Quinoa Vegan Chili

This savory, hearty quinoa vegan chili with black beans is packed with protein and works for vegetarian, plant-based, and gluten-free eaters.

Quinoa vegan chili

This post was created in partnership with Muir Glen. All opinions are our own.

I first ate this vegan chili—that is, the vegan chili that inspired this recipe—when Alex and I went to lunch on a break from a class at our adoption agency. It was a much needed break; our heads were spinning with talk of birth moms and dads and legal risk and fees and lawyers. There are so many unknowns to this process. We’re now in this limbo phase, waiting for our lives to change. Have you ever taken a leap of faith, only to be stuck in a waiting game until your life looks different? Keep reading for this vegan chili and more about the liminal space.

Related: Easy Vegan Recipes for Beginners | Vegan Pot Pie

Quinoa vegan chili with black beans

Floating in the liminal space

What is liminal space? According to Google, liminality is the in-between moments, the space between an inciting incident in a story and a resolution. It is often a period of discomfort, of waiting, and of transformation.That’s where we are, the classes and the gobs of paperwork behind us, and now it could be a month, 6 months, 1 year before there’s suddenly a tiny human in our home. Who will he or she be? We’re dying to know, but also trying not to think about it too much so we don’t get butterflies in our stomach.

And honestly, I don’t mind the wait now that I know it’s coming. In fact, we’re trying to live it up, with spontaneous dates and bike rides downtown to get coffee and lunch dates for vegan chili and random weekend trips to Seattle (this coming weekend). Any other ideas?

Update: We had a baby! His name is Larson and his story is pretty darn amazing.

Making this quinoa vegan chili

To usher in fall, we’ve created this vegan chili modeled after the vegan chili from our lunch date, using our favorite tomatoes from Muir Glen. We wanted to keep it simple and flavorful, and incorporate tons of savory veggies. It’s not quite what we had on our lunch, but it is quite tasty. We kept it light on the chili powder so the other flavors could shine through, and our secret ingredients were a bit of adobo sauce from a can of chipotle chili peppers in adobo (available at most groceries in the ethnic foods aisle), and stirring in a bit of white wine vinegar at the end for some brightness. If you love chili powder flavor, try our vegetarian chili that features a full 1/2 cup of chili powder!

This savory, hearty chili that’s packed with protein and works for vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free eaters. Drown it in hot sauce, or sprinkle it with all the toppings. To keep it vegan, use our Cashew Cream instead of sour cream. The ingredient list might look long, but many of the ingredients are pantry staples.

What to serve with this chili?

Now if you make this quinoa vegan chili, what to serve with it? Our absolute favorite side dish to serve with chili is this Best Homemade Cornbread or Easy Vegan Cornbread. It’s so tender and moist, and seriously easy to whip up. We heartily recommend it! Another option is to serve with a green salad to balance the heartiness of the chili. Here we’d recommend our Best Tossed Salad Recipe with Avocado Dressing. Or, check out these best sides to go with chili!

How to store vegan chili

The beauty of making homemade vegan chili is that it lasts for a full week in the fridge. Keep it in an airtight container and warm it up over the stove or in the microwave whenever you’re ready to enjoy the leftovers. To freeze this vegan chili, spoon it into jars for individual-sized portions. This makes it easier to bring frozen chili to work for lunch, and it’s perfect for those nights when you’re craving a fast meal but still want something hearty and filling. To reheat the frozen chili, take the lid off the jar and microwave it until heated through (this will take 5+ minutes).

Related: Best Vegan Dinner Recipes

Vegan chili

Looking for more vegan soup recipes?

Looking for more vegan soup recipes outside this quinoa vegan chili? Here are a few of our favorite vegan soups:

Looking for more quinoa recipes?

Outside of this quinoa vegan chili, we have many quinoa recipes on A Couple Cooks! Here are a few of our favorite quinoa recipes:

This recipe is…

This quinoa vegan chili recipe is vegetarian and gluten-free.


Quinoa Vegan Chili

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (17 votes, average: 3.88 out of 5)

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x


This savory, hearty quinoa vegan chili with black beans is packed with protein and works for vegetarian, plant-based, and gluten-free eaters.



  • 3/4 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 15-ounce can black beans
  • 15-ounce can red kidney beans
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons adobo sauce (from 1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce)
  • 2 28-ounce cans tomatoes (we used crushed Muir Glen-brand tomatoes)
  • 1 ½ cup frozen corn
  • 4 ounces chopped green chiles
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Hot sauce, for serving


  1. Place 3/4 cup quinoa in a saucepan with 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to very low. Cover the pot, and simmer where the water is just bubbling for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the water has been completely absorbed. (Check by pulling back the quinoa with a fork to see if water remains.) Turn off the heat and let sit covered to steam for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, chop the onion. Mince the garlic. Peel and chop the carrots. Chop the celery. Dice the green pepper. Drain and rinse the beans.
  3. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil, then saute the onion for 5 minutes. Add in garlic, carrot, celery, and green pepper, and saute about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the soy sauce and adobo sauce and cook 30 seconds more.
  4. Add the black beans, kidney beans, Muir Glen tomatoes, 2 cups of the cooked quinoa (reserve remainder for future use), corn, and green chiles. Add enough water to obtain a liquid consistency, about 3 cups. Season with the chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, and ground cumin and bay leaf. Simmer chili on low for 30 minutes.
  5. When ready to serve, stir in the white wine vinegar and several pinches of kosher salt. Taste, and add additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve with hot sauce and other chili fixings of your choice (lime, cilantro, and so forth).


For gluten-free diets, use gluten-free soy sauce (or omit and use additional kosher salt to taste).

  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: vegan chili, black bean quinoa chili, quinoa chili

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.


  • Reply
    October 12, 2015 at 6:14 am

    Chili is the ultimate cozy comfort food for this time of year! I’m all over this delicious version!

    • Reply
      David Krueger
      September 26, 2016 at 4:27 pm

      I absolutely love this recipe! I have a chili off coming up soon and I think I have a very good chance of winning! Thank you so much! I’ll make sure to mention you guys to everyone!

  • Reply
    October 12, 2015 at 9:42 am

    This looks so warming and comforting- the perfect hearty soup to come back to after a bike ride. Thank you!

  • Reply
    October 12, 2015 at 11:49 am

    Did you know most soy sauces contain gluten which would likely not make this chili gluten free? It is possible to find gluten free soy sauce to truly make this gluten free……just important for those who are sensitive to gluten. Likely those sensitive to gluten know this, but thought I would share. :>

    • Reply
      October 12, 2015 at 2:53 pm

      Good point, Kendra! I’ve updated the recipe with a little note about that. Thanks for the feedback!

  • Reply
    October 12, 2015 at 11:53 am

    My best to you as you wait out this impatient time. I hope it’s full of joy and excitement and this delicious looking chili.

  • Reply
    Katie @ Whole Nourishment
    October 12, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    Yes, waiting for something you’ve made such an emotional investment in is difficult, to say the least.
    This chili looks like exactly what we need right now. Chipotle in adobo is one of my favorite ingredients, and I stock up when I’m back in the US. ;-) Love the quinoa and green chilies in this too.

    • Reply
      October 12, 2015 at 3:56 pm

      I didn’t realize you didn’t have access to chipotle in adobo! But sounds like you’ve been hoarding :) It’s so great for adding flavor to dishes like this!

  • Reply
    Bethany @ Athletic Avocado
    October 12, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    Ive never thought of adding quinoa to chili but this looks incredible!

  • Reply
    Sarah | Well and Full
    October 12, 2015 at 10:31 pm

    I chuckled at the “down it in hot sauce” bit… my parents hate spicy stuff too, but I love it! ;)

  • Reply
    Tessa | Salted Plains
    October 13, 2015 at 8:55 am

    It’s so great that you all are taking this time for spontaneous trips and dates. So fun! The spontaneous ones always seem to be the most memorable.

    Loving how hearty this chili is without the meat!

  • Reply
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
    October 13, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    Really love this tasty looking chili. The quinoa in there sounds so good!

  • Reply
    October 14, 2015 at 9:51 am

    Can this be made in a slow cooker?

    • Reply
      October 14, 2015 at 10:13 am

      I’m not sure this would work well in a slow cooker — we’ve had trouble making vegetarian soups in a slow cooker without everything tasting one-note. Let us know if you try it though!

  • Reply
    Meal Prep
    October 21, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    This looks sooo good and hearty. Thanks for sharing!
    Nice pics also!

  • Reply
    October 23, 2015 at 10:27 am

    Very difficult time finding the jarred Arabella Muir Glen tomatoes in Minneapolis, so I substituted other crushed tomatoes; not sure how it altered the flavor.

  • Reply
    October 24, 2015 at 1:24 am

    This chili looks so delicious and hearty!
    The waiting game is so hard! Definitely keep going on spontaneous dates out for coffee and to eat. Not that you can’t bring a little one out with you, we do it all the time (breakfast/lunch are our best bets). See a movie! I haven’t seen one in a theater since before my son was born. I have been thinking of you and am so excited for you both!

  • Reply
    November 20, 2015 at 5:58 am

    Any reason why I can’t cook the quinoa directly in the chili?

    • Reply
      November 20, 2015 at 12:19 pm

      The quinoa would soak up all of the water, so the quantities would have to change dramatically if you try it.

  • Reply
    January 17, 2016 at 10:44 am

    Here’s a little hint/tip…instead of using crushed tomatoes, try instead using V8 (or similar) juice and Rotel diced tomatos (you can find them in the same isle as the Adobo Chiles). Together with chili powder this duo makes an amazing chili base and it’s quick/easy.

  • Reply
    April 12, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    Just found your site and this is the first recipe that I tried. Excellent taste and texture and easy to put together. The quinoa adds a lot of substance to this chili. Also liked that there were no super exotic ingredients that I would never use the rest before it went bad. Will be back to try more recipes soon.

  • Reply
    Wayne @ RecipeZazz
    January 29, 2017 at 8:04 am

    Not only do I love this because it is comfort food, but healthy to boot :) Thank you for this recipe!

  • Reply
    Sandra Dee
    January 5, 2018 at 7:42 pm

    This was awesome. Preferred it to meat chili. I did cut back on some of the spices though. The adobo sauce is really hot, just used 1 T. I also used braggs liquid aminos as a substitute for soy sauce and used just 2 T. 2 cups of water is plenty. Pulsed tomatoes a bit to make it not chunky. Season to your taste. I put a pinch of brown sugar,

    • Reply
      January 14, 2018 at 1:26 pm

      Wow, preferring it to a meat chili is the ultimate compliment, thank you! All your mods sound GREAT too. Delicious!

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