Hearty Chicken Quinoa Chili with beans, bell peppers, juicy chicken, savory spices, and an extra boost of protein. Add your favorite toppings and dig in!
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If you are looking for a comforting meal that is both quick and flavorful, this chicken quinoa chili is for you. Especially, if you are scrambling what to make for dinner on a busy weeknight!
Serve quinoa chili on any cool night when you need something cozy, when you’re hosting game day, or when you want healthy lunches all week long.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Made in one pot: Dump and go healthy chili recipes cut down on dishes and are perfect for busy schedules.
- Uses pantry staples: You’ll only need 10 minutes of prep time, there’s not much chopping, and instead of fresh onion and garlic we add flavoring with dried spices.
- So delicious: Enjoy juicy pieces of chicken, hearty quinoa, firm and tender beans in every bite.
- So healthy: As per Healthline, quinoa is a nutrient-dense grain that has become very popular in the past couple of decades. It’s gluten-free, high in fiber, a good source of plant protein, high in vitamins and minerals, and contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. It’s easy to make and can be added to your favorite dishes.
Ingredients for Chicken Quinoa Chili
Chicken quinoa chili recipe is made with10 ingredients, a simple spice blend, and full of cozy, warm flavor!
- Chicken: Cut 3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts into 1.5 inch pieces. You can also use chicken thighs, see tips below.
- Veggies: Choose 2 sweet bell peppers like orange, yellow, or red bell pepper.
- Beans: One can of low sodium red kidney beans and one can of low sodium black beans, both drained and rinsed. If you don’t have black beans you can use more kidney beans, I like Instant Pot kidney beans.
- Tomato sauce: Adds a tangy flavor and acts as a thickening agent.
- Diced tomatoes: Adding canned diced tomatoes with their juices adds flavor and texture to soup and stew recipes. Choose low sodium, and if you don’t like chunks of tomato feel free to use crushed tomatoes instead.
- Quinoa: Uncooked white quinoa or tri-color quinoa.
- Chicken broth: Use low sodium chicken broth, homemade chicken broth or Instant Pot chicken broth. Vegetable broth can also be used.
- Spices: This quinoa chili is seasoned with a blend of chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, taco seasoning, and cumin.
- Salt: Enhances all other ingredients and increases the taste of the entire dish.
- Oil: Extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil for frying.
- Optional toppings: Our favorites include shredded cheddar cheese, jalapeños, cilantro, lime and avocado.
How to Make Chicken Quinoa Chili
Here’s a quick photo overview how to make chicken quinoa chili. Simply add the ingredients to a Dutch oven and let them cook and mingle.
There is a full recipe card below.
- Combine spices: Add chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, taco seasoning, and cumin to a small bowl and stir.
- Brown the chicken: Heat a Dutch oven or large deep skillet on medium-high heat and coat with oil. Add cubed chicken along with 2 tablespoons of spice mixture and a sprinkle of salt. Cook for 10 minutes then transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
- Sauté bell peppers: Add remaining oil to the large pot on medium heat. Then add chopped bell peppers, 1 tablespoon of spice blend, and salt. Sauté for 5 minutes.
- Simmer: Add broth and stir, scraping the bottom and deglazing the pot. Then add previously cooked chicken with its juices, all the remaining ingredients including the rest of the spice mixture, stir, and cover with lid. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cook for about 15 minutes. Stir and cook for another 15 minutes.
- Serve: Let chili rest for 5 minutes off heat. Add extra broth for thinner consistency, if desired and serve hot with optional toppings.
Tips for Best Results
These cooking tips are easy ways to make this chili recipe the best!
- To make it more saucy: Add any broth to desired consistency after cooking. Or add 1 cup extra broth before cooking and adjust more after if needed.
- Use leftover cooked quinoa: If that’s what you have on hand, reduce broth to 1/2 cup, simmer beans with sauces for 15 minutes, then add cooked quinoa.
- Be mindful of burning: Because of tomato sauce and quinoa, it’s important to simmer on low and stir half way through.
- Use any beans: I love the combination of kidney beans and black beans but any beans would work. Use canned white beans, cannellini beans or pinto beans. You can also used cooked dried beans, if you have some.
- Use chicken thighs: If you prefer chicken thighs, you’ll need about 8-9 boneless skinless chicken thighs.
- Add corn: I kept this recipe simple for busy weeknights but you can also add 1 cup of frozen corn before cooking. Still simple but with more sweet flavor.
What to Serve with Quinoa Chili?
Quinoa dinner recipes make healthy, filling meals on their own. Add some delicious toppings to your quinoa chili like shredded cheese, lime juice, jalapeños, cilantro, avocado, sour cream, or Greek yogurt and you’re all set!
How to Store
Store: After the chili cools, place in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
Freeze: Cool completely to room temperature and store leftovers in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Then reheat on the stove, covered on low heat with a splash of broth.
No, quinoa usually comes pre-washed and I didn’t wash my quinoa. If you find it tastes bitter for you, feel free to rinse it in a fine mesh strainer and drain well. Just be sure to use a very fine mesh strainer otherwise quinoa seeds will fall through.
The best substitute for quinoa would be roasted buckwheat or couscous. You can also use white rice, I would increase the broth to 2 1/2 cups. Brown rice, farro or barley is an option as well but you would have to precook it first for about 20 minutes and then add to the pot and keep cooking the chili for another 20 minutes or so.
Yes, to make chicken quinoa chili in slow cooker, first sauté the chicken and bell peppers separately in a skillet on the stove. Then combine everything in large slow cooker and cook on low heat for 6 hours or on high heat for 3 hours.
Yes, to make quinoa chicken chili in Instant Pot, sauté chicken and bell peppers in stages right in your Instant Pot. Then add remaining ingredients and pressure cook on high pressure for 3 minutes or on low pressure for 12 minutes. Release pressure right away.
More Quinoa Recipes to Try
More Chili Recipes to Make for Dinner
Chicken Quinoa Chili
- 3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1.5 inch pieces
- 2 large sweet bell peppers chopped
- 15 ounces can red kidney beans low sodium, rinsed & drained
- 15 ounces can black beans low sodium, rinsed & drained (or more kidney beans)
- 15 ounces can tomato sauce low sodium
- 15 ounces can diced tomatoes low sodium
- 1 1/4 cups quinoa uncooked
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth low sodium
- 2 tablespoons chili powder low sodium
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons taco seasoning low sodium
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt divided
- 2 tablespoons oil for frying, divided
- Shredded cheddar cheese, jalapeños, cilantro, lime and avocado for toppings, optional
- In a small bowl, add chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, taco seasoning, cumin and stir to combine.
- Preheat Dutch oven or large deep skillet on medium – high heat and swirl 1 tablespoon of oil to coat. Add chicken, sprinkle it with 2 tablespoons of spice mixture and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
- Return pot to medium heat and add remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Add bell peppers and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of spice mixture and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add broth and stir for 1 minute, scraping the bottom and deglazing the pot. Then add previously cooked chicken with its juices, kidney beans, black beans, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, quinoa, remaining spice mixture and stir. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Stir and cook for another 15 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let chili rest for 5 minutes developing the flavors. Add extra broth for thinner consistency, if desired. Quinoa will absorb liquid as it sits. Serve hot with desired garnishes.
- Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
- Freeze: Fully cook, cool completely and freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat with a splash of broth covered on low heat.