These Instant Pot Meatless Lentil Vegetarian Chili Cheese Fries taste just as good as the real deal minus the meat. And they are so good and have that meaty texture that you won’t even miss the meat.
We are unapologetic carnivores. But we certainly aren’t opposed to vegetarian or vegan dishes. To quote Andrew Zimmern (the amazing host of Bizarre Foods), “If it looks good, eat it”. We subscribe to that mantra but within reason; we do have our limits.
For this recipe we wanted to make the chili cheese fries, only a little healthier, I guess. So we decided to go ahead and remove the ground beef. We don’t think that ground beef is bad for you but it can be a little heavy, if that makes sense. So, none of the excess fat that comes with ground beef in this recipe.
Now, with that, do know that we did deep fry the French fries because that is the tastiest way to eat them in our opinion. If you want to bake your fries or put them in the air fryer, that will certainly up the healthy factor. Likewise, if you are a vegetarian then this can still work out well for you.
Whether you decide to bake or fry, I can promise you that even the most die-hard carnivores will love this recipe. I’m telling you, you won’t miss the meat. In fact, you might even find that you have more request for this over the version with beef.
We plated these fries in a large skillet which makes them the perfect game day dish. Your guest will love it and it will make a nice conversation piece because they will be surprised and delighted when you tell them there is no meat in the chili!
Now, on to the recipe.
We made this in the instant pot, check out our review. We did try to make the same recipe on the stove, but the results were much better in the instant pot. Now, in the future, we will update this to recipe to include a stovetop version.
Add all of the ingredients to the pot excluding the green onions and sour cream (refer to the recipe below).
We played around with different times but ultimately we found that 25 minutes was optimal for the texture we wanted for our chili sauce. We like our chili sauce to be a little more tender than our chili.
We use all of the same ingredients that we use in our other chili recipes. You know, cumin, chili powder, and red pepper flakes, etc. This time, we even threw some minced carrots in there.
So, after the chili is finished cooking, you need to put some of it in the blender. We put about three-fourths of it in the blender on a low speed. Then we added it back to the rest of the chili to keep some of the texture.
Fry or bake the fries. Then top with the chili, sour cream, and green onions.
Vegetarian Chili Cheese Fries
- 1 Medium Onion Minced
- 2 Carrots Peeled and Minced
- 3 Garlic Cloves Minced
- 2 Tablespoons Ground Cumin
- 1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
- 1 ½ Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
- 1 ½ Teaspoons Salt
- 28 Ounce Can Crushed Tomatoes
- 4 ½ Cups Water
- 1 ½ Cups Dried Lentils
- 8 Ounces of Sharp Cheddar Cheese Shredded
- 1 Bag of Frozen French Fries
- 3 Stalks of Green Onions Diced / Garnish
- 1 Cup of Sour Cream Garnish
- Using the Instant Pot turn on the setting for sauté. Add the minced onion and carrots. Cook for about 4 minutes.
- Add the garlic, cumin, chili powder, red pepper flakes, and salt. Cook for about 1 minute.
- Add the tomatoes, water, and lentils. Turn on the pressure setting to high and cook for 25 minutes. Natural release for 10 minutes.
- Shred the cheddar cheese put it in a medium bowl and set aside. (See note)
- Take a large pot filled with vegetable oil. Heat to 350 degrees. Fry the fries according to package. Place cooked fries on a baking sheet lined with paper towel.
- Place the fries on a large plate, top it with the cooked chili, cheese, sour cream, and green onions. Enjoy!
- I love using block cheese and grating it myself. You could use already shredded cheese if you prefer.
- This chili is so good and filling. I promise you won’t miss the meat.
- Store the chili and an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5 days.
- Reheat the chili in the microwave or in a pot over medium high heat.