This BBQ lentil chili recipe is gluten-free, vegan, and full of protein and fiber! Make this easy crockpot chili for a hearty, healthy meal.
I like to stretch ingredients to use in more than one meal. My favorite thing is to stock my pantry with affordable gluten-free ingredients. This way, I can go into the kitchen and throw together a few basic ingredients to make a hearty meal.
Legumes and lentils are prime examples. First of all, they’re inexpensive. Secondly, because they’re full of fiber, they’re great for making hearty meals like Shrimp Jambalaya Lentil Bowls and Cranberry Maple Lentil Loaf.
Hearty, healthy and simple. Yeah I like those three words., and it’s the perfect description for this lentil chili recipe. Plus, it’s SO easy to make!
All you need are a bag of lentils, a few veggies, and BBQ sauce. OK and few more basic chili spices, but I promise there are only a few. Besides, your slow cooker does all of the work!
Lentil chili recipe
INGREDIENT NOTES + SUBSTITUTIONS
FYI: there are several basic spices like salt and pepper that I’m leaving out of this list. You can see them in the recipe card below.
- Lentils – This is a red lentil chili, but if you want to use green or black lentils, you can. Just know that red lentils cook softer, while the others cook to more of an al dente texture.
- Onion – red or white
- Sweet bell peppers – it’s your vegan chili, so the color is your choice
- Diced plum tomatoes – or a can of drained tomatoes will be fine
- Vegetable broth – if you prefer thicker chili, you may need a little less than what the recipe calls for
- BBQ sauce – if you prefer to use tomato sauce, that works too
- Unsweetened ketchup – you can use tomato sauce as a substitute here as well
- Molasses – avoid using blackstrap molasses if you can because it has a slightly bitter flavor
- Chili powder – you can buy it, or use homemade chili powder
Video: How to make vegan crockpot chili
Seriously, this is a dump and go recipe… SO easy to make! Watch the video to see for yourself!
- Rinse and drain the lentils.
- Add the veggies. Place the onion, garlic, oil, bell peppers, and tomatoes into the crock pot. Then, mix everything to combine.
- Add the rinsed lentils, broth, and remaining ingredients (minus salt and pepper). Give everything one more stir to combine.
- Cook, garnish, and serve!
The cooking time for this lentil chili recipe varies. It depends on what type of lentils you use, and what power setting you use.
Cook on high for three to four hours (or low for around five hours). Halfway through the cooking time, check for taste and add more seasoning if needed. Also, if the chili seems too thick, you can add more broth at this point.
Add salt and pepper during the final 10 to 15 minutes of cooking, or even at the table is fine. If you feel like spiking the heat a little bit, you can add some hot sauce.
Recipe notes + serving suggestions
- Storing and freezing: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and be sure to use them up or freeze them within 5 days. If you plan to freeze the chili, be sure that it’s completely cool first. TIP: If you store it in zip-top freezer bags, you can lay it flat. This way, it’ll take up less room in the freezer.
- Toppings for vegan chili: Feel free to use any of your favorite chili toppings. I love to use cilantro and jalapeno slices. Other tasty options are diced tomatoes, dairy free sour cream, or maybe some salsa!
Speaking of salsa, this meal would be delicious with a side of tortilla chips and vegan salsa con queso. Just sayin…Print
This smoky BBQ lentil chili recipe is gluten-free, vegan, and full of protein and fiber! Make this easy crockpot chili for a hearty, healthy meal.
- 16 oz red lentils (Green lentils will cook more al dente)
- 1 cup diced onion – red or white
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 – 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 cup diced bell peppers (about 1 large)
- 1 cup diced tomatoes, or 15 ounces canned tomatoes (drained)
- 4 cups vegetable broth (3 cups for thicker chili)
- 1/3 cup BBQ sauce or tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup unsweetened ketchup or tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground mustard
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- black pepper to taste
Toppings of choice – Cilantro, avocado, dairy-free sour cream, etc.
- Place lentils in a strainer and rinse thoroughly. Set aside.
- Place the onion, garlic, oil, peppers, and tomato in the crock pot, then stir to combine.
- Add the rinsed lentils, broth, and remaining ingredients (minus salt and pepper) into the crock pot/slow cooker. Stir everything to combine.
- Cook on high for 3-4 hours, or low for 5 hours. Halfway through cooking time, check for taste and add more seasoning if needed. Add salt and pepper during the final 10 to 15 minutes of cooking. If the chili seems too thick, you can add more broth at this point. *SEE NOTES
- Once cooked, serve and garnish with cilantro or topping of choice.
- Keeps well in the fridge for up to 7 days.
- Red lentils don’t hold their shape as well as green or black lentils, which tend to cook more al dente.
- If you are using green or black lentils, they will probably take closer to 4 hours, but they’ll be firmer and hold their shape. I found that cooking the red lentils on high 3.5 hours made them soft enough.
- Category: soups
- Method: slow cooker
- Cuisine: American
- Calories: 285
- Sugar: 5
- Sodium: 100 mg
- Fat: 2 g
- Saturated Fat: 0 g
- Unsaturated Fat: 0 g
- Trans Fat: 0
- Carbohydrates: 50 g
- Fiber: 9 g
- Protein: 18 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
Keywords: crockpot chili, slow cooker, vegan chili, red lentils, lentil chili recipe, gluten free
This post was originally published on January 20, 2017. Photos and content were updated on October 29, 2020
Alright my friends, stay warm, stay cozy, stay well fueled!