Cut through those bitter winter nights with this comforting 1-pot quinoa chili that’s easy to make, big on flavor, and made with ingredients you likely have on hand right now. Let’s do this!
Origins of Chili
While many think chili is a dish that was created in Mexico, apparently that’s not where it originated! Who knew?
However, one ingredient central to chili – chilies – are native to Mesoamerica (a region that includes parts of Mexico and Central America). And they are an important ingredient in Mexican cuisine. So we get the confusion!
The exact origin of the dish chili isn’t clear, but most historians trace its roots to San Antonio, Texas. You can take a deeper dive into the history of chili here.
How to Make Quinoa Chili
This 1-pot recipe starts with the basics: Onion, garlic, pepper. We went for jalapeño for added heat. But if you’re looking to avoid spice, opt for a bell pepper instead!
Next comes the star of the show: Butternut squash!
The flavor comes in waves from spices like chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, and a little coconut sugar to balance the heat. And if you’re looking for more depth of flavor and spice, throw in a chipotle pepper in adobo sauce! It’s our “secret sauce” for adding smoky heat to dishes like chili and tortilla soup. You can read more about its origins here.
In place of water, I opted for vegetable broth to add even more flavor. Every time I add an ingredient to the pot I think, “What flavor is this adding?” If it doesn’t add any flavor, quite frankly, we don’t have time for that. So, vegetable broth it is!
I threw some quinoa in the mix because I happen to love quinoa, and I appreciate that it adds a little more plant protein to the mix. What’s not to adore?
In the last few minutes of cooking, I threw in some kale, because, nutrients. And that color! Total swoon. And just like that, dinner’s on the table.
We hope you LOVE this chili! It’s:
Quick & Easy to make
& Super delicious
Enjoy this chili as is, or garnish with fresh jalapeño, lime, cilantro or parsley, and tortilla chips! Or, go super comforting and pair it with our Easy Vegan Cornbread or Best Vegan Gluten-Free Cornbread! You could also serve this over rice or quinoa, or with our Vegan Gluten-Free Cinnamon Rolls!
If you’re into comforting 1-pot meals, also be sure to check out our 1-Pot Red Lentil Chili, 1-Pot Vegan Minestrone, 1-Pot Cauliflower Rice Kitchari, Curried Potato and Lentil Soup, and Spicy Jackfruit Tacos!
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!
1-Pot Butternut Squash Quinoa Chili
- 2 Tbsp avocado or coconut oil (sub water if avoiding oil)
- 1 small white or yellow onion (diced)
- 1 jalapeño (minced // remove seeds for less heat)
- 1/2 tsp each sea salt and black pepper (DIVIDED // plus more to taste)
- 4 cloves garlic
- 4 cups diced butternut squash
- 3 Tbsp chili powder (DIVIDED // chili powder should be a blend of spices, not entirely ground chilies)
- 2 Tbsp ground cumin (DIVIDED)
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 15- ounce cans fire-roasted (or regular) diced tomatoes (if unsalted, add more sea salt to taste)
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 3 cups vegetable broth (sub up to half with water for lower sodium // plus more as needed)
- 1/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
- 1 15- ounce can kidney beans (slightly drained)
- 1 15- ounce can black beans (slightly drained)
- 1-2 Tbsp coconut sugar (or maple syrup)
- 1 small chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (for heat) (optional)
- 1 cup chopped kale (or other sturdy green) (optional)
FOR SERVING optional
- DIY Chili “Cheese” Fritos
- Rice or quinoa
- Fresh chopped cilantro or parsley
- Heat a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add oil (or water), onion, and jalapeño pepper. Season with a healthy pinch each salt and pepper and stir. Sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add garlic and sauté (stirring occasionally) for 2-3 minutes more, or until onion, pepper, and garlic are softened and slightly browned.
- Add butternut squash, 2/3 of the chili powder (2 Tbsp as original recipe is written), half the cumin (1 Tbsp as original recipe is written), smoked paprika and stir to coat. Cook for 3 minutes.
- Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and vegetable broth and stir to combine. Bring to a low boil over medium-high heat.
- Once boiling, add quinoa (see photo) and reduce heat to medium-low or low, so it’s at a gentle simmer. You want to see bubbles, but you don’t want it boiling. Cover and cook for 12-15 minutes, or until quinoa is mostly tender. As it’s cooking you may need to add more vegetable broth or water if it’s looking too dry and the quinoa isn’t submerged (I didn’t find that necessary).
- Next add kidney beans, black beans, 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper, and remaining cumin (1 Tbsp as original recipe is written) and chili powder (1 Tbsp as original recipe is written), coconut sugar, and stir to combine. If adding the chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (optional), add now.
- Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat slightly to low (or medium-low), cover, and gently simmer for 15-20 minutes to meld the flavors together. Stir occasionally.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more chili powder or cumin for smokiness, salt for saltiness, or a little coconut sugar to balance the heat and draw out the other flavors.
- Add kale (optional), cover, and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Serve as is, or garnished with lime, chili cheese fritos (or tortilla chips), fresh jalapeño, cilantro, red onion, and/or avocado (all optional).
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator up to 5-6 days, or in the freezer up to 1 month. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave until hot.