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

Quinoa chili

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

I first ate this quinoa chili—that is, the quinoa 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 liminal space.

Quinoa vegan chili with black beans

Floating in the liminal space

What is liminal space? 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. (Read more here.) That’s where Alex and I 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! We’re enjoying spontaneous dates and bike rides downtown to get coffee and lunch dates for quinoa chili and random weekend trips to Seattle.

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

What’s great about this quinoa chili?

Now, this quinoa chili! It’s seriously good, full of savory flavors that wrap you like a cozy sweater. It’s modeled after that quinoa chili from our lunch date, this time using our favorite fire roasted tomatoes from Muir Glen. It’s simple and flavorful, with tons of savory veggies and of course, quinoa! Quinoa acts as the texture of where meat would be in this vegan chili, and brings in loads of plant based protein.

Every chili has a secret ingredient. The secret here? A bit of adobo sauce from a can of chipotle chili peppers in adobo sauce. It’s available at most groceries in the international foods aisle, and it brings an earthy, savory flavor that’s irreplaceable. Stirring in a bit of white wine vinegar at the end adds some brightness.

This savory, hearty chili works for lots of eaters: it fits into vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free diets. Drown it in hot sauce, or sprinkle it with all the toppings. To keep it vegan, use our Vegan Sour Cream or Cashew Cream instead of sour cream. For a zing, add Pickled Jalapeños!

What to serve with chili?

Now if you make this quinoa chili, what to serve with it? Here are a few options we love:

How to store quinoa chili

The beauty of making homemade quinoa 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 make it last longer, you can freeze it! 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).

Vegan quinoa chili

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 quinoa chili recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free.

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Best Quinoa Chili

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x


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


  • ¾ 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 ¾ cup quinoa in a saucepan with 1 ½ 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

Looking for more vegan recipes?

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

Last updated: December 2019

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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    1. 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!

  1. 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. :>

  2. 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.

    1. 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!

    1. 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!

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