This tri-color quinoa chili is a fantastic thick stew loaded with protein-rich quinoa and healthy black beans! Great for a cold evening, this is a wonderful hearty chili that will leave your belly full and satisfied.
From slow cooker to stockpot, this delicious one-pot black bean chili will hit all the right notes on your tongue!
Why you will love this Hearty Quinoa Chili
With a medley of delicious spices and hearty flavor, this black bean quinoa chili satisfies even the pickiest of eaters. Colorful, flavorful, and with lots of texture, chili also makes for easy-to-fix weekday leftovers.
Known as an easy dinner recipe, this satisfying meal can be ready in about 30 minutes, including a variety of substitutions or variations that may fit your family.
While this chili isn’t vegan or vegetarian as is listed, it’s easy to substitute or leave out ingredients to meet your own nutritional guidelines. Let’s get started!
- quinoa – Tri-color quinoa is a combination of several types of quinoa – black, white, and red. Each type of quinoa has a slightly different flavor and texture, so I like how the 3 colors blend and give a really delicious recipe AND look pretty.
- ground beef – This beef and bean chili goes great with the colorful quinoa, however, its fine to substitute protein (or leave it out altogether for a vegetarian chili recipe too). Instead of ground beef, some prefer to add other hearty ingredients like sweet potatoes or extra beans (pinto beans are popular).
- seasonings: Flavors you know and love that are perfect with chili like chili powder, ground cumin, oregano, and of course season with salt and ground black pepper. While we do not use cayenne pepper, its an optional ingredient that many love to add.
- canned: Canned ingredients help keep the recipe simple! Shop right in your own pantry for a can of green chilies, canned tomatoes, canned black beans, and canned corn.
- fresh: Nothing beats fresh homemade ingredients! This chili contains green bell pepper, fresh cilantro, fragrant real onion and bits of minced garlic (or chopped of cloves garlic is fine too).
- beef broth
How to make Quinoa Chili
- Add uncooked quinoa in 2 cups water and cook according to package directions. Let cool.
- Add vegetable oil, ground beef, minced garlic, and white or yellow onion large stock pot.Heat to medium high heat until beef is brown.
- Add all your spices – garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, kosher salt, and pepper and mix well.
- Stir in cooked quinoa, green chilies, tomatoes, beans, corn, pepper and beef broth.
- Heat chili on medium-high, covered, stirring occasionally until boiling.
- Reduce heat to simmer and heat, covered, for 20 minutes or until peppers are soft and tender. Serve with some delicious extra toppings.
Expert Cooking Tips
Canned flavors: When it comes to canned veggies, you typically have a ton of flavor options that can be built-in. I love to experiment with flavors and the fire-roasted corn is delicious and so is the Rotel lime and cilantro tomatoes. Don’t be afraid to grab some canned vegetables with some extra flavor for this chili (or really any recipe in general)!
Protein: Instead of beef, try ground turkey, ground pork, or ground chicken.
Prep quinoa the day before: I actually made the quinoa the day before and refrigerated it. That saved a little time on the chili prep day of.
Make it Vegan!
Beef Substitute: Well first, leave out the beef. I think that part is fairly obvious. You could easily trade beef for tofu, mushrooms, or some of the meat mock substitutions on the market. Personally, I would just simply leave out the beef. The quinoa is already protein-packed and thick, so you don’t really need to add an ingredient back in unless you want.
Beef Broth Substitute: This particular recipe inst vegan, but could easily change out the Beef broth for Vegetable broth. Using vegetable broth is not only vegan friendly but is really good for you too! Its also packed with tons of flavor and compliments the other bean and veggie ingredients.
What are the best optional toppings?
Even though this is a super hearty chili already, nothing says chili like the toppings!
- Shredded Cheese – Cheese is the most popular choice for an optional chili topping. Add any kind of cheese from cheddar to pepper jack for a bit of spice.
- Chopped Avocado – Keeping with the theme of a mild chili or healthy chili, add a bit of pretty chopped and ripe avocado to the top of the chili.
- Diced Tomatoes – While different tomato flavors can make a good difference in color, texture and flavor inside cooked chili, its also one of the more common and favorite chili toppings. Just dice and add a bit of beautiful red tomatoes or fire-roasted tomatoes right on top.
- Green Onions – Chopped green onions or chopped green pepper not only bring a sweet and savory flavor but adds a bit of pretty decoration forthis quinoa chili recipe.
- Sour Cream – Want to take down the heat? A dollop of sour cream is one of the ways we keep the spice low and the chili creamy.
- Green Chiles – A little extra spice like green chiles, diced poblano peppers, chipotle peppers or bits of jalapeno are perfect for someone that likes heat. Hot Sauce also is great for chili with quinoa as one of the more favorite toppings.
This is a perpetual argument in my house – thick or thin chili? It doesn’t matter chili base- Mexican, Beef, Chicken, even this Quinoa chili, I like my chili a little bit thinner because I love the soup.
This quinoa version is a thick and chunky chili, more like a stew, so if you want it to be thinner, just add up to 2 cups of beef broth until you have it at the liquid density you want. It’s an easy adjustment for your own taste buds!
Yes! Just make sure it’s sealed really well in an airtight container before putting leftover chili into the freezer. To unfreeze, add to a saucepan on the stove and heat, stirring constantly until it’s warm.
You can serve chili in bread bowls, or hard shell taco bowls, and we always serve up with tortilla chips for dipping in our house. For some reason, the tortilla crunch keeps the kids happy too. You can also serve with simply bread, a cold side salad, or poured over cornbread (that is how my mom did it).
SLOW COOKER CHILI
If you want to translate this recipe to a slow cooker option, you first have to cook the beef, onions, and garlic together.
Then transfer the beef and the rest of the ingredients to a slow cooker on high for 4 hours or low for 6.
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