Quinoa Chili with Beans & Corn
on Dec 29, 2022
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From fall to winter, I go all in on chili—the more beans and vegetables, the better. My easy quinoa chili is perfect for weekday lunches, weeknight dinners and even game days including Super Bowl Sunday. It’s seasoned with cumin, smoked paprika and chili powder and has a nice kick. Depending how you top it, this is vegan chili that even meat lovers will enjoy.
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Why You’ll Love This Recipe
This chili is packed with plant-based protein. Every spoonful has black beans and kidney beans, and of course, quinoa. All are fantastic vegan sources of protein.
It is healthy comfort food. This chili has just the right level of spiciness. On a cold day it is a warm and comforting meal with plenty of vegetables and legumes.
Chili is perfect for meal prep, and it’s freezer friendly. One of the best things about soups and stews are the leftovers. Simmer this chili on a Sunday and you’ll be set for meals throughout the week. Or plan ahead and store it in the freezer to save it for later.
This is an easy one-pot vegan chili. You don’t have to cook the quinoa in a separate saucepan. Everything goes in a single pot, so there are fewer dishes to wash.
What is Quinoa?
This seed is native to the Andes in South America. Quinoa is packed with fiber, protein and essential amino acids. It is gluten-free and lower in carbohydrates and calories than white rice. Because of all these health benefits and the fact that it is quick and easy to cook, it should be obvious why it continues to be so popular.
One tip for preparing quinoa is to rinse it off with cold water in a fine mesh strainer before you start cooking. That’s because the grains have a coating called saponin, which can be bitter.
- Quinoa: Since the grains are so small and fine, they meld right into the thick broth of the chili. Do not substitute with another rice, pulse or whole grain. Stick with quinoa.
- Diced green chilies are roasted green chilies that are canned. They are very convenient since they are already chopped. The recipe calls for one 4-ounce can.
- Dried seasonings: I include a mix of cumin, smoked paprika, chili powder, kosher salt and black pepper.
- Garlic: I like layering more flavor into the chili with minced fresh garlic cloves.
- Bell peppers: You will need 2 peppers. Red, orange and yellow are much sweeter than green bell peppers, so they are my preference.
- Red onions are the starting point for the chili. You can substitute with a white or yellow onion.
- Beans: Chilies and soups are great opportunities to include more than one kind of bean. In this chili I stir in black beans and kidney beans. You can use all of one kind or the other. Or substitute with pinto beans.
- Corn: I love the taste, crunch and freshness of sweet corn even if it is from a can. It adds more color to the chili too.
- Tomatoes: Canned fire-roasted crushed tomatoes are the way to go for chili.
- Vegetable broth: Low-sodium is the best choice, so then you can control the seasonings. If you don’t care if the chili is vegan, you can swap it for chicken broth.
- Oil is for sautéing the onions and veggies. Use olive oil or canola oil.
Best Chili Toppings
I garnish the chili with cilantro and sliced scallions when I divide it into serving bowls. You can use both or just one because I know lots of people do not like cilantro. Here are more topping ideas:
Avocado (diced or sliced)
Sour cream or Greek yogurt
Crumbled tortilla chips
Fresh lime juice
How To Make Quinoa Chili
1. Heat the oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat.
2. Sauté the red onions until they start to become soft. This will take about 4 minutes.
3. Stir in the green chilies, garlic and spices. Keep sautéing the onions for a few more minutes.
4. Add the bell peppers and sauté for a couple minutes.
5. Stir in the beans, corn, tomatoes, broth and quinoa.
6. Bring the chili to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the quinoa is cooked and the chili has thickened, about 20-30 minutes. Divide the chili into to bowls and top with scallions and cilantro.
What to Serve with Chili
This chili is filling. You can keep it simple and serve it with tortilla chips or cornbread. Or go for a side dish like one of these:
Leftovers & Storage
You can store the chili in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 4 days. Keep it in the freezer up to 1 month. When freezing any soup or chili, portion it out into serving sizes. This will make it easier to thaw. You can warm it up on the stove or in the microwave. Before transferring the chili to a container, let it cool to room temperature.
Stored in an airtight container, you can keep the chili for 4 days.
Greek yogurt or sour cream will lessen the heat. Just add a dollop on top of a bowl of chili. Shredded cheese will also balance out the level of spiciness.
More Chili Recipes
Quinoa Chili Recipe
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small red onion roughly chopped
- 1-4 ounce can diced green chilies mild
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 bell peppers diced (red, yellow or orange)
- 1-15 ounce can black beans drained and rinsed
- 1-15 ounce can kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 1-15 ounce can corn drained and rinsed
- 1-28 ounce can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
- 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 1 cup quinoa rinsed
- Cilantro whole leaves and chopped for serving
- Sliced scallions for serving
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 4 minutes until they start to soften.
- Stir in the green chilies, garlic, cumin, paprika, chili powder, salt and pepper. Continue cooking for an additional 2-3 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent.
- Add the bell peppers and sauté for 2 minutes.
- Then stir in the black beans, kidney beans, corn, tomatoes, vegetable broth and quinoa.
- Bring the chili to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the quinoa is tender and the chili has thickened.
- Divide into bowls. Top with cilantro and scallions before serving.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Originally published January 30, 2020. Updated: December 29, 2022.