Vegan Main Dishes/ Vegan Recipes/ Vegan Soups, Stews, and Chilis

Smoky Lentil and Sweet Potato Chili

Smoky Lentil Chili recipe

Lentil chili is deliciously offbeat, especially with the addition of sweet potato. Smoky spices, intended for grilling, are readily available in the spice section of supermarkets, and add a bold but not overly hot flavor to the stew. I like to serve this with fresh greens, steamed or sautéed and a simple slaw-style salad. Stone-ground tortilla chips and some salsa are also welcome!

Smoky Lentil Chili recipe

Smoky Lentil and Sweet Potato Chili

Lentil chili is deliciously offbeat, especially with the addition of sweet potato. Smoky spices add a bold but not overly hot flavor to the stew.
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Stew / Chili
Cuisine: Vegan / Healthy
Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 8
Author: Veg Kitchen


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 cups raw brown or green lentils rinsed
  • 1 large or 2 medium sweet potatoes scrubbed (or peeled) and diced or grated
  • 1 medium red bell pepper diced
  • 15- to 16- ounce can salt-free diced tomatoes undrained (try fire-roasted)
  • 1 to 2 small hot chili peppers such as jalapeño, (or use poblano for a milder effect), seeded and minced
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons good-quality chili powder or to taste
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons mesquite or BBQ seasoning or to taste (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Garnishes (any, all, or none):

  • Vegan sour cream homemade or purchased
  • Fresh parsley or cilantro leaves
  • Thinly sliced scallions


  • Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and sauté over medium-low heat until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until both are golden.
  • Add the lentils and 6 cups water. Bring to a slow boil, then lower the heat.
  • Cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
  • Add the remaining ingredients except the cilantro and salt. There should be enough liquid in the pot to not quite cover the ingredients, so if need be, add a little more water.
  • Bring to a slow boil once again, then turn down the heat and continue to simmer gently until the lentils and sweet potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.
  • Stir in the cilantro, then season with salt and pepper. If time allows, let the chili stand off the heat for an hour or more before serving to allow the flavors to meld. This step is highly recommended.
  • Just before serving, taste to see if you’d like to boost the seasonings, and add a little more water if need be, but let the texture remain nice and thick. Pass around desired garnishes for embellishing individual servings.

These smoky, flavorful spices are available in the spice section of most well-stocked supermarkets, shelved with grilling seasonings. They’re well worth a place on your spice rack!

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  • Reply
    January 17, 2015 at 11:59 am

    This is delicious. I’ve made it several times. I’ve served it over quinoa and brown rice,but also great without it.

  • Reply
    January 17, 2015 at 11:51 pm

    Thanks, Brenda! So glad you’re enjoying this.

  • Reply
    Sam (the Quantum Vegan)
    March 10, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    5 stars
    Made this tonight — I didn’t have any mesquite seasoning, so I used a little liquid smoke.

    SO GOOD! I was having a craving for lentil and sweet potato chili, and this hit the spot. I made enough for 2 more meals. <3

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