Quinoa Red Bean Chili {Instant Pot or Slow Cooker}

Simple and delicious, this vegetarian Instant Pot quinoa red bean chili is healthy, hearty, and so flavorful! Bonus: slow cooker directions included in the recipe, too!

Ladleful of Instant Pot quinoa red bean chili.

It is officially chili season, and I couldn’t be happier.

I’m a chili lover. All varieties. All flavors.

And this Instant Pot quinoa red bean chili is a worthy addition to my already robust chili archives full of favorites.

Don’t have an Instant Pot? Don’t worry! This hearty, tasty chili can be made in the slow cooker, too.

Stone bowl filled with quinoa red bean chili.

I don’t know why I haven’t thought to add quinoa to chili before now. It is amazing!

Not only does it add a delicious heartiness and texture (plus a nice protein boost), but the versatile nature of quinoa means it picks up all the warm, spicy flavors of the chili during cooking.

Speaking of those flavors, you might be skeptical tossing cinnamon into a chili recipe, but this isn’t the first chili recipe to call for the aromatic spice. And for good reason.

It adds a unique flavor hint that makes you go “yum, what IS that?” without going “ew, what IS that?”

Please promise me you’ll try it? In the name of adventure, living on the edge, and generally just trusting me in all  things related to really good food? {I assure you I only have your chili-eating future at heart here.}

Sweet potato topped with Instant Pot quinoa red bean chili, sour cream and cheese.

The moment I really fell in love with this Instant Pot quinoa red bean chili, though, was when I experienced the flavor explosion of a tender baked sweet potato topped with the tasty chili.

And a healthy amount of cheese and sour cream, too. Obvs.

The sweet potato/savory chili combo is phenomenal! Wow. And now I never want to eat chili ever again unless a sweet potato is somehow involved.

Also, please consider throwing some avocados and a squeeze of fresh lime juice on there, too (whether or not you’re going the sweet potato route). Because that will only take this meal to celestial heights further blessing your life.

Top down view of instant pot quinoa red bean chili.

Really, this quinoa red bean chili needs to happen. Take it to your next chili cookoff. Make it for the new family that just moved in. Throw it together on a random Tuesday night because it’s so easy and you can!

I just love it. So much. It’s a good for you meal that tastes so incredible, you’ll forget it’s good for you.

If you aren’t sure you (or your loved ones) can manage to get through a meatless meal, don’t worry. I’m here for you. I’ve included notes below the recipe to easily add chicken or ground beef.

But really, this chili is hearty and filling even without meat. And the flavor is incredible, incredible.

Kicking off chili season in a big way! And I’m not even close to being done. I have a few other killer chili recipes coming your way in the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

Forkful of sweet potato topped with instant pot quinoa red bean chili.


Cornbread muffins or The Best Cornbread
Chili toppings

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Two Years Ago: Pumpkin Roll with Cream Cheese Filling
Three Years Ago: My Favorite Kale Salad {Lemon Vinaigrette + Pecan Parmesan}
Four Years Ago: Baked Ham and Swiss Malibu Chicken
Five Years Ago: Loaded Broccoli Cheese and Bacon Soup

Quinoa Red Bean Chili

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced, or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt (I use coarse, kosher salt)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (plus more for heat, if desired)
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 3 cans (15 ounces each) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained (see note)
  • 3 to 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (use the lesser amount for a thicker chili)
  • 3 cans (8 ounces each) tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels

Directions:

  1. For the Instant Pot: using the saute function, heat the oil until shimmering and add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the onion starts to turn translucent, 3-4 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes, stirring often.
  2. Add the quinoa, beans, broth, and tomato sauce. Give the mixture a good stir. Secure the lid, set the valve to seal, and select manual or high pressure (depending on the IP model you have) and dial up or down to 5 minutes.
  3. When cooking time has finished, let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes or so and then quick release the rest of the pressure. Stir in the corn kernels to heat through. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if needed. The chili will thicken as it sits off the heat. Serve the chili with cheese, sour cream, avocados, fresh lime wedges, cilantro, or any other chili topping you desire. It is also delicious served over regular or sweet baked potatoes!
  4. For the slow cooker: in a skillet set over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering and add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the onion starts to turn translucent, 3-4 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes, stirring often. Scrape the mixture into the insert of a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker.
  5. Add the quinoa, beans, broth, and tomato sauce. Give the mixture a good stir. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. Stir in the corn kernels to heat through. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if needed. The chili will thicken as it sits. Serve the chili with cheese, sour cream, avocados, fresh lime wedges, cilantro, or any other chili topping you desire. It is also delicious served over regular or sweet baked potatoes!

Notes:

To add meat, you can easily add cooked, diced chicken (think: rotisserie chicken!) at the end of cooking to heat through OR cook ground beef at the beginning, drain the grease, and keep in during cooking time or add at the end to heat through. 

Chili powders vary widely in flavor and heat, so make sure to use a brand that you already know and love the flavor of. I use either McCormick or Penzeys.

This recipe is probably very adaptable to other types of beans if you want to sub in or out for the kidney beans.

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Recipe Source: adapted from a recipe a MKC reader, Rachel S., sent me (thanks, Rachel!)