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Lentil Chili With Black Beans

This Lentil Chili with Black Beans is a fabulous meatless dish; it’s hearty, full of flavor, and so delicious you won’t even miss the meat. It’s a cozy, comforting, and satisfying meal your friends and family will devour.

two bowls of lentil chili with black beans.
This Lentil Chili with Black Beans is so good we don’t even miss the meat!

Why This Recipe Stands Out

This recipe takes your classic bowl of warm, comforting chili and makes it vegetarian without sacrificing an flavor. Here’s why you’ll love this Lentil Chili:

  • Super Easy: One thing we love about the meatless versions of our favorite recipes is that they come together super quickly and easily with much less of a mess.
  • Healthy: This lentil chili is packed with all sorts of healthful ingredients – veggies, beans, lentils. It’s a winner when it comes to healthy meals.
  • Keeps Well: Most of our soup and stew recipes make great meal-prep dishes and this vegetarian stew is no different.
  • Food Sensitivities: There’s not many meals that can boast being vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free like this lentil chili can!

What Are Lentils?

lentils in colander

Lentils are legumes, which are plants that bear fruit that grow into pods. Because of this, they’re nutrient-dense, high in fiber, and an excellent source of protein. In fact, there’s a whopping 26% protein in dry lentils.

Old school grains and legumes like quinoa and lentils have been making a comeback, which is a great thing for building variety in our pantry. Explore them in recipes like this chili and quinoa sweet potato salad.

Which Kind Of Lentils Are Best?

For lentil chili and lentil soup, we recommend brown or green lentils, both of which keep their shape better than red lentils during cooking. Brown and green lentils are mild in flavor, though green lentils may remain a bit firmer in texture after cooking. Red and green lentils are great for Lentil Hummus.

Key Recipe Ingredients

  • Lentils – Lentils are highly nutritious, high in fiber, and a great source of protein. They act as sort of a “meat replacement” in this chili. Make sure you’re using dry lentils.
  • Black Beans – Black beans bring plenty of fiber and protein to the table. Be sure to drain them well.
  • Corn – We use canned corn kernels but feel free to use frozen instead. These add the perfect burst of sweetness to balance out the more savory spices.
  • Baby Carrots – Sliced baby carrots add a pop of color and make this chili even more nutritious.
  • Fire Roasted Tomatoes – We absolutely love this style of canned tomatoes, as they impart tremendous flavor.
  • Vegetable Broth – We use vegetable broth when trying to keep it vegetarian, but feel free to use chicken or beef broth for extra flavor.
  • Seasonings – Cumin, allspice, smoked paprika, and chili powder collaborate for an amazing flavor profile.

Substitutions And Variations

This Lentil Chili with Black Beans recipe can be easily tweaked based on your preferences or on what you already have in your pantry. Here’s some of our favorite variations:

  • Beans: Feel free to switch up the kinds of beans in this recipe. We think kidney beans, garbanzo beans, black-eyed peas, and even butter beans would all work amazingly in vegetarian chili.
  • Lentil Replacement: If you want to switch up this dish, try substituting with crumbled veggie burgers instead like we do in this recipe for The Best Vegetarian Chili.
  • Vegetables: The veggie options for this lentil chili are endless. Try adding in chopped celery, kale, green beans, or sweet bell peppers.
  • Meat: If you just can’t skip the meat but are looking for something a little lighter than your classic ground beef chili, check out our recipe for Healthy Turkey Chili.

Step-By-Step Recipe Instructions

lentil chili with black beans in pot close-up.
  1. In large, heavy pot, add garlic, onions, and carrots to heated oil and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add spices and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add broth, lentils, tomato paste, and fire-roasted tomatoes. Bring to a boil; cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Add black beans and corn. Continue simmering for 20 more minutes.
  5. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with desired garnishes and enjoy!

For full list of ingredients and instructions, see recipe card below.

How To Prep Ahead

Take a look at some of our favorite prep-ahead strategies for vegetarian chili:

  • Chop Veggies: As with pretty much any recipe, you can chop the veggies several days in advance and store them in the fridge until ready to use.
  • Measure Spices: The spices in this recipe can be measured several days in advance as well! Just store them in an airtight container at room temperature until ready to use.
  • Meal Prep: Lentil Chili with Black Beans keeps extremely well in the fridge. It’ll stay fresh for up to 5 days, and we think it even tastes better when it has time to sit. So, feel free to fully make the chili in advance. Just let it cool completely before storing it.

What To Serve With Lentil Chili


  • Serve a big hunk of this Sweet Honey Cornbread next to this vegetarian chili for a classic warm, hearty dinner.
  • If you’re making this lentil chili in the fall, you have to try this Pumpkin Cornbread Recipe – it’s the perfect combo!



Commonly Asked Questions

How long does lentil chili with black beans keep?

Lentil Chili with Black Beans keeps well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. It also freezes wonderfully for up to 3 months. We like freezing leftovers in single-serving containers and thawing them in the microwave when we need a meal in a pinch.

What do lentils taste like?

Lentils actually have a similar taste and texture to black beans. Except, the flavor is a little milder. They have sort of an earthy, nutty taste.

How do I cook lentils in soup?

Because lentils are tiny-sized legumes, they can be cooked directly in liquids without any prior soak time. They’re the perfect candidate for stews, chilis, and soups like our easy Lemon Lentil Soup Recipe. Simply rinse and dry lentils in a colander, drain, and add to your stews, soups, and chili. Lentils generally become tender with 30 minutes of cook time.

Can I make lentil chili in the instant pot?

Yes! Check out this recipe for Instant Pot Chili for cooking times and tips on using the Instant Pot.

Why do you use baby carrots?

We use baby carrots mainly because they’re easier to prep (plus, we like their slightly sweeter flavor). But you can absolutely use regular carrots instead!

What kind of lentils should I use?

Be sure to use dry, uncooked brown or green lentils for this recipe. They will yield the best texture and flavor for chili.

Did you make this?

Please give us a rating and comment below. We love hearing from you!

two bowls of lentil chili with black beans.

Lentil Chili with Black Beans

4.82 from 54 ratings
This Lentil Chili with Black Beans is a fabulous meatless meal; it's hearty, full of flavor, and so delicious you won't even miss the meat. Serve this with cheese and tortilla chips for a cozy, comforting, and satisfying meal.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 8
Author: Amy Dong


  • 3 TB olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cups baby carrots, thinly sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-4 tsp chili powder, depending on desired heat level
  • 1 TB smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 6 cups vegetable broth, plus extra as needed
  • 1 cup dry lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 3 TB tomato paste
  • 28 oz fire roasted tomatoes, with juices
  • 30 oz black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 15 oz sweet corn kernels, drained
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: sliced avocado, shredded sharp cheddar, tortilla chips for serving


  • In a Dutch oven or large, heavy pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots, and garlic; stir 1-2 min. Add chili powder, smoked paprika, sugar, allspice, and cumin. Stir and cook 1 min.
  • Add broth, lentils, tomato paste, and fire-roasted tomatoes with juices. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer 30 min.
  • Add black beans, corn, and cover. Continue simmer 20 more min or until lentils are tender and mixture has thickened. If lentils have soaked up most of the liquid, add a bit more broth for your desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve with cheddar cheese, tortilla chips, and your choice of garnishes.


  • Use brown or green lentils for this recipe, as they’ll result in the best texture for chili. 
  • If you love cumin, feel free to add another teaspoon. It gives chili that aromatic, earthy flavor. 
  • Feel free to use chicken or beef broth, if you don’t need it to be vegetarian. 
  • Though regular paprika can be used in a pinch, Smoked Paprika is preferred, as it is deeper and richer in flavor.
  • Fire roasted tomatoes lend depth of flavor and are highly recommended. If you cannot find it at your store, you can use seasoned diced tomatoes as an alternative. 
  • Note that lentils tend to soak up quite a bit of liquid during cooking, so we add extra broth into our chilis and soups when lentils are included. If your lentil chili or soup becomes too thick, simply add a more broth to loosen the consistency.
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and give it a rating. We ❤️ hearing from you! 
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Nutrition (per serving)

Calories: 330kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 1460mg | Potassium: 841mg | Fiber: 19g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 5902IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 113mg | Iron: 6mg
Course: Dinner, Main
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free, Low Lactose, Vegan, Vegetarian
Method: Stovetop

More To Cook And Eat

  • Healthy Pumpkin Chili Recipe – This comforting fall chili features pure pumpkin puree, ground turkey, and loads of veggies making it one of our go-to nutritious dinners.
  • White Bean Turkey Chili – 30 minutes is all that’s needed for this satisfying weeknight meal.
  • Easy Crockpot Chili – Crockpot Chili is budget friendly and time efficient. Serve it with a slice of cornbread and a dollop of guacamole and you’re all set!
  • Zuppa Toscana – We love this copycat recipe for the Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana – It tastes identical.
4.82 from 54 votes (29 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


    • Diane Colpitts
    • 5 stars

    So delicious! I do love my chilli powder and cumin so I did add more of these. I also added garlic and onion powder because I love both of these also. It tasted great before just a preference of mine.

      • Amy Dong

      So glad you loved it, Diane!

    • Hayley Dhanecha
    • 5 stars

    This Lentil Black Bean Chili is an absolute flavour explosion! Comforting and flavourful dish that is so easy to whip up too. Can’t wait to make it again.

      • Amy Dong

      Yay, so glad you guys loved this, Hayley!!

    • Carrie Robinson
    • 5 stars

    This recipe just proves that a chili doesn’t have to have meat in it to be hearty! 🙂 had a bowl of this in front of me right now.

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