Crockpot Quinoa Chili

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Simple (dump it all in and forget about it) crockpot quinoa chili. No veggie chopping or pre-cooking of anything required; open cans and throw it all in! The easiest crockpot dinner that’s packed with flavor and healthful ingredients.

Pair this crockpot quinoa chili with homemade dinner rolls, this easy cucumber salad, or this favorite Italian salad.

Overhead image of the crockpot quinoa chili in a bowl with cilantro on the side ready to eat

I’m all about quick prep dinners and especially when the crockpot is willing to do the work; why not take advantage?! And this dinner doesn’t get much easier than opening cans and throwing them in to said crockpot.

The best part though? It’s not cans of cream of mushroom soup and cups of brown sugar-filled BBQ sauce (yes, there’s always a place for those recipes too :)), instead it’s filled with good-for-you ingredients. Which, personally, I’ve found is rare in a crockpot dinner with little prep time! Clearly I’m really excited to share this recipe with you all today! It’s easy to prepare AND healthy AND the kiddos are obsessed. My 6 year old asked if he could eat it (with an extra handful of cheese ?) for breakfast the night after I made it. I hope your family loves it as much as mine does!

Process shot of the seasoning mix that goes with this crockpot quinoa chicken chili

Ingredients in crockpot quinoa chili

  • Seasoning blend: this quinoa has the best blend of spices; we’ve got chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, onion powder, paprika, garlic powder, and of course salt and pepper
  • Quinoa: this forms the “base” of the chili and thickens and absorbs flavors from all the different ingredients
  • Chicken: we use boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into thin tenderloins (helps cook quickly!) feel free to use chicken thighs instead
  • Chicken stock: or chicken broth works great too. We like to use the salted/seasoned chicken stock for extra flavor!
  • Black beans: (or use another can of chili beans or kidney beans)
  • Chili beans: we typically use chili beans in mild sauce, but grab whatever heat you prefer. Unsure what chili beans are? Here’s a great explanation.
  • Frozen corn: or fresh if you have access (cut right off the cob)
  • Petite diced tomatoes: grab fire-roasted for extra flavor! Depending on the acidity of the canned tomatoes, you may want to add a pinch of sugar. (We love San Marzano tomatoes best in this chili.)

Overhead image of all the ingredients in the crockpot ready to be cooked for this chili

  • Fresh lime juice
  • Freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • Sour cream (fat free, reduced fat, or full fat)
  • Crushed corn chips (like Fritos), crushed tortilla chips, saltine crackers, or tortilla strips
  • Fresh chives or chopped cilantro 
  • Freshly sliced avocado/guacamole 
  • Spoonful of salsa or pico de gallo

Image of the chicken stock being poured into the crockpot for this crockpot quinoa chili Quick tips

  • Cut the chicken into thin/small chunks otherwise it won’t be done at the same time as everything else. You don’t need to spend much time cutting the chicken; just quickly cut 2-3 inch (1 inch thick) pieces and make sure to submerge the chicken in the liquid.
  • Use a large crockpot: I recommend a 6 quart slow cooker for this crockpot quinoa chili
  • Season to taste: if you’re worried about spice, add spice mixture slowly remembering you can always add more later. Additionally, you can always add more than the recipe calls for at the end of the cooking time. Always taste first for salt and pepper and then add other spices to preference.
  • Don’t forget to rinse the quinoa: quinoa has a bitter saponin coating that needs to be rinsed before using. Place it in a fine mesh strainer and rinse it well before adding to the crockpot.
  • Quinoa continues to absorb liquid as it sits. This quinoa chili will continue to get thicker and thicker, so keep that in mind as it’s cooking. If it cooks too long, the quinoa will begin to burn around the edges. 

Process shot-- image of all the ingredient mixed together in the crockpot ready to be cookedVariation ideas

  • To make this crockpot quinoa chili vegetarian or vegan, I recommend following this recipe instead (we “replace” the chicken with sweet potatoes)
  • To add more flavor, add in a finely diced yellow onion and a few cloves of garlic. I don’t add those in this recipe because I wanted the prep to be as quick as possible! (The onion powder and garlic powder do give you a nice flavor without the actual ingredients.)
  • To increase the spice, use spicy chili beans and add in a few tablespoons of diced jalapeno or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • To make this crockpot quinoa chili more mild, reduce or omit the cayenne pepper.

Image of the crockpot quinoa chicken chili in a bowl with cilantro on the side ready to eat

More easy crockpot recipes:

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Crockpot Quinoa Chili

4.88 from 8 votes
Simple (dump it all in and forget about it) crockpot quinoa chili. No veggie chopping or pre-cooking of anything required; open cans and throw it all in! The easiest crockpot dinner that's packed with flavor and healthful ingredients.
Print Recipe

Crockpot Quinoa Chili

4.88 from 8 votes
Simple (dump it all in and forget about it) crockpot quinoa chili. No veggie chopping or pre-cooking of anything required; open cans and throw it all in! The easiest crockpot dinner that's packed with flavor and healthful ingredients.
Course Dinner
Cuisine American, Mexican
Keyword crockpot quinoa chili
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 327kcal

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup white quinoa
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 pound (8 ounces) boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH: onion powder, garlic powder, paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
  • 2 and 1/4 cups salted/seasoned chicken stock (can use chicken broth)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 can (15 ounces) chili beans in mild sauce (Note 1)
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) fire-roasted diced tomatoes (Muir Glen recommended)
  • Optional toppings: fresh lime juice, chopped cilantro, sour cream, cheddar cheese

Instructions

  • Line your crockpot with a crockpot liner OR spray with cooking spray. Thoroughly rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve to remove the bitter saponin coating. Drain and rinse the black beans. Cut the chicken breast into 2-3 inch long, 1-inch thick pieces.
  • Add the quinoa, black beans, chicken, chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper, chicken stock, frozen corn, (undrained/unrinsed) chili beans, (undrained) diced tomatoes to a large 6-quart crockpot. Cover and cook on high for 2.5 to 4 hours. (Ours is always done right at 3 hours.) Check occasionally and stir every once and a while if around.
  • Once the liquid is mostly absorbed, remove crockpot insert from the heat. Season to taste with any additional salt/pepper as needed or any additional seasoning. I like to add a few tablespoons of lime juice here. Shred the chicken in a separate bowl with two forks (or chop it coarsely with a knife).
  • Top individual bowls with favorite toppings. We top ours with a good handful of freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese, another squeeze of lime, a good spoonful of sour cream, and some chopped cilantro. Don't forget the toppings; they make this chili!

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Chili beans are something you’ll find in the canned good aisle (usually among other beans) in the grocery store. They are typically pinto, red, or kidney beans in a mild chili-spiked sauce.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 327kcal

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

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This recipe has been updated; to see the original version, click here 🙂

Nutrition facts in crockpot quinoa chili

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38 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Wow this chili looks absolutely delicious, Chelsea. I love your slow cooker recipes and already pinned it for later. Ah I forgot to say that I made your flourless pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and they turned out very delicious. I posted on my blog. Thank you so much for the inspiration 😉

  2. This chili looks great. I just bought a 6 quart crock pot with a programmable timer and 3 temperature settings. I can’t wait to make this. Thanks for sharing.

  3. You say to eat immediately. So is it best not to save left overs and reheat? I can’t wait to try this recipe!

    1. Leftovers are fine and we love them, it just because less soup like as the quinoa continues to absorb liquid. Hope that helps!

  4. 5 stars
    We just had this for dinner and it was delicious! The only problem, and it was all my fault, was that it was too spicy. When putting in the cayenne pepper, I was ‘sprinkling’ it in but it came out way too fast. Again, all my fault! We will make this again but be more careful with the cayenne!

    1. I’m so happy you liked it even though there was a bit too much cayenne (don’t you hate when that happens!) Thanks for the comment Stephanie!

  5. 5 stars
    I absolutely love this recipe. I’ve prepared it multiple times. It’s healthy, delicious and filling. As a student, I love how quick and easy it is to make.

    I cook a full batch and freeze part of it. I take it out of the freezer when I need it for my week’s lunches.

  6. 4 stars
    I just made this and added a little more seasonings and salsa Verde for more heat. I love it. How are you portioning the calories? It says 8 servings and 276 calories per serving? My crockpot was completely full, so I don’t think it only makes 8 servings. How much are you counting as 1 serving to equal the 276 calories? Thank you!

    1. I’m glad you like it! If you separate the full yield of this recipe into 8 equal parts, each of those individual parts is 276 calories.

    1. I’m not sure if it will all fit (the single recipe makes quite a big batch), but if you have a very large crockpot I believe it should be okay.

    1. Unfortunately I’ve never had great success with quinoa on low in a crockpot. It tends to get pretty mushy and continues to absorb the liquids.

  7. 5 stars
    I see this post is old, but I made this recipe a few nights ago and have eaten it for lunch the last 3 days and still want more! Soooooo good! I added ground red pepper and lots of lime juice and extra cilantro and my gosh it is AMAZING!

  8. Did you recently change this recipe? I used to make it frequently and there are some things in there I don’t remember, like chili beans. And i thought i remembered adding diced jalapeños and cilantro at the end? I just want to make sure I remember right because it’s one of our favorites and we want to enjoy it as we always have!

  9. Made this today. Love the flavour but it is SO mushy 🙁 What did I do wrong? I cooked it in the same size pot for the same amount of time.

    1. Oh darn!! 🙁 It sounds like it was cooked too long; your slow cooker must run hot! I would recommend less time or a lower setting

  10. What happened to the old recipe? I have had this pinned in my Pinterest board for years and suddenly it’s linked to a different recipe! The old chicken chili had chopped green and red peppers.

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