Vegetarian Quinoa Chili

by Heidi @ Food Doodles on November 25, 2011

I realize that most of what you see in this picture is cheese.  I may have been a little heavy handed with the cheese as I have been lately.   Oops.  Really, melty cheese on top of chili is so delicious, who can deny that?  I can honestly say it’s especially delicious now that I’m pregnant because I’ve never gone crazy for cheese until now.  But I have to be completely honest, I was so happy with this chili that I think I’d even eat it plain by itself.

You can’t tell me that looks bad all on it’s own.  Although I gotta admit it’s hard to photograph chili.  But then again a lot of the time I think whatever I’m taking pictures of is hard to photograph so I usually just don’t say anything at all.  Speaking of this chili, all on it’s own…  It’s actually better the next day.  So if you hate leftovers – I’m so sorry you’re missing out on the best part.  Give it a try a a day or two after making it – it’s so much tastier.  This also freezes well and makes quite a bit so don’t be afraid to throw some in the freezer in small enough portions so that when you have nothing else planned you can pull out some of this πŸ™‚

Before I go any further, I have to tell you, you need a mild chili powder for this recipe.  So don’t freak out at the amount that’s in this recipe.  This chili does have a little bit of heat because it does have so much, but to me, chili needs a ton of chili powder.  You could  reduce the amount of chili powder, and feel free to add some hotter chili powders in the quantities that you want, but to me, this is how chili should taste πŸ™‚  And I’m pretty picky about my chili.  Speaking of adding things you can also add some ground beef if you want, my husband even added some leftover steak to his bowl, so if you want to, go for it!  Just as long as you serve it with a big piece of cornbread (like this Homemade JalapeΓ±o Cornbread). πŸ˜€


Vegetarian Quinoa Chili

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 2 small red peppers finely diced
  • 2 32 oz jars of diced or pureed tomatoes or two quart sized jars
  • 1/2 6oz can tomato paste
  • 1/2C mild chili powder
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp basil
  • 1/4C dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp salt(start with less if using canned beans)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 C dry quinoa, rinsed
  • 3 cans mixed beans(I use just over 2C of each: red kidney beans, black beans and chickpeas, but use whatever you prefer), rinsed well


In a large pot heat the oil over medium heat.  Once the oil is hot add the onion and saute for 4-5 minutes before adding the celery and red pepper.  Continue to cook for another 5 minutes before adding the garlic.  Cook for just a minute or two.

Add the tomatoes in their juice, tomato paste and all the herbs and seasonings including the cocoa powder and maple syrup.  If you don’t have maple syrup, honey or even sugar will do, you wont taste it as the purpose of it is just to neutralize the over-acidic taste of canned tomatoes.  If using canned beans start with 2 tsp salt even if you rinse them well and add more once the chili is done cooking as canned beans contain salt.   Stir well and bring the tomato mixture to a boil before turning the temperature down to a simmer.  Cook the mixture for 10 minutes or so.

Stir in the beans and quinoa after the tomatoes have had a chance to cook for a few minutes and turn the temperature up.  Bring to a boil again and then turn down to a simmer.  If it’s splashing out of the pot, you can continue to cook it while covered.  Simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, stirring fairly frequently as you don’t want it sticking to the bottom of the pot as it gets thicker.  You can add a small amount of water while cooking if you think it’s getting too thick, but only add about 1/2C as you’ll want your chili fairly thick.  Once the quinoa is done cooking(you can test a small amount to be sure that it’s done), place a lid on the pot and let the chili sit for 10 minutes before serving.  The quinoa will absorb more liquid making a super thick chili.  You can thin it slightly with water as desired or leave it as is.  Serve hot with fresh cornbread and all the toppings you enjoy like sour cream and grated cheese.



Leave a Comment

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Caroline July 16, 2013 at 09:35

Made a huge batch of this and gave Mum and Dad some to take home. They loved it and rang today to ask for the recipe, always a good sign πŸ˜‰


2 WildcatAdvocate July 6, 2013 at 09:13

Top it with Daiya shredded “cheddar” and Tofutti or Galaxy sour “cream” and you have a wonderful vegan dish – and no animal suffered for a great meal! Thanks for the recipe!!


3 Christy Fantino July 5, 2013 at 11:44

Just made this chili… I have only been a vegetarian for about a year and chili used to be my fave. This is the first vegetarian chili recipe that I have tried (out of about 5) that has fulfilled my love of chili…very rich flavor. Kudos on the perfect combo of ingredients. One note…I wasn’t sure if you intended dry or fresh on the oregano and basil. I used dried and it turned out nicely…


4 Asiya @ Chocolate and Chillies November 10, 2012 at 14:00

I’ve been looking for ways to eat this! I don’t like that grassy taste of quinoa and using it in chilli sounds perfect..lots of spices πŸ™‚


5 jenna October 7, 2012 at 20:33

Is it really 1/2 CUP of mild chili powder?


6 Heidi @ Food Doodles October 9, 2012 at 15:55

It is πŸ™‚ You can always start with less and taste as you go.


7 La_rahh September 6, 2012 at 21:29

Hi Heidi!

I cooked this for dinner tonight but I made a few changes. I added in carrot and sweet potato. Didn’t have mild chilly so I used chilly powder and some ground cumin instead. For beans I put two cans of red kidney beans in and one can of pinto beans. Also I did not have any basil so I doubled the oregano. With all the changes it still turned out great! The chocolate powder added a really nice richness to it.

It made a huge serving and will probably will end up serving 10 I reckon. Thanks for taking the time to put the photos and recipe up! Cheers.


8 Gosia December 17, 2011 at 16:21

Oh, what an exciting recipe, I’ll have no choice now, but to make it for the bunch of friends that are visiting after the New Year’s. This dish should feed a crowd, shouldn’t it? Thank you so much for sharing. And yes, there never too little cheese on my chili, either!


9 Kara December 10, 2011 at 18:49

My sister and I made this today — it was fabulous! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe!


10 Heidi @ Food Doodles December 12, 2011 at 08:35

I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for leaving a comment πŸ˜€


11 Sarah Sunflower December 9, 2011 at 22:36

Do you think this recipe could be made in a slow-cooker?


12 Heidi @ Food Doodles December 10, 2011 at 14:05

Absolutely! I’m not sure of the timing though, and you might want to saute the onions, garlic, celery and red pepper in the oil in a pan until mostly softened before throwing them in the crockpot with everything else.


13 Nicole, RD December 7, 2011 at 08:40

I LOVE your blog…I wanted to get that out before I forgot!

And this chili looks FANTASTIC! All of that chili powder and protein=packed quinoa. SOLD!


14 Rachel @ Bakerita December 4, 2011 at 13:42

Mmm, quinoa in chili?! Can’t wait to try this.
I love seeing what other people’s “secret ingredient” for chili is…maple syrup?! Gotta try that one.


15 Vegetarian November 29, 2011 at 09:02

yummy! sounds delicious! I am going to try this!


16 vianney November 28, 2011 at 23:36

This is exactly what ai need after a hefty dose of TDay plates, lol great recipe !!


17 Lindsay @ Pinch of Yum November 28, 2011 at 20:08

Looks delicious. I love vegetarian takes on classic meaty recipes.


18 Pretty. Good. Food. November 28, 2011 at 18:25

Yummmm! Sounds delicious πŸ™‚


19 Amy @ Gastronome Tart November 27, 2011 at 13:00

I love the healthy take on this chili. I will definitely be giving this a try!


20 Baltic Maid November 26, 2011 at 18:39

I love trying chili with new ingredients. I have made chili with wheat before, and it was great. Chili with quinoa sounds just as intriguing! Love it!!! Thanks for sharing!


21 surlykitchen November 26, 2011 at 15:30

this looks and sounds so good. i love finding new ingredients using quinoa


22 Cookie and Kate November 26, 2011 at 10:43

Yum, that is my kind of chili! I love that you added quinoa and cocoa powder. My favorite veggie chili recipe also calls for cocoa powder.


23 Sonia The Healthy Foodie November 26, 2011 at 06:38

I am intrigued. This looks fantastic. I will have to give it a try, even though I know my daughter will kill me! Adding quinoa to chili? In her book, this probably qualifies as a sin. I don’t know why, she despises quinoa. Really, I wish she didn’t. I’d add some to just about everything. Which reminds me, I have to cook some today for tomorrow’s muffin recipe! And of course, I have to make some extra, so that I can throw some in this and that! Think it would work in smoothies? Hey, you’re pregnant, surely you’re with me on that one! πŸ˜‰

Love your pics, Heidi. And there is no such thing as too much cheese! At least, not in picture! I will sometimes add a little more for the pictures, just because it looks better, and take some off after, because, well, I don’t want to eat all that cheese! But in this case? Pffft. It looks like it’s hardly a few grams of cheese. Go on and indulge, girlfriend! Eat your cheese! πŸ˜‰


24 Heidi @ Food Doodles November 27, 2011 at 14:59

Haha, I know that qualifies as a sin in a lot of peoples books πŸ˜€ It tastes delicious to me though! Does your daughter not like the taste? I know someone like that, but you can barely taste it in this. I do love quinoa though, and I’m sure I could put it in just about anything, especially right now!
Thank you so much for the compliment, it means a lot πŸ˜€ I guess it wasn’t really that much cheese, I just wanted to be able to show the texture of the chili more. I think a different bowl would have been better. Oh well, now I know for next time. I never knew I would learn so much from blogging!


25 Sonia The Healthy Foodie November 28, 2011 at 14:48

What the heck are you talking about? Your pictures are FANTASTIC! I love your choice of bowl, I would’ve never thought of using a large mug like that. I think it just works beautifully. It just makes me want to sit on the couch, all curled up in a little ball, with my little bowl of chili, while watching a great sitcom on TV or something. This is the ultimate in comfort food, my friend, it doesn’t get better than this. And we can see the chili, as well as its texture, plenty enough for me to want to dig right it. It just looks that good, I swear! I say you did a tremendous job on that shoot! Love it! πŸ˜€


26 Heidi @ Food Doodles November 29, 2011 at 14:56

Aw, your comments are always so encouraging πŸ˜€ That was actually what I had in mind when I put my chili in that bowl/mug, it’s almost weird to see that you thought of almost the exact same thing I did, lol! Thank you very much for the comment <3 You're so sweet!


27 Kathryn November 26, 2011 at 01:39

I agree, you definitely need lots of cheese on chili! This looks super delicious though even without it!


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