The quinoa in this vegetarian quinoa chili provides a meaty texture, without the meat. It’s easy to make, healthy and oh so satisfying.
Why you’ll love it: This chili is hearty enough for meat lovers and is super healthy.
How long it takes: 40 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: large pan, stove
This hearty chili is packed with peppers, onions, and tomatoes, along with black beans and quinoa for protein, and is pleasantly spicy but not fire-alarm hot. Even my meat-loving hubby loves this one!
Quinoa is a perfect meat substitute in this vegetarian quinoa chili – the texture is spot-on. Quinoa is an excellent plant-based protein, with 8 grams of protein per cup. According to Healthline, it’s one of the few plant proteins that contains all 8 essential amino acids. It has lots of fiber, B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, and all sorts of antioxidants.
I think you’ll agree that this quinoa chili will satisfy both the vegetarians and meat-lovers in your family. It’s substantial and nourishing and you can feel good about serving it because it’s so healthy. It makes a big batch and is great the next day for lunch.
If you’re loving the idea of replacing meat with quinoa, you have to try my vegan bolognese – it’s SO good and you’ll never miss the meat.
About this vegetarian Chili
You can get this quinoa chili on the stove simmering in about 10 minutes if you’re a pretty fast vegetable chopper. I think it’s easier than other chili recipes because you don’t have to hassle with meat.
The chili should simmer at least 30 minutes but it can go longer if that works better for you.
I’ll get you started here but keep reading for the printable recipe card near the end of the post. It has complete directions and nutrition information.
What You’ll Need
- Loads of veggies: Red Bell Pepper, Jalapeño Pepper, Onion Celery, Carrots
- Olive Oil: Just a tablespoon is all that’s needed to sauté the veggies.
- Seasoning: Chili Powder, Cumin, Dried Mexican Oregano, Salt and Pepper. You could also use our chili seasoning if you’d prefer.
- Canned Black Beans: Beans add protein to the chili along with the quinoa.
- Canned Diced Tomatoes: You’ll need a big can (28 oz.) of diced tomatoes. If you can’t find a big can, 2 small (14.5 oz.) cans are just fine. Look for unsalted or low sodium tomatoes.
- Vegetable Broth: A carton of broth is usually around 4 cups. If you aren’t too worried about making this a vegetarian chili, chicken broth is fine as well.
- Cooked Quinoa: You’ll need three cups of cooked quinoa, any type, which is one cup of dry quinoa. Follow package directions to cook it. I like to keep cooked quinoa in my freezer — it’s handy for all sorts of recipes, even pancakes!
- Toppings: The toppings are optional but I would definitely advise choosing at least one or two. Chili is all about the toppings! Here’s some to choose from: Greek yogurt, sour cream, cilantro, green onions, shredded cheese, avocado, tortilla chips. We also love a scoop of guacamole with chili!
Homemade whole wheat corn bread or corn muffins are perfect to go along with the chili. Try them with orange honey butter. No knead whole wheat bread or Dutch oven bread are fantastic with chili, too.
How To Make This Recipe
If you don’t have cooked quinoa handy, get it started first. It only takes about 15 minutes so it will be about done by the time you need it. You can also make quinoa in your instant pot.
Begin the chili by chopping and sautéing the vegetables in a large pot.
Add the spices (chili powder, cumin), and toast them slightly, stirring constantly, about one minutes. Toasting the spices deepens the flavor.
Now add the rest of the ingredients, except the quinoa and toppings: the canned beans, tomatoes, oregano, and broth.
Bring all this to a low boil, turn down the heat, and simmer. When it has about fifteen minutes left, add the quinoa.
Continue to simmer until you’re ready to serve the chili.
Serve this quinoa chili with your favorite chili toppings: sour cream, avocado, fresh cilantro, chips, shredded cheese, green onions, whatever you like.
No, in fact, it’s really good for you! Quinoa and black beans provide lots of plant-based protein. Peppers, onion, carrots, celery, and tomatoes are full of vitamins and antioxidants. It can be difficult sometimes to get enough vegetables in our diet and this chili is a great way to incorporate a whole bunch of them. Add fresh chopped herbs or green onions for even more plant goodness.
There are countless recipes for vegetarian chili but most include canned beans, tomatoes, peppers, spices, and vegetable broth.
Some add vegetable protein such as seitan, soy crumbles, or other meat substitutes. In this recipe, quinoa takes the place of meat substitutes.
Make It Your Own
There’s so many ways to adapt this recipe.
- If you like meat in your chili, brown ground beef or ground turkey in the pan before adding the vegetables. Use less quinoa or add another cup or two of broth. Or check out this Turkey Quinoa Chili, with just 200 calories per serving.
- Instead of quinoa, substitute cooked bulgur (cracked wheat). It also has a meaty texture. Or you may want to try this vegetarian chili recipe. It doesn’t have quinoa or bulgur and can be made in a slow cooker.
- Use any type of beans or a combination of more than one type. Kidney, pinto, red beans, or navy beans are good substitutes. Like to cook your own beans instead of using canned beans? Use your Instant Pot to cook pinto beans.
- Play around with the seasonings. Ground chipotle or smoked paprika add a smoky flavor. Add a canned chipotle pepper and a tablespoon of the sauce. Use more or less chili powder, depending on spicy how you like your chili.
Storage & Reheating Tips
This chili makes a pretty big batch which is good news because it’s great reheated and makes a great lunch the next day.
Store leftovers in the fridge in a tightly covered container for up to five days or in the freezer for 2 months. If frozen, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
To reheat, gently warm on the stove or in the microwave until heated through.
More Chili Recipes
If you’re looking for chili with more meat, try my white chicken chili or turkey and beef chili with beer and beans. For a LOT of meat, try slow cooker Texas chili with big chunks of beef chuck and no beans. Or there’s jerk chicken chili if you’re up for Caribbean style. This creamy queso chili is so, so good, too.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped red bell pepper, about 1 pepper (any color is fine)
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion (about 1 onion)
- 1 cup diced celery ( 1-2 stalks)
- 1 cup diced carrot (2 medium carrots)
- ¼ cup finely diced jalapeño pepper (optional)
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper (or to taste)
- 2 cans 15 oz. each) black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained (low/no sodium preferred)
- 3 cups vegetable broth (low sodium or unsalted)
- 3 cups cooked quinoa (1 cup dry)
- optional toppings: Greek yogurt, sour cream, cilantro, green onions, shredded cheese, avocado, tortilla chips
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper, onion, celery, carrot, and jalapeño pepper. Cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
- Add the chili powder and cumin; stir and cook for another minute or so.
- Add oregano, salt, pepper, beans, tomatoes, and broth. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.
- Add cooked quinoa, and cook for 15 minutes more. Add more broth as necessary for desired consistency. Chili can simmer for up to an hour, if you like.
- Enjoy with toppings of your choice.
- Other types of beans can be substituted for the black beans. A mixture of beans is good, too.
- If using regular broth, not low sodium, reduce the amount of salt added.
- Leftover chili can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.