A delicious way to eat chili in no time. With only 15 minutes of pressure cook time, this easy and super hearty instant pot vegetarian chili is about to blow your mind. bowl of vegetarian chili with tortilla chip, cheese, sour cream, and scallions on white surface

This is by far our favorite chili recipe. Not just favorite vegetarian chili recipe but favorite CHILI RECIPE. PERIOD.

My husband loves meat but he actually prefers this chili over a meat-based chili. Probably because it’s so flavorful, packed with lots of plant-based protein, and is hearty and filling.

We like making this in the Instant Pot too because it saves time and energy. We can just set it and forget it and move on about our evening. This is perfect when you’re trying to watch a football game too and want something ready for halftime!

It only requires 15 minutes of pressure cook time so between that and 10 minutes to build up pressure and 5 minutes for quick release, you’re looking at only 30 minutes of cook time. And with the burst of flavor, you’d think this had been simmering on the stove for hours!

This chili is savory and a little spicy but you can adjust the level of spice depending on how much jalapeño you use.

This chili recipe is an adaptation of the vegan pumpkin quinoa chili I have in my e-book, Nourish Your Namaste. This version is smoky, spicy and packed with flavor. It’s meaty tasting with the lentils and beans and the quinoa gives it even more substance and bumps up the satisfaction factor. Oh, and it’s made with a secret-not-so-secret ingredient because I’m about to tell you – cocoa powder!

two bowls of vegetarian chili with tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream, scallions and bowl of cheese

Ingredients You’ll Need

ingredients for instant pot vegetarian chili with text overlay on white surface

Notes on Ingredients:

Jalapeño pepper: If you like mild spice, I suggest finding a small (3-inch) pepper and removing most of the ribs and seeds. If you like your chili HOT, I’d go for a larger jalapeño (5-inch) pepper and/or leaving more of the ribs/seeds intact.

Cocoa powder: This might seem odd to you but cocoa powder can actually enhance the flavor of chili. It adds a richness and depth, making it more savory. Which is key for a vegetarian or vegan chili!

bowls of vegetarian chili with tortilla chip, cheese, sour cream, scallions and spoon with sour cream

How to Make Vegetarian Chili in the Instant Pot

I love using the Instant Pot because it’s a one stop shop. You can sauté and pressure cook all in one.

To start, you’ll use the sauté function to sauté the onion and bell pepper until softened. Then add the garlic and jalapeño and let cook until fragrant (only about one minute).

Then I stir in the spices and let cook with the aromatics until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Pour in the broth to deglaze the pan and add the rest of your ingredients, like lentils, quinoa, tomatoes, sauce, and kidney beans.

Secure the lid onto the Instant Pot and make sure the steam vent is closed or set to sealing. Set to manual (high) pressure for 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes, you can either do a quick release (5 minutes) if you’re short on time, or you can do a natural pressure release but this will take a lot longer (25-30 minutes).

The natural release will allow the chili more time to cook and for the flavors to meld but it honestly tastes great either way. I would say if you’re short on time, do quick release, and if you have time to spare, do the natural release.

Stir the chili before serving and top with your favorite toppings!

close up of instant pot vegetarian chili in grey bowl with cheese, sour cream, scallions

Topping ideas for Vegetarian Chili:

  • Sour cream
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cilantro
  • Red onion
  • Jalapeno slices
  • Green onion
  • Shredded cheese (cheddar, Monterey jack, etc.)
  • Crushed tortilla chips (or use them as a scoop or the chili!)
  • Avocado

Chili FAQs

Can I make this in my slow cooker instead?

Yes! Add all ingredients (except the olive oil) to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.

Is this chili vegan too?

Yes – this chili is vegetarian and vegan (and gluten-free too!)

Can I use dry beans instead of canned?

Yes but be sure to soak them ahead of time!

What kind of Instant Pot do you have?

I have the Duo Nova 8 quart Instant Pot but you can make this in a smaller IP like a 6 quart. Just make sure your ingredients don’t go above the fill line in the pot.

For more chili inspiration, check out my recipes below!

If you like this recipe, please be sure to give it a 5 star rating below. If you make it, share it on instagram and tag me @karalydonrd and I’ll re-share it with my followers! If you want to save this recipe for later, be sure to pin it on Pinterest!

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vegetarian chili with beans, quinoa, lentils, cocoa powder, tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream, and scallions

Instant Pot Vegetarian Chili

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 4.50 out of 5)

  • Author: Kara Lydon
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian


A delicious way to eat chili in no time. With only 15 minutes of pressure cook time, this easy and super hearty instant pot vegetarian chili is about to blow your mind.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large (or 2 small) yellow onion, diced (approx 1 cup)
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced (approx 1/23/4 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small (3-inch) jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup dry brown, black or green lentils, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes, with liquid
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • Optional topping ideas: sour cream or Greek yogurt, green onion, avocado, cilantro, jalapeño slices, shredded cheddar cheese


  1. Set your instant pot to sauté function. Add olive oil and let heat up for a minute or two.
  2. Add onion and bell pepper and sauté for 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and jalapeño and let cook until fragrant, about one minute.
  3. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, chipotle powder, cocoa powder and salt until fragrant and vegetables are coated, about 30 seconds.
  4. Pour in vegetable broth and deglaze the pan (use a spoon to scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan). Add lentils, quinoa, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and kidney beans. Stir ingredients together.
  5. Secure the lid on the Instant Pot. Close the steam vent (should be on sealing). Set to high manual pressure for 15 minutes. Allow natural pressure release (or if you’re in a hurry, carefully turn quick release valve to venting to release the steam).
  6. Stir chili before serving.
  7. Top with your favorite toppings!


  1. To make in the slow cooker: Add all ingredients (except olive oil) to slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
  2. I have the Duo Nova 8 quart Instant Pot but you can make this in a smaller IP like a 6 quart. Just make sure your ingredients don’t go above the fill line in the pot.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Chili
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Southwest

This post was originally published October 2018. It was retested and reshot to bring you the best (and most delicious!) content!

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  1. Anita Edger

    This is so delicious! You do not miss any meat in this one. It is now a family favourite.

  2. Cin

    5 stars! I found my favorite veggie chili recipe! Very hearty and flavorful -Thanks for sharing Kara!

    • Yay!! I can’t wait to start making this again once cooler whether comes back to the Northeast. I’m so glad you liked it!

  3. Natalie Zmud

    I am allergic to tomatoes, just wondering if there is a way to make this without tomatoes and tomato paste? Thank you!

  4. Fantastic recipe, the kids and I love it with some diced avocado stirred in just before serving, and a slice of garlic toast. I rarely make any substitutions or additions, aside from bumping up the spice, but I was feeling experimental last night and threw a half-pound of pitted fresh cherries in before closing the lid. I wouldn’t call it an unqualified success – they need much less time than lentils to cook – but it was wonderful getting these little bursts of sweetness contrasting with the spice.

  5. I’ve been craving comfort foods too- happy to read that I’m not the only one! I haven’t gotten an instant pot yet but this recipe looks great- I’ll have to try on the stove.

  6. Cindy

    This chili is amazing! Even the big meat eaters loved it!

  7. Celeste Hitchcock

    Hi Kara! Other than replacing the black beans with beef, what other changes would you suggest to make this for carnivores like me? Thanks!

  8. I love the color of it with the blue corn tortilla chips

  9. this looks delicious! I’m totally going to have to try it in my instant pot