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
Vegan Red Lentil Chili (Crockpot Recipe)
- Total Time: 3 hours 40 minutes
- Yield: 5-6 1x
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 teaspoons 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)
- ⅓ cup BBQ sauce or tomato sauce
- ¼ cup unsweetened ketchup or tomato sauce
- 1 Tablespoon molasses
- 1 Tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground mustard
- 1 teaspoon 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.
- Prep Time: 10 min
- Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
- 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!
love this, never made lentil chili before, but eat lentil soup a lot lately, and love all chili so a perfect combo for me!
Yaaayy! So glad to hear that!
Your article is very useful, the content is great, I have read a lot of articles, but for your article, it left me a deep impression, thank you for sharing.
I made this chili today with a few substitutions (what I had on hand) and it is so good! I used Muir Glen diced tomatoes with chipotle which gave it a great kick, chicken broth, and black beans instead of red. Such a healthy meal! This recipe is a keeper.
oh i love that! way to be resourceful.
Are the nutritional facts calculated with the plant protein or without?
you mean the tofu? This is without any protein added, but I can double check!
I wish the ingredients were listed in the order you use them. Once it gets time to put stuff in the crockpot, you have to jump all around to make sure you don’t forget anything.
Oh gosh! Sorry! I think the recipe plugin did that. Will update
Seriously, sauté onion with spices (curry, tex-mex, asian/5-spice), add in pink lentils and broth, and you can have a dish from just about anywhere.
Then it’s just a matter of veggies (cauliflower, tomatoes, and white beans into curry, black beans and tomatoes into chili, broccoli and snap peas into asian) and maybe a few oils/sauces and you’ve got dishes for weeks.
I love me them lentils!
The possibilities are endless! 😀 Love me some lentils too
In the video you say ginger, but it is not mentioned in the ingredients?
OH sorry about that. I will update now. You can use a pinch of ginger 1/4 to 1/2 tsp or 2 tsp grated. Just optional. 😉
georgie @ georgieeats
This honestly look incredible! Right up my street – have pinned it so I can make it soon!! Thanks so much for the recipe 🙂 x
woohoo! keep me posted Georgie!
What is the serving size in ounces?
Hmmm not exactly sure. It’s about 1 1/4 to 1 2/3 c serving. So maybe 10-14 ounces?
OMG, I am new to being vegan and I’m a terrible cook but this was one that I was able to make no problem and it is so delicious! Even my husband liked it! The only problem is I just want to keep eating and eating it! I paired it with vegan cornbread and it was wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe!
So glad Ina! Happy that you and the husband enjoyed it! Keep eating. LOL!
These look absolutely incredible! I need to try them!thanks for sharing
let me know if you try it!
These look absolutely incredible! I need to try them!
This looks awesome! I love you and your ways, time management or not 😉 xoxo
thank you friend. Miss you tons!
When did your husband retire from training for Ironmans 24/7? That sounded like the craziest job ever! O_O
And I know what you mean about having so much to share and too little time to share it! Keep sharing Lindsay; I love learning about how your recipes came about.
he sure did! for 12 years, 8 while we were married. It’s how I started this blog. ALl about sports nutrition/gluten free. Crazy right?
EA The Spicy RD
Oh, man! This look so so good!!! I just got a new Instant pot + we have 6 days of rain in a row forecasted here in San Diego-perfect Chili weather! Hope you find those wine glasses!!!
oh i so want an instant pot!!!
Kaleigh @ Lively Table
This looks so yummy! I didn;t know you were from Texas! I’m from DFW, living in Lubbock now! 🙂
Jody - Fit at 59
I really don’t like to write BUT I like sharing info. Like you, takes me forever to write – and with mine it looks like it took me 5 minutes but it takes me forever – a reason I am not blogging that much anymore…. I want to share but so time consuming for me with no $$ in exchange nor companies that support me in $$. You know my story! 🙂
hank you friend. I know you get it. And I totally get you! We are here to support each other too. <3 keep me posted.
Kristy from Southern In Law
This looks like such a delicious recipe – I love anything with lentils! <3
you and me both Kristy!
Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table
Brother, on a day like today I go straight for the bottle. 😛
Love this chili. Love the warmth. It’s actually cold and rainy here. Because hell has frozen over.
LOL! vodka chili. Done
Tiffany @ The Chi-Athlete
We’ll have to try this recipe, heart. Harry has tried another lentils chili recipe, and it was just not okay, lol. I’ll tell him that this one is from you — he’ll love it!
yay! keep me posted. I need feedback on this upgraded on anyway. Might need more onion or garlic.
Amanda - Create N Plate
Wow, this looks amazing! I can’t wait to give this a try!
Let me know what you think Amanda!
If it has BBQ flavors, I bet that I could even get my boys to eat the lentils! 🙂
Hooray for Dixie cups, and I know you’ll figure out the time management stuff…you seem to be doing just fine! Have a great weekend, and good luck with the unpacking!
I feel like you overestimate me capabilities, but thank you! LOL!
Susie @ Suzlyfe
Serving up another crockpot/slow cooker recipe myself today! BBQ sauce is basically the bee’s knees. It goes into everything. And we won’t talk about my time management skills.
I love twinning with you. LOL! time management is overrated. right?
Wanna have a BBQ bowl party? 😉
Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious
This reminds me of my black bean lentil chili which I have yet to nake this season. Lentils make auch wonderful chilis must try yours with those BBQ flavors!
oh i would love your recipe!