Turkey Lentil Chili ~ ground turkey OR leftover holiday turkey, lentils, beans and spices simmered in a delicious, hearty tomato broth loaded with bold flavor.
This time of year you can never have too many soup or chili recipes. They’re quick to whip up, have lots of flavor and warm you from the inside out and if you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, they freeze well for lunch too.
Soups and chilis are also a good way to use up extra veggies in the fridge that are on their last leg.
This Turkey Lentil Chili is loaded with spicy flavor, bites of turkey, lentils and beans in a rich tomato-vegetable broth. Top it with all your favorites then sit back and enjoy.
Chili makes the ideal weeknight meal in cooler temps, but keep it in mind for entertaining too. A chili bar with all the toppings for guests to help themselves makes easy, stress-free entertaining.
I love the addition of V8 juice in this recipe. It not only adds flavor but this tomato based juice packs a veggie punch too. Give it a try and let me know what you think. If you’d prefer not to use V8, just add more tomato sauce.
what’s in turkey lentil chili?
- olive oil
- ground turkey OR leftover turkey
- bell pepper any color
- fresh jalapeno
- garlic cloves
- salt and pepper
- black beans
- tomato sauce
- V8 juice
- diced tomatoes
- chili powder
- ground cayenne pepper
how do i make turkey lentil chili?
Gather the ingredients then chop the onion, bell pepper and celery. Finely mince the jalapeno and grate the garlic then set it all aside.
Drizzle the olive oil into a large pot over medium heat then crumble in the ground turkey and season it with salt and pepper to taste, letting it sear.
Once the turkey has started to brown, drop in the onion, bell pepper, jalapeno, celery and garlic then continue cooking 3-4 minutes or until the vegetables are tender breaking up the turkey with a spoon or spatula while it cooks.
Add the lentils, rinsed and drained black beans, tomato sauce, water, V-8 juice, diced tomatoes, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper then stir well to blend.
Cover and cook over medium-low heat 25-30 minutes or until the lentils are tender, stirring occasionally so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
Last add the chopped cilantro and (optional) corn then taste for salt and if you want it spicier, add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper and serve with your favorite toppings.
tips for the best turkey lentil chili:
- Let the lentils cook until they’re tender.
- Taste the chili before serving and adjust the salt and spice to your preference.
- Offer a variety of toppings (see below).
- Customize it exactly how you like it!
Variations to this recipe:
Ground or leftover turkey: Turkey Lentil Chili can be made with leftover holiday turkey instead of ground so be sure to pin, print and save this recipe for later! Just shred or dice the turkey and add it to the broth instead of using ground turkey.
Beans or no beans? While some swear real chili doesn’t actually have beans, I love the addition of them along with the lentils, but if you’re not a fan, just leave them out and add another 1/2 pound of ground turkey. You can also use different kinds of beans like kidney, great northern or even garbanzo beans.
what to serve with turkey chili:
The toppings are as important as the chili itself. Have fun with them and get creative (especially if you’re making a chili bar!) Here are a few of my favorite toppings or go-withs:
- shredded cheddar cheese
- plain Greek yogurt
- sour cream
- diced onions
- pickled jalapeno
- lime wedges
- oyster crackers
can you freeze this chili?
Yes! Chili may be one of the best freezer meals around. I like to freeze it in 16-20 ounce size individual containers for lunch then thaw and heat in the microwave or stovetop.
Love chili? Here are a few more recipes:
What’s not to love about a delicious, hearty meal that cooks quickly, serves a crowd and everyone loves?
How to Set Up a Chili Bar – easiest entertaining – perfect for football season and beyond!
Beef Chili – classic recipe loaded with ground beef, beans and bold, spicy flavor. SLOW COOKER and STOVETOP cooking options given.
Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili – creamy, loaded with chicken, white beans, corn and green chilies.
Turkey Sweet Potato Chili – ground or leftover turkey chili with sweet potatoes, black beans, tomatoes, corn, bell pepper and bold spices.
Tex Mex Veggie Chili – hearty meat-free chili loaded with Tex-Mex flavors, beans and vegetables.
If you tried this Turkey Lentil Chili recipe or any other on the blog then I hope you’ll leave a comment and some stars!
Turkey Lentil Chili
- 1 tablespoon oil vegetable or olive oil
- 1 pound ground turkey OR 2 - 2 1/2 cups leftover turkey
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 bell pepper any color, diced
- 1 small jalapeno seeded, finely diced
- 2 stalks celery chopped
- 3 cloves garlic grated
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup dry lentils
- 15 ounce can black beans drained and rinsed
- 15 ounce can tomato sauce + 1/2 can of water
- 14 ounces can diced tomatoes
- 1 whole lime
- 3 cups V8 juice (24 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 3 tablespoons cilantro chopped
- 1 cup corn frozen or canned
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- Gather the ingredients then chop the onion, bell pepper and celery. Finely mince the jalapeno and grate the garlic then set it all aside.
- Drizzle the olive oil to a large pot over medium heat then drop in the ground turkey and season it with salt and pepper to taste, letting it sear.
- Add the onion, bell pepper, jalapeno, celery and garlic and continue cooking 3-4 minutes or until the vegetables are tender breaking up the turkey with a spoon or spatula while it cooks.
- Pour in the lentils, rinsed and drained black beans, tomato sauce, water, V-8 juice, diced tomatoes, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper then stir well to blend.
- Cover and cook over medium-low heat 25-30 minutes or until the lentils are tender, stirring occasionally so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
- Last add the chopped cilantro and (optional) corn then taste for salt and if you want it spicier, add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper and serve with your favorite toppings.
- Cheddar cheese, plain Greek yogurt, sour cream, onions, pickled jalapenos, lime wedges, avocado, guacamole, cornbread, oyster crackers, Fritos, extra cilantro