Chili Cheese Lentils (30-Minute Dinner)

This recipe is amazing!! It's like a frugal, meatless version of chili. Hubs asked me to make it again ASAP, which is the ultimate seal of approval when it comes to meatless dishes! Lentils are totally my favourite legume. They don’t require soaking ahead of time, they cook up in a flash, and they are so versatile. I’ve tried them many ways, and enjoyed almost all of them.

Oh, and of course, they are uber-frugal! I respect the Paleo movement but my grocery budget just will not let me live without legumes, and honestly – I’m ok with that.

I started out with making up a lentils recipe inspired by my taco soup recipe, and it ended up tasting like an awesome vegetarian* version of chili! Unexpected, but hey – I’m not complaining. Honey said these chili cheese lentils are his favourite lentil recipe to date, and that’s saying something!

I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

(Also, check out my recipe for Sweet & Sour Lentils!)

* They would be vegetarian if you used veggie broth instead of chicken.

Chili Cheese Lentils
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Lunch
Serves: 6-8
  • 5 cups Chicken stock
  • 2 cups Small green lentils
  • 2 Medium-sized onions
  • ¼ cup Butter
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 3 teaspoons Cumin
  • 4 teaspoons Chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons Oregano
  • 1 can Diced tomatoes
  • 1 can Green chilies ((the small cans, probably about half a cup or so?))
  • 2 cups Shredded extra-old cheese
  1. Bring chicken stock to a boil in a large pot, add lentils, and reduce heat to a gentle simmer.
  2. While lentils are cooking, dice two onions and slowly saute them in ¼ cup of butter.
  3. When the liquid is below the lentils, add the spices and tomatoes and green chilies. Also add the sauteed onions, and any extra butter drippings. (This would be a good point to steam some rice and prep your veggie sides.)
  4. Simmer together to meld the flavours. When they are all nice and cozy together, stir in one cup of shredded cheese. Use the rest of the cheese for garnish at the table.
These lentils are great served over rice, but would also be delicious with just veggies and maybe a squash side. You can also omit the cheese altogether for frugality's sake - it's tasty either way!

I'm Beth. I created Red & Honey because I'm obsessed with the wild art of wellness.

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  1. Cait says

    We LOVE lentils and I just came across this recipe from another post of yours, so we will be trying it soon! I agree that it would be hard to stick to our budget if we didn’t have legumes…I was SO relieved when I found out lentils and navy beans were allowed on GAPS, since we’re thinking of doing it soon and I thought no legumes were allowed. I often spice lentils with Indian flavors or make mujedara, an Arabic comfort food topped with fried onions, but I wanted to share a recent favorite, if you like Indian food.
    I don’t follow the recipe exactly (we don’t like it too spicy) but it is SO delicious and authentic.
    A spring experiment that turned out well was cooking the lentils with thyme and garlic and then topping with feta and sliced raw radishes. Yum!

  2. Elaine Scotton says

    This was such an AWESOME recipe. i did think that it was a lil too much liquid, so i would cut back on that, and i didn’t need two onions, maybe if they were lil then it would make sense. I also has some velveta cheese for dip on hand, threw that in and OMG, just amazing…this was the first time i ever made red lentils before and it was soo easy don’t know why it took me this long to do it.

    • Mona says

      Hi Suzann,
      I replaced the can of chilies with a few dried ones (I used one each of ancho, guajilo, jalapeno, and chipotle, and removed them before adding the cheese). I used different chiles for a more complex flavour, but you could use any combination.
      It was delicious!

  3. CLove says

    I have been paleo for 1 1/2yrs now and live with a lacto-ovo vegetarian and restrict our daughter only to gluten free, so for them I make legumes per the Weston A Price Foundation recommendations. I base a lot of what I eat on GAPS recommendations and lentils are allowed on GAPS, so I thought I’d make a family meal of lentils. I saw that WAPF recommended soaking the lentils overnight, but the vegetarian cookbook said 4hrs would be fine, so I took the short cut. BIG MISTAKE! I was in sever gastro-intestinal distress. The next time I made lentils, I soaked them overnight – no GI distress!

    We may not need to soak them to cook them to a decent consistency, but my body tells me we’re better off soaking them.

    • Sarah says

      If you soak the lentils in advance, do you have to decrease the amount of stock in the recipe and if so, by how much?

      • says

        I haven’t tried it, but I would imagine it would be pretty easy to just wing it… just add a bit less liquid, and keep an eye on them, testing them for doneness every so often to get an idea of the proper timing and ratio :)

  4. Andrea says

    I love your recipes! And my extra-picky toddler actually ate this! I am all about frugal and healthy cooking. Looking forward to your next recipe post! :)

  5. Keelin says

    We had this over buttery baked potatoes tonight. It was so delicious and my 4 year old devoured it! Thank you!

  6. says

    My husband recently got an interest in lentils – something I hadn’t even thought of. So I have a recipe to try tomorrow for a soup with lentils in it, and I’m pinning this to try in the near future. I like that it is meatless – much better for the budget, and it looks yummy!



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