Chunky Red Lentil Chili

If you’re looking for a hearty, satisfying dish but also want to eat something healthy, look no further than this chunky red lentil chili recipe.  Packed full of protein, veggies, and flavor, this easy lentil chili comes together quickly and is the definition of comfort food.

People often don’t know what to cook with lentils, though they’re very versatile. I particularly like red and black lentils, which work well in both hot dishes and cold salads. My husband is a big fan of my braised black lentils and their color is what gives them an extra boost of anthocyanins, which are powerfully good for you.

The other benefit of lentils is they cook very quickly, making them perfect as an easy side dish, or as a base for soup or chili, such as this one, which comes together in about an hour.

Vegetarian option:

To make this a vegetarian lentil chili, simply use vegetable stock, omit the ground turkey, and start the recipe by heating the oil and adding the vegetables as directed.

lola rugula easy red lentil chili

Chunky Red Lentil Chili with Black Beans Recipe

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, separated
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb, ground turkey
  • 1 cup diced white or yellow onion
  • 1 sweet bell pepper, diced (I used red for the recipe pictured)
  • 1 small jalapeno, chopped
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed or diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 cup dried red lentils
  • Salt, to taste, if needed

For garnish:

  • Sour cream
  • Finely-diced jalapeno
  • Finely-diced red onion
  • Chopped cilantro


  1. In a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes
  2. Add ground turkey, season with black pepper and saute, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until all moisture has evaporated.
  3. Drizzle in the second tablespoon of olive oil and stir well.
  4. Add onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno and stir well.
  5. Continue to cook over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring often.
  6. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and stir well.
  7. Cook for about 4-5 minutes.
  8. Add stock, water, beans, tomatoes, and spices and stir well. Bring back to a healthy simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
  9. Add lentils, stir well and continue to cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lentils are cooked and liquid has reduced.
  10. Taste and add salt, if needed
  11. Ladle into bowls or mugs, spoon a dollop of sour cream on top of each and sprinkle with red onion, jalapeno and cilantro before serving.

lola rugula red lentil chili with black beans

It’s beautiful, isn’t it? I love colorful dishes and this definitely is one. The spices add flavor and warmth, the addition of sour cream smooths out all the flavors and the fresh onion, jalapeno, and cilantro on top add an extra burst of crunch and flavor.

Isn’t this so simple? Probably the easiest chili recipe ever and I think you’ll be amazed at how much flavor this really has.


4 thoughts on “Chunky Red Lentil Chili

  1. I’ve cooked with brown lentils and green ones but have never used the red ones. Your chili sounds like a good one to try using them in.

    • Lesley at Lola Rugula says:

      Thanks, Karen! Red and black lentils are my favorites – I hope you have a chance to try them!

    • Lesley at Lola Rugula says:

      Thanks, Eddie! The vegetarian version of this is delicious – I’ve made it both ways.

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