This is my family's all time favorite chili! Red lentils cook very quickly and are not only pretty but creamy and delicious. We love to serve this over a baked Yukon Gold potato.

By Chef AJ,


  • 2 ounces dates (approximately 9 Deglet Noor)
  • 1 pound red lentils
  • 7 cups water, divided
  • 2 14.5-ounce cans salt-free diced tomatoes (fire roasted preferred)
  • 1 6-ounce can salt-free tomato paste
  • 10 ounces chopped onion (approximately one large)
  • 1 pound red bell pepper, (approximately 2 large), finely chopped*
  • 8 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1½ tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1½ tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1½ tablespoons salt-free chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika (different than regular paprika)
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle powder (or more to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
  • scallions (for topping at the end)
  • Faux Parmesan (for topping at the end)


  • Blend the dates in one cup of the water until smooth. (I like to use the food processor so it’s almost a puree.)
  • Place all remaining ingredients in an electric pressure cooker and cook on high for 10 minutes; let pressure release naturally or quick release. Alternatively, place all ingredients in a slow cooker (with 6 cups water) and cook on low for 8 hours.
  • Sprinkle with chopped scallions and serve with baked tortilla chips or over a baked potato.

Comments (15)

(5 from 4 votes)

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Nevermind. I saw that you can use a slow cooker. Sorry for asking a question that was already answered.


Can you use a crockpot instead of Instapot? Thank you.


The recipe does not say whether to quick release or slow release the soup in the Instant Pot. I tried the 10 minutes with the quick release and the lentils were still hard. Should I have done something differently?

Lisa, Forks Over Knives Support

Hi Patricia, Thanks for bringing this to our attention. You can let the pressure release naturally or do a quick release. We have updated the instructions to make this clear. I'm not sure why your lentils were still hard. Are you sure you used red lentils—they're bright orange and have a much shorter cook time than other lentils. Our guide to lentils might help (The orange-colored lentils in the header image are the red lentils). Hope that helps!


It’s a great recipe but it’s been hard to figure out right amounts for just 2-servings. I always end up way too much and having to throw some out.

Lisa, Forks Over Knives Support

Hi Jim, Thanks for your feedback. One way around this is to halve the recipe. You could also freeze your leftovers in a lidded container in the portion size that suits you. (Leave out the garnishes.) It's a great way to reduce waste, and you've got an easy meal on another day. Hope that helps! Lisa, Forks Over Knives Support


This recipe is awesome! Word to the wise: It makes a TON of food. If you're cooking for 1 or 2, I would recommend halving the recipe.


We make this about once a week. Thanks yes so easy and delicious! We leave out the chipotle and chili flakes because my kids are sensitive to anything remotely spicy. We love serving it with baked sweet potatoes!

Raelynn D

This chili is amazing and will definitely be put into our regular meal rotation. I used date powder instead of dates (using the nutritional info for 2oz dates, 38g was the equivalent in powder), and it worked great.


How do you think it will taste without the vinegar. I am not supposed to have vinegar.

Theresa MacDougall

Can I use date paste in this recipe? If so how much?


So delicious! I added kidney beans and omitted the date blend because I don’t like sweet chili. Also added one green and one red bell pepper for extra flavor. Like most FOK recipes, this was a winner!


The instructions are to puree the date in a blender. Place remaining ingredients in cooking vessel and cook. It never says what to do with the dates. Do they go into the pot? Added at the beginning? Stirred in at some point? Added at the end? I am a bit confused.

Lisa Marmon

The video shows that the date mixture goes in the pot before you turn in on.


Wow, this is so yummy and so filling! It makes a huge batch too. I’ll be making this again for sure.

About the Author

Headshot of Chef AJ

About the Author

Chef AJ

Chef AJ has been devoted to a plant-exclusive diet for over 44 years. She is the host of the television series Healthy Living with CHEF AJ airing on Foody TV. A chef, culinary instructor, and professional speaker, she is author of Unprocessed: How to Achieve Vibrant Health and Your Ideal Weight and the best-selling books The Secrets to Ultimate Weight Loss and Own Your Health. Chef AJ was the executive pastry chef at Santé Restaurant in Los Angeles where she was famous for her sugar-, oil-, salt- and gluten-free desserts. She is the host of YouTube show Chef AJ Live. She is proud to say that her IQ is higher than her cholesterol. In 2018 she was inducted into the Vegetarian Hall of Fame. Find her on Instagram and Twitter.
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