Healthy and hearty, this simple lentil chili, filled with smoky, spicy, delicious flavor, is made even easier thanks to the Instant Pot! And because I love ya, I’ve included stovetop and slow cooker instructions, too.
Chili season is in full swing around here.
I know this because the air is crisp and chilly, leaves are falling, I dream of donuts, and football is on (constantly).
Yep, chili season (some archived go-to chili recipes here).
I actually feel a tad bit guilty that I’m just now giving you the recipe for this Instant Pot lentil chili.
I made it constantly last fall/winter. And it is amazing. Like, so amazing, I want to weep.
After making it for probably the 20th time, last week I did something bold and rebellious and officially declared it my favorite chili ever.
You might be wondering why I haven’t shared it before now…you know, if I’m crying over it’s wonderfulness and all.
Because of all the other recipes screaming at me to get posted ASAP, of course!
Sometimes I think my head might explode with all the deliciousness I feel compelled to share.
But now I’m sharing lentil chili with you, and your life will forever be changed for the better. I just know it.
This lentil chili recipe is another Instant Pot wonder.
It’s made to start to finish in the awesome little machine.
But if you don’t have a pressure cooker/Instant Pot, no worries! I’ve included stovetop and slow cooker instructions in the recipe as well.
Honestly, it’s the flavor and texture and heartiness and good-for-you qualities of this chili that make it a real winner.
It also converts easily to a meatless meal (equally delicious with or without the ground meat).
Because lentil varieties tend to cause a bit of angst, I’ve included a quick note below the recipe.
Basically (let me just go ahead and recap for you), I have always used average and yummy brown lentils in this chili recipe.
I snag them on Amazon (the Bob’s Red Mill brand) or pick some up in the bulk bins of my local grocery store (Winco).
But I think other varieties could definitely be subbed in.
Green lentils tend to take a bit longer to cook, and red lentils break down into a creamy mishmash of tastiness, so keep both of those factors in mind if you switch out the lentils.
In this delicious (and crazy popular!) Smoky Lentil and Potato Soup recipe, I use a combination of brown AND red, which lends a wonderful creaminess to the soup.
You could do the same in today’s lentil chili recipe, although personally, I like the texture of the brown lentils.
Because this recipe is so easy to throw together in the Instant Pot, and because it can be loaded up with every topping imaginable (chili heaven), this lentil chili is an easy favorite.
I hope this chili gets you through chili season with as much happiness as it has me.
My favorite cornbread
Chili toppings (go crazy!)
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Instant Pot Lentil Chili
- 1 pound lean ground beef or turkey (optional)
- 1/2 cup chopped yellow or white onion
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
- 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 1/2 cups (about 12-14 ounces) brown lentils, rinsed, picked through and drained
- 1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded and small diced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- All the chili toppings your heart desires
- Instant Pot: Using the saute function, brown the ground turkey/beef (if using) with the onions and garlic, breaking up the meat into small pieces as it cooks. Drain any excess grease.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, lentils, green bell pepper, chili powder, brown sugar, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper. Secure the lid. Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. Let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes (if you are impatient, you can quick release right away, but liquid may sputter through the valve). After 10 minutes, quick release the remaining pressure.
- Stir the chili and add any additional broth if you want to thin out the consistency (it will thicken as it cools). Add additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Serve with any and all chili toppings your heart desires.
- Stovetop: In a 5- or 6-quart pot over medium heat, brown the ground turkey/beef (if using) with the onions and garlic, breaking up the meat into small pieces as it cooks. Drain any excess grease.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, lentils, green bell pepper, chili powder, brown sugar, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 30-40 minutes until the lentils are tender, stirring occasionally and moderating heat so the chili doesn’t burn on the bottom.
- Add additional broth, if desired, to thin out the chili. Add additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Serve with any and all chili toppings your heart desires.
- Slow Cooker: In a 10- or 12-inch skillet over medium heat, brown the ground turkey/beef (if using) with the onions and garlic, breaking up the meat into small pieces as it cooks. Drain any excess grease.
- Add the ground meat to the insert of a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Add the crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, lentils, green bell pepper, chili powder, brown sugar, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper.
- Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Stir the chili, and add any additional broth if you want to thin out the consistency (it will thicken as it cools). Add additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Serve with any and all chili toppings your heart desires.
Lentils! Let’s talk about them for a sec. I always use everyday, awesome brown lentils for this chili (I buy these ones on Amazon or grab them from the bulk bins at my grocery store). The recipe cooking times are written for these brown lentils. If using green lentils, most likely the cooking time will need to be increased (a couple minutes in the IP, maybe 10-15 minutes on the stove, not sure about the slow cooker). Red lentils will probably cook in about the same time as per the recipe – red lentils tend to break down a bit more so keep that in mind if you use them.
If omitting the ground beef, I’d probably still saute the onions and garlic in a little oil as I find the onions don’t soften as well with just straight pressure cooking/simmering/slow cooking time.
FYI: The recipe and prep time included is for the Instant Pot.All images and text © .
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Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe