dinner gluten-free vegan

The Best Quinoa Chili

January 13, 2020

The perfect vegetarian meal all in one pot with the best vegetarian quinoa chili! This recipe tastes just like traditional chili but with quinoa instead of meat, plus a secret ingredient!

The perfect vegetarian meal all in one pot with the best vegetarian quinoa chili! This recipe tastes just like traditional chili but with quinoa instead of meat, plus a secret ingredient!As more and more food blogs pop up, the industry is becoming increasingly saturated with recipes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m the first person to applaud there being open access to blogging and providing people who might otherwise not have a platform, a place for them to share their voice. However, it also means that you can get caught in the “innovation trap” instead of sharing what you really want to share.

If it’s all been done before, what’s the point in sharing another vegetarian quinoa chili recipe?

At the end of the day, every audience is different and every voice is different. Sure, it doesn’t exactly win the SEO game, but you know what beats SEO? Authenticity and being true to your passion rather than just trying to stand out and be different.

RELATED: Sweet Potato Turkey Chili

It’s something that I’m trying to keep in mind as I draft my content calendar and figure out exactly what I want to share with you guys. It’s become less about, “how do I stand out?” and more about “how can I be valuable and useful, while also remaining me in the process”.

Sometimes this means sharing things that have been done before, but always in my voice and in my way. It’s been a good learning lesson for me (one of many I’ve taken away from writing this blog) that being unique doesn’t always mean being different. But before I get all carried away in my bowl of chili reflections, I’ll leave you to make this recipe and decide for yourself.

The perfect vegetarian meal all in one pot with the best vegetarian quinoa chili! This recipe tastes just like traditional chili but with quinoa instead of meat, plus a secret ingredient!

Ingredients in Vegetarian Quinoa Chili

  • vegetables – onion, bell peppers
  • quinoa
  • canned products – tomatoes, black beans, kidney beans and green chili peppers
  • spices – chili powder, cumin, sea salt and pepper
  • maple syrup and dark chocolate – not a typo! The secret ingredient to a robust flavored chili. Sorry, it won’t make your soup taste like chocolate.

Tips for Making a Hearty Vegetarian Chili

If you have a meat eater/lover in your life, you know it can be hard to convince them to incorporate a plant based meal into their week. Instead of handing them a plate of vegetables and calling it a meal, make a comforting batch of this soup that will make them forget they’re missing meat.

Pack in the protein. We need protein to feel satisfied so make sure your vegetarian dishes have protein! The star of this chili is obviously the quinoa which is a complete protein (aka contains all nine essential amino acids) without the meat.

…But don’t overdo the quinoa. It seems like 1/2 cup of quinoa won’t be enough, but trust me it is. quinoa expands to 3x it’s size so be sure to follow the instructions on this one.

Flavor is key! How many times have you heard something along the lines of “but healthy food is so boring”?! NOT WITH THIS MEAL! Tons of flavor is packed into one bowl thanks to the vegetables and spices. And let’s not forget the maple syrup and chocolate!

Serve with sides. When in doubt, serve a soup with sides. I love serving this particular quinoa chili with tortilla chips and sliced avocado but it would also be delicious with a hearty bread or side salad.


The Best Vegetarian Quinoa Chili

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x


  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers (any color), seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 15 oz cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 15 oz cans of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 small can green chili peppers
  • 2 cups of water or stock
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 12 tsp sea salt (to taste)
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1 piece of dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup


  1. In a large pot add onion and 1 tbsp olive oil
  2. Cook on medium for 3-5 mins or until translucent
  3. Add bell peppers and cook for 2 mins.
  4. Add quinoa, tomatoes, beans, green chilies, water and spices.
  5. Bring pot to a boil and then cover and lower to a simmer for 30 mins.
  6. Remove lid and give it a good stir and cook for an additional 10 mins or until chili has thickened up and quinoa has absorbed liquid.
  7. Add in dark chocolate and maple syrup and stir until melted and combined.
  8. Serve warm with avocado, cheese, sour cream or toppings of choice.

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  • Reply
    October 17, 2021 at 3:27 am

    Thanks, this was really helpful. I will have a look for the blended product here in the uk (or just improvise with a little cayenne and whatever I have in the cupboard). Good to have it confirmed pure cayenne is not the right thing! Much obliged! x

    • Reply
      February 11, 2022 at 5:55 pm

      I am also from the UK (and live in the US, now) and actually prefer using ground red chili; I find that one teaspoon is about the same heat as a tablespoon of American chili powder

  • Reply
    February 12, 2021 at 3:22 pm

    Love this recipe. Very filling and satisfying. I just made a good pot for the weekend! Heading to -30 degrees here in Minnesota!
    Has anyone done the calorie:nutritional on this recipe?

  • Reply
    January 24, 2021 at 12:58 am

    Hi could mushrooms replace the quinoa? Need to watch the carbs as a diabetic. If it could work, what type of mushrooms and what amount! Thanks!

  • Reply
    October 17, 2020 at 1:17 pm

    Thanks Davida, that makes more sense. Yeah chilli powder is pure cayenne here. I will try again tonight and put in a little cayenne, some chilli flakes and no more! May also look at the ingredients in the blended mixes I have (jerk, jollof) see if they might be good subs..ta!

  • Reply
    June 3, 2020 at 6:01 pm

    This was fabulous!! It will become a regular staple in my household, thank you!

    • Reply
      Davida Lederle
      June 7, 2020 at 2:37 pm

      So happy to hear you enjoyed, Meredith!

  • Reply
    May 3, 2020 at 8:26 am

    I love this recipe and agree that the quinoa and beans give it the perfect texture to stop meat eaters complaining. However I think three tablespoons of cayenne pepper is way too much – last time I only put two in and it was still too hot to eat. I’m wondering if tablespoons (or chilli powder) is different here in the UK from how it’s intended by the author. But it’s so great I will definitely keep making it just remember to make it three teaspoons instead!! thanks for the recipe 🙂

    • Reply
      Davida Lederle
      May 3, 2020 at 12:13 pm

      Oh no! In North America, chili powder is different from cayenne! I would never recommend that many tablespoons of cayenne eek! Chili powder is a blend of spices that you can buy at almost every grocery store here. It has a tiny bit of cayenne in it but mostly a blend of mild chili flakes and other spices!

  • Reply
    January 11, 2020 at 8:38 am

    Can you tell me how this would work in a slow cooker?

  • Reply
    Esther Salis Gillett
    January 30, 2018 at 12:57 pm

    Very tasty! I used cocoa powder instead of chocolate and left out the maple syrup. I agree that the beans and quinoa do add a meaty texture. I also halved the recipe as it made so much!

  • Reply
    January 15, 2018 at 9:23 pm

    I am SO glad I found this recipe. I was hesitant when I saw that it included dark chocolate & maple syrup, but it worked very well in the chili. Seriously, I am very impressed. This is definitely my new staple. It’s cheap (I bought all ingredients at Trader Joe’s), quick, easy, and delicious.
    How well do you think this will freeze since it makes a large batch? I’m a single eater, and would like to save this for a future meal.

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      January 16, 2018 at 9:55 am

      It freezes very well! So happy you enjoyed 🙂

  • Reply
    December 14, 2017 at 6:45 am

    the best dinner reciep..i liked it…i will try this one

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