Creamy Red Lentil and Pepper Chili

creamy red lentil chili

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Nothing makes me crave warm and spicy food like the chill of fall. This past week has finally brought that weather, so I’m reaching for soups and stews regularly. While my Three Bean Chili is an easy go-to recipe for this weather, sometimes I want that same flavor and heartiness with a creamy texture. This red lentil chili is everything you imagine it to be… plus, it’s vegan and gluten free, and will please everyone!

Creamy Lentil Chili

Health Benefits of Lentils

In addition to red, there are also green, yellow and black lentils, which have different textures for different recipes. Lentils are a staple in my pantry for their nutrient density, providing protein, fiber and plenty of iron (perfect for athletes!). As a plant based protein source, lentils also provide an excellent texture that can replace or be blended with meat. Often, when choosing less animal proteins, athletes may be concerned with iron content, but lentils provide plenty. Additionally, something animal proteins can’t offer is fiber. Lentils provide both soluble and insoluble fiber, with types that benefit the gut microbiome.

Typically I cooking with green lentils for their versatility, and higher protein content. They’re a star in my lentil stuffing, tacos, and even lentil loaf! But red lentils provide similar nutrients with a less fibrous texture when cooked. So, to achieve the chili I crave with this creamy texture, red lentils are perfect!

Recipe Notes

While spicy food is coveted in my home, I realize that may not be the case for everyone. The red bell pepper and corn cut the spiciness of the cayenne, paprika and chili naturally, but if you really want to tone it down, just leave the cayenne out all together!
I do want to share some more tips for the ingredients and prep instructions below

  • It’s highly recommended to cook those lentils while you’re making something else ahead of time to cut down on prep time of the chili. In my house, we’ll do this while making breakfast on Sunday or while cooking a different meal some other time since they really just require time on the stove.
  • The Trader Joe’s low-sodium hearty vegetable broth is my #1 and has been for years. When they’re out, or I don’t have time to make it there, I’m always disappointed with the flavor of other brands I buy, and I really think I may have tried them all!
  • Even if you’re only cooking for one or two, I recommend making this full recipe versus cutting in half. It’s too easy to pack for lunch or freeze for later.
  • If you don’t have nutritional yeast, don’t sweat it. You can blend 1/2 cup cashews in a bullet blender and add that instead, or if you’re body is A-okay with dairy, add some grated parmigianno reggiano.vegan lentil chili

So, what do you prefer?
Creamy soups, brothy soups, or hearty textured stews and chilis?
Comment below!

creamy red lentil chili

Creamy Red Lentil Chili

This creamy red lentil chili provides a soothing texture with all of the flavor you expect. It's filled with plant protein, fiber and antioxidants.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American


  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • cups frozen corn
  • 4 cups red lentils, cooked from dry
  • 1 quart low sodium vegetable broth
  • ½ tsp cayenne powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1⅓ tbsp chili powder
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast


  • Heat the oil over low-medium in a large stockpot.
  • Add onions, stir and cover for roughly 5 minutes.
  • Add the peppers and corn, stir again and cover for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add your lentils and the broth, stirring well until the liquid is incorporated.
  • Next, add all of the spices, stir well, cover and let simmer for 5 minutes minimum (the longer it simmers the more the flavor will develop, and liquid will reduce if you like a thicker soup).
  • Turn off the heat and blend with an immersion blender until creamy. Alternatively, you can carefully transfer the contents into a food processor or high quality blender to make creamy.
  • Finally, stir in the nutritional yeast, and serve.
Keyword vegan chili
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Recipe Rating

  1. I am a big texture person, so I usually opt for thick chilis that you could almost eat with a fork! I love the color of this though. I’m curious to know more about avocado oil, why did you choose it as opposed to other oils? I’ve never made anything with it before, but always open to trying new ingredients! 🙂

    1. You can totally make this really thick too by adding less broth! I love to use avocado oil because it’s flavorless and has a high smoke point. I also like to use oils that come from foods I eat when possible – just makes more sense to me to have avocado oil since I eat avocados vs. canola oil or grape seed oil, for example, when I wouldn’t eat those things in my diet. I love herb infused olive oils for Italian food and sesame seed oil for stir fry’s though!

  2. I read “all the spices” as including the nutritional yeast, and added that with the other spices. Whateffect doesthis have over adding the yeast at the end?

    1. Not a big deal at all! The yeast itself is inactive but in its fermentation when they make the product you’ve gotten protein, B12 and other nutrients in it. They’re still there even if you added it early! Hope you enjoy