Slow Cooker Quinoa Chili (Gluten-free + Vegan)

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Slow Cooker Quinoa Chili (Gluten-free + Vegan)

I feel like I am really outing myself lately with how much of an emotional eater I am. But listen, I am totally aware of it, that’s a first step, right? I try to keep it in check and make sure that whenever it’s tied to junk food, I try to make the best decision and swap something healthy or just ignore it (most of the time). Otherwise, I am all about eating your feelings!

Tuesday, I was driving up to LA for a photo shoot for some yoga stuff (I will tell you guys more about that at a later time) and on my way there, on the obnoxious 405, I got into a car accident. It wasn’t anything too serious and everyone is OK, thankfully, but it was scary and I was very shook up afterward. That, plus the fact that my back and neck feeling a little “off”, meant I had to postpone the photo shoot until next week. So, that required immediately driving back home, in the terrible traffic on the highway I just got into a wreck on, (with my pretty, messy braid), feeling all scared. By the time I got home, I was starving, I was rattled, I was sore and was feeling pretty sorry for myself.

Slow Cooker Quinoa Chili (Gluten-free + Vegan)

I wanted some warming, comforting food. I wanted spicy and I was wishing for a big bowl of  authentic pho, some spicy thai food or some homemade chili! But, I was in no mood to cook after the afternoon I just had. I was bummed when I remembered our favorite Pho places don’t deliver and I wasn’t about to drive, the Thai place we love was closed, but then I remembered I had some of this delicious, leftover Slow Cooker Quinoa Chili in the freezer from when I made it to photograph for this post.

Slow Cooker Quinoa Chili (Gluten-free + Vegan)

It was perfect. Warm, spicy, comforting, hearty – while still light. Exactly what I needed after the day that I had. What I love about this chili, is that although it’s vegan, it doesn’t seem like it, in the least. Most vegan chili’s, I find, are watery and just too light. They always seem flat, like they are missing something. The addition of the quinoa, I have found, is a really great way to add protein, it provides a nice “meaty” texture and it makes it so much more than a chunky tomato soup of sorts.

This slow cooker vegan chili is based on my famous classic (not vegan) chili recipe (well OK, it’s not famous famous, but it’s famous enough to anyone that has ever come to my house to have it for dinner). It’s full of so much flavor and it’s a breeze to throw together. My not-so-secret ingredients in all of my chilis, are the chipotles, the cinnamon and the chocolate. All subtle flavors on their own, but together they make the most amazing chili, you will ever eat. We love topping our bowls of chili with my Cilantro Lime Avocado Cream, some fresh cilantro and green onions. Mark, ever the southern boy, usually adds some fritos or corn tortilla chips on top. This meal is great for a busy day filled with work and/or school – or the day your car gets hit on the highway at a high speed. Whatever. Emotional eating at it’s finest!

Slow Cooker Quinoa Chili (Gluten-free + Vegan)

[print_this]Slow Cooker Quinoa Chili (Gluten-free + Vegan)
Serves 8 – this is the slow cooker that I use

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 2 large bell peppers, seeded and diced – I went with one red and one green
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
  • 2-3 dried whole chipotle peppers
  • 1 cup uncooked organic quinoa
  • 1 cup vegetable broth (I like homemade or Massel)
  • 2 cans (28 oz) organic diced tomatoes in juice (if you have homemade diced canned tomatoes you can also use those)
  • 2-3 ounces of a good quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped (many dark chocolates are vegan, so have at it)
  • 2 cans (15 oz) organic beans, drained and rinsed – I used 1 can each of black beans and pinto beans
  • salt and pepper

Optional toppings:

Soak the quinoa for 10 minutes. Rinse, then drain.

Load all of the ingredients, into your slow-cooker, stir to combine. If you wish to saute the onion, garlic and bell pepper first, you absolutely can do that. I prefer to make crock-pot cooking as simple and quick as possible – so I go all in. Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours, or on low for 8 hours. Taste before serving and adjust your seasonings as necessary. We like spicy chili, so if you don’t I recommend leaving out the red pepper flakes and opting for only 1 or 2 chipotle peppers.

Serve with your favorite toppings. Enjoy.



You can use dried beans instead of canned. Opt for about a pound and a half of dried beans and pre-soak them overnight. You can either cook them first or add them right to the crock pot. Check the chili at the end of the cook time to see if the beans are tender enough, you may need to add more liquid and cook them a little longer. Beans can be very finicky that way and the cook time can vary significantly.

I usually have a can of chipotles in adobo sauce on hand, so I sometimes go with 1 or 2 dried AND 1 or 2 from the can and I also include a tablespoon of the adobo sauce – but we like saucy and smokey.

This freezes really well, in an airtight container.


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11 Responses

  1. Your chili has such a gorgeous coloring! I have used chocolate and chipotles in my chili before – but never cinnamon – I got try that – thanks so much for this recipe and tip!!

  2. These pictures are beautiful!! I’ve never put chocolate in my chili before, but I’m not going to resist it! Can’t wait to try this!

  3. This looks totally amazing!!

  4. Brittany says:

    So happy that the car accident was minor and that you’re okay. I am also so that your beautiful braid didn’t make it to the photo shoot. You’ll have to do it again!

    This chili looks amazingly delicious and extra comforting. I want a bowl right now.

  5. Teniel says:

    This sounds totally delicious. Im going to make this.
    Chipotle is not as easy to come by in Australia but I have been wanting to get some for ages.
    Ive ordered a chipotle powder off iherb so once that comes I’m making this.
    Even if it is warming up here. This sounds too good to have to wait till winter to make.
    Thank you

  6. Gaby says:

    Ummm yum!!! Love chili recipes!!

  7. thefolia says:

    Hoped this brightened up the rest of your day–it certainly would mine. Happy Healing.

  8. Hope you’re feeling better!
    This chili recipe looks amazing. Thank you for sharing it!

  9. Kathy says:

    Made this chili yesterday & it’s scrumptious! Even my all-meat-all-the-time husband dug it. A definite keeper. Thanks!

  10. Saunier says:

    This looks really good, must be delicious 🙂

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