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Instant Pot Vegan Cincinnati Chili

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Instant pot vegan Cincinnati chili is served true Cincinnati style over gluten free spaghetti noodles!

Ingredients in Vegan Cincinnati Chili

Cincinnati chili is the unofficial ‘grub’ of Cincinnati, and while I have never lived in Ohio, I have found childhood memories of visiting Cincinnati every summer to go to Kings Island amusement park or go watch the Cincinnati Reds play major league baseball!

Every summer, we would hit the road to attend a Cincinnati Reds baseball game. We would roll into downtown Cincy, in our family station wagon, starving, and my mom being a good midwestern frugal Mom, would want us to eat before we went to the stadium where pricing would be expensive for a family of five! In Cincinnati, there is a certain fast food hot dog joint that made Cincinnati Chili what it is known for today. At Skyline Chili, you can order chili many ways – including Cincinnati style. What, I distinctively remember of this memory is that it was a steep hill and a bit of a trek to get to the food joint from the stadium. In true kid fashion upon arrival, I recall studying the menu and then ordering only a plain dog – what did you expect? I was a kid!

Here are the ingredients you need to make an authentic plant based version of Cincinnati Chili:

Cinnamon and Allspice and Cocoa Powder? I know it sounds like an odd combination of ingredients for chili. But let me assure you that it is delicious. It balances perfectly together in an odd way! The cocoa powder mellows the cinnamon and allspice for a well rounded balanced taste. Of course there is the standard chili powder as well and because we are plant powered ’round her, we used red lentils as the substitute for the original recipe which calls for ground beef. This red lentil vegan Cincinnati chili is plant forward and delicious.

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How to Make Instant Pot Cincinnati Chili

To really get the flavor of what makes Cincinnati Chili stand out, you usually simmer the chili on the stovetop for a few hours – this really brings out the aroma of the cinnamon and allspice. You can totally do that if you have the time! The results will be the same as this Instant Pot Cincinnati Chili version. But for those that are in a hurry (like me ALWAYS) – the Instant Pot comes to the rescue!

I love my instant pot for giving me that authentic simmered on the stovetop for hours taste, but in only half the time. We use the Instant Pot official 3 quart 7 in 1 pressure cooker for all of our instant pot recipes. I used to be a bit scared of pressure cooking but the Instant Pot makes it so easy! I love to make our Marinara Sauce in the Instant Pot for authentic simmered on the stove for hours Italian sauce taste.

For this vegan version of Cincinnati chili, we used red lentils in lieu of ground beef. I love to use red lentils in recipes, like this one or our Sloppy Joe recipe, as they are smaller and are a nice plant stand in for beef.

I always recommend soaking your beans and lentils. I soak dried beans overnight and dried lentils for a few hours.

For this recipe, you will want to use the sauté function on your instant pot to first caramelize your onion and garlic. After that, add in all your other ingredients except the gluten free noodles and optional toppings, close the instant pot lid and let the instant pot do it’s cooking magic!

While the Cincinnati Chili is cooking in your instant pot, you can prepare your noodles and anything else you want for dinner!

How to Serve Your Red Lentil Cincinnati Chili

When your instant pot chili is done, slow release by letting it sit for 15-20 minutes then using the valve to release pressure.

I love to serve this Instant Pot chili over gluten free noodles topped with additional white and green onions. Another good option is to top it with your favorite dairy free cheddar cheese or vegan sour cream.

Serve this instant pot dinner with a side salad, and your meatless main dish is ready to eat.

Leftovers for vegan Cincinnati chili can be froze in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Freeze it without the noodles. When it comes time to use your freeze chili, thaw, reheat, and make fresh noodles to serve it with!

If you make this Instant Pot plant based chili recipe, we would love to know. Tag #badtothebowl so we can celebrate eating chili with you.

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Instant Pot Cincinnati Chili

Spiced red lentils make a protein packed base for this easy Instant Pot Cincinnati Chili that is a vegan version of Skyline chili that can also be simmered on the stovetop.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time1 hour 10 minutes
Course: Main, Soups
Keyword: instant pot cincinnati chili
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 300kcal


  • 3/4 cup red lentils , soaked
  • 1 yellow onion , diced
  • 1 15 once can tomato sauce , low sodium
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable bouillon
  • 3 garlic cloves , minced
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • pinch of pepper
  • pinch of brown sugar
  • 8 ounces gluten free or regular spaghetti noodles , cooked
  • vegan sour cream, vegan cheese, pinto beans, chopped onions , for serving


  • 1. On your Instant Pot Sauté mode, water Sauté your onion and garlic for 3 – 5 minutes until onion is translucent.
  • Add in all other ingredients – except spaghetti – and stir well to combine.
  • Close lid and set Instant Pot valve to Sealing. Pressure cook on Manual for 10 minutes.
  • After Quick Release by setting your valve to Venting. You can also Natural Release if you would like.
  • While your Cincinnati chili cooks in the Instant Pot, prepare spaghetti noodles according to package directions.
  • To serve, put your cooked noodles in a bowl then top with your favorite optional toppings listed above!


  • No Instant Pot? No worries! You can simmer this on the stovetop for 45 minutes to an hour – the longer you simmer, the better the flavor!
  • Store in refrigerator for 4-5 days. To freeze, let cool completely. Then store in freezer safe containers up to 3 months. When ready to use, thaw, reheat and serve. 


Calories: 300kcal


  1. This sounds delicious! The spaghetti (whole wheat for me) is added to the pot with all ingredients correct?

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