Instant Pot Vegetarian Quinoa Chili

This Instant Pot Vegetarian Quinoa Chili is a comfort food classic with a healthy plant-based twist! To make things uber-easy I’ve even included slow cooker instructions too. Game on!

healthy instant pot vegetarian quinoa chili recipe

Lately I’ve been trading my nightly Netflix sesh in favor of curling up with a book and it’s a freaking nightmare.

Hear me out.

When zoning out to my my new favorite show of the week, I am SUPER capable of turing it off at a somewhat reasonable hour and passing out. It doesn’t keep me up at night whatsoever and I’m pretty sure it helps me clear my mind of the day and PTFO.

When I grab a book, I’m basically screwed.

I am 110% incapable about putting down a good book.

There is literally no resisting it. Each page turn becomes more essential than the last and there’s NEVER a good part to pause for another day. Never ever. I’d just as soon watch the sun rise, book in hand, than attempt to put that bad boy down.

In the event that I do manage to plop the book down (or finish reading early) I’m left with another problem: my mind won’t shut off. I’ll find myself contemplating the next curveball to thrown into the plot or obsessing over how the book ended and just how terrible this book hangover is going to be until I can find a replacement book.

When a particularly epic book hangover hits, there’s no comfort to be had until I find a worthy replacement. A replacement I, in turn, read as fast as humanly possible only to leave myself feeling empty and tragic and desperate for another rush… thus restarting the vicious cycle.

Thankfully I can find comfort in a nice piping hot bowl of chili. I’m not too proud to eat my feelings and this heathy chili is JUST what the book doctor ordered.

That was weird.

I promise I’m not usually this weird!

That might be a lie.

OH LOOK! CHILI!

Instant Pot Vegetarian Quinoa Chili

Each tasty bowl is plant-based + gluten-free and can easily be made dairy-free + vegan since you choose the toppings!

This Instant Pot Vegetarian Quinoa Chili is a comfort food classic with a healthy plant-based twist! To make things user-easy I've even included slow cooker and stove-top instructions too. Game on!
3.9 from 10 votes
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Instant Pot Vegetarian Quinoa Chili

This Instant Pot Vegetarian Quinoa Chili is a comfort food classic with a healthy plant-based twist! 

Recipe yields 12 cups of chili.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Instant Pot Vegetarian Quinoa Chili
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Author Jenn Laughlin - Peas and Crayons

Ingredients

  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups onion diced
  • 2-4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 green bell pepper diced
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 1 cup corn (frozen or canned)
  • 15 oz can spicy chili beans in sauce
  • 1 cup canned black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 3 TBSP chili powder
  • 2 TBSP cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika plus extra to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste (I used 1/2 tsp)
  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa
  • 1/2 cup dried red lentils

TASTY TOPPING IDEAS:

  • chopped red onion
  • fresh pico de gallo or salsa
  • sliced avocado
  • fresh cilantro
  • chopped green onion
  • jalapeños or bell peppers
  • sour cream or greek yogurt skip if vegan
  • shredded cheddar cheese skip if vegan
  • corn chips

Instructions

  1. First chop your veggies and measure out the ingredients.
  2. Add veggie broth and crushed tomatoes followed by lentils, quinoa, chili beans (pinto beans in chili sauce), black beans, onion, garlic, peppers, corn, and dried spices. Keep the ingredients layered and don't stir for best results.

  3. Set Instant Pot (I use a 6 QT) HIGH pressure for 5 minutes and allow to come to pressure.
  4. Quick release (aka manually release) the pressure and wait for the pin to drop and the pot to depressurize before opening.
  5. Lastly, feel free to adjust seasoning (spices and salt) to taste, adding more of what you prefer to get your ideal flavor punch. 
  6. Add all your favorite toppings and enjoy! This chili is great the day of, and even better as leftovers too. Chili is magic like that and great for meal prep for the week! You can even freeze some for later.

Recipe Notes

* This recipe works best with red lentils as they cook fastest and require less liquid than brown/green. If cooking in the pressure cooker - use red.

To ensure all the goodness in this pot has enough liquid to cook, I've adjusted the broth to 1 quart (4 cups) at the suggestion of a few kind readers! The chili will thicken more as it cools.

Love beans? For an extra chunky chili, additional black beans or pinto beans can be added after the chili is done cooking! (Just not in the beginning because the pot is sensitive to being too full) Simply add in your favorites and then sprinkle in a bit more of the spices, to taste, to even things out. Easy peasy!

See post below slow cooker instructions, if needed. XO

healthy instant pot vegetarian quinoa chili recipe

No Pressure Cooker? No Problem!

This delicious chili can absolutely be made stove-top or in your handy dandy slow cooker. Simply print the above recipe and use these handy dandy instructions below.

SLOW COOKER INSTRUCTIONS

To use a slow cooker, you’ll want to decrease the broth in this recipe from 4 cups to 2 cups. AKA just use 2 cups of broth here and you’re good to go! Add all ingredients to your slow cooker (minus your toppings) and walk away. It’s that easy! This recipe takes about 5-6 hours on high. You’ll basically want to let this one simmer away until the lentils, quinoa, and veggies are super tender.

The chili will thicken as it cools. For extra flavor you can even sauté the aromatic veggies before adding it to the slow cooker, but it’s not at all essential. As I mentioned above, adjust the thickness to your liking with extra crushed tomato or broth and season to taste based on any changes/additions. Pile on the toppings and get ready to faceplant into this ultra-comforting bowl-o-veggies!

Need stove-top instructions?

CLICK HERE

No matter which method you choose, I can’t wait for you to try this Instant Pot Vegetarian Quinoa Chili!

Though let’s be honest here…

Chili does NOT look this pretty when you dive in spoon first, amirite?

It’s a hot mess of veggies, quinoa, beans, and cheesy goodness and I’d be kidding myself if I didn’t admit I love the look of it!

This Instant Pot Vegetarian Quinoa Chili is a comfort food classic with a healthy plant-based twist!

So pile on the toppings, grab a spoon, and swirl that chili into the beautiful mess it was meant to be. I’m certain it tastes better this way too.

hungry for more?

Need a paleo or whole30 compliant chili? Try my Smoky Chipotle Turkey and Sweet Potato Chili

what I’m reading lately (affiliate)

  • The WOOL Silo Series – I tried to read these extra slow to make them last longer and failed miserably. I tore through them and LOVED it!
  • The Disappearances – Still completely hungover from this amazing story.
  • Gray Wolf Island – My friend Tracey wrote this book! Whoo!
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Comments

  • sanna

    looks yummy.
    this recipe has different ingredient amounts if i view it on my phone…..like really different.
    can u please confirm if i should use the one on your website on my laptop, or how it appears on my phone?

  • Ashley Moore

    Can this recipe be doubled? Also I have made this a dozen times and it is always amazing!!!

    • So glad you’re loving the recipe Ashley, thank you!! If you’re using the stove top or slow cooker instructions it can totally be doubled! The instant pot would be over max capacity so I don’t think even an 8 QT Instant Pot could handle doubling.

  • Kristine

    Thanks for the recipe! Are the black beans to be used dried not canned? Thank you!

    • Hey Kristine! You want to use canned/pre-cooked black beans here since dried black beans take so much longer than the rest of the ingredients to cook. I also love cooking up a large batch of IP black beans (from dried) on their own and then freezing them in little 1 cup portions so I can add them to soup and chili recipes!

  • Shruti

    We are currently trying this recipe but are repeatedly getting the burn notification on the instapot. After perusing the comments, I’m checking each and every ingredient and I used a different quinoa. I don’t know if that’s why, but The quinoa is sticking to the bottom of the pot. Also, I am an instapot noob and I didn’t realize I should probably put it on the pressure cook setting and not the bean/chili setting (hopefully this works).

    • Hi Shruti! So for the Instant Pot, when you’re cooking thick dishes like chili and chunkier soups/stews getting the liquid-to-ingredient ratio spot on is going to be super key. Recipes that work like a charm will completely derail when ingredients or times/methods are changed and the #1 issue is usually things sticking to the bottom and triggering that auto-shutoff feature to prevent the food from burning. The bean/chili setting is a 30 minute high pressure cook time which is too much for this veggie chili. Only 5 minutes high pressure is needed here. Hope this helps and don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any additional questions! xoxo

  • Jennifer

    I LOVED this recipe!! This is probably the best recipe I have come across and it’s so easy to make. I would add more Beans to it though, but other than that it was perfect. The corn is a really good addition to it. The flavor is incredible!!

    • Day = Made! So glad you’re loving it Jennifer! You can 100% add more beans after the fact for the bowls you plan on reheating (the leftovers rock my world!) – I like my chili extra chunky too!

  • Mercie

    Hi! I noticed it had oil in the ingredients but I think you missed putting it in the directions.

    • Hey Mercie! Originally I had it in the instructions to sauté the onion in the Instant Pot before adding all the other veggies and ingredients but when readers were having burn issues with the IP, I changed it to a dump and go recipe to hopefully make it easier! The oil can be added if desired or skipped entirely now that there’s no sauté step – updating it now – thanks so much for pointing that out. xoxo

  • Ellen

    I couldn’t get the recipe to cook. Kept getting the “burn” notification. Ended up transferring the ingredients to my crock pot and hoping for the best.

    • Hey Ellen! This is one of those recipes that I’ve made half a dozen times now and can’t seem to replicate a burn to save my life *but* I know even the tiniest ingredient swap can trigger a burn notice in the pot b/c the chili is crazy thick. I’ve contemplated adding more broth to the recipe (I’ve already upped the amount quite a bit) but any more and it might end up soup vs. chili. It should work marvelously in the crock-pot. Did you use red lentils (vs green or brown standard lentils) or change anything up (ingredient choices or measurements)? Thanks for helping me troubleshoot!

  • Erika Donahue

    Hi Jenn. I also got the burn notice (3 times) in my 6qt. I followed the directions to the letter with no substitutions. I persisted in scrapingeach time and eventually got it to pressure. It was a HUGE hit! I’m thinking of moving the quinoa and red lentils closer to the top.

    • So so glad it was a hit! I’m going to try sizing down the recipes (maybe halve it?) for the 6QT and see if that helps everyone getting the notice! I still can’t for the life of me recreate the error in my kitchen but I’m hoping this will help! Thanks so much for your feedback Erika and I’m stoked you enjoyed the recipe! 🙂

  • Kelly

    This recipe is on constant repeat at our house. It’s that good. That easy. I have a 6 qt pot and add the can of tomatoes in the very beginning. My daughter is vegan and loves it. My husband is all carnivore and the quinoa looks like hamburger so we just don’t tell him ?

  • Dianne India Wenzl

    What size can of crushed tomatoes?

    • Hi Dianne! I use the 28 ounce can but only take out 2 cups for the soup. The remainder I use for enchilada sauce, spaghetti sauce, or pizza sauce – depending on what we’re making that week! 🙂

      • Dianne India Wenzl

        Thank you for your reply but I just reread the recipe and I originally read 2 CANS of crushed tomatoes not 2 cups!
        My mistake.
        Btw this was delicious for a Lenten Friday dinner!

  • Recipe worked well for me although I would recommend cooking for 8+ minutes instead of 5, I did the 5, waited 10 min to release, and added an extra 2 min because it was not done enough for my preference. Tastes very good !

    • Thank you Ciara! Did you use a 8 QT or 6 QT? Asking so I can update a note on the times if we’re using two different size IPs. 🙂 xoxo

  • Tami

    If I don’t have red lentils and only have the brown ones would I change the cooking time?

    • Hey Tami! Everyone that has used brown lentils seems to have burn issues in the IP and I’m thinking it’s because they need way more liquid to cook but then it needs so much liquid that you either end up with and overfilled pot or chili-like soup. I’m going to run a test batch soon with brown lentils using a halved version of the recipe and a bit more liquid to see if I can find a happy medium so that I have a brown lentil and red lentil version to share.

  • Christine

    Dry lentils and uncooked quinoa or cooked

    • I always use dry lentils and uncooked quinoa when I make it! 🙂

  • Lucy

    Even after adding 4 cups of vegetable broth I got the burn indicator 🙁 I added 2 more cups of water and it happened again.

    I wouldn’t suggest this recipe.

    • So sorry to hear it Lucy! Do you mind letting me know if you made any swaps to the other ingredients in the recipe? (extra of anything or something different in place of an ingredient?) As written, I’ve tested it several times myself and had a dear friend test it as well with success so I’m wondering if it’s just super sensitive to any changes? I appreciate the assistance and feedback!

  • Kristin

    Guilt-free indulgence. This chili was packed with flavor and textures. The quinoa made it hearty and filling. Another recipe in the books that is to die for. Perfection!

  • Jen

    My husband and I ate this for dinner tonight and it was amazing! It was actually quite hearty for vegetarian meal. The recipe is very easy to follow. This will make a great freezer meal!

  • Karen Hamstrom

    My Instant Pot showed me the “burn” indicator even after I’d emptied the pot and cleaned it. I added more than double the amount of vegetable broth and still it burned. So frustrating. There isn’t enough liquid in this recipe.

    Edited to add: Personally I think I needed more liquid, it was really thick. Maybe not a lot but at least another cup. I’ll make it again since it was so good, even as a soup!

    • Karen was sweet enough to troubleshoot with me via email (thanks again love – much appreciated) and though I can’t seem to replicate the burn notice on my Instant Pot I have adjusted the recipe to contain a full quart of vegetable broth (4 cups) and I also took out the onion sautéing step and instead just popped the onion and garlic in the pot with the rest of the veggies. It takes a little longer to come to pressure so I reduced the cook time to high pressure for 5 minutes.

      Just opened a fresh IP of quinoa veggie chili (helloooo lunch!) and though it does seem to be less thick than the original recipe, it does thicken quite a bit once it cools – yum! Diving in right now!

  • JB

    I also had the BURN issue. I added one cup of extra stock, and then a can of diced tomatoes on the second round, and every time it continue to burn to the bottom. Even on the lowest temperature setting. I suspect this was due to two errors I made: first, I decided to use the new Christmas hand blender to do the onions, which reduce them essentially to mush. Also, I added the spices at the wrong point, causing them to join with the onions and create a sticky paste. Despite everything that followed, I suspect that was probably what caused the problems for me from the beginning.

  • This is happening in our kitchen soon! Love it!

    • Woot Woot!!!! I expect a full report! 🙂

  • Olivia

    Hands down the most delicious thing I have made in my Instant Pot! It is super easy just make sure you follow the directions to avoid any mishaps. It is a very delicious meal on a cold day and it makes enough to have for a week 🙂

  • Rachel C.

    How would I make this with dry kidney beans and dry black beans?

    • Hi Rachel!I make a black bean dip with dried black beans and peppers/onion mixed in and what basically happens is that the delicate vegetables go beyond the point of tender and turn to complete mush (which is great since I’m blending the dip with a blender and all I need them for is flavor) but with this recipe, you don’t want the rest of the ingredients to be total mush. 30-40 minutes of high pressure (plus pressure build and release time) are usually needed to cook dried beans (and a little longer for kidney beans from what I’ve read) and that is a lot of pressure for the veggies to endure, so they would lose their shape/texture/etc.

      My favorite time saving hack for skipping cans entirely is to make my beans in the IP meal-prep style and then freeze them all measured out in 1 cup or 2 cup servings after cooking/cooling. This way when I need beans for a recipe I can use my cooked-from-dried beans that I’ve cooked up in my IP and bypass the need for cans entirely! I try to do this whenever possible bc it’s such a time + money saver in the long run! ?

      Hope this helps and that you get to try the recipe soon! xoxo

      • Satu

        This is an awesome idea. Thanks for sharing. I’ll be making this in my pot tonight. I can’t wait.

        • Thank you Satu! Hope you love it as much as we do!

  • Heather

    Hi. Love all your recipes and got an instant pot for Christmas. Usually you state which lentils to use or color rather but I don’t see it for this recipe. Please advise.

    • Happy New Year Heather, thank you! Red lentils are my favorite ever! I’ll add a note to the recipe 🙂

      • Heather

        Awesome! Those are what I always have on hand from your vegetarian lentil tortilla soup. Which is my absolute favorite btw. Happy New Year and thank you!!

  • Christy

    Hi. I made this recipe as written and my Instant Pot kept displaying the Burn error and would not get up to pressure. I had to open the lid and add three cups of water, stir, and re-start. Dinner was late but it was really delicious. This made a huge amount—fed four people and still had half left over.

    • Hey Christy, I am so terribly sorry the pot wasn’t coming to pressure and that dinner was later than planned. I emailed you to help troubleshoot in case you don’t see this message here! Sometimes missing a step or tiny swaps will derail an IP recipe and I plan on testing this one a few more times to see if I can recreate it (I’ve made it twice so far but I’m willing to take one for the team and eat this yummy chili a few more times to test! lol) – Thanks so so much for your help and I’m glad it was delicious and hope to get to the bottom of this asap. xo

  • C.J.

    If that was “weird”, please continue to keep it weird 🙂 I too could join Readers’ Anonymous.

    • We could totally run the RA book club together C.J. 🙂 Mwah!

  • Abbey

    Your description of Netflix vs. reading was perfect–I’m exactly the same way! And “book hangover” is an awesome phrase. 🙂

    Anyway, this chili looks great; I’ll definitely try it.

    • So glad I’m not alone there! I have a few books en route in the mall right now and I know at least one of them is going to leave me sleepless and hungover til I read the next one 😉 lol!

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