This whole-food plant-based chili uses two types of beans and quinoa to give it a hearty texture. Simmer everything together in a slow cooker with some delightful spices for an easy filling dinner. It thickens up after hours of cooking creating: a fuss-free, oil-free, and gluten-free meal.
Leftover chili usually tastes even better the next day, making this vegan gluten-free chili perfect for meal prepping. It even freezes well! I like to reserve a portion and freeze it for when we have nachos.
I thaw the frozen chili in the refrigerator the day before I use it and warm it up in a pot before serving. It's delicious on top of tortilla chips (or oil-free roasted potatoes) with vegan nacho cheese, diced-up tomatoes, and guacamole.
- Finely dice the onion and jalapeño to ensure there are no large pieces.
- I think one thing that makes a good chili is using quality chili powder. I make it at home using this Rouxbe chili powder recipe: it calls for chipotle powder which adds a lovely flavor to the chili powder. Sometimes I reduce the cayenne pepper to cut back on the heat. Making your chili powder ensures it’s salt-free so that you can control the salt in your food. I also think it tastes way better than a lot of store-bought brands.
- There's no need to thaw the frozen corn.
- I’ve only tested this recipe with white and tri-color quinoa, either one works.
- The recipe uses black beans and pinto beans, but kidney beans would work great too.
- I use my homemade vegetable broth made from kitchen scraps to infuse more flavor. Look for low sodium if you use store-bought vegetable broth.
Dice the onion and jalapeño, crush or finely mince the garlic, and rinse off the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer. Sautéing the onion and jalapeño first will give the chili a little more depth of flavor, but I personally don’t bother with the extra dishes.
If you do sauté, it ensures the veggies are cooked through. Another option is to just finely cut the veggies.
Then add everything to the crockpot and stir to combine, making sure the tomato paste is mixed in. Cook on low for 4-5 hours or high for 2 ½-3 hours, or until the quinoa is done. The chili will have thickened up.
Top the quinoa chili with your favorite toppings or try some of these suggestions.
- Sprinkle nutritional yeast for a slightly cheesy flavor
- Vegan sour cream or cashew lime crema
- Diced red onions
- Fresh chopped cilantro or scallions
- Sliced avocado or vegan guacamole
Serve the plant-based quinoa chili as is or stretch it a little further with these serving suggestions.
- Serve it over baked potatoes or sweet potatoes
- With cornbread with coconut milk
- Make chili nachos by topping tortilla chips with chili and nacho cheese.
- Use it to make potato nachos, roast large diced potatoes then top with chili and vegan nacho cheese.
- Make a chili Buddha bowl with fresh greens and vegan guacamole or cashew lime crema.
Is the chili spicy?
To make the chili less spicy remove the seeds and ribs from the jalapeño and use less chili powder. Chili powders vary greatly on heat level so adjust according to the brand or homemade recipe you’re using. Vegan sour cream and avocado will also help cool down the heat.
To make the chili spicier, leave the seeds and ribs in the jalapeños. Then top the chili with your favorite hot sauce.
Storing and reheating
Cool before storing it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Wait on adding the toppings until you’re ready to eat. Reheat leftovers in the microwave or on a stovetop. Stir occasionally while reheating.
Can you freeze chili?
The chili can be frozen in a freezer-safe container for about 3 months. Label the container with a date to know how long it’s been frozen. If freezing, leave room at the top of the container for expansion. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator then reheat in the microwave or stovetop.
More vegan slow-cooker recipes
- Instant Pot Red Lentil Chili (which includes instructions for the stovetop)
- White Bean Potato Soup
- Curry Butternut Squash Chickpea Soup
- Vegan Potato Curry with Coconut Milk
- Red Lentil Dahl with Coconut Milk
- Spicy Chickpea Stew with Zucchini
- Peanut Tempeh Bowl
More plant-based weeknight meals
I love slow-cooker meals! Just throw everything in a pot and dinner is done. I sure hope you enjoy this whole food plant-based chili recipe!
Originally posted on August 16, 2018, updated on November 9, 2021.Print
This whole food plant-based chili uses two types of beans and quinoa to give it a hearty texture. Simmer everything together in a slow cooker with some delightful spices for an easy filling dinner.
- 1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 2 jalapenos, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
- 1 can (28 ounces) of crushed tomatoes
- 2 cans (15 ounces) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cans (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups frozen corn
- 3 cups salt-free vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons chili powder (the spice blend not cayenne pepper or chili flakes)
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- Rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer and drain any excess liquid.
- Then add the quinoa and the rest of the ingredients to a slow cooker and stir to combine.
- Cook for 2.5-3 hours on high or 4-5 hours on low until the quinoa is done.
I use salt-free vegetable broth and salt-free chili powder, if you don’t you may need to adjust the salt in the recipe. Start with ½ teaspoon, then add more if needed.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 4 hours
- Category: Main Course
- Method: slow cooker
- Cuisine: American