Hearty Turkey Lentil Chili Recipe for a Cozy Night In

Buckle up, folks! I’m about to take you on a chili adventure that is sure to tantalize your taste buds. In this recipe article, I present to you my Turkey Lentil Chili recipe that is equal parts wholesome and delicious. This recipe is perfect for cold winter nights when all you want is to curl up with something warm and comforting.

The idea of chili may be somewhat intimidating to some home cooks, but fear not! I’ll provide step-by-step instructions so that even novice cooks can create a delectable dish that will have everyone coming back for seconds. It’s always important to add new recipes to our arsenal of healthy recipes, and this Turkey Lentil Chili recipe accomplishes just that by incorporating lentils as a protein source. But don’t let the word “healthy” fool you; this chili packs an incredible smoky flavor that is simply to die for.

So, put on your chef’s hat and apron (optional), grab your favorite skillet or slow cooker, and let’s get started on creating the ultimate Turkey Lentil Chili recipe!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Turkey Lentil Chili
Turkey Lentil Chili

Have you ever felt bored with the same old chili recipe routine? Are you looking for a healthier alternative to the traditional ground beef chili? Well then, this Turkey Lentil Chili recipe is just what you need!

First and foremost, this recipe is perfect for those seeking a healthy option that’s packed with protein and fiber. Lentils are known for their many health benefits, including aiding in digestion, regulating blood sugar levels, and improving heart health. This Turkey Lentil Chili recipe provides a savory and filling dish without sacrificing your healthy diet goals.

The combination of tender ground turkey and earthy lentils creates a smoky, hearty flavor that gives traditional red meat chilis a run for their money. Furthermore, the use of fresh ingredients such as chopped tomatoes, onion and green pepper bring out an unbeatable freshness in every bite that’s hard to resist.

Another selling point? This recipe is incredibly versatile! Whether you decide to make it on stove top, slow cooker or Instant pot, it guarantees every cook to adjust the cooking method as per need. Additionally, the spice level of this recipe can be tailored as per preference or based on the crowd, making it suitable for everyone at the dining table.

So why not try this delicious and healthy Turkey Lentil Chili Recipe tonight? Trust me when I say it’ll satisfy both your taste buds and your waistline!

Ingredient List

 Fall in love with every bite of Turkey Lentil Chili.
Fall in love with every bite of Turkey Lentil Chili.

This Turkey Lentil Chili Recipe has a list of ingredients that are easily found in most kitchens. Here’s what you’ll need:

1. Ground turkey (1 pound):

Ground turkey is a lean protein source and a good alternative to ground beef. It’s an essential ingredient in this healthy turkey lentil chili recipe.

2. Lentils (1 cup green lentils or 1 can red lentils):

Lentils are a great plant-based protein source and very affordable. They’ll help to bulk up your chili, making it nutritious and filling.

3. Onion (1 medium-sized yellow onion diced, and 1 large onion chopped):

Onions add natural sweetness and depth of flavor to any recipe, including this turkey chili.

4. Garlic cloves (2 cloves minced):

Fresh minced garlic gives a rich aroma and flavor to the chili.

5. Bell pepper (1 red and 1 green pepper diced):

Bell peppers give color, texture, and sweetness to the dish.

6. Tomato sauce (15 ounces) & Chopped tomatoes (14 oz):

Tomato sauce will give your chili thickness, while diced tomato chunks will add texture and color.

7. Ground cumin (2 tbsp), Chili powder (1 tablespoon), Salt & Pepper:

These are the staple spices of any chili recipe- they provide a smoky flavor profile that pairs well with beans and lentils.

8. Chicken stock or water (2 cups):

Adding liquid will make sure the chili stays moist while cooking.

9. Olive oil (2 tablespoons Extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil):

Olive oil is used to sauté onions, garlic cloves, peppers, turkey mince, and ground turkey helping them caramelize evenly.

Overall these chili ingredients form an elegant base for slow cooker/chili pressure cooker dishes, lentil soup/stew recipes, healthy food/dinner ideas packed with antioxidants/flavor/nutrients.

The Recipe How-To


Now that we have gathered all the necessary ingredients, let’s start cooking! This turkey lentil chili recipe can be made on a stovetop, in a slow cooker or even in an instant pot. Here are the instructions for each method:

Stovetop Method

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Add 1 diced yellow onion, 1 diced green pepper, and 2 minced garlic cloves to the pot. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add 1 pound of ground turkey to the pot and cook until browned, breaking up any clumps with a spoon.
  4. Drain any excess fat from the pot.
  5. Add 1 cup of green lentils and stir to combine with turkey.
  6. Mix in 1 can of tomato sauce (8 oz), 1 can of chopped tomatoes (14.5 oz), and 2 cups of water.
  7. Stir in 2 tablespoons of chili powder and 1 tablespoon of ground cumin, then bring to a simmer.
  8. Reduce heat to low and let chili simmer gently for about 30 minutes, or until lentils are tender and flavors have melded together.

Slow Cooker Method

  1. Brown 1 lb of ground turkey in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add browned turkey to a slow cooker along with 3/4 cup of dried green lentils, 1 diced yellow onion, and 1 diced red bell pepper.
  3. Finely chop 2 cloves of garlic and add to the slow cooker along with 1 can (14 oz) of crushed tomatoes, 2 tbsp of chili powder, and salt as needed.
  4. Pour in enough water or chicken stock (about 2 cups) so that all ingredients are just covered.
  5. Cook on high for approximately four hours or low for eight hours.

Instant Pot Method

  1. Turn your instant pot on sauté mode with high heat, then add 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil.
  2. Once heated, add a pound of lean ground turkey, seasoned with salt and pepper, and cook it until browned while stirring constantly.
  3. Once cooked through, select “cancel” then add the following ingredients:
  4. Chopped veggies: Onion diced (1 medium), Red bell pepper diced (1), Green jalapeño seeded and chopped (1)
  5. Spices: Chili Powder (2 tablespoons), Garlic cloves minced (2), Cumin Powder (2 teaspoons)
  6. Lentils: Dried green lentils (¾ cup), Red lentils org mixed with black beans org salt-free rinsed/drained

4. Top it off with tomato sauce or canned whole tomatoes that are pulse blended (28 ounces

Substitutions and Variations

 This hearty chili is the perfect comfort food on chilly nights.
This hearty chili is the perfect comfort food on chilly nights.

When it comes to making the perfect turkey lentil chili recipe, there are a few ways you can mix it up to make it your own. Don’t be afraid to veer off course from the recipe as written and try out some of these substitutions and variations for a whole new flavor experience.

For starters, if you don’t have ground turkey on hand, you can easily substitute it with ground chicken or beef. While the flavor profile will change a bit, it still provides a hearty base for all those chili ingredients.

If you want to add a bit more spice to your chili, consider adding in some diced jalapenos or even hotter peppers like habanero. On the other hand, if you prefer less heat, leave them out altogether or just use milder peppers like Anaheim or poblano.

For a vegetarian twist on this recipe, swap out the ground turkey for vegetarian crumbles or simply omit the meat altogether and add in some extra beans or lentils for protein. To keep things gluten-free, be sure to check the labels on any canned goods like tomato sauce or diced tomatoes.

Speaking of beans and lentils, don’t be afraid to mix things up there too. Try using black beans instead of kidney beans or swap out green lentils for red. You could even add in some chickpeas for an added boost of flavor.

In terms of spices, feel free to experiment with different ratios of chili powder and ground cumin. You could also try adding in some smoky paprika for an extra layer of flavor.

Finally, if you want to switch things up entirely, consider making this into a slow cooker or pressure cooker recipe rather than cooking it on the stovetop. Either method will infuse the flavors even more deeply into the ingredients and create a deliciously hearty meal that’s perfect for cold winter nights.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to creating unique variations of this turkey lentil chili recipe. Don’t be afraid to get creative and try new things – you might just end up with a new favorite meal!

Serving and Pairing

 Dive into this bowl of savory goodness with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.
Dive into this bowl of savory goodness with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.

The turkey lentil chili recipe has a hearty texture with a well-balanced flavor that pairs well with several different side dishes. I like to keep it simple by serving the chili with a toasted crusty bread or homemade cornbread. However, for those looking for something more substantial, a side of white rice or quinoa can help soak up the flavorful broth while also adding more fiber and protein to the meal.

To bring a fresh kick to the dish, you can add some tangy toppings such as sliced avocado, freshly squeezed lime juice, or chopped cilantro. The chili’s mild spice pairs well with cooling ingredients like sour cream, shredded cheese, or sliced jalapenos. In addition, you can make it fun by offering a spread of toppings and let everyone customize their bowl to their liking.

If you want to balance out the richness of this chili, I suggest serving it alongside a simple green salad dressed with vinaigrette. This can help cut through the richness of the dish and add some moisture back into your palate. You can also serve it with some steamed vegetables such as roasted Brussels sprouts or sautéed zucchini.

Whenever I make this dish, I always go for a glass of chilled beer or red wine. The hoppy bitterness of an IPA complements the smoky turkey flavor while a smooth pinot noir provides an ideal balance between dryness and fruitiness that helps enhance the subtleties of this flavorful dish. Alternatively, if you’re keeping it alcohol-free or vegan-friendly, ice-cold lemonade or sweetened tea are fabulous standalone beverages that pair effortlessly with turkey lentil chili.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Say goodbye to traditional beef chili and try this healthier alternative!
Say goodbye to traditional beef chili and try this healthier alternative!

Making turkey lentil chili can be a time-consuming task, so it is always great to have leftover meals. You can easily make this chili recipe ahead of time, store and reheat it as needed for future meals. Here are some tips and recommendations to help you maximize the longevity and freshness of your turkey lentil chili.

To Make-Ahead:

You can easily prepare the whole recipe up to 3 days in advance, store it in the fridge or freezer, then reheat it for any meal. If storing in the freezer, transfer the chili to an airtight container or freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. You can also portion out your chili into individual servings.

To Store:

If you have leftovers or you’re making this dish ahead of time, store it in an airtight container to keep it fresh for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. It is best to let the chili cool down before storing, leave it uncovered until it cools down completely, then cover with a lid or aluminum foil and place it in the fridge.

To Reheat:

When reheating turkey lentil chili, you can choose between using a microwave or stovetop. The ideal way is to reheat your chili on low heat on a stovetop; this helps to prevent the build-up of too much steam which could affect the quality of the dish. Heat slowly until heated through while stirring occasionally. To microwave, transfer your chili from its storage container into a microwave-safe dish (avoid plastic containers when microwaving), heat your serving for about two minutes or until hot, depending on your preference.

The smoky flavors of this lentil turkey chili will only grow richer with time as all those ingredients meld together more closely, making it an ideal make-ahead meal that you can enjoy throughout the week without losing any of its depth. Prepare a big batch and give yourself extra wiggle room throughout busy weeknights!

Tips for Perfect Results

 With a touch of cumin and chili powder, this dish is packed with flavor.
With a touch of cumin and chili powder, this dish is packed with flavor.

Cooking a hearty and healthy turkey lentil chili may seem daunting, but with the right techniques and tools, this recipe can turn out perfectly every time. Here are some tips and tricks to help you achieve that delicious, smoky turkey flavor together with the earthy essence of lentils.

Firstly, use high-quality ingredients. The freshness and origin of the ingredients used in your recipe can make all the difference. Opt for fresh onion, garlic, bell peppers, and tomato sauce to give your chili a robust flavor. Fresh ingredients will also guarantee that your dish is healthy as well.

Another critical tip for making perfect turkey lentil chili is to cook until the lentils are tender. Many recipes call for different cooking times when it comes to lentils. However, it is essential to take note of them because undercooked lentils could spoil the overall taste of your dish.

When cooking lentils, ensure that there is enough liquid in your pot or slow cooker for them to cook correctly. Generally, 2–3 cups of water or chicken broth per cup of dry lentils works well. You may add more water as needed until they are soft.

Cook the ground turkey separately before adding it to the rest of the ingredients. This can help remove excess fat from the meat and help it stay firm and nicely browned.

Lastly, do not skimp on spices; they add depth and complexity to your recipe. Adding garlic powder, ground cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper to your turkey lentil chili recipe will make a huge difference in creating a rich aroma and satisfying taste.

With these tips in mind, you can now whip up a delicious bowl of smoky turkey goodness combined with hearty lentils that will satisfy everyone’s taste buds!

Bottom Line


So there you have it, my fellow culinary adventurers. This Turkey Lentil Chili recipe is packed with flavor, protein, and healthy ingredients that will make your taste buds dance with joy. It’s perfect for those chilly evenings when you crave something warm and comforting to eat. Plus, it’s easy to make and can be customized to suit your preferences.

Whether you cook it in a slow cooker or pressure cooker, on the stovetop or in the Instant Pot, this chili recipe is sure to impress. And if you’re looking for a healthier alternative to traditional beef chili, this turkey lentil version is just what you need. The lentils add a wonderful texture and flavor that complements the smoky turkey perfectly.

So go ahead and give this recipe a try. Trust me, you won’t regret it. It’s a delicious way to enjoy a classic comfort food while staying on track with your healthy eating goals. And who knows? Maybe it will become your new go-to chili recipe for years to come.

Thank you for joining me on this culinary journey, and happy cooking!

Turkey Lentil Chili

Turkey Lentil Chili Recipe

Very tasty, homey dish!
No ratings yet
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Calories 269.5 kcal


  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 can chopped tomato
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup water


  • Saute Onion and Pepper Using either Olive oil or Pan Spray; Remove from heat Brown Turkey, then add spices, onion and pepper, tomatoes, sauce and lentils.
  • Simmer about 1 hour or until done.
  • Add Water as needed to keep Chili from sticking to bottom of pan.

Your Own Notes


Serving: 218gCalories: 269.5kcalCarbohydrates: 18.9gProtein: 28.7gFat: 9.9gSaturated Fat: 2.5gCholesterol: 78.3mgSodium: 363.3mgFiber: 7.1gSugar: 4.9g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Beans, Easy, Lentils, Weeknight
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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