Easy Winter Chili in a Jar
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Easy Winter Chili In A Jar - An Affordable DIY Gift

Easy Winter Chili



I was at Chloe's school for lunch last week and her teachers asked me about the recipe for the "bean stew" they noticed in Chloe's lunch box. They said it looked incredibly tasty, especially on such a cold day. That was all the prompting I needed to share with them my uber-excitement over this DIY Easy Winter Chili in a jar. As you can see from the picture, you can layer all of the ingredients in a mason jar (add a pretty label with the recipe and a note and it's a perfect holiday gift, by the way!) and just tuck it away until you are ready to make it. I explained to Chloe's teachers that all you had to do was dump the contents of the jar into a pot along with a can of chopped tomatoes and water and…voila! In just an hour you have chili!

No soaking the beans, they asked? Nope. No other ingredients? You got it, everything you need for this dish is in the jar (except for the can of tomatoes). I then surprised them by mentioning how it cooks in only one hour. How could that be, they asked when beans supposedly take so long to cook. Well, one of the random pieces knowledge you acquire attending culinary school is the difference between a bean and a legume (also known as a pulse). This chili is made with lentils which are considered a pulse (at this point in the conversation even the kids were listening in to understand more).

Some of the major beauties of using lentils in a recipe like this is that they're inexpensive, high in vegetarian protein, and -- as I just described -- cook in a fraction of the time as beans.

This mild chili is one of my new favorite recipes. And if you have friends who may despise cooking but still love to eat good wholesome food, this recipe in a jar is a culinary gift you can give them that will keep on giving!

Easy Winter Chili 2

Easy Winter Chili 3

Easy Winter Chili  (makes 1 soup mix jar - 1 jar makes 8-10 servings of soup)

  • Cook Time: 1 hrs, 30 mins,
  • Rating:
    Rate this recipe
I was at Chloe's school for lunch last week and her teachers asked me about the recipe for the "bean stew" they noticed in Chloe's lunch box. They said it looked incredibly tasty, especially on such a cold day. That was all the prompting I needed to...


  • 2/3 cup brown or green lentils
  • 2/3 cup yellow split peas
  • 2/3 cup green split peas
  • 1 cup barley
  • 2 vegetable bouillon cubes
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 10 cups water


  1. 1. In a quart-sized mason jar, layer 1/2 of the lentils, 1/2 of the yellow split peas, 1/2 of the green split peas, the barley, 1/2 of the green split peas, 1/2 of the yellow split peas, 1/2 of the lentils. Top with the spices and bouillon cubes.
  2. 2. To make the soup: combine contents of jar with the tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 1 - 1 1/2 hours, until the lentils and barley are soft.
Easy Winter Chili

Nutrition Information

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  1. Abigail

    September 13, 2016 at 10:34 am

    Hello! We are so excited to make these as a volunteer project to donate to families moving from shelters to permanent housing.

    Is there a measurement for the amount of bouillion? Since we are making many, I think it might be more cost effective to get boullion powder and measure it out instead of the cubes.

  2. Ian

    July 8, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    What can I add to make it a spicier chili?

    • C. McCord

      July 9, 2016 at 10:30 am

      You can add more chili powder, cayenne pepper, or your favorite ground dried chili!

  3. ellen

    December 19, 2015 at 11:17 am

    I have the same question as Jenny. I’ve always used the smal bouillon cubes – 1 cube per cup of water. The only ones that I was able to find for this project were larger cubes (they’re not actually ‘cubes,’ they’re more like rectangular boxes), and the directions say to use 1 cube per 2 cups of water. I’m making holiday gifts for my colleagues, and would LOVE to know how much bouillon to use! Thank you so much!

  4. jenny bolton

    December 17, 2015 at 10:07 am

    are the cubes this calls for about 4g each? i’m finding they come in different sizes. thanks! :)

  5. Tabitha Krauss

    November 18, 2015 at 7:02 am

    I went to two different stores and couldn’t find yellow split peas, would I just double the green ones or do you have another suggestion?

    • C. McCord

      November 25, 2015 at 10:53 am

      Doubling the green is great if you can’t find yellow!

  6. abifletch

    March 29, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    This sounds delicious. I want to make it with fresh ingredients, what would be the equivalent of a teaspoon of garlic and onion powder? Thx.

  7. Cathy

    March 29, 2015 at 6:05 am

    Had this chil and it was delicious. My daughter made up some jars and gave them as prices for a bridal shower. The idea was loved.

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  10. Laurie McComber

    September 28, 2014 at 10:27 am

    How much water is needed to make this chili I see 10 cups for the soup but nothing for the chili

    • Lola

      December 10, 2014 at 9:08 pm

      That “soup” you’re referring to is the chili…

  11. Samara Caughey

    January 18, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    Hi Catherine,
    I just wanted to let you know that a parent (and child) from the Purple Twig gave me this chili for a holiday present and my kids love it. We all love it. What a fantastic idea and gift. Thank you!!1

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  14. Chantal

    December 18, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    I have made this for my 2yr old with great success (the whole family liked it) and also made it as gifts in a jar. I washed and reused 1L pickle jar and it worked great!

  15. Valerie

    December 14, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    I just made this today. It turned out great! After tasting it at 1 hour I decided to add 1/2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp cumin. I let it simmer for a total of 2 hours, which I think it needed. A little drizzle of good olive oil on top of the bowl added a little richness and helped bring out the flavors. I think I might try adding cooked ground beef, ground turkey, or chicken sausage next time.

  16. Theresa

    December 11, 2013 at 11:21 am

    I wonder if you could put the dry powders in a small plastic baggie (maybe the craft size ones) and then include instructions to rinse the lentils, peas and barley before putting in pot.

    • Omtomyheart

      December 18, 2013 at 10:47 am

      I’m going to try this suggestion! Thanks!

  17. Chrissy

    December 10, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    I woke up this morning, and tried putting everything on the slow cooker for lunch. I put it on high for around 2-3 hours. I guess you could say it was doneish,, but could go a little longer.. I was hungry and wanted lunch, so I transferred to a pot simmer for 30ish more minutes.

    I couldn’t find veg bouillon, so I used beef buillon. I was also out of cumin, so I had to use 2 Tbs of taco seasoning.

    I enjoyed it, but more importantly my picky 2yr old ate it. I call that success :) I went ahead and prepped 2 more jars for gifting. I made the whole recipe for our family, but halved the recipe for gifting.

  18. Dalila

    December 9, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    This was delicious! I added frozen corn at the end and topped with sour cream.

  19. Kate

    December 9, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    This is such a nice alternative to cookies as a DIY gift. Love it!

  20. Swati

    December 8, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    Pulses of all kinds take too long to cook – using up so much energy. I suggest you use a pressure cooker to make this instead. Slow cooked ‘dal’ does taste better but it is so much easier to first fry up the masala well, then add the mixed lentils and cook it, and for everyday use, the difference in taste is acceptable!

    • Swati

      December 8, 2013 at 11:12 pm

      Oh, and also it’ll allow you to add finely diced veggies like carrots or gourds which soften during pressure cooking so you can’t make them out separately – so you can, theoretically, do without the bouillon cubes.

  21. mamawit

    December 8, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    We added some ground beef and a little extra spice. It tasted great except some of the peas weren’t quite cooked. Next time I’ll just cook it longer. But my non veggie eating family loved it.

  22. Hahicks

    December 7, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    Can this be cooked in a slow cooker instead of the stove top? Is so, for how long? Thanks for a cute and useful gift.

  23. Laura

    December 7, 2013 at 7:38 pm

    Do I need to rinse and pick through the peas and lentils first (& then dry them on a towel overnight)? I normally do this per the bag’s instructions. Thanks.

    • Laura

      December 7, 2013 at 7:39 pm

      Nevermind. Just saw the below posts :)

  24. Danielle Ballard

    December 7, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    We have a tomato allergy in our family. If I omitted the tomatoes would this ruin the recipe? Can you suggest anything as a substitute? Thanks!!!

    • Catherine McCord

      December 7, 2013 at 3:00 pm

      The tomatoes add flavor! You can definitely leave them out and just use about an extra cup or 2 of water!

  25. Natalie

    December 7, 2013 at 8:07 am

    This looks great! I always rinse my lentils really well before using but not sure how that could be done in this recipe. Do you rinse your lentils?

  26. Jessw

    December 7, 2013 at 5:47 am

    Yum, this looks amazing! I can’t wait to make this, nutritious, easy and quick to make and prepare is just what busy mums need.

  27. kristina

    December 6, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    Thought I would try this before I gave these as Christmas presents. It was a big hit and is joining our dinner rotation.
    I do have one question – the peas, lentils and barley all said to rinse before using. Do I need to rinse the above wait for them to “dry” and then combine ingredients or can I just skip the rinsing part and make up my jars?

    • Catherine McCord

      December 6, 2013 at 10:40 pm

      I pick over them to make sure there are no rocks or sediment. You can rinse and allow to dry if you want!

  28. Brenda

    December 6, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Would this fit into 24oz jars? I found some at a great price!

    • Catherine McCord

      December 6, 2013 at 4:57 pm

      This goes all the way to the top of the 1 quart jar (see the photos in this post) so a 24 ounce jar would be a tad too small!

  29. Aggie

    December 6, 2013 at 6:04 am

    What a fantastic gift idea!! I love it, and I love the sound of the chili too…I’ve been living off soups & chili since the baby’s been born for easy quick meals.

  30. cherie L

    December 5, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    Can anyone figure out the measurements if you wanted to halve the recipe to do 1/2 pint jars? I have many single friends who wouldn’t want that many servings.

    • Catherine McCord

      December 6, 2013 at 2:51 am

      Just cut everything in half! 1/3 cup of each split pea and lentil, 1/2 cup barley, 1 bouillon cube, etc… Cook in 5 cups of water plus a 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes (I know the tomatoes aren’t exactly halved, but those are the typical can sizes)

      • Choong

        February 4, 2014 at 10:18 pm

        Let’s see…chocolate, cheese, peuant butter, bacon, avocados, steak. That should do it. Oh, and of course, pizza, but I try not to eat it too often, because I try to eat low-carb.It’s snowing here again. I’m going to try and think of your sunny pictures all day.

  31. Kim Beaulieu

    December 5, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    I love anything in a jar so this is right up my alley.

  32. Amy (Super Healthy Kids)

    December 5, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    Yum! This is perfect. I will be making some for myself for sure!

  33. Lisa Tugulea

    December 5, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    This looks great but im just wondering how long do you think they would stay fresh when they are jarred.

  34. pujaptankar

    December 5, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Do you add the spices right on top of the beans? Don’t you need to wash them before cooking?

  35. Brian

    December 5, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    Great idea! What spices would you use if you wanted to make this into a curry?

  36. nicole

    December 5, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    Do you have a substitute for the bouillon cubes as we don’t use those? Would it be the same if we left them out but cooked in broth? Thanks

    • Catherine McCord

      December 5, 2013 at 3:54 pm

      If you’re going to leave them out then definitely cook in broth! Replace at least half the water with broth!

  37. Shannon

    December 5, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    Would the 28 oz jar of tomatoes be for one jar (one half) of this recipe or enough for the entire recipe? If it’s only for one mason jar’s worth, shouldn’t the ingredient list include a quantity of 2?

    • Catherine McCord

      December 5, 2013 at 1:28 pm

      All of the ingredients listed here go into 1 quart sized mason jar! So the 1 can of tomatoes gets mixed with the 1 jar of soup mix (which is the full recipe you see listed)! Hope this helps!

  38. Kristin

    December 5, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    Would quinoa be a good gluten free substitute for the barley or is there a better grain to use? This recipe looks amazing!

    • Catherine McCord

      December 5, 2013 at 1:30 pm

      Quinoa cooks much quicker than everything else in this recipe. So I would sub something heartier like Amaranth, Buckwheat or Millet. Just make sure to check the cooking times and use something that will cook in the same time frame as the lentils and split peas!

  39. Lisa

    December 5, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Looks wonderful. But could you suggest a good substitute for the barley? I’d like to make these as gluten-free gifts. Thank you!

    • Stacy

      December 5, 2013 at 4:14 pm

      Make sure to check your bouillon cubes, too, if you’re making it gluten-free. Some contain gluten!

    • Kate

      December 5, 2013 at 12:17 pm

      I bet brown rice would work.

      • Catherine McCord

        December 5, 2013 at 1:30 pm

        I think brown rice would be a great substitute! Also, make sure to check the cooking times and see that whatever you use will cook within the 1 1/2 hours, like Amaranth, Buckwheat or Millet!

  40. Aimee @ Simple Bites

    December 5, 2013 at 10:41 am

    Love it. I’m a big fan of edible gifts, especially if I can whip them up from the pantry!