Smoky Red Lentil Chili (Vegan!)

Photo of red lentil chili mid-scoop with a tortilla chip.

It’s full-on chili season, the season of semi-hibernating, low cooking motivation, and easy one-pot meals. Also, post-holiday seasonal depression is real, and this smoky, spicy red lentil chili has the YUM factor to bring a little extra comfort into your January. Also try pairing this lentil chili with some of my favorite Easy Flourless Cornbread to make this meal extra yummy.

Why You’ll Love This Chili:

  • It’s made in one pot, just throw it all in one pot and leave it alone.
  • Most of the ingredients come from cans, jars, and pantry staples
  • It uses red lentils and canned beans so it’s ready in less than 30 minutes
  • It’s versatile, swap away!
  • You can make it using a variety of methods, stovetop, crockpot, instant pot, or just setting it on top of a wood burning stove for 5 hours (which is what I did!)
  • You can dress it up with so many tasty toppings
  • It’s got a beautiful balance of smoky, sweet, and spicy
  • It scales up well to feed a crowd and freezes beautifully
  • It’s deliciously plant-based for your #veganuary goals

The Key to Good Chili: Good Chili Powder

It may seem obvious, but mediocre chili is usually the result of mediocre or old chili powder. Chili powder that’s been sitting in your pantry for 6 months just won’t be as flavorful and punchy as fresh, high quality chili powder. This time of year when I’m making a pot or two per week, I like to make sure I’ve got the good stuff stocked. My favorite brand is this one from McCormick Gourmet, or this one from Simply Organic. It’s also fun to make your own!

If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment below, rate it, or tag me in your meal pics on Instagram @katiesconsciouskitchen. Or, join my free private facebook group to share your creations and inspire others!

Smoky Red Lentil Chili

Protein | Veggies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4
Recipe From: Katie’s Conscious Kitchen



  • 1 diced onion
  • 1 bell pepper diced
  • 2 15-oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups corn kernels frozen or canned


  • 1 can black beans 15 oz
  • 1 can kidney beans 15 oz
  • 3/4 cup red lentils not green or brown lentils


  • 2 cups water more as needed
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp chili powder more to taste
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Garnish Ideas

  • chopped cilantro
  • green onions
  • diced avocado
  • minced white onions
  • sour cream
  • shredded cheese
  • crème fraîche
  • fritos
  • corn chips
  • sliced jalapeño
  • lime wedges

Suggested Equipment*


  • Heat a splash of oil over medium heat in a large heavy bottomed soup pot. Sauté the onion and red pepper for 5 minutes or so, stirring often.
  • Add the garlic, and stir for another minute.
  • Add the seasonings, tomatoes, beans, corn, lentils, and water.
  • Bring to a boil then reduce to a gentle simmer and let cook, covered, for about 25 minutes or until the lentils are mushy and fully cooked. Add liquid as needed and stir occasionally to prevent from sticking.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Add salt to taste, chili powder for heat, and paprika for smokiness.
  • Garnish with toppings of choice and serve.
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*Affiliate Link Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that I earn a small commission on sales made from my links at no extra cost to you. The products I recommend in my posts are only brands that I can personally recommend and use myself.

More Delicious Chili Inspiration:

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  3. Katie, How would you count this with the BLE weight loss plan please?

    • Hi Beverly, I’ve detangled myself from BLE, partially because I don’t follow it myself anymore, and partially because they have gotten serious about trademark rules. I’m not allowed to share information anymore about the breakdowns of my recipes according to their food plans. If I were you, I’d just use the total weight/one plate method for this one, just like any other mixed category dish, or you could always post in a BLE support community for help with weighing this sort of thing. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

  4. Annette Smith

    Thank you for this recipe. Is it 30 oz of tomatoes or 15? Thank you!

  5. Pingback: 15 Ways to Use Leftover Cooked Quinoa | Katie's Conscious Kitchen

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