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!
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 until I can find a replacement book.
When a particularly epic book 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!
Vegetarian Chili Ingredients
- dried red lentils
- dry tri-color quinoa
- vegetable broth
- canned crushed tomatoes
- yellow onion
- green and red bell pepper
- frozen, canned, or fresh corn
- spicy canned chili beans in sauce
- canned black bean
- chili powder
- dried oregano
- smoked paprika
- salt and pepper
For the quinoa, you can use red quinoa, tri-color quinoa, or white quinoa. They all work marvelously!
Quinoa Chili Topping Options: Choose Your Favorites!
- chopped red onion
- fresh pico de gallo or salsa
- sliced avocado
- fresh cilantro
- chopped green onion
- chopped tomatoes
- sliced jalapeños peppers (pickled or raw)
- sour cream or greek yogurt (skip if vegan)
- shredded cheddar cheese (skip if vegan)
- corn chips
Instant Pot Vegetarian Quinoa Chili
Each tasty bowl is plant-based and gluten-free and can easily be made dairy-free and vegan since you choose the toppings!
Instant Pot Vegetarian Quinoa Chili
- 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
INSTANT POT INSTRUCTIONS
- First chop your veggies and measure out the ingredients.
- 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.
- Set Instant Pot (I use a 6 QT) HIGH pressure for 5 minutes and allow to come to pressure.
- Quick release (aka manually release) the pressure and wait for the pin to drop and the pot to depressurize before opening.
- Lastly, feel free to adjust seasoning (spices and salt) to taste, adding more of what you prefer to get your ideal flavor punch.
- 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.
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!
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 CHILI 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 FOR STOVE TOP INSTRUCTIONS
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!
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?
- Vegetarian Lentil Tortilla Soup (Instant Pot + Slow Cooker)
- 7 Delicious things to do with Leftover Chili
- Quick and Easy Homemade Cornbread
- Fluffy Bakery-Style Cornbread Muffins
- Vegan Lentil Chili (Instant Pot + Slow Cooker)
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 in awe of this amazing story.
- Gray Wolf Island – My friend Tracey wrote this book! Whoo!
If you get a chance to try this Instant Pot Vegetarian Quinoa Chili, let me know! You can leave me a comment here (LOVE checking those daily!) or tag @PEASandCRAYONS on Instagram so I can happy dance over your creations. I can’t wait to see what you whip up!
I don’t have crushed tomatoes, but I have whole canned tomatoes. Will it work the same if I just blend the whole tomatoes?
Hi Becky! That should absolutely work. I’ve made my own crushed tomatoes in a pinch and I do exactly that!
This is the BEST chili recipe I’ve ever eaten. Thank you very much for generously sharing it!
YAY!!!! Thank you Terri! I’m so thrilled you enjoyed it!
I tried this in the IP and constantly got a burn notice. It eventually was cooked enough even without actually finishing cooking and was DELICIOUS. One of our absolutely favorite recipes! I decided to try it in the crockpot instead and after a little less than 4.5hrs I checked it (recipe says cook 5-6hrs). It was incredibly thick and lost all texture. The flavor is still amazing but it’s a textural flop. I think I’d try it again in the IP even if it takes me forever bc of a burn notice OR id reduce slow cooker cook time for sure!
This is so delicious! I thought maybe it was a one time dish, but all leftovers and another batch is just as good as the first!
Crowd pleaser!! Even for our meat eaters who don’t “do” chili without meat in it! Thank you!
The first time I made this it was amazing! I just tried making it again and it is more like soup and can’t figure out what I did wrong! Ended up having to add more lentils and quinoa after to soak up some of the liquid. Not sure if this is due to the changes the author made (not sure when it was updated to compare to the other batch I made several months ago). Either way this chili has a ton of flavor and it’s going to be a go to recipe once I tweek it!
Hi Alyssa! I think it’s been about a year since I adjusted the recipe a bit for the Instant Pot users. Some were having thickness/sticking issues in the IP but others were not – I couldn’t get it to stick in my own pot so it was hard to know what changes were made. Were you using a pressure cooker or slow cooker to make the chili? Dried quinoa/lentils or precooked? What type of lentils? Some of those factors can have little differences so I’m happy to help you get the thickness where you’d like it! Love this chili like woah! xoxo
Looking forward to making this
I’m so excited for you to try it, Dot!
Burnt to bottom of instant pot !
Oh no! I’m happy to help troubeshoot, if you’d like. Sometimes even the teeniest change in ingredients or ratios can throw off an IP recipe like chili.
Have made this several times now and my husband and I love it. It’s tastier than any meat chili I’ve made!! Quick, easy and very tasty. GREAT recipe Jenn!
Thank you so much, Pinky! I’m stoked y’all have been enjoying the recipe! xoxo
This is SO good. Easily adjusted (like add vegan “beef” crumbles, use 1 cup quinoa if you don’t have red lentils, etc) and totally yummy. It my go to potluck, party, or big family meal, and I am always asked for the recipe.
So stoked the recipe works with the vegan crumbles! Thanks Hannah!
This chili is awesome and so healthy! For those of you that get the “burn” message, I put the tomatoes in last. I’ve read that tomatoes have natural sugar in them and the sugar content could cause a “burn” message…especially with the thick crushed tomatoes and that they should be added last and not stirred in. I also rinse my rice because I read that rinsing can help prevent the “burn”.
So so so glad you’re loving the recipe Becky and thank you for your tips!
Fantastic recipe! I love all your recipes because they tend to be healthier. I’ve made a lot of them; Made the taco pasta soup the other day. Question—how much longer do you think I should cook it if I only have brown lentils on hand? Thinking about cooking them separately since I have no clue. Thank you!!!
Ahh yay thank you Claire! So stoked you’ve been loving the recipes! What method are you making this? For the Instant Pot method I’d probably make the brown lentils on the stove top and then add them to the finished/cooked chili at the end. For slow cooker you can toss it all in!
General rule of thumb is 1.5 cups cooking liquid for 1/2 cup lentils. You can use broth if using slow cooker method and cooking the dry lentils along with the chili or just cook the lentils in water on their own if making separately on the stovetop and then adding them to the chili. They’ll want to simmer around 15-20 min to cook through so adjust time as needed and you’ll be good to go! I’m here if any questions pop up! xoxo
We are not a huge fan of bell peppers, is there something else you would suggest to replace these or can I just omit them without any issues?
Hi Ann! You can totally skip them without an issue. If you’re making it in the Instant Pot you can mix in extra canned/rinsed beans to the hot chili at the end of the cooking process if desired and it’ll warm them through. Just don’t add any extra before pressure cooking because it might activate auto-shutoff. Hope this helps! xoxo
I have made this recipe several times and absolutely love it – but about half the time I make it, my IP just won’t come up to pressure for some reason. I don’t have this issue with any other IP cooking – any idea why it won’t come to pressure? I feel like it’s either too much liquid or not enough liquid but I’m using the exact amount that the recipe asks for! Interestingly, my mum had the exact same thing happen to her.
Hi Fiona! It took me about 10+ tries to finally replicate the pressure build issue (up til then it worked every single time in my IP as written and even then it still cooked for me, strange!) and I’m thinking it may be just a bit too voluminous for the 6 QT sometimes. I think I may need to rework it a little bit but without really changing the recipe much b/c I love its flavor! I don’t want to straight cut the recipe in half so it’s going to take me a bit to find the happy medium since the IP is so gosh darn fickle. I’m so glad you and your mum are enjoying the recipe! Let me know if you have any suggestions for tweaking it to make this silly IP happy with the amount of chili it needs to make us, lol. Thank you! xoxo
I made this on April 8 2019. I followed the recipe exactly and it turned out great. There were 2 small areas on the bottom of the instant pot that stuck but no problems with the program. I added another cup of beans after it was done. It thickened quick a bit for the second day. It makes a large amount so I froze some. Will definitely make this again.
I’m so glad you enjoyed it Maria! I always look forward to the freezer bowls — the best kind of fast food! xoxo
Awesomely satisfying chili
I threw this recipe together willy-nilly and it turned out great! I was a little hesitant to try it due to some of the comments below about the burn notice. However, I had no issues despite not following the directions to a t. I stirred the ingredients before pressure cooking even though the directions say not to stir. I used more quinoa because I was short on lentils. Used different types of beans and eye-balled the chopped veggies. Making it again tonight!
Instant Pots are fiesty little things, haha – I’m so stoked it’s making repeat status and that it worked great with the swaps! Thanks Aurora!
Where is the nutrition stats on this recipe?
Hi Karen! I’ll put it through my nutrition calculator for ya and update the post. xo
I followed your recipe as written, but used chicken stock instead of vegetable. I got the BURN message no less than six times. I didn’t do anything in response, just let it play out. Final product was so delicious. A small amount had stuck to the bottom of the pot, but did not negatively affect the taste of the chili. YAY!
Just made this…realized I had no veggie stock so in a pinch just used water, added some garbanzo beans as well, cooked on high pressure 20 minutes….delicious!!! Even my meat eating friends chowed down a bowl
LOVE the added chickpeas!!! Thanks Ally!
Is there a way to add in some sweet potato?
Hi Katie! Absolutely — simply adjust cook times as needed.
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?
Hi Sanna! Could you shoot me a screenshot? That’s crazy bizarre that it’s showing up differently! My email is [email protected]
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.
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!
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
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!
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
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!
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! 🙂
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 ?
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! 🙂
Thank you for your reply but I just reread the recipe and I originally read 2 CANS of crushed tomatoes not 2 cups!
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
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.
Dry lentils and uncooked quinoa or cooked
I always use dry lentils and uncooked quinoa when I make it! 🙂
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!
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!
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!
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!
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! 🙂
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 🙂
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
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!
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 🙂
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!!
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
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!
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!