Pressure Cooker/Instant Pot Lentil Chili cooks in less than 30 minutes, and is a nutritious, hearty vegetarian/vegan meal. 296 calories/1 Freestyle point per serving.
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 (note: if you use red lentils, cooking time will be less ~ 7-8 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.
1 Freestyle point per serving.
If you like this vegetarian/vegan chili recipe, you might also like:
Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lentil Chili Soup
Three Bean Butternut Squash Vegetarian Chili
Angie@Angie's Recipes says
You live in a lovely community, Jeanette and that’s very thoughtful of you to prepare such a comforting and delicious chili for the family. Thumbs up for you and your pressure cooker chili!
Angie – I am very blessed to live in a tight-knit community. Our church is very supportive, so preparing meals for one another is one way we help each other out. Glad you like this lentil chili 🙂
Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine says
Definitely feeling the need for some hearty veggie chili right now!
Me too Rebecca 🙂
Tara | Treble in the Kitchen says
Wow! You are a speed demon in the kitchen! This pressure cooker chili looks like the perfect thing to share with a family who needs a little extra help 🙂
Haha Tara – experience in a commercial kitchen has definitely helped me be more efficient!
This recipe looks wonderful! I’d like to make it with either chicken or beef, which would you recommend? Also, How long would I need to cook the chili if I cooked it stove-top or with a crock pot?
Denise, you can add either ground chicken or beef for a non-vegetarian meal. Typically, cooking chili in a crockpot takes about 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high. I would guess this could cook on the stovetop in an hour.
Christina Wedow says
It looks so delicious that i want to make and take to a family potluck this weekend. Would I do a quick release or natural?
I usually do natural release.
In my favourite vegetarian chili, I add 1 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes and 1 15 ounce can of spicy tomatoes (like rotel). If I were to do the same with this recipe, would it make sense to reduce the amount of broth from 3 cups to 2 cups? Just worried I won’t have enough liquid for the lentils.
Hi Sarah, I would suggest reducing the broth from 3 cups to 2 1/2 cups since there isn’t as much liquid in a can of tomatoes. Let me know how it comes out – love the spicy tomatoes you’re adding!
Erin Sinisgalli says
This was very flavorful and easy to make. I mixed a few types of lentils together and one did not cook completely in 14 minutes so next time I would increase it by a few minutes. Otherwise, I wouldn’t change a thing. Thank you for a great recipe!
Hi Erin – so glad you enjoyed this recipe! Great idea mixing in different types of lentils. Some lentils do take longer to cook than others, so thanks for sharing your experience!
I’m going to try this in my Instant Pot! Sounds great!
Hi Shannon – I’ve been thinking about getting an instant pot. Let me know how this recipe turns out in yours.
Dee Gamel says
I would like to know how it turns out in the IP too. 🙂
Just made it and it tastes fantastic.
I soaked the lentils before cooking it as not get bloated. I also agree that it needs a bit longer than 14 minutes to cook.
Will definitely make it again 🙂
Hi Dawn – so glad you enjoyed this recipe! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and experience. Yes, I agree – the cooking time depends on the lentils you use.
This is delicious and easy to prepare. Used my 8 quart instant pot. May increase recipe 1-1/2 – 2 times next time to use all lentils in 1 lb. bag. Added 3/4 medium bell pepper and cut back on coriander. Added a little more stock at end to thin a little. Others may want to add jalapeños or hot sauce for more spice, I think t is perfect. Perfect meatless meal!
Thanks Patti – so glad you enjoyed this recipe. Love your addition of bell pepper. I agree – for people who like spicy food, jalapenos, cayenne or hot sauce would all be great additions. Thanks for all your suggestions!
Could this be frozen and reheated?
This should freeze fine – the lentils may be softer once the chili is defrosted, but that is a matter of taste.
Kate West says
This was very tasty! I was pleasantly surprised that even my husband liked it, despite having no meat.
Thank you so much for a good, healthy chili recipe! I will definitely be adding this to our dinners.
So glad you and your husband enjoyed this recipe Kate! Thanks for letting me know 🙂
Just made this. Delicious! And so easy!
So glad you enjoyed this recipe Nicole! Thanks for letting me know 🙂
Deb G says
I have red lentils, will the timing be the same?
Hi Deb – red lentils take a lot less time to cook. They’re usually done in 15-20 minutes, so I think pressure cook for 5-7 minutes and let pressure naturally release
I made this recipe last night and only cut the amount of chili powder in half because I was worried about feeding it to my 1 and 4 yr olds. It was very easy to make and it came out great—nice consistency. It was a little bland (probably because I left out the chili powdee) but my husband and I added cilantro, green onion and green chili and that made it amazing! Per their request, the kids got colby jack in theirs. Thanks for the easy meal!
So glad you and your family enjoyed this recipe. Thanks so much for letting me know Veronica! Love the toppings you served with your chili.
Made this with orange lentils. It’s all that was available at the market with all the storm prep shopping. I did add 1/2 lbs. ground beef and additional stock. 14 minutes was way too long. The lentil turned to mush. I ended up with a rather tasty baby food. Any thoughts on the cooking time?
Hi Nat – I used French green and brown lentils for this recipe. Red/orange lentils take less time to cook and tend to fall apart – they don’t hold their shape like brown or green lentils. On the stovetop, red lentils take about 20-25 minutes to cook, so under pressure, I would think it should take 7-8 minutes. The rule of thumb is pressure cooking takes about 1/3 of the time it usually takes on the stovetop. I’ve added a note to the recipe directions in case anyone uses red lentils instead of brown/green lentils.
This Recipie is very helpful for making best food thankyou for sharing your recipie
Ann Marie says
Followed this recipe to a “T”, and my chili came out bone dry!! Any suggestions as to what I can do differently? I doubled the recipe and it filled my instant pot. Ended up adding 2 cans of chili beans and an extra 2 cups of broth at the end.
Hi Ann Marie – the amount of liquid can depend on the lentils used – some require more liquid. I think what you did to adjust the recipe is great – more broth as needed. I love your addition of chili beans.
marie johson says
Never tried anything in pressure cooker but i will definitely try this recipe 🙂