Vegetarian Quinoa Chili

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

Vegetarian Quinoa Chili Bowls

I should preface this by confessing that my husband almost 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!

So while he’s hands-down the official chili connoisseur of the family, I 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 at the idea of it. 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…

Pot of Quinoa Chili

I think we ate this quinoa chili three days in a row before I squirreled away a bowl in the freezer for later. (It freezes marvelously by the way!)

It’s absolutely one of those recipes that’s great the first day but somehow even more amazing the next!

This rockin’ vegetarian chili honestly makes one of my favorite leftovers to date; and I cannot get over how healthy it is! It’s the kind of chili even meat lovers will adore.

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!

Veggie Quinoa Chili Bowl with Fritos, Jalapeños, and Cheese toppings

Ingredients Needed

On the vegetable front you’ll want to grab a large yellow onion, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, fresh or frozen corn, crushed canned tomatoes, and garlic.

I like to sauté my veggies first (especially the onion) in either avocado oil or olive oil – whichever you prefer!

For added texture and flavor, I love using a combination of chili beans (pinto beans or kidney beans in a flavorful chili sauce) and black beans. You’ll also want to grab some dry quinoa (or use up leftover cooked quinoa — this recipe is great for that!) and some chili powder, cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper.

Vegetarian Quinoa Chili

This vegetarian chili recipe 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 goodness.

For a vegan chili, simply choose the vegan topping options from the list and you can even add a dollop of vegan sour cream on top. Yum!

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

Vegetarian Quinoa Chili Bowls

Vegetarian Quinoa Chili

This is the chili that changed our minds about meatless chili! We absolutely LOVE this healthy vegetarian quinoa chili!
5 from 37 votes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Vegetarian Quinoa Chili
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Jenn Laughlin – Peas and Crayons


  • 2 cups diced yellow onion
  • 1 green bell pepper diced
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 TBSP avocado oil or olive oil
  • 28 oz canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
  • 15 oz can spicy chili beans with sauce
  • 15 oz can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 2 TBSP chili powder
  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika plus extra to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup dry 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
  • extra can of chili beans
  • all the toppings your heart desires


  • Chop your peppers and onion and mince your garlic.
  • Heat a tablespoon of oil in a Dutch oven or a large pot on medium-high heat.
  • Add onions, peppers, and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes to tenderize the veggies.
  • Next add crushed tomatoes, corn, chili beans (with sauce), black beans, and spices; stir to mix. If you'd like your chili extra chunky you can add an extra can of chili beans – I love doing this when i have a second can on hand!
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 25-30 minutes.
  • While your chili simmers, rinse your quinoa.
  • Add quinoa to a small pot with water or vegetable broth to boil (1.5 cups) and bring to a rolling boil.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 vegetarian chili 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!
Nutrition facts below are an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. Choose your favorite toppings and adjust as needed.


Calories: 257kcal, Carbohydrates: 45g, Protein: 11g, Fat: 4g, Sodium: 715mg, Potassium: 851mg, Fiber: 10g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 1310IU, Vitamin C: 43.4mg, Calcium: 94mg, Iron: 4.8mg

Can I make this quinoa chili in the slow cooker?

You can make this delicious 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.

For the crock-pot version I usually 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!

I also have an Instant Pot Version of this vegetarian quinoa chili if you need it!

Tasty Vegetarian Chili Topping Options + Ideas

  • sliced jalapeño peppers (fresh or pickled)
  • sour cream (regular or vegan) or plain Greek yogurt
  • sliced or cubed avocado
  • fresh salsa or pico de gallo
  • grated cheese (skip for vegan)
  • fritos corn chips
  • sliced olives
  • thinly sliced radish
  • fresh cilantro
  • chopped scallions
  • tortilla chips or strips
  • cornbread

I could easily eat my chili straight up without a topping in sight, but adding some of these goodies from the list above is always a great way to play around with flavors and textures and simply jazz things up!

Lately my go-to is fresh pico de gallo with a sprinkling of either tortilla chips or corn chips for a crunch. I also adooooore a huge hunk of either plain classic cornbread or jalapeño cheddar cornbread on the side. DELISH!

Quinoa Chili Bowl with Toppings

Have Leftover Quinoa 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 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 spaghetti squash and zucchini boats!

Don’t forget the homemade cornbread!

If you get a chance to try this healthy vegetarian quinoa chili recipe, 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!

Jenn Laughlin Peas and Crayons Author
About The Author:

Jenn Laughlin

Hi! I’m Jenn and I’m here to help you eat your veggies! It’ll be fun, painless, and pretty darn delicious as I teach you to plan your meals around fresh, seasonal produce with a little help from healthy freezer and pantry staples.

Read More

Join The Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

Questions & Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    Great recipe. I have a sodium restriction so I used no salt added black beans and kidney beans. Used Penzeys chili 9000 and 3000(both no salt) in place of regular chili powder which has lots of sodium. I increased the amount of jalapeño and more onions. I didn’t have any corn in the house, so I added another can of beans. Did it in the crockpot. Reduced the sodium to about 200mg per serving instead of over 700.

  2. 5 stars
    Great recipe. I have a sodium restriction so I used no salt added black beans and kidney beans. Used Penzeys chili 9000 and 3000(both no salt) in place of regular chili powder which has lots of sodium. I increased the amount of jalapeño and more onions. I didn’t have any corn in the house, so I added another can of beans. Did it in the crockpot. Came out perfect. Reduced the sodium to about 200mg per serving instead of over 700.

  3. 5 stars
    Fantastic!!! I’ve made it several times and everyone loves it. My favorite way so far adds a package of baby bella mushrooms and cooks the quinoa in beef broth. I’ve also tried chicken broth and both are good. One time I added an extra can of beans, chose chickpeas, and that was delicious but I did have to add a little extra liquid when doing 3 cans of beans. Another time I added extra bell peppers instead of extra beans. A few deseeded jalapenos are a nice addition also. So many little changes possible but this recipe always disappears so it’s now in my regular rotation recipes. Thank you!

  4. 5 stars
    Just picked a bunch of ripe peppers from the garden and threw this together for dinner – so easy and hearty, you’d never know it was veg. All the great flavors of chili even without it!

  5. Jenn, you mention this chili could be made in a slow cooker. Could you give me the amount of time to slow cook it on LOW and how long on HIGH?

    1. Hi Carolyn! When I use my slow cooker I typically cook this chili for 5-6 hours on LOW or until the veggies are nice and tender to my liking. I think in crock-pot timing that equates to 2-3 hours on high but would have test it on high to be certain.

  6. When you say chili powder… Did you mean powder made just from chilis, or what we in Australia would call ‘mexican chilli’, which contains a mixture of spices? Because 2 tablespoons of chili powder seems a lot.
    Actually, I am cooking it right now and it smells VERY spicy :).

    1. Hi Alice! In America the typical spice labeled “chili powder” is more flavorful than it is spicy (I actually don’t find it spicy at all) and consists of a blend of spices. It has some chili pepper, salt, garlic, etc… I usually have to add ground cayenne pepper to make dishes spicy as my chili powder just doesn’t cut it on the heat. Hope this helps and hope you enjoy the chili even with the possible spice difference!

  7. What are the spicy chilli beans? I live in Canada and I don’t think we have that product. What could
    I substitute?

    1. Hi Carya! Spicy Chili Beans are typically pinto or kidney beans that have been seasoned with some extra spices and a little bit of sauce. You can use plain pinto or kidney beans as a swap and simply add extra spices to your chili. Here are the ingredients of the canned chili beans to give you an idea: Tomato Puree (Tomato Paste, Water), Salt, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, and Paprika. You can also play around with cayenne pepper to add some heat for a spicier chili.

  8. Hi, could you make this as a freezer meal? Would you have to cook it before you freeze or could you put it in a freezer bag precooked, freeze, then cook it via an InstantPot or Crockpot later? Thanks!

    1. This could totally be made into a freezer meal! I’d have to play around to see which method works best, so for sure LMK if you get a chance to experiment before I do!

      1. 5 stars
        I double batch cook this recipe specifically for freezer meals. Fully cook then seperate into single/double serving portions and pop em in the freezer. Reheat whichever way suits me that day and it is always perfect!!

  9. 5 stars
    I love, love, love this chili! It is so delicious and filling! I make it several times a month and then eat the chili all by myself over a week. I also love her suggestion to put it over a sweet potato. I topped mine with sour cream, shredded cheese and sliced avocado. This is a permanent part of my meal plan now!

  10. 5 stars
    So so so so so so so delicious and easy to make! I used 28 oz of crushed tomatoes so added an extra can of black beans.

  11. 5 stars
    Made this last week for a friend who has breast cancer & 2 small children. The whole family loved it so I’m making her another batch this week.

  12. Why cook quinoa separately. What happens if dry quinoa is included in,the chili pot to cook. Can u add extra liquid to make this a doable option

    1. Hi Sim! I was new at the whole quinoa-it-the-chili thing back when I wrote this recipe and was worried about having a watery chili (I looooove mine extra thick!) but yes you can 100% add extra liquid and cook it in the same pot! Make sure you give it a rinse to remove the bitter coating and then just make sure it has enough liquid to simmer away! xo

  13. 5 stars
    I’m an all-seasons kind of chili champ. I adore my beefy, beany chili, but I can totally appreciate a lighter veggie version for warmer weather. Bikini season, here I come! 🙂

  14. 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…

    1. 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.

  15. 5 stars
    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!

    1. 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!!! 🙂

  16. 5 stars
    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!!

    1. 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!

    1. 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!