Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lentil Chili

Yeah, I know, it’s 90 degrees outside and most people don’t want to be eating chili right now, but I’m a year ’round chili eater. Especially back in the day when I worked in a building that kept their AC set to 68 and it felt like winter all year long. I know I’m not the only one who suffers in summertime office AC, so this one goes out to all you fellow members of the always cold club. And the rest of you? Just bookmark this page and set a reminder in your phone to revisit this awesome Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lentil Chili two months from now. 😉

It’s All About The Toppings…

I’ve written and priced this recipe for Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lentil Chili as just the chili itself, without toppings because toppings are very personal, and often depends on what is already on hand. I love adding something creamy (cheese, sour cream, or avocado), something green (green onion, cilantro, or avocado), and sometimes something starchy (tortilla chips, oyster crackers, cornbread, or crusty bread for dipping). Make the chili your own with the toppings and take advantage of this opportunity to use up some leftovers from your fridge!

Vegetarian or Vegan?

The chili itself is actually vegan! But I titled it with vegetarian because I’m picturing it with non-vegan toppings, but you can customize that to your needs. 😉

Freezer Friendly

This chili is extremely freezer friendly, so as soon as you’re done cooking it, I suggest dividing it into single portions. Once those portions have cooled completely in the fridge, transfer at least a few to your freezer for long term storage. You can take one out at a time whenever the craving for chili hits and reheat either in the microwave or in a pot on the stove.

Chili Seasoning Short Cut

For this recipe, I used a slightly modified version of my Homemade Chili Seasoning, but if you want a shortcut you can use a store-bought packet of chili seasoning in its place. But I have to say, I think the herbs and spices listed in the recipe below will definitely yield a better result. 😉

Serve with a side of Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread

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Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lentil Chili

4.90 from 88 votes This Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lentil Chili makes a huge batch, is packed with flavor and nutrients, and can be made for only about 5 dollars!  Servings 6 1.5 cups each Prep 10 minutes Cook 4 hours Total 4 hours 10 minutes Save RecipeSaved! Print Recipe


  • 1 yellow onion ($0.33)
  • 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
  • 1 15oz. can petite diced tomatoes (with juices) ($0.48)
  • 1 6oz. can tomato paste ($0.48)
  • 1 15oz. can black beans, drained ($0.59)
  • 1 15oz. can kidney beans, drained ($0.59)
  • 1 cup brown lentils, uncooked ($0.70)
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder ($0.30)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika ($0.10)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin ($0.10)
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder ($0.05)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder ($0.03)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper ($0.03)
  • 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • freshly cracked black pepper ($0.03)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil* ($0.13)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth ($0.52)


  • Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Add the onion and garlic to the slow cooker along with all the other ingredients and stir to combine.
  • Place a lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours (or low for 8 hours). After cooking, the lentils should be tender. Taste the chili and add salt to taste, if needed (this will depend on the salt content of your broth). 
  • Serve the chili hot, with your favorite toppings.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.


Slow Cooker


*I like to use coconut oil because it has a similar mouth feel to animal fat, but it does give a slight coconut aroma to the chili. Feel free to use your favorite oil or fat in its place.


Serving: 1.5CupsCalories: 368.75kcalCarbohydrates: 60.85gProtein: 19.72gFat: 6.75gSodium: 1169.77mgFiber: 14.28g Read our full nutrition disclaimer here. Have you tried this recipe?Mention @budgetbytes or tag #budgetbytes on Instagram!

How to Make Slow Cooker Lentil Chili – Step by Step Photos

Dice one onion and mince two cloves of garlic. Add the onion and garlic to the slow cooker along with one 15 oz. can petite diced tomatoes (with their juices), one 6 oz. can of tomato paste…

One 15 oz. can black beans (drained), one 15 oz. can kidney beans (drained), one cup of uncooked brown lentils…

1 Tbsp chili powder, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp salt, and some freshly cracked pepper (about 20 cranks of a pepper mill). If you don’t have a well stocked spice cabinet, you can substitute one packet of store bought chili seasoning.

Also add 4 cups vegetable broth and 2 Tbsp coconut oil. I like to use coconut oil because it has a similar mouth feel to animal fats (because it’s a solid saturated fat), but you can use your favorite fat or oil in its place. Give everything a good stir to distribute the spices and tomato paste.

Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours (or low for eight hours). Once it has cooked the lentils should be tender. Give it a taste and add salt if needed.

Then grab whatever toppings you have in your fridge and GO TO TOWN.

Each bowl can be unique, which means leftovers of this Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lentil Chili will be a little less tiring…

But don’t you just want to dive in, tho?? 🤤

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