Spicy Black Bean Quinoa Chili, a simple one-pot vegan chili recipe made with beans, quinoa, peppers, tomatoes, and spices that's perfect in the Instant Pot or on the stovetop.

a bowl of black bean quinoa chili on a blue napkin on a white table with a green plant

There is nothing better than a bowl of chili on an autumn day. Our favorite chili recipe is a plant-based protein powerhouse of black beans and quinoa, with a spicy kick from both poblano and jalapenos, and a rich flavor from cumin and oregano. Topped with crunchy tortilla strips and creamy avocado, it's the perfect easy weeknight meal that doesn't skimp on flavor.

👉 Here are three reasons why you should be making spicy vegan chili:

  • It's meal prep friendly. Make vegan chili once and eat all week long! Just store chili in a glass food storage container in the refrigerator for up to four days or in the freezer for up to two months.
  • It's as simple as it gets. This recipe is ready in under 20 minutes in the Instant Pot, so it's the perfect meal to make when you're in a time crunch.
  • It's customizable. Experiment with different spices, herbs, and veggies for new flavors.

Want to learn how to make this one-pot, spicy vegan chili? Let's do it!


🌶 Ingredients you'll need

This recipe includes classic chili ingredients: black beans, tomatoes, and seasoning, with quinoa instead of meat.

  • Black Beans: You'll need 1 can of black beans to make this vegan chili.
  • Quinoa: While traditional chili uses beef, we used quinoa in this recipe as a plant-based alternative.
  • Tomatoes and Onions: Tomatoes are the primary flavor-filled vegetable used to make chili! We used canned fire-roasted tomatoes in ours, but you can use fresh tomatoes as well.
  • Peppers: Poblano peppers and canned adobo chipotle peppers bring the heat to this recipe.
  • Chili seasoning: Garlic cloves, cumin, oregano, cilantro, salt and pepper are the spices that we used for flavor. Making your own chili seasoning is a great way to reduce waste and skip the not-so-great ingredients you might find in the store-bought version.
  • Vegetable broth: The liquid base for the chili. You can use water if you don't have broth on hand.
  • Garnish and toppings: Juice of 1 lime, cilantro, tortilla strips, avocado
  • Recommended tools: Instant Pot, soup pot, or dutch oven
a round cutting board with vegetable broth, black beans, fire roasted tomatoes, peppers, and spices in small bowls on a white table

🥣 How to make spicy vegan chili (step-by-step photos)

1️⃣ Step One: Place ingredients in a pot

First, you'll add the black beans, quinoa, poblano pepper, onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, vegetable broth, adobo chipotle peppers, can of fire-roasted tomatoes, and a pinch of salt and pepper to the Instant pot or soup pot.


2️⃣ Step Two: Cook the soup

Now it's time to cook the chili!

If using a pressure cooker like an Instant Pot, cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. If cooking on the stovetop, bring the chili to a boil and then reduce heat and cook on a low simmer for 30 minutes.


3️⃣ Step Three: Garnish and serve!

When the chili is done cooking, stir in the lime juice and cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste. Then top with tortilla strips, avocado, and cilantro and enjoy!

vegetable broth pouring into an instant pot pressure cooker filled with vegetables on a white table

❓ Recipe questions + quick tips

What is vegan chili?

Traditional chili is typically made with ground beef, tomatoes, and a mixture of veggies and/or beans. Vegan chili does not contain ground beef or any animal products. Instead, meat-free chili usually contains at least one plant-based protein source like quinoa, beans, or lentils. We used quinoa and blacks beans in our vegan chili.

How can I thicken up my vegetarian chili?

One of the best ways to thicken chili is to add more beans and mash them so they release their natural starches, which will thicken the soup. You can mash the beans with a potato masher or a fork before or after you add them to the chili. If you add more beans, make sure to balance out the flavor with extra seasoning. Another way you can thicken vegetarian chili is by adding a little corn starch, flour, tomato paste, or crushed tortilla chips.

How do you make chili more flavorful?

You can make chili more flavorful simply by adding extra chili seasoning. Mix in an extra pinch of garlic, cumin, oregano, or cilantro. The amount of salt and pepper can also be increased, just make sure to give it a taste along the way to make sure it's seasoned to your liking. Another way to enhance the flavor of chili is by adding different vegetables like sweet potatoes, squash, or carrots. You can even add hot sauce to chili if you prefer it extra spicy!

What ingredient makes chili better?

Chili is delicious with many different ingredients! The ingredients that make it taste better depend on what you prefer. We like our chili with black beans, quinoa, and homemade chili seasoning. A little sweetness goes a long way in chili, which you can add with sweet potatoes, winter squash, or a little brown sugar. Some people love their chili extra spicy with extra hot sauce or jalapenos. Toppings are also what can make it better for your taste buds! Try cilantro, tortilla strips, avocado, or green onions. You can also top chili with cheese and sour cream if you eat dairy. To add even more flavor depths, you can mix in some coffee, cinnamon, or even cocoa powder!


🧊 How to store vegan chili

Vegan chili is the perfect recipe to make in a big batch, then store in the fridge or freezer for quick meals during busy weeks.

  1. Refrigerator storage: store chili in a glass food storage container for up to 4 days in the fridge.
  2. Freezer storage: as long as it is kept frozen in a glass container, chili will keep its quality when stored in the freezer for up to 2 months.
  3. To reheat: reheat chili in a pan on the stovetop until boiling
a white bowl of chili made with black beans with avocado, cilantro, and tortillas strips

Sustainable kitchen tips

Sustainability is Fork in the Road's top priority. Here are some tips and tricks to get the most out of your ingredients while making this recipe:

Make chili during tomato season. Switch up this recipe by using fresh tomatoes, and make it while they're at the height of their growing season so you can enjoy their freshness all year long. Tomatoes are in season from April to December in California. Click here to find out when they're in season near you.

Repurpose or recycle food cans. Since this recipe uses canned tomatoes, black beans, and adobo chipotle peppers, don't let the cans go to waste! Give them a rinse once you've used their contents, and save them for your next DIY project. One idea is to use the cans to plant your own herb garden. If you can't repurpose the cans, make sure to recycle them (including the top).

Use food scrap vegetable broth. Vegetable broth is the liquid we used for this recipe. Rather than using store-bought vegetable broth, use your vegetable scraps to make soup stock! If you don't have any, get some started with any veggie scraps that you accumulate while making this recipe.

an instant pot pressure cooker filled with vegetable broth, vegetables, and quinoa

🍲 More vegan soup recipes

Love this simple plant-based chili recipe? Check out our other vegan soup and stews:

Spicy Black Bean Quinoa Chili

Spicy Black Bean Quinoa, a simple one-pot vegan chili recipe made with beans, quinoa, peppers, tomatoes, and spices that's perfect in the Instant Pot or on the stovetop.
4.8 stars (5 ratings)
Leave a Review »

Ingredients

  • 1 28 oz can black beans, drained
  • 1-1/4 cups quinoa
  • 1 poblano pepper, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 canned adobo chipotle peppers, diced
  • 1 15-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • Optional toppings: tortillas strips, avocado, cilantro

Instructions 

Instant Pot Instructions

  • Add ingredients to pressure cooker: To the instant pot, add the black beans, quinoa, poblano pepper, jalapeño, onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, vegetable broth, adobo chipotle peppers, can of fire roasted tomatoes, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Cook on high pressure: Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. After releasing the pressure add the lime juice and cilantro, then season with salt and pepper. Top with desired toppings and enjoy!

Stovetop Instructions

  • Add ingredients to pot: To a soup pot or dutch oven, add the black beans, quinoa, poblano pepper, jalapeño, onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, vegetable broth, adobo chipotle peppers, can of fire roasted tomatoes, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Simmer soup: Bring the chili to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes. Add the lime juice and cilantro, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with desired toppings and enjoy!

Notes

  • Tools Needed: Instant Pot, soup pot, or dutch oven
  • Meal prep: This chili recipe is perfect for meal prep; make once and eat all week.
  • Leftovers + storage: Store chili in a glass food storage container in the refrigerator for up to four days or in the freezer for up to two months
  • To reheat: Reheat chili in a pan on the stovetop until boiling
  • Nutrition notes: This vegan chili recipe has both black beans and quinoa, which makes it high in plant-based protein an is high fiber and potassium.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1serving (1 cup), Calories: 65kcal, Carbohydrates: 14g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 1047mg, Potassium: 158mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 1161IU, Vitamin C: 22mg, Calcium: 37mg, Iron: 2mg

UPDATE: This recipe was originally posted in February 2019 and updated for clarity in September 2021.