Healthy Vegetarian Quinoa Chili

This is the chili that changed our minds about meatless chili! We absolutely LOVE this healthy vegetarian quinoa chili!

Healthy Vegetarian Quinoa Chili

I should preface this by confessing that my husband always makes the chili in this house. ALWAYS. It’s one of his specialties and a dish that he makes so well and so often that he could basically whip up a pot with his hands tied behind his back while jumping on one foot. I know, that’s a lofty claim right there. I’ve seen him do it!

Well sort of.

So while he’s hands-down the official chili connoisseur of the family, I may have made a pot behind his back. Then of course I made him eat it.

Captain Paul!!! Veggies!!!!

I half expected him to snub his nose in distaste. Not only did I take over one of his default dishes (the man has a few fantastic dishes up his sleeve, love that!) but I made it vegetarian. Vegan, even.

The nerve right?! Luckily after his initial snarking he was a good enough sport to give a bowl a try. And another bowl. And another…

Healthy Vegetarian Quinoa Chili

Seriously! I think we ate this chili three days in a row before I squirreled away a bowl in the freezer for later. (It freezes marvelously by the way!) We loved it! It’s absolutely one of those dishes that’s good the first day but somehow even more amazing the next! This chili makes some of my favorite leftovers to date, and I cannot get over how healthy it is! If you’re super on the fence you can even brown a little meat up on the side to mix into the chili, but ohmygoooosh save a bowl sans meat and try it without. In fact, try the meatless bowl the next day and you’ll be wishing you had another bowl!

Another bold claim; I’m full of them today!

Healthy Vegetarian Quinoa Chili

This chili is just SO GOOD! To channel the smoky flavor of traditional chili, I added a hearty 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika. For such a small spoonful that stuff packs a major flavor punch! I also loaded it up so many veggies that you can officially call chili a health food. It’s packed with antioxidants and fiber and deliciously low on calories. Even if you pile on the toppings from bowl to ceiling (again with the loftiness!) you’ll still be eating a tasty bowl full of healthy.

Have I convinced you yet? Let’s snag the recipe and get our veggie chili on!

Healthy Vegetarian Quinoa Chili




Yield 8 servings


  • 2 cups yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup corn [frozen or fresh]
  • 1 can spicy chili beans with sauce [15 oz]
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed [15 oz]
  • 2 TBSP chili powder
  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, plus extra to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup quinoa (red, white, or a mix of both)
  • 1.5 cups water or veggie broth


  • diced jalapenos or cayenne pepper for a kick
  • veggie broth or tomato sauce to adjust chili thickness
  • all the toppings your heart desires!


  1. Chop your peppers and onion and mince your garlic.
  2. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a Dutch oven or a large pot on medium-high heat.
  3. Add onions, peppers, and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes to tenderize the veggies.
  4. Next add crushed tomatoes, corn, chili beans, black beans, and spices; stir to mix.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 25-30 minutes.
  6. While your chili simmers, rinse your quinoa.
  7. Add quinoa to a small pot with water or vegetable broth to boil [1.5 cups] and bring to a rolling boil.
  8. Once boiling, reduce heat to lowest setting and cover [with the lid propped open a bit to vent] for 12-13 minutes or until quinoa is fluffy. Fluff with a fork and add to the pot of chili.
  9. Total cook time for the chili will be about 25-30 minutes but feel free to leave it simmering on the stove for a little longer, on the lowest setting, if desired to mingle the flavors even further.
  10. Scoop out a bowlful, pile on the toppings, sit back, and enjoy!


Feel free to adjust the consistency of the chili to your liking. As written it's perfectly thick and full of delicious texture, but can be thinned with a little broth or tomato sauce if desired! If you add a lot of extra liquid, consider amping up the spices a smidge to compensate. You can also make this as mild or as spicy as you'd like! I hope you love this chili as much as we do!I topped mine with freshly grated cheddar, avocado sprinkled with a dash of smoked paprika, fresh parsley, and a dollop of Greek yogurt. Delish! Top the chili with all your favorites for a tasty custom dish!

Healthy Vegetarian Quinoa Chili

Going to be gone all day?

Fret not! You can make this healthy vegetarian quinoa chili in the SLOW COOKER too! It’s easy!

You can make the quinoa on the side and stir it in before serving or simply add extra liquid (broth and tomato sauce) to the pot for the quinoa to absorb while it cooks. Easy peasy! I’d add a cup and a half of veggie broth or a combination of broth and crushed tomatoes and then you can always add a little extra at the end to taste. Keep it extra-thick and chunky or more saucy like a stew – either way it’s delicious!

Leftover chili?

That’s cause for celebration! I have it on good authority that this chili is even better the next day. And the day after! I had originally planned on freezing half the pot for later but wound up being too enamored to part with this chili. I only managed to stash a small bowl in the freezer and got feisty with the rest.

Have you ever tried chili stuffed baked potatoes? The combination is legendary! Top it with all your favorite chili fixings and get ready to lick your plate! Try it with russet potatoes and/or sweet potatoes for a tasty lunch that’ll have you ridiculously excited to scarf your leftovers. The chili also makes an amazing filling for stuffed peppers and zucchini boats!

Don’t forget the homemade cornbread!

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  • Lindsay Meloy

    Hi! You mentioned you were going to freeze some of it. How would you recommend doing that. And then how would you recommend reheating it? I am trying to get better at making ahead, but I have not prefected freezing and reheating…

    • Hey Lindsay! It freezes like a dream!

      I typically use glass pyrex lidded containers since when I need to defrost I can cook it up in that same container without staining the container or having plastics touching my food. I portion it out (some in 2 serving containers for my husband and I and some in individual serving containers so I can heat up a lunch just for myself) and then let it cool down a bit before popping it in the freezer. When I need to reheat I usually take it out and put it in the fridge 24 hours ahead of time and then heat it up in the microwave or in a small pot on the stovetop. If reheating from frozen you can use the thaw feature on the microwave if needed as well.

  • Crystal

    I found this recipes on pinterest. I am so glad I tried it. It’s amazing, really. I’m so excited to have a new recipe in my rotation. Thanks!

    • I’m so stoked you loved it Crystal, thanks! <3 I am so overly ready for chili season (I'm in super hot FL at the moment) that I may just crank the AC and make a big pot as well! I'm totally trying it in my pressure cooker too, excited!!! 🙂

  • Claire

    Me: “The WHO says that eating so much red meat is unhealthy so I want you to try this recipe.”
    Husband: /long whining about eating something vegetarian/

    Husband [making chili]: “You know what would make this better? Meat.”

    Husband [a few minutes later]: “Hey, I’m actually pretty excited about this chill.”

    [Eating dinner]

    Me: “So, how is it?”
    Husband: “I don’t want to tell you because you’re going to gloat. But it’s actually pretty great.”

    Thank you, Jenn!!

    • Jenn

      I just ran circles around the room screaming! YES!!!!! Thanks for the best news ever Claire! I’m so glad y’all loved it too!

      • Claire

        He made it again last night, and liked it even better than the first time! It’s a Christmas miracle!

        • Jenn

          Huzzah!!!!!! <3 <3 <3

  • This is my kind of chili for sure!! Looks incredible, Jen!

    • Jenn

      Thanks Maryea!!! 🙂

  • Dixie

    If one cannot find spicy chili beans, what spices should one add to regular chili beans?

    • Jenn

      Snag some freshly made or canned pinto or kidney beans [choose your favorite!] and add those to the chili. Chili beans are simply seasoned beans in a thick sauce so they can be easily mimicked by adding a tablespoon of tomato paste to the recipe and a little extra of the spices already present in my recipe, plus a little cayenne pepper for a kick. You’ll have control over the spice-factor, so add as little cayenne or as much as you’d like to make it mild, medium, or hot. As written it’s pretty mild. You can also use jalapeños to kick up the heat too! Hope that helps Dixie! 🙂 Happy Sunday!