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Vegetarian Three Bean & Lentil Chili

This protein-packed Vegetarian Three Bean & Lentil Chili recipe simmers away in your slow cooker all day to hearty perfection.

Hey! I was so glad to see lentils back in this week’s ALDI ad (why are they “seasonal” there, anyway?), that I decided to use some of mine in a big batch of chili yesterday. In honor of Meatless Monday, I also decided to make it a Vegetarian Three Bean & Lentil Chili. And, in honor of my busy day running around in circles, I lastly decided to make it a vegetarian Crock-Pot chili recipe.

vegetarian chili with lentils and beans -- three bowls on a pretty plate

No watery chili here; this meatless bean & lentil chili recipe is sooo very thick, hearty, and filling. (The chili itself is also gluten free & completely vegan — assuming, of course, that you don’t top yours with cheese as I chose to here.)

Because we want simple in any vegetarian Crock-Pot chili recipe, this comes together easily with mostly pantry staples. It’s an easy meal to throw into your slow cooker in the morning when you know you’ll have a busy evening ahead. Plus: There’s nothing better than the leftovers from a big batch of chili!

use vegetarian chili for meal prep

Chili leftovers always keep and reheat really well, too; it’s one of those foods that’s often even better the next day. I actually did a little meal prep with mine last night (hence the terrible kitchen counter lighting on the above photo), and just enjoyed one of these containers for lunch.

ALDI actually had a set of two compartment meal prep containers on sale last week, but I usually prefer these three compartment ones.

Vegetarian Three Bean & Lentil Chili

beans, tomatoes, and lentils for vegetarian Crock-Pot chili

Ingredients

1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp minced garlic (about six cloves)
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup green lentils, rinsed, drained, and picked through
1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 can kidney beans, rinsed & drained
1 can Great Northern beans, rinsed & drained
1 can corn, drained
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
6 oz can tomato paste
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp packed brown sugar
1 tsp unsweetened baking cocoa
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt, plus additional to taste

Directions

Colorful vegetarian chili ingredients in the Crock-Pot for three bean + lentil chili

Chop onion, bell pepper, and garlic.

Add all ingredients to a larger slow cooker (I used my seven quart Crock-Pot). Stir to combine, then cook on low for 8 hours, until lentils are tender.

finished vegetarian chili in the crock-pot

Stir the finished chili, then taste and add a little more salt, if desired — I gave mine just a few extra grinds of sea salt at the end, and it was perfect. Serve with your favorite chili toppings.

Note: You’ll see a little bit of brown sugar in this recipe. It’s not much when spread out across eight servings — but thought I’d mention, given that I don’t usually include sugar in my chili recipes. Lentils can impart some bitterness, and this is just enough sweetness to balance that out.

A protein packed chili for a chilly day

Vegetarian bean & lentil chili in the slow cooker

This particular vegetarian slow cooker chili recipe might seem a little soupy when you first add all the ingredients to the crock, but it thickens up beautifully while cooking. Let’s hear it for simple vegetarian comfort food! Three bean & lentil chili isn’t especially spicy, but has just enough heat to warm you up on a cold winter’s day.

If you haven’t cooked with green lentils before, they tend to hold their shape and retain a bit more firmness than some other lentil varieties. This makes them a super-satisfying choice to add texture to your finished pot of chili. (You can, of course, substitute a different lentil variety if you prefer.)

More recipe options?

vegetarian black bean chili

Looking for more vegetarian recipe ideas? Take a few minutes to browse through the Meatless Monday category for additional dinner options. Plus:

Vegetarian three bean + lentil chili, printable recipe

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5 from 1 vote

Vegetarian Three Bean & Lentil Chili

This protein-packed Vegetarian Three Bean & Lentil Chili recipe simmers away in your slow cooker all day to hearty perfection.
Course dinner
Cuisine chili
Keyword chili, crock-pot, gluten free, lentils, meatless monday, slow cooker, vegetarian, vegetarian chili
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 30 minutes
Servings 8 people

Ingredients

  • 1 medium yellow onion chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic about six cloves
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup green lentils rinsed, drained, and picked through
  • 1 can black beans rinsed & drained
  • 1 can kidney beans rinsed & drained
  • 1 can Great Northern beans rinsed & drained
  • 1 can corn drained
  • 1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt plus additional to taste

Instructions

  • Chop onion, bell pepper, and garlic.
  • Add all ingredients to a larger slow cooker (I used my seven quart Crock-Pot).
  • Stir to combine, then cook on low for 8 hours, until lentils are tender.
  • Stir the finished chili, then taste and add a little more salt, if desired — I gave mine just a few extra grinds of sea salt at the end, and it was perfect.
  • Serve with your favorite chili toppings.

Notes

You’ll see a little bit of brown sugar in this recipe. It’s not much when spread out across eight servings — but thought I’d mention, given that I don’t usually include sugar in my chili recipes. Lentils can impart some bitterness, and this is just enough sweetness to balance that out.

Recipes in the real world

weekly ALDI meal plans from Mashup Mom -- six complete dinners for four, $60 out the door! MashupMom.com, every Wednesday.

Be sure not to miss the free weekly ALDI meal plans, which show you how to use these easy family recipes to meal plan affordably and realistically for your family. Or, find more recipe ideas with the Recipe Search!

Recipe Rating




Lisa

Monday 25th of January 2021

What happens if I leave out the baking cocoa? Anything else I could add? Aldi didn't have it and I was hoping to be able to make this without an extra trip to the store.

rachel

Monday 25th of January 2021

It adds a richness and depth of flavor to the recipe. I haven't changed it up myself, but you could try just a teeny bit of unsweetened baking chocolate -- or, even a bit of sweetened chocolate, and cut down on the brown sugar at the end.

Anna Douthit

Tuesday 6th of October 2020

I'm doing this on the stovetop right now and I am a big fan of your spice blend! It's very good just 20 min in. I can't wait for it all to meld!

Thanks for always having reliable recipes. I needed a vegetarian chili recipe to take to a friend and googled mashup mom vegetarian chili for the win!

rachel

Tuesday 6th of October 2020

I hope your friend enjoys it! So glad you're liking the recipe. :)

Kristen Berry

Thursday 9th of July 2020

Could I do this chili on my stove top? It looks delicious! Thank you!

rachel

Thursday 9th of July 2020

I've never tried it on the stove top, but off the top of my head you'd want to saute the onion and pepper in olive oil, then add at least some of the wet ingredients and bring to a boil, add the lentils, reduce heat, and simmer until mostly tender before adding the other beans and the rest of the ingredients.

Jenn

Wednesday 15th of January 2020

My Aldi didn't have lentils - anything I can sub or can I omit?

rachel

Thursday 16th of January 2020

Well, you could add another can of beans for heartiness -- I haven't tried this particular recipe without lentils, but you might also need less of the brown sugar (try omitting and adding at the end to taste to balance things out). Note: The lentils were new this week in the special buys section, or might be up by the registers, if you do make a return trip.

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