Turkey Lentil Chili – 4 Ways to Cook It

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I can tell by gazing out my kitchen window that winter has arrived on my little patch of heaven. I can see the East Fork river through the bare trees on the hill.

Today the sun is throwing sparkling patches of light on the water. It puts me in the mood for a big pot of turkey lentil chili. 

I have Eastside reader Mary Ann Guappone to thank for the recipe. 

She told me about cooking this green lentil chili recipe in her Instapot. “We eat very little processed foods. It’s such a joy to create delicious, healthy food,” she said. 

Well, I made it and want you to do the same. Delish!

Given that the food excesses of the holidays are behind us (or just about…) turkey lentil chili starts the new year out in a good way.

Anyway, I made it in my stovetop pressure cooker since my Instapot was on loan. It can be made in a slow cooker or on top of the stove in a regular pot. 

Turkey lentil chili 

I adapted the recipe Mary Ann shared just a bit. My adaptations are in parenthesis. Either is equally good.


1 pound ground turkey

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 minced garlic cloves

2 tablespoons tomato paste (freeze the rest)

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

1 cup dry green lentils (see tip)

2 cups water (I used 3 cups chicken broth)

8 oz. tomato sauce

14.5 oz. can petite diced tomatoes (I used home canned)

4 oz. can diced green chiles (I subbed in a scant 1/4 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder)

2 teaspoons chili powder blend (I used 1 tablespoon)

1 teaspoon cumin

Pepper to taste


Instapot: Turn to sauté. Add a bit of olive oil and cook turkey until it starts to brown. 

Add onions, garlic, paste and salt and cook until onions are soft. 

Add everything else. Cover and turn to “manual,” set timer to 13 minutes. Make sure valve is set to “sealing.”

When timer beeps, let sit 10 minutes, then slowly release pressure by moving valve to “venting.”

Remove lid and serve. 

Top with sour cream and diced green onions.

Regular pressure cooker: Add a bit of olive oil and turn heat to medium. Add turkey, onions, garlic, paste and salt and cook until onions are soft.

Add everything else. Cover, seal and cook on high pressure 15 minutes. (Follow manufacturer’s directions.) Allow pressure to reduce naturally. 

Serve with garnishes. 

On stovetop in pot:

Follow directions for regular pressure cooker but when you get to the point of adding everything, bring it to a boil, lower to a simmer and cover, cooking until lentils are done, about 30 minutes or so. You may need to add more liquid.

Slow cooker: On site for original recipe: 365daysofcrockpot.com


Lentil lingo: brown vs green

I grew up eating brown lentils so those will work in this recipe. They won’t keep their shape as well as green. 

Are all green lentils the same?

Nope – depends on where they’re grown.

Good for you

Lentils are low-fat with high amounts of protein, fiber, calcium, iron, and more. No soaking required!

Awesome information and photos on lentils:

Check out Jessica’s comprehensive article on lentils:  https://www.jessicagavin.com/what-are-lentils. 

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