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vegetarian chili in a white bowl
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5 from 4 votes

Smoky Chipotle Lentil and Bean Chili

This fast and easy chili has smoky (but not super spicy) flavors, two types of beans, and lentils for loads of plant-based protein. Add your favorite toppings and dinner is served!
To adjust the servings in this recipe, click on the number next to servings.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Main
Cuisine: Tex Mex
Keyword: easy dinner, freezer friendly, gluten free, vegetarian
Servings: 4
Calories: 205kcal
Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $10.00


  • Dutch oven


  • 2 Tablespoons Cooking Oil (see note)
  • 1 cup diced Yellow Onion
  • 1 cup diced Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Chipotle Adobo Sauce (from a can of chipotles in adobo; see note)
  • 2 teaspoons Chili Powder (be sure to use chili powder that is a blend, not cayenne pepper)
  • 2 teaspoons Smoked Paprika (sub regular paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • ½ teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 15 ounce can Red Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15 ounce can Black Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 ½ cup Cooked Lentils (see note)
  • 1 15 ounce can Tomato Sauce (tomato puree or crushed tomatoes will also work)
  • 2 cups Low-Sodium Vegetable Stock / Broth
  • Sour cream, Cheddar Cheese, Green Onions, Tortilla Chips (optional, for serving)


  • Heat a Dutch oven or large saute pan with oil over medium heat.
  • To heated oil, add onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until very tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
  • Add chipotle adobo sauce, chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, salt, and garlic powder and stir gently until spices are fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  • Add kidney beans, black beans, lentils, tomato sauce, and stock.
  • Bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes to let the flavors come together.
  • Taste finished chili and add some more salt, if needed.
  • Ladle chili into bowls. Serve with toppings and chips.


Cooking Oil - Use any high-heat cooking oil with a neutral flavor. My favorites are avocado, grapeseed, or vegetable oil.
Chipotle Adobo Sauce - Look for a small can of chipotles in adobo in the international aisle. For this recipe, use just the sauce that surrounds the chilis, not the actual chilis. It is quite spicy, so use more or less depending on your spice preference. If not using the chipotle adobo sauce, double the amount of chili powder included in the recipe. 
Lentils - One of my favorite shortcuts is to use pre-cooked lentils. I find them in the refrigerated produce section of my grocery store or in the refrigerated section at Trader Joe’s. You can also buy canned pre-cooked lentils - just drain and rinse them well before using. If you prefer to use dried lentils in this recipe, use ¾ cups of green or brown lentils and increase stock to 3 ½ cups. Be sure to simmer the chili long enough for the lentils to become very tender (it may take longer than the time listed). 
Kosher Salt - I use Morton’s Kosher Salt to test recipes. If using table salt, reduce by about half. If using Diamond Kosher Salt, increase by about 25%. Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to salt, so be sure to taste and adjust as you go.
To freeze: To freeze this chili, make as directed. Allow it to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Freeze for up to 4 months. Defrost in the refrigerator completely before reheating on the stovetop. 
Print and attach the label below so cooking instructions are ready when you are!
smoky chipotle chili freezer label


Calories: 205kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1087mg | Potassium: 478mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1979IU | Vitamin C: 52mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 4mg