This lentil chili tastes like everything you love about chili — filled with smoky spices and lots of rich tomato flavor — but it goes lighter than the meat-filled version, thanks to the addition of barely sweet butternut squash and hearty lentils. Lentils are the perfect candidate for a meat-free chili. They cook up earthy and meaty, and there's no browning or precooking necessary.
This hearty vegan chili comes together easily with the aid of a slow cooker. All you have to do is mix everything together, turn it on, and come back to a bowl of comforting vegan chili.
A Grocery-Store Tip for Easier Chili
Butternut squash adds sweetness to this easy chili, but you want to make sure the pieces are large enough. Too small and they break down and turn mushy during the long cooking time. The pre-cut chunks found in the produce section are perfect for this chili, plus you don't have to do any chopping. Sweet potatoes can be substituted for the butternut squash if you choose.
Top this hearty chili with buttery avocado chunks and cilantro for some freshness. A dash of your favorite hot sauce and some hunks of cornbread alongside can turn this chili into a warming winter meal.
Slow-Cooker Vegan Lentil Chili
1 pound large butternut squash cubes (about 1 1/4 inches)
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 1/2 cups water
1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup dried lentils
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Coarsely chopped fresh cilantro and diced avocado, for serving
Place all the ingredients except the cilantro and avocado in a 6-quart or larger slow cooker and stir to combine. Cover and cook until the lentils are tender, 6 to 8 hours on the LOW setting. Stir again and serve topped with cilantro and avocado.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. It can also be frozen for up to 3 months.