Instant Pot Lentil Chili is full of flavor, nutrients, and fiber and is perfect for busy nights. Made in the Instant Pot with minimal effort, this Vegan Lentil Chili delivers a hearty and healthy meal fast!
I absolutely adore using an Instant Pot to make chili. From classic Instant Pot Chili to Instant Pot Chicken Chili to Instant Pot Vegetarian Chili to this recipe for Instant Pot Lentil Chili, the results prove using the Instant Pot is just better! By pressure-cooking chili, you can develop insanely rich flavors in a relatively short amount of time.
And this Instant Pot Lentil Chili does not disappoint! Much like my recipe for Instant Pot Lentil Soup, this plant-based chili is filled with bold flavors, tender lentils, and tons of nutrients! It is easy, hearty and so delicious!
Notes on Ingredients
- Lentils: It is crucial to use either dried green or brown lentils. Red and yellow lentils are much too soft to hold up in chili.
- Broth: To keep this chili plant-based, use low-sodium store-bought or homemade vegetable broth. If you are not following a vegetarian diet, you can use low-sodium chicken stock or beef broth.
- Red Wine: My secret to giving this chili a deep, rich flavor is to add a bit of dry red wine, such as Merlot or Cabernet. However, if you don’t care to cook with alcohol, just swap out the wine for additional vegetable broth.
- Tomatoes: This recipe uses a combination of tomato sauce and diced tomatoes for a variety of textures.
- Beans: I prefer kidney beans in lentil chili, as they have a nice meaty texture. That said, feel free to swap them out for pinto or red beans if desired.
- Seasonings: The seasonings used in this lentil chili recipe mimic my homemade chili seasoning blend. It is the perfect bunch of flavor, yet does not overwhelm your palate with heat or spice.
- Balsamic Vinegar: Balsamic may sound like an odd addition, but finishing the lentil chili with vinegar will help to really make the flavors pop.
How to Make Lentil Chili in the Instant Pot
Step One: Saute. The first step to developing incredible flavor in this lentil chili is to saute the onions with the spices. Toasting the spices will help develop their flavor and add depth to the chili.
- Turn the Instant Pot to saute, add in the oil, and let heat.
- Add the minced onion to the heated oil and saute until softened then add in the spices and minced garlic and toast for 30-60 seconds just to let them briefly toast, but not burn.
Step Two: Deglaze Inner Pot. And any time you use the saute function on the Instant Pot, it is crucial to deglaze the pan with a bit of thin liquid to prevent a burn notice. For this recipe, I like to use dry red wine as it really adds amazing flavor, but feel free to use broth in place of the wine.
- While the instant pot is still on the saute function, add in the wine, and use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the instant pot.
- Allow the wine to cook for 1-2 minutes to allow the alcohol to cook off. Turn off the Instant Pot by hitting cancel.
Step Three: Layer Ingredients. Now it is as simple as layering the remaining ingredients. Be sure to rinse the lentils before adding them to the inner pot to remove any dirt and dust. You also want to pay close attention to how you layer the ingredients so you don’t have a burn notice.
- Add the vegetable broth to the inner pot.
- Add the rinsed lentils and beans to the inner pot and stir to combine.
- Top the mixture with tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. DO NOT STIR.
Step Four: Pressure Cook. Lentil Chili only takes a short time to pressure cook. But you have to account for time for the pressure to release naturally, as this will ensure the texture of the beans and lentils stay intact and your hot chili will not spew out of the vent knob if you force a quick release.
- Cook on high pressure for 15 minutes.
- Once the cooking time has elapsed, allow the pressure to release naturally for at least 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes have passed, you can open up the instant pot. Do not be alarmed by the appearance of the chili. Once you give everything a good stir, the tomatoes will incorporate perfectly.
Step Five: Serve. The key to making this the BEST Lentil Chili is to finish it with a splash of balsamic vinegar. It will enhance the flavor profile of each ingredient and really give the chili depth.
- Stir in the balsamic vinegar and dish up the chili.
This Lentil Chili is so flavorful, it does not need any adornment. That said, I do enjoy topping this chili with diced avocado, pickled red onions, and cilantro. If you are not vegan, adding shredded cheese and/or sour cream are all fabulous options. And no one will complain if you serve this chili with a side of corn chips or Cornbread Muffins.
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Instant Pot Lentil Chili
Made in the Instant Pot with minimal effort, this Vegan Lentil Chili delivers a hearty and healthy meal fast!
Prevents your screen from going dark while preparing the recipe.
Turn the Instant Pot to saute, add in the oil, and let heat.
Once the oil is heated, add in the onion and saute until translucent and softened about 2-3 minutes. Once the onion has softened, add in the garlic, chili powder, oregano, cumin, salt, and cayenne and saute for just 30 seconds to a minute, just to toast the garlic and spices.
Add in the wine and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the instant pot to prevent a burn warning. Allow the wine to cook for 1-2 minutes. Turn off the Instant Pot by hitting cancel.
Add the vegetable broth to the inner pot. Add the rinsed lentils and beans to the inner pot and stir to combine.
Top the mixture with tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. DO NOT STIR.
Place the lid on the inner pot and be sure the venting knob is pointed to sealed. Set the cooking time to HIGH PRESSURE for 15 minutes. Do this by hitting manual or pressure cook and use the +/- buttons to adjust the time.
Once the cooking time has elapsed, allow the pressure to release naturally for at least 15 minutes. Once pressure has been released, open up the instant pot and stir in the balsamic vinegar.
Serve with avocado and cilantro as desired.
Lentils: Use green or brown lentils, not yellow or red lentils.
Storage: Allow leftover Lentil Chili to cool to room temperature and then store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Or store in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months in the freezer. If you notice your chili is too thick after refrigeration, add a bit more stock to loosen up the chili before reheating.
Calories: 323kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 0.5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 838mg | Potassium: 1166mg | Fiber: 22g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1172IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 96mg | Iron: 7mg