Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili with Quinoa & Chocolate

Posted On: December 31, 2014
Last updated: October 21st, 2023

My husband and I love a good hearty warm chili on cold winter days. We love it beefy, but have tried to lower our meat intake and eat more vegetarian options for our health’s sake and also because we’re picky on what type of meat we eat these days.  Chili can still be satisfying, warming and a great cold weather food without being heavy and this slow cooker vegetarian chili quinoa is rich and filling.  Quinoa is a great way to add nutrition to a comfort food like chili.

Bold Vegetarian Chili with Quinoa

Once we tried a chili recipe with chocolate in it a couple years back, we knew we were fans.  I thought the bold flavor of such a chili would make for a real fine vegetarian version once I could adjust it to our liking.  I actually came up with this recipe with what I happened to have on hand in my fridge and pantry.  It’s easily modifiable to suit your spicy or not so spicy needs. My husband was pleasantly surprised with what he said was a “beefy flavor” which he believes is because of the quinoa addition. We both like spicy chili, but have to keep the heat level down for the kids’ sake so you’ll see there are optional ingredients in the chili recipe if you also like to add more heat.

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili

I like to make cooking as easy as possible so if I have the option of slow cooking, I will.  Also, when I use the slow cooker/crock pot I prefer to just add the ingredients and let it do it’s magic. To me that’s the point of a slow cooker, not to pre-cook a bunch of stuff and then toss it in.  So, in this slow cooker vegetarian chili with quinoa recipe you’ll see that you literally toss ALL the ingredients in it and start the timer.  Let the slow cooker do your cooking for you.

Smoky & Slightly Sweet

I personally love smokey flavors so I use smoked paprika and a wonderful dark smoked chili powder I buy now locally from a farmer’s market/spice shop.  These two ingredients give this veggie quinoa chili a nice smoky undertone and great smell to your kitchen.

The very subtle, and I really mean subtle sweetness which is more of a cocoa flavor is from the cacao powder (not cocoa) and very dark chocolate I use in this recipe.  I use a 70-88% dark chocolate.  Let’s not forget, it’s the really dark stuff (I’m not talking about the junky high fructose syrup laden chocolate) that has the great health benefits.  We should not argue with scientific evidence, especially when talking about chocolate, right?!

So give chocolate a try in chili, it gives it a great unexpected flavor.

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili with Quinoa & Chocolate

A slow cooker vegetarian chili with quinoa which packs a punch flavor-wise. It’s also hearty and filling. Our favorite way to serve it is topped on a baked potato (sweet potato is even better). This recipe makes about 10 cups of chili. Freeze the extra for easy future lunches.
4.88 from 8 votes
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 45 minutes
Course Main Course, Side Dish, Vegetarian Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 10 cups
Calories 252 kcal



  • 1 large onion diced
  • 2 carrots peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks diced
  • 2 jalapenos seeded and finely diced (optional depending on your heat level desire)
  • 2 large bell peppers seeded and diced (whatever color you want)
  • 1 cup uncooked organic quinoa
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 Tbsp dark chili powder I use a smoked chili powder I buy locally
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes also optional depending on your heat level likes
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 heaping Tbsp unsweetened cacao powder can use cocoa powder if that’s what you have
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 15- ounce can organic black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 15- ounce can organic red kidney beans drained
  • 1 28- ounce can organic diced fire roasted tomatoes with juice
  • 3 oz dark chocolate bar chopped (I use 75-88% good dark chocolate)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper


  • Soak your quinoa in about 1.5 cups water for 10 mins, then rinse thoroughly and add to crock pot.
  • Add all remaining ingredients to the crock pot and stir to combine.
  • Cook on High for 4 hrs or Low for 8 hrs.
  • Taste before serving and adjust salt & pepper if necessary.


Optional Toppings:[br]Sour Cream[br]Chopped Green Onion[br]Diced Avocado[br]Shredded Cheddar Cheese[br]Broken Tortilla Chips[br][br]**Use Organic Ingredients when feasible**

Nutrition Disclaimer:

The nutritional information provided is only an estimate based on a third party nutritional plugin. Different online calculators may give different results depending on their own sources. The estimates may also change based on the ingredients you use. If you have dietary restrictions and need to accurately calculate the nutrition of this recipe, Whole Made Living recommends consulting a professional nutritionist.


Serving: 1cupCalories: 252kcalCarbohydrates: 43gProtein: 9gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.003gCholesterol: 0.3mgSodium: 753mgPotassium: 564mgFiber: 10gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 3695IUVitamin C: 39mgCalcium: 98mgIron: 4mg
Keyword Chili, gluten free, slow cooker, Vegan, vegetarian
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


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4.88 from 8 votes (7 ratings without comment)

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