dinner gluten-free vegan

Vegetarian Quinoa Chili

November 28, 2023

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

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

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.

Keywords: quinoa chili, vegetarian chili, vegan chili


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  • Reply
    December 4, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    I made this for the 3rd time yesterday! I love this recipe. As a meat eater, I have to say that this is super hearty and the black beans and quinoa give it a meaty texture even. After the first time I made it, I wished it had a bit more spice so I have added 1/2 fresh jalapeno pepper (with the bell peppers) and about 1 extra tbsp of chili powder to give it a bit more heat and it is perfect. This is slowly becoming one of my go-tos! Thanks for sharing this.

  • Reply
    October 18, 2017 at 11:39 pm

    Just made this, with a few tweaks (I omitted the oil and water sauteed the onion and red peppers; I used Wondercocoa powder 3 TBS instead of chocolate, used no salt added beans, and (because I ran out of quinoa) used brown rice. And it is still wonderful. I’m going to take some to a potluck at work in a couple weeks and wanted to try it out first. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  • Reply
    September 4, 2017 at 11:34 am

    Just made this for the workweek! YUMMM!

  • Reply
    June 28, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    I made this for extended family on Sunday, and it was a total hit! This gets 5 stars from me… Keep up the good work!

  • Reply
    November 4, 2016 at 11:55 am

    What do you mean by, ” a piece of chocolate?”

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      November 4, 2016 at 1:17 pm

      About 1 ounce per piece. I ball-park it

  • Reply
    November 4, 2016 at 11:54 am

    What is a “piece” of chocolate?

  • Reply
    October 31, 2016 at 9:01 am

    I made this last night! How do I go about featuring it on my blog? Can I copy and paste the recipe from your site with my own pictures and credit?

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      October 31, 2016 at 5:06 pm

      Hi Caitlin! Hope you enjoyed! I just ask if you followed that recipe that you link back to my site for the full recipe rather than reposting it in full. Thank you!

  • Reply
    The Brunette's Tofu
    October 28, 2016 at 5:09 am

    I truly love this idea! Thanks for sharing.

    Let’s follow each other? *

  • Reply
    October 24, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    Oh this looks so good! I keep pinning all these awesome soup and chili recipes and I really need to just get on it. It’s hard though sometimes making big batches for yourself, but the leftovers are ALWAYS SO WORTH IT! XOXO

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      October 24, 2016 at 4:08 pm

      Yes! And you can always freeze too!

  • Reply
    Molly @ Spices in My DNA
    October 23, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    This quinoa chili looks amazing! Love the addition of the dark chocolate. Definitely going to have to try it! That video really resonated with me. I’ve had a case of the blogger burnout/comparison trap lately and Marie’s and your words really helped me! Definitely something that will be helpful to watch again and again when I fall into that inevitable “trap”.

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      October 23, 2016 at 6:59 pm

      I constantly go back and watch it! It can be easy to get stuck in the need to be innovative mindset but sometimes that ends up shooting ourselves in the foot. Glad you were able to find some comfort in it!

  • Reply
    Les @ The Balanced Berry
    October 23, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    I watch at Marie video at least once a month. The world of blogging gets me feeling down more often than I would like to admit, and that message always helps me feel better.

    Ummmm and chocolate in chili? Brilliant.

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      October 23, 2016 at 6:58 pm

      It’s good that you’re admitting it! You’d be surprised how many people struggle with this and never admit they’re feeling this way.Your vulnerability makes you real and more relatable than you think…even if it’s all been said before!

  • Reply
    Ashley @ Fit Mitten Kitchen
    October 23, 2016 at 9:19 am

    lol ssoooo I totally have a slow cooker enchilada quinoa chili going up next week. Haha, guess you can say this post resonates with me to a T. Didn’t add any maple syrup or dark chocolate though… however I did contemplate adding in some cocoa powder.
    And I have watched that video before and it definitely reminded me that most things I create will not be original, but like you said, every audience is different and if it is both true to me and is valuable to my readers, why not share?

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      October 23, 2016 at 6:55 pm

      Exactly! Everyone’s voice is different and it will resonate with different people. Keep at it lady and I look forward to seeing the chili recipe!

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