An easy beluga (black lentil) chili recipe packed with plant-based protein and fiber! A satisfying meatless meal that is vegan, gluten-free, and oil-free.
This easy vegan chili is filled with hearty beans and black beluga lentils.
It is packed with plant-based protein and fiber which helps us feel pleasantly full and energized.
Black lentils hold their shape well while cooking (unlike other lentil varieties that can become a bit mushy). Their dense texture adds such a hearty feel to this dish and makes it a great meat replacement.
They are not as common as other lentils so if you can't find them, no worries, simply replace with green/brown lentils.
Ingredients for Black Lentil Chili
For this recipe you will simmer in a large pot:
- Yellow onion: Or use sweet onion or white onion if desired.
- Fresh garlic cloves: I like the flavor of fresh minced garlic best in this recipe, but you can substitute with dried garlic powder if needed.
- Diced tomatoes: Either regular or fire-roasted tomatoes work well.
- Tomato sauce: Be sure to use a 15-ounce can plain tomato sauce (not marinara).
- Vegetable broth: Use low sodium if desired.
- Kidney beans: For this recipe you can use any two cans of beans you prefer. Here we use kidney beans and black beans, but pinto beans would be great as well. Or all kidney beans instead.
- Black beans
- Black beluga lentils: These have a rich, earthy flavor, and their shape holds up very well during cooking. Plus cooked black lentils are high in protein, fiber, and iron. It's a great meat substitute in this hearty chili.
- Chili powder: Most often I use mild chili powder from the brand "Simply Organic". Be aware chili powder can vary in spiciness depending on how much cayenne pepper is included.
- Ground cumin: In addition to the cumin, I also like adding a half teaspoon to one teaspoon of smoked paprika for added taste.
Make it spicy: Add chipotle in adobo sauce, jalapeno, or cayenne pepper to taste. Or simply top your bowl with your favorite hot sauce before serving.
Vegetables: Add other veggies like zucchini, bell pepper, poblano pepper, organic sweet corn, sweet potato, or butternut squash.
Make it "meaty": Instead of beans, feel free to add your favorite vegan ground beef crumbles. I suggest cooking these separately according to package instructions. Then stir them in towards the end of cook time.
Garnish your bowl with your favorite toppings if desired! A few suggestions include:
- Diced avocado (my favorite!)
- Fresh cilantro
- Green onion
- Crumbled tortilla chips
- Vegan cheese shreds
- Vegan sour cream
Tip: This chili is also great served over baked potatoes! Or you can add cooked brown rice or quinoa to your bowl.
Store leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator. We find they keep for about 4-5 days. Simply reheat in the microwave when ready to enjoy.
Freezing: I have not tried freezing this chili but I'm guessing it would do very well as a freezer meal. Be sure to let it cool completely, then store in a freezer-safe container for 1-2 months.
For more inspiration, also browse all vegan lentil recipes.
Beluga Lentil Chili
- 1 yellow onion
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 15 oz. can diced tomatoes (or fire-roasted)
- 15 oz. can tomato sauce
- 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 15 oz. can kidney beans
- 15 oz. can black beans
- 1 cup black beluga lentils (uncooked)
- 2 1/2 Tbsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- Salt to taste
- Avocado, green onion, cilantro, hot sauce, tortilla strips, dairy-free cheese or sour cream, etc.
- Dice onion.
- In a stockpot over medium-high heat, sauté onion for about 8-10 minutes. (I use 3 Tbsp. water/broth for no-oil sauté method, adding more as needed.)
- Meanwhile, mince garlic.
- When onion is translucent, add chili powder, cumin, and garlic. Stir and sauté 1-2 minutes.
- Add vegetable broth, diced tomatoes with juice, and tomato sauce.
- Rinse and drain both beans and lentils. Add to pot.
- Increase heat and bring to a light boil. Then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 25-30 minutes or until lentils are tender.
- Salt to taste and serve with any desired toppings.
Nutrition Per Serving (Estimate)
Sodium: This is omitted as I cannot provide an accurate number. I encourage you to calculate your own to provide a much more precise reading based on the exact ingredients, brands, and amounts you're using.
If you are enjoying this Black Beluga Lentil Chili recipe, also check out:
- Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili
- Hearty Vegan Chili (30 Minute)
- Smoky Chipotle Black Bean Quinoa Chili
- Summer Vegetable Chili
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Had saved this recipe until I could order some beluga lentils. Made it a couple weeks ago, but forgot to review. This was a hit with both hubby and daughter. Very tasty and was told “you should definitely make this one again!” Thanks for sharing all your delicious creations.
Yay, glad this was a hit! Love that you're getting into the chili recipes now. Bring on cozy soup season! Wishing you and your family a wonderful week! -Kaitlin
I have cooked black lentils here left over from another recipe. Do I just add 1/2 a cup? This recipe sounds so good.
Hi Mary! If you have already-cooked lentils, I would add about 2 heaping cups of them towards the end of cooking time. (Or if you only have 1/2 cup cooked lentils, then you could also add another can of beans instead.) Hope you enjoy!
Really hearty vegan chili. I love the combination of pulses and vary the beans according to what I have in the cupboard. I serve with rice and home made guacamole. And put cheese on the chili. This is a good batch cook recipe. I freeze it in portions and use it as chili or filling for enchiladas.
Thrilled to hear you've been enjoying the recipe, Barbara! What a great idea freezing it in portions and using it for freezer meals and enchiladas - love that. Thanks so much for sharing your kind and helpful feedback!
Sorry I didn't rate this sooner. I've been making this since it first appeared and I am addicted to it. I made it again today. The only difference is I only had 2 -10 oz cans of tomatoes and green chilies with cilantro and lime juice. It still came out amazing! Not only does it freeze beautifully but there are so many different things you can add to it if you chose. Thank you for an outstanding recipe!
So fun to hear you've been enjoying this one! I love your substitutions. Thanks so much for coming back to let me know (and for leaving a recipe rating)!