setting, which is only important if you think you’ll ever want to make yogurt.


64 Andrea Tersigni October 15, 2016 at 1:01 pm

This was a little smokey for my taste so I topped my bowl with sliced avocado, red onion, diced tomatoes and a big ole dollop of homemade soy yogurt.

DELICIOUS!!!! The smokiness was mellowed. I will continue to make the recipe exactly as written. Never mess with perfection.

Many thanks for a new go-to recipe!!


65 Rosemary January 17, 2017 at 8:26 pm

Made this tonight. Awesome! The balsamic was a touch of brilliance.


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