Quinoa Chili

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Quinoa chili is made in one pot on the stovetop in 30 minutes or less! This easy dinner recipe is packed with good-for-you ingredients and delicious seasonings. You won’t miss the meat in this vegetarian dinner.

Pair this delicious quinoa chili with roasted Brussels sprouts, an easy Italian salad, or this simple fruit salad recipe.

 

Image of Quinoa Chili in a pot with steam coming up, ready to be served.

Quinoa Chili

We love chili at our home and it’s on the menu frequently as the weather cools down. This crockpot chili is our go-to recipe and one of the most popular recipes on my site.

But when we’re feeling like amping up the veggies, we turn to this vegetarian chili or this very Quinoa Chili recipe — both are incredibly filling and delicious. Thanks to the quinoa in this chili, it’s still packed with protein and sure to leave you feeling full and satiated.

With sweet potatoes, beans and the perfect seasoning blend, Quinoa Chili is the best!

Image of the seasoning mix that will be used to make Quinoa Chili.

 Quinoa Chili ingredients

  • Sweet potatoes: One of my all-time favorite veggies makes an appearance in this chili; it adds a nice sweetness, a good texture, and the perfect thickness.
  • Seasoning blend: This Quinoa Chili has the best blend of spices! We’ve got chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and of course salt and pepper.
  • Quinoa: Quinoa forms the base of the chili; it thickens and absorbs flavors from all the different ingredients.
  • Chicken stock: I love the flavor of chicken stock with all the other ingredients, but use vegetarian broth to keep this Quinoa Chili vegetarian/vegan
  • Chili beans: We like the chili beans in mild sauce but use whatever heat you prefer. Unsure what chili beans are? Here’s a great explanation.
  • Black beans: If you’d rather skip the black beans, use another can of chili beans in this recipe.
  • Frozen corn: If you have access to fresh corn, that’ll work as well (cut right off the cob).
  • Petite diced tomatoes: Use fire-roasted tomatoes 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.)
  • Toppings: See below!

QUICK TIP

Quinoa is naturally coated with saponins, a bitter-tasting outer coating to the seed. Unless your package of quinoa specifically states that it is pre-rinsed, you’ll need to wash the saponin off your quinoa, and it’s not difficult. Place the quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) in a fine mesh seive and rinse well for a minute or so. When the water runs clear, you’ll be ready to proceed with the recipe.

 

Process shot-- image of the sweet potatoes in a pot, being cooked for Quinoa 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
  • Fresh chives or cilantro (chopped)
  • Fresh avocado/guacamole and/or fresh chopped tomatoes
  • Our favorites: extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, sour cream, fresh lime, and cilantro!

Process shot-- image of the sweet potatoes being sautéed with seasonings.

Variations

  • To make this chili vegetarian, swap the chicken stock for vegetarian stock (or broth).
  • This recipe also makes for the best vegan Quinoa Chili! Use vegetarian stock or broth in place of chicken stock and use vegan alternatives for topping the chili.
  • For more of a southwest Quinoa Chili, add a teaspoon of Mexican oregano, a diced green or poblano pepper, and a diced red or yellow pepper. Sauté the peppers for 3-4 minutes right before adding in the quinoa.
  • To make a turkey Quinoa Chili, add in some browned ground turkey. If adding in ground turkey, you may want to amp up the spices as well. Don’t forget to season the ground turkey with salt and pepper.
  • Add fresh onion and/or garlic. If I have a little more time, I’ll sometimes add in half of a diced yellow onion and a few teaspoons of minced garlic. Sauté for 3-4 minutes before adding in the sweet potato.

Process shot-- image of the quinoa being added to the pot with the sweet potatoes for Quinoa Chili.

  • Baked Potatoes: Add a few spoonfuls of Quinoa Chili, plus some cheese, green onions, sour cream, etc. to a baked potato.
  • Navajo Tacos: Make or buy some fry bread, top with a few spoonfuls of Quinoa Chili and add some cheese and sour cream. (More about Navajo tacos here).
  • Shepherd’s Pie: (kind of!) Use leftover Quinoa Chili as a base and top it with mashed potatoes. (Use the ratios and mashed potatoes from this shepherd’s pie recipe.)

Process shot-- image of the veggies and beans being added to the pot for Quinoa Chili.

Quick notes

  • Freezing: While you CAN freeze this chili, it doesn’t thaw/reheat as nicely as making it fresh. The quinoa continues to absorb liquid and becomes a little soggy.
  • Reheating: Warm leftovers in the microwave or reheat gently on the stovetop. Add additional chicken/veggie stock as needed to thin out the chili a bit.
  • Quinoa continues to absorb liquid as it sits. This chili will continue to get thicker and thicker, so keep that in mind for when you pull the chili off the stovetop.
  • Chop the sweet potatoes into small bite-sized pieces; this ensures they’ll cook by the time everything else is done.

Overhead image of Quinoa Chili in the pot, ready to eat.

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Quinoa Chili

4.86 from 7 votes
Quinoa Chili made in one pot on the stovetop in 30 minutes or less! This easy dinner recipe is packed with good-for-you ingredients and delicious seasonings. You won't miss the meat in this vegetarian dinner.
Print Recipe

Quinoa Chili

4.86 from 7 votes
Quinoa Chili made in one pot on the stovetop in 30 minutes or less! This easy dinner recipe is packed with good-for-you ingredients and delicious seasonings. You won't miss the meat in this vegetarian dinner.
Course Dinner, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American
Keyword quinoa chili
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 6 - 8 servings
Calories 236kcal
Cost $5.84

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups peeled and chopped sweet potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
  • 1 cup white quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken stock (can use broth) (use vegetarian stock/broth to keep this vegetarian)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 can (15.5 ounces) chili beans in mild sauce
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) petite diced tomatoes
  • Optional toppings: fresh lime juice, chopped cilantro, sour cream, cheddar cheese

Instructions

  • Heat olive oil in a large cast-iron pot over medium-high heat. Once shimmering, add in the (peeled and chopped) sweet potatoes.
  • Cook until quite tender, around 7-9 minutes. Add in the chili powder, ground cumin, cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Stir for 1 minute or until fragrant.
  • Thoroughly rinse the quinoa. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the quinoa to the hot skillet, stirring constantly for 30 seconds.
  • Return to the heat and add in the stock/broth, the frozen corn, undrained chili beans, black beans and undrained diced tomatoes.
  • Stir everything well and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, reduce the heat to medium low and cover the pot.
  • Allow to simmer for 20-25 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. The time will vary, depending on the heat of your stove. For best results, check it every 3-5 minutes and give it a good stir at each check to avoid burning or sticking to the bottom.
  • Once the liquid is mostly absorbed, remove from the heat. Season to taste with any additional salt/pepper as needed. I like to add a few tablespoons of lime juice here.
  • Add your favorite toppings to individual bowls. We top ours with a good handful of freshly grated sharp Cheddar cheese, another squeeze of lime, a good dollop of sour cream and some chopped cilantro. Don't forget the toppings; they add a lot!

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 236kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 456mg | Potassium: 506mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 6720IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 2mg

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Recipe Rating




27 Comments

  1. Your husband should be listed somewhere on blog as a co-writer because it’s a good, descriptive name 😉
    I really like that you made this chilli with quinoa…

  2. Naming recipes is such a struggle! Sometimes I just stare blankly at my food photos while eating the recipe and I’ll come up with 25 different things, all of which are extremely long titles haha. I suppose there are worse problems to have…

  3. What would you sub in for corn/Sweetcorn in your recipes? My husband really genuinely dislikes it so I try not to force him to pick it out… And you confused the heck out of me as a European reader… Cilantro!?!? I spent ages checking a few shops for it fresh & dried with no luck, then I googled to see what it looked like & it told me cilantro is Spanish for Coriander *doh* now I know and will be trying as many of your recipes as I can (although some are hard given the availability of some ingredients).

    Thank you for the inspiration 😉

    1. I would try substituting another similar vegetable. Cutting up carrots small would give a sweet touch to replace the corn. Peas are also a great option in some of my dishes. SO sorry I confused you with cilantro!! That’s what it’s called in the states so I’m so sorry for the confusion, but glad you figured it out! 🙂 Hope you love these recipes!

  4. 4 stars
    I loved this recipie! I have tried a few from your website! I was wondering if you had an estimate of calories per serving? I like to know for tracking, and homemade meals are so difficult sometimes.

  5. 5 stars
    I made this yesterday! I was skeptical about the sweet potatoes but so glad I tried it! It was awesome! I added lean ground turkey and chopped green onions. Yummy! Thank you!

      1. 5 stars
        Chelsea,
        Thank you for this Recipe. Just made it and Added chipotle pepper instead of cayenne and also Garam Masala. Served with cheddar cheese and sour cream guacamole, and Corn chips. AMAZING!

  6. 5 stars
    I made this recipe last night and loved it! I wasn’t sure what you meant by “chili beans:” did you mean the chili beans that are mild or hot and come in sauce, or kidney beans? I assumed you meant the latter since you rinsed them, so I used black beans instead since I had them. I also used an 8.5 oz can of corn instead of frozen since I didn’t want to buy a bag just to have a bunch left over. I used more sweet potato than called for (mine was HUGE) and less quinoa since I had less than I thought. Still turned out great! The spices were pretty spot on, though I added a pinch more salt and cayenne. I’ll be saving this one!

  7. I love this recipe! It’s one of my go-to’s when I want something healthy but don’t have time to do a lot of prep or to sit and monitor the stovetop for an hour. And one skillet means easy cleanup!

    My partner LOVES sweet potatoes but can’t handle spicy food, so I skip the chili powder and cayenne pepper and use 1 tsp of smoked paprika instead. So yummy! And I usually use plain kidney beans (I pre-cook my beans and lentils from dried and freeze them in 1-cup portions) so I add in an extra 1/2 tsp of cumin and a bit extra onion and garlic powder.

    This recipe is really forgiving with substitutions too. I made it tonight and didn’t have diced tomatoes or corn so I used a small can of pizza sauce and a cup of frozen black eyed peas instead. And I fried up a diced sweet onion with the sweet potatoes for good measure. It turned out great!

    1. I totally agree, this is one of my favorite go-to recipes when I want something healthy but not time consuming. I’m so glad all the subs worked for you and thanks so much for sharing them. So glad you guys enjoy this dish! Thanks Sarah! 🙂

  8. 5 stars
    Omg this is soooo good!!! I’ve started going pescatarian this year and I’ve had to find substitutes for a lot of the foods I love…one of which being chili. I made this today for dinner and it was absolutely delicious!!! 🙂

  9. 5 stars
    Just made this recipe for the first time and was blown away with how delicious it is!! The spices and flavor of everything is amazing. Will definitely be making this again very soon!

  10. I love quinoa and can not wait to try this recipe! My hubby on the other hand doesn’t like quinoa can u suggest a substitute for it?

    1. I’m sorry Shila, I haven’t tried anything but the quinoa in this recipe so I’m not sure what to suggest. Perhaps lentils would work, but I’m not sure timing or if extra liquid would be needed. Wish I could be of more help

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