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Vegetable & Quinoa Chili

Quinoa adds a lovely body and thickness to this delicious and nutritious vegetable chili. It's packed with vegetables, with an incredible flavor from chili spices and a pinch of cinnamon (which adds sweet warmth). I know it looks like a ton of ingredients, but it’s not hard to make (once you get the vegetables chopped you’re halfway there)! For the diced vegetables, aim for ½ inch pieces, which will cook quickly and evenly.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: best vegan chili recipe, best vegetable chili recipe, vegetable chili with quinoa
Servings: 4 -6 people


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (blend)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 28- ounce can whole tomatoes
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 large cilantro sprigs
  • 1 15- ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed (1 ½ cups)
  • 1-1 ½ cups cooked quinoa* (see the notes below)
  • Toppings, such as: diced avocado, sliced scallions, sour cream, hot sauce, and tortilla chips


  • In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Drop in the parsnips, bell peppers and jalapeños with another pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for another 3-5 minutes or until the peppers and parsnips start to soften. Add the garlic and spices; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
  • Scrape the vegetables to one side of the pot. Pour the tomatoes with their juices into the other side of the pot. Using kitchen scissors, cut the tomatoes into bite-sized pieces. Give everything a stir, then add the broth and cilantro sprigs. Stir again and bring to a boil. Cook at a gentle boil until slightly thickened, 5-10 minutes.
  • Add the pinto beans and cook 5-10 minutes longer, or until the vegetables are all softened and the chili smells heavenly.
  • 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 want. Serve with the toppings of your choice.


Do Ahead: If making this in advance, I prefer to add the quinoa right before serving so that the grains hold their texture, but it’s still awesome if you add the quinoa right away. You can refrigerate the chili for up to 4 days. It also freezes well.
  • This recipe calls for cooked quinoa (it's the perfect way to use up leftover quinoa!). If you're cooking the quinoa from dry grains, start with ½ cup of quinoa and 1 cup of water. Bring the water and quinoa to a boil with a pinch of salt, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until the quinoa has absorbed the water, about 15 minutes. Let sit 5-10 minutes off the heat, covered, to steam. You'll have more quinoa than you'll need - save any leftovers for salads or wraps.
  • Although the ingredient list looks long, once you get the vegetables diced, you’re halfway there (you can even do this the day before!).
  • Chop the vegetables the same size (aim for about ½ inch) so that they cook quickly and evenly.
  • I use one 28-oz can of whole, peeled tomatoes, which I cut up using kitchen shears, because I prefer their texture. However, you can use a 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes instead (they will be a bit meatier).
  • A pinch of cinnamon in this chili lends a subtle sweetness that rounds everything out.
  • Feel free to swap out the pinto beans for black beans or kidney beans.
  • Check out my book, Fresh Flavors for the Slow Cooker, for slow cooker chili recipes (and a ton more!).