Pressure Cooker/Instant Pot Lentil Chili cooks in less than 30 minutes, and is a nutritious, hearty vegetarian/vegan meal. Whether you use an Instant Pot or pressure cooker, this lentil chili is a quick, delicious and healthy dinner. I love using pressure to cook stews and chili when I’m short on time. My mom used to use a stovetop pressure cooker to make hearty stews during the winter. For years, I was intimidated by the thought of an exploding pressure cooker. Fortunately, the Instant Pot and modern pressure cookers make pressure cooking easy for even the novice cook.
Recently I made this pressure cooker/Instant Pot lentil chili for a couple who just had a baby. Their baby is in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) so they’ve been spending entire days at the hospital. I had first-hand experience when our twin boys were born 11 weeks premature. They spent 10 weeks in the NICU and it was a very stressful time.
The church reached out to our community to provide meals for this family, and I signed up for the first weekend worth of meals. The only catch was I had just two hours to prepare all the food due to the last minute notice.
This pressure cooker/Instant Pot lentil chili was one of four meals I whipped up in two hours. Some of you might know that I’ve been volunteering in a commercial kitchen for almost a year, and my prep skills and efficiency in the kitchen have improved exponentially. I feel as if I can prep/cook twice as fast now.
This pressure cooker/Instant Pot lentil chili recipe is based on a Slow Cooker Lentil Chili Recipe I made several years ago. Cooking under pressure is the opposite of cooking using a slow cooker. Pressure cooking can reduce cooking time by 2/3 of the time it would normally take on the stovetop, making pressure cookers especially handy for cooking beans, broths and stews when you’re short on time. These lentils take just 14 minutes to cook in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker.
Lentils are nutritious plant-based source of protein, and have a nice meaty texture. I used a combination of French green lentils and brown lentils, which hold up well in chilis and stews. Each serving has almost 18 grams of protein and just under 300 calories. Serve over steamed brown rice or a baked sweet potato, with a nice tossed salad.
Watch how to make this Lentil Chili in an Instant Pot:
Pressure Cooker/Instant Pot Lentil Chili Recipe
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onions chopped
- 3-4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 carrots chopped
- 1 celery stalk chopped
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper optional
- 1 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes 15 -ounce can
- 2 cups dry lentils picked through for stones, rinsed and drained, I used a combination of French green lentils and brown lentils
- 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- salt to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Stovetop Pressure Cooker Method
Heat oil in pressure cooker. Add onions, garlic, carrots and celery. Saute until onions are softened and lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, mustard, and cayenne (if you like a little heat) and stir well for a minute or two. Add tomatoes, lentils, broth, salt to taste, and pepper. Pressure cook for 14 minutes or until lentils are tender.
Instant Pot Method
Select "Saute" setting on Instant Pot. Add oil and let heat up. Add onions, garlic, carrots and celery. Saute until onions are softened and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, mustard and cayenne (if you like some heat) and stir well for a minute or two. Add tomatoes, lentils, broth, salt to taste, and pepper.
Select "Cancel," then close the lid. Turn steam release handle to "Sealing" position. Select "Bean/Chili" and set time for 14 minutes. Press "Cancel" and let Instant Pot naturally release pressure until float valve drops down and lid unlocks; alternatively, press "Cancel" and let Instant Pot naturally release for 10 minutes; then turn steam release valve to "Venting" until float valve drops down and lid unlocks.
You may want to add more broth or water after cooking to thin the chili depending on the type of lentils you use. I've used sprouted lentils, as well as a combination of French green lentils and brown lentils, and found 3 cups of broth to be sufficient.