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Vegetable & Quinoa Chili (Vegan)

This soul satisfying vegetarian quinoa chili is robust yet healthy, and it has an incredible flavor that everybody will love (from your vegan friends to your meat-eating dad). Quinoa gives the chili body and thickness, a load of vegetables lend sweetness, beans provide protein, and a mix of pantry spices give it a rich, cooked-all-day taste. You’ll need cooked quinoa for this recipe—you can either use leftover quinoa or you can simmer a batch while the chili cooks (see the Notes below). It’s important to chop the vegetables into ½-inch or so sized pieces to ensure that they cook quickly and evenly. You can chop them the day before to get a jumpstart on the recipe (once that step’s done, you’re over halfway there!).
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time50 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: best vegan chili recipe, best vegetable chili recipe, quinoa chili
Servings: 4 -6 people


  • Large pot



  • 1 tablespoon chili powder blend
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 medium parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 2 sweet bell peppers (red, yellow and/or orange), diced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped


  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 large cilantro sprigs
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans or black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1-1 ½ cups cooked quinoa

Toppings (optional)

  • Sliced avocado, sliced scallions, shredded cheese, sour cream or Greek yogurt, crushed tortilla chips and/or hot sauce


Mix together the spices

  • In a small bowl, combine all of the spices and set aside.

Cook the vegetables

  • In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, parsnips and bell peppers. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to turn golden brown and are softened, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Add the jalapeño, garlic, and spices. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes longer.

Finish the chili

  • Stir in the tomatoes (with their juices), broth and cilantro sprigs. Season with a bit more salt and pepper, and bring to a boil.
  • Cook the chili at a gentle boil until it’s slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the pinto beans and cook until the vegetables are all softened, about 5 minutes longer (at this point, the chili should be smelling delicious).
  • Before serving, stir in 1 – 1 ½ cups cooked quinoa (depending on how thick you like your chili) and heat through. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Remove the cilantro sprigs, if you’d like. Serve the chili with the toppings of your choice!


Do Ahead: The chili can be refrigerated for up to 5 days (it will thicken as it chills—if needed add a splash of broth or water when reheating). If you make the chili ahead you can wait to add the quinoa until right before serving so that the grains hold their texture (but it’s delicious either way).
  • This recipe calls for cooked quinoa. You can use leftover quinoa, or you can cook the quinoa while the chili simmers.
    • In a small pot with a lid, combine ½ cup of dry quinoa, 1 cup of water, and a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until the quinoa has absorbed the water, about 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let sit, covered, for 5-10 minutes to steam. You'll have more quinoa than you'll need - save any leftovers for salads or wraps.
  • Chop the vegetables the same size (aim for ½ inch pieces) so that they cook quickly and evenly. You can chop them the day before to get a jumpstart on the recipe.
  • A pinch of cinnamon lends a subtle sweetness that rounds everything out.
  • The chili is fantastic with these Gluten Free Skillet Cornbread or these Jalapeno Cheddar Corn Muffins.
  • Check out my book, Fresh Flavors for the Slow Cooker, for a slow cooker version of this vegetarian chili!
  • For a meaty version, try this slow cooker beef chili!