Vegetarian Quinoa Chili

September 5, 2018

There is one true test to determine whether or not your food is good: if it wins the approval of a man or a small child.

This recipe has passed that test more than once- and it’s healthy. And it’s vegetarian. Have I mentioned the quinoa?

“Good” food in this case does not mean innovative or inspired. Men and children will not eat your deconstructed salad or Parmesan foam.

I’m talking about straight-up delicious, go-back-for-seconds good.

While I enjoy getting freaky with flavor combos, I also enjoy cooking for my friends and family.

The full bellies of the people I love is worth forgoing something unusual and exciting for something mundane yet delicious.

Chili is about as mundane as it gets- it’s everywhere and comes in a variety of forms. But I have yet to try a version I do not like.

I like all-beef, no-beans, no-nonsense chili. I like green tomato, spicy chicken chili. And I like this recipe: vegetarian chili loaded with vegetables, beans, and quinoa in a rich tomato sauce with all the fixins’.

Without the fixins’ (sour cream, avocado, tortilla chips, etc.), this vegetarian chili recipe can even be vegan. You can vary the vegetables and beans, omit the quinoa or sub for rice, add some chorizo if you must.

Then, each person can add their desired toppings. It’s the perfect recipe to cater to a variety of picky eaters- young children and husbands alike.

Overhead shot of a bowl of chili with beans, quinoa and tomato. Topped with sour cream, cilantro, and tortilla chips.

This is a straightforward meal that you can easily memorize. Learn it once, then spend your mental energy elsewhere while you cook; chat with Mom about work or tune in to the latest podcast episode from Bon Appetit.

When you serve your family a delicious, familiar dish, dinnertime can be easier and more relaxed. The men in your life will be better fed, and they might even go back for seconds.

5 from 2 votes
Overhead shot of a bowl of chili with beans, quinoa and tomato. Topped with sour cream and cilantro.
Vegetarian Quinoa Chili
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
25 mins
A wholesome dinner of beans, peppers, onion, tomato, and garlic. All the goods, all in the Instant Pot!
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: vegetarian chili
Servings: 6
Calories: 303 kcal
What you need
For the chili
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 2 bell peppers preferably orange and red, seeded and diced
  • kosher salt as needed, I use Diamond Krystal
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
  • 2 15-ounce cans pinto, kidney, black beans, or a combo, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro or parsley
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or to taste
For the fixins’ (optional)
  • Sour cream
  • Cubed avocado
  • Pickled jalapeño
  • Tortilla chips
What you do
Sauté veggies
  1. Heat the oil in your instant pot or pressure cooker set to the sauté function. Add onion and bell peppers, cook until onions are translucent, stirring occasionally for 5-8 minutes. Season with 1 teaspoon salt.
Toast spices
  1. Stir in garlic and cook another 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add chili powder, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, tomato paste and quinoa; toast about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, crushing with your hands as you add them to the pot (watch out for splatters!). Add beans, 1 cup of water and 1 tablespoon salt, then cover and cook on high pressure for 12 minutes. Release pressure manually.
Final touches
  1. Stir in cilantro and vinegar, then taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve with sour cream, avocado, pickled jalapeño, and tortilla chips if you like.

Yes, you can make this in a regular pot. Once all of your ingredients are added, simmer in a large pot, covered, for about 20 minutes or until the quinoa is cooked through.

The wine you drink with this will depend on how spicy you make it. The recipe as written is not too spicy, but some people (Dad) will add hot sauce and jalapeños to their portion. The spicier the chili, the sweeter you’ll want the wine. In general, look for medium to full-bodied reds with ample fruit flavors and moderate tannins. Malbec or Syrah would be great options.

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  • Reply
    September 5, 2018 at 9:33 am

    5 stars
    Love it!! Thank you so much for this recipe!!

  • Reply
    September 10, 2018 at 12:41 pm

    5 stars
    Thank you SO MUCH for making a chili that is delicious and accessible to picky vegetarians like myself!

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