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:
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 an Instant Pot or 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 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
- 1 large onion about 2 cups or 1/2 lb., chopped
- 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 or 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Nutritional info is approximate.
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KristaJanuary 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!
BillFebruary 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
bethlpApril 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!
OrannekoApril 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 🙂
SusanApril 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!
BethJune 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!
LizSeptember 21, 2016 at 6:42 pm
This looks delicious! Do you use the 6 quart Instant Pot for your recipes?
Susan VoisinSeptember 21, 2016 at 9:23 pm
Yes, 6 quart.
AbeOctober 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?
Susan VoisinOctober 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.
Andrea TersigniOctober 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!!
RosemaryJanuary 17, 2017 at 8:26 pm
Made this tonight. Awesome! The balsamic was a touch of brilliance.
JoannaApril 8, 2017 at 9:13 pm
I just made this tonight and loved it. Such wonderful flavors and perfect amount of spice. I added a handful of frozen roasted sweet corn at the end of cooking and topped each serving with avocado. Thank you!
ConnieMarch 14, 2018 at 10:23 am
Is the vinegar necessary? I’m not a huge fan of vinegar. Would lemon juice work instead?
Susan VoisinMarch 14, 2018 at 11:45 am
It’s not absolutely necessary, and lemon juice might perk up the flavor in the same way.
ConnieMarch 15, 2018 at 2:01 pm
alina khasanovaMay 15, 2018 at 3:24 pm
Thanks for the recipe — badly needed one for some gifted beluga lentils. In the pressure cooker right now!
DianeAugust 19, 2018 at 11:23 pm
I made this tonight. So easy an sooo delicious!!!
NanJanuary 2, 2019 at 3:17 pm
Hi, am new to your site. I was looking for a Great recipe for my black lentils. Bonus, you added the Masoor dal lentils and I actually had them (Amazing), rarely happens that I have everything. Followed recipe exactly except no pressure cooker, so I cooked on the stove. Cooked for 30 minutes and checked, then did the same thing 2 more times without success. Lentils were NOT done. Are it anyway. Very, very good, in fact I want to make again and thought perhaps I can use my slow cooker??? Please advise ASAP
Susan VoisinJanuary 3, 2019 at 8:35 am
Sometimes lentils and other beans are old before we buy them and take a very long time to get done. The slow cooker will be VERY slow, or might not get them completely soft.
Diane HeinrichMarch 25, 2019 at 8:00 pm
I made this tonight, it’s is so good, my non-vegan husband and I loved this, we couldn’t wait for dinner, so much flavour and perfect spice. I only had green and red lentils I am very happy I doubled the recipe. 😊👍
christinaDecember 12, 2019 at 7:44 am
Made this for dinner last night. The black lentils really mimic ground beef texture! I added a bit more chili powder and some cayenne too, to kick the spice up a little bit! It was very very good. We had it with cornbread and it was very filling on a cold winter day. Will be making again and again!
I did it in the instant pot and actually cooked for 11 min, not 10, only because I didn’t know how old my lentils were. It was perfect.
christinaDecember 12, 2019 at 7:45 am
Forgot my rating 🙂 A+++!
TamiAugust 4, 2020 at 6:26 pm
Wanting to make this recipe, but made a trip to Whole Foods to find the Beluga lentils during this pandemic and couldn’t find them. . Tried a search on Amazon and nothing came up. Any ideas where I can find them or of a substitute? I have green lentils on hand. Thanks so much for your recipes. I’m newly vegan and loving your site!
Susan VoisinAugust 4, 2020 at 6:55 pm
You can use green lentils and the timing shouldn’t really change. I just checked Amazon for beluga lentils, and the prices were ridiculous, so you’re wise to look for alternatives. Congrats on going vegan! I’m happy you’re finding the site helpful.
LindsayApril 26, 2021 at 6:35 pm
My whole family loves this, including my selective three year old! We added crunchy seasoned polenta croutons and it was delish! We will definitely be making this again.
RobbertaMay 25, 2021 at 9:03 pm
I made this but some of the Black lentils were hard as a rock and some were cooked perfectly. I bought them at an Indian store and not sure if that was the issue. Suggestions for the rest of the Chile as they ruined it.
Susan VoisinMay 25, 2021 at 10:16 pm
Ugh, I’m not sure what to do about that. It does sound like a bad batch of lentils. Purée it?
ShaJune 6, 2021 at 1:10 pm
This has become one of my favourite recipes. It is super tasty, filling, and healthy. The blend of spices and herbs is spot on. Am in the UK so I have had to modify it slightly – I use a standard tin of (good quality plum tomatoes) … the fire-roasted ones sound great but we don’t have them here and I use a vegan stock cube and water instead of the broth. Instead of the soya sauce, I use a sachet of miso and I don’t add any salt. During the pandemic, my partner and I degenerated into junk food vegans … not good as my partner is diabetic! After just a few weeks of eating low-fat recipes like this one, my partner’s Dr is on board with a 3 month trial of no meds. Your site in general is an excellent resource for vegans. Why haven’t you done a book?
CaseyMarch 19, 2022 at 5:24 pm
As I write this, the house is filled with the wonderful smell of this chili. I realized today that this recipe has become my absolute favorite go-to chili. And that’s really saying something, given the countless vegan chili recipes out there. The recipe is perfect as is, but I do make a few additions based on personal preferences. I add a can of kidney beans, a diced sweet potato, and a 1/4 cup of barley with the lentils. After the pressure is off, I also add some frozen corn. But again, the recipe doesn’t really *need* anything else, because it is just that good. Thank you, Susan, for another fantastic recipe I’ve been making for years and will continue to make. Your seasoning combinations always hit just the right note.