A delicious chili made with beef, lentils, tomatoes, vegetables, and seasonings! This easy, from-scratch chili tastes amazing!
about 5 quarts
2 to 2.5 pounds ground beef or inexpensive steak*
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper (any color), diced
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes (or 4 cups diced fresh tomatoes)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon brown sugar
A few splashes of your favorite hot sauce (or a dash of cayenne pepper)
2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
6 cups water
1 pound dry lentils (about 2 1/2 cups of dry lentils), rinsed
Optional, for serving:
Chopped fresh cilantro
1. In a large stock pot, brown ground beef with onion, garlic, and pepper. Drain grease and return to pan. Add remaining ingredients, except lentils and optional ingredients, to the drained meat mixture.
If using steak, trim as much fat as possible from meat and cut into small pieces. In a large stock pot, brown meat with onion, garlic, and pepper. Do not drain. Add remaining ingredients except lentils and optional ingredients.
2. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer covered, on medium-low heat for at least 30 minutes. Add lentils and stir. Cover and simmer for an additional 60 minutes or until lentils are tender. If this chili is too "soupy" for your tastes, simmer uncovered for another 15 minutes or so, until it's the thickness you desire. (And if it's too thick, add a splash of water.)
3. Serve hot, with optional ingredients of your choice. Enjoy! :)
See additional notes below for the crock pot version of this recipe! :)
Hearty Beef and Lentil Chili, served with homemade cornbread
*Using ground beef vs. inexpensive steak:
Using ground beef is faster, since you don't need to dice it before cooking.
Using steak is great for making this chili in the slow cooker, since you can trim the fat before cooking, and don't need to use a separate pan to brown the meat before putting it in the crock pot.
Making lentil chili in the slow cooker:
I recommend using an inexpensive steak, with the fat trimmed as well as possible, so you can make this chili start-to-finish in your crock pot! If you choose to use ground beef instead, brown it in a pan on the stove, drain the grease, and then add to your crock pot.
Add all ingredients (except optional ingredients) to a 6-quart crock pot. (If your slow cooker is smaller than 6 quarts, reduce the recipe to fit.) Cook on HIGH for 8-10 hours. Keep warm until ready to eat! Serve with your choice of the optional ingredients listed.
Slow cooker prep time: 20-30 minutes
Slow cooker cook time: 8-10 hours
allow at least 2 hours
We LOVE this easy lentil chili! You can read more about this recipe in my blog post here.
One note about the current photos of this recipe: The lentil chili in the photos has 50% more lentils added. It was good that way too, but we definitely like the measurements in this recipe best! So, when you make this chili there will be fewer lentils and more meat than the pictures show. :)