Hearty Slow Cooker Vegan Chili with Lentils

hearty-slow-cooker-vegan-chili-with-lentils

A delicious and entirely plant-based vegan chili that requires just a little prep time and is easy on the budget thanks to budget-friendly staples like canned tomatoes, dried lentils, and canned beans.

Plant-based satisfaction guaranteed!

If the thought of tucking into a big bowl of vegan chili never crossed your mind before, allow us to change your mind. Big bowls of hearty, satisfying vegan chili with lentils topped with creamy avocado, herby cilantro, and bright notes of lime juice and are a must have when you want to ward off a chili and hunger pains at the same time. Fiber-rich lentils stand in for the usual ground beef and a carrots and bell peppers add a texture, flavor, and nutrition. It’s the perfect budget-friendly way to add more health-promoting plants to your diet and more YUM! to your weeknight meal rotation or packed lunches.

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Ingredients for slow cooker vegan chili

This slow cooker vegan chili recipe comes together quickly with very little prep!

  • Bell pepper
  • Yellow onion, diced
  • Carrots 
  • Garlic
  • Dried green lentils
  • Canned kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • Crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Diced green chiles
  • Coconut oil – this adds richness (mouthfeel) without any coconutty flavor. Fat also enhances flavor and aids in the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamans A, D, E, and K. You may substitute avocado oil or olive oil, if desired.
  • Chili powder
  • Dried oregano
  • Smoked paprika
  • Ground cumin
  • Vegetable broth
  • Fine salt and black pepper to taste
  • Cayenne pepper or chipotle pepper powder – optional for additional heat

How to make vegan chili with lentils

  1. To a 6-quart slow cooker, add the bell pepper, onion, carrots, lentils, kidney beans, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, green chiles, coconut oil, chili powder, paprika, and cumin. Stir to combine. 
  2. Add 3 cups of broth and stir well. 
  3. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook for 8-10 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high or until lentils are tender. Add and additional 1 cup broth, if desired, for a thinner consistency.
  4. Serve with desired toppings. We suggest diced or sliced avocado, sliced jalapeno peppers, fresh cilantro, and/or lime wedges. Other, non-vegan topping options include: shredded cheese and/or sour cream.
  5. Leftovers may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Toppings for Hearty Vegan Chili with Lentils

Chili by itself is pretty great but if you ask us, it’s the toppings that make it truly amazing. This veggie-packed vegan chili is the ideal canvas for toppings. These are some of our favorites:

  • Thinly sliced green onions
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Sliced jalapenos (fresh or pickled)
  • Avocado
  • Lime wedges
  • Tortilla chips or corn chips

Non-vegan toppings we love include shredded cheese and/or sour cream.

Crockpot Vegan Chili: FAQs

  1. Can this vegan chili recipe be prepared ahead of time? Absolutely! Like most chili, this one tastes even better the next day. You can cook the chili and refrigerate it for up to 4 days to give you flexibility when it comes time to reheat and eat.
  2. I don’t like/am allergic to anything coconut. Can the coconut oil be left out or replaced with anything else? You can leave out the coconut oil if you’d like but we recommend adding some sort of fat in its place such as avocado oil or olive oil. The function of the added fat in this vegan chili recipe is to add mouthfeel, enhance the flavor of the chilis and spices, and it also helps your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K.
  3. Can you free vegan chili with lentils? You sure can! In fact, it freezes beautifully and can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months making it a ideal addition to your stash of freezer meals for busy weeknights, the arrival of a new baby, and more. Reusable silicone bags from Stasher or Zip Top are ideal for freezing soup, stew, and chili.

Tip!

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Recipe

Hearty Slow Cooker Vegan Chili (with lentils)

Rich and hearty and easy on the budget, this Slow Cooker Vegan Chili with Lentils is a great way to add more plant-based nutrition to your weeknight dinner rotation. 

Prep: 15 mins.Cook: 8-10 hours (LOW), 4-5 hours (HIGH)Total: Varies

Ingredients

  • 1 medium bell pepper, any color, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced small 
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup dried green lentils
  • 1 (14-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (may substitute avocado oil or olive oil)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 34 cups vegetable broth
  • Fine salt and black pepper to taste
  • Optional: Cayenne pepper or chipotle pepper powder for additional heat
  • Optional for Topping: Thinly sliced green onions, fresh cilantro, jalapeno slices, diced or sliced avocado, and/or lime wedges

Instructions

  1. To a 6-quart slow cooker, add the bell pepper, onion, carrots, lentils, kidney beans, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, green chiles, coconut oil, chili powder, paprika, and cumin. Stir to combine. 
  2. Add 3 cups of broth and stir well. 
  3. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook for 8-10 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high or until lentils are tender. Add additional 1 cup broth, if desired, for a thinner consistency.
  4. Serve with desired toppings. Leftovers may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

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Dietary

© The Real Food Dietitians

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Photo Credit: The photos in this blog post were taken by Rachel of Half Acre House.

For ultimate success, we highly recommend reading the tips in the full blog post above. All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own unique words and link back to the source recipe here on The Real Food Dietitians. Thank you!

Jessica Beacom

Jessica Beacom

Jessica is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist living in Boulder, CO with her husband and two daughters. She’s been described as a ‘real food evangelist’ and loves sharing her knowledge with others to help them break free of the diet mentality and find their own food freedom. In her spare time, she enjoys CrossFit, telemark skiing, mountain biking, and camping out under the stars.

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