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The perfect vegetarian meal all in one pot with this delicious quinoa chili! This recipe tastes just like traditional chili but with quinoa instead of meat for texture, plus a secret ingredient to maximize flavor!

vegetarian chili in a white bowl with avocado slices + tortilla chips
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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” of new recipes instead of sharing what you really want to share.

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

But here’s the thing, this vegan chili recipe has never been done my way and with my voice. It honestly, is so dang good! So innovative or not I think you’ll love this vegetarian chili recipe and will absolutely be going back for leftovers!

Ingredients in Quinoa Chili

  • Vegetables – onion and bell peppers are the primary ingredients but you can always add in others to your preference!
  • Quinoa – I prefer white quinoa in this recipe but you can also use tri-colored quinoa.
  • Canned products – diced tomatoes, canned black beans, canned kidney beans and canned green chile peppers
  • Spices – chili powder, cumin, sea salt and pepper. Make sure you’re using chili powder and not cayenne pepper!
  • Water or Vegetable stock – you can use water but vegetable stock or even chicken stock will work if you aren’t vegan/vegetarian.
  • 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 but I promise these secret ingredients really take the flavor up a notch!
overhead image of vegetarian chili with avocado and tortilla chips

Tips for Making a Quinoa 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!

Bring on the Toppings!

It isn’t chili without all the toppings. Here are my suggestions:

  • Tortilla chips
  • Sliced avocado
  • Sour cream or Greek yogurt – you could also use vegan sour cream for a dairy-free option.
  • Shredded cheese – use vegan cheese for a vegan/dairy-free option.
  • Green onions
  • Cilantro
  • Lime/Lime juice – just give a little squeeze on top!

Meal Prep + Storage

This quinoa chili makes a great meal prep recipe. You can easily store leftovers in either the fridge or freezer.

Refrigerator: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat in microwave or on stove top.

Freezer: Freeze leftovers in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw on countertop for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Reheat in microwave or on stove top.

More Chili Recipes You’ll Love:


The Best Vegetarian Quinoa Chili

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 2 reviews

The perfect vegetarian meal all in one pot with this delicious quinoa chili! This recipe tastes just like traditional chili but with quinoa instead of meat, plus a secret ingredient to maximize flavor!

  • Author: Davida Lederle
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Cook
  • Diet: Vegan


  • 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 red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 small can green chile peppers
  • 2 cups of water or vegetable broth
  • 3 tbsp chili powder (NOT cayenne!)
  • 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.

Meet the Maven

Hi! I'm Davida and welcome to my corner of the internet. I'm a wellness blogger, yoga teacher, certified herbalist, and green beauty lover.

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  1. 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

    1. 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

  2. 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?