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Quinoa Turkey Chili

This heart-healthy turkey quinoa chili is not only tasty, it's a vitamin and protein powerhouse! —Sharon Giljum, San Diego, California
  • Total Time
    Prep: 40 min. Cook: 35 min.
  • Makes
    9 servings (2-1/4 quarts)


  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 3-1/2 cups water, divided
  • 1/2 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • Optional toppings: Cubed avocado, shredded Monterey Jack cheese


  • In a large saucepan, bring quinoa and 2 cups water to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Remove from the heat; fluff with a fork and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, in a large saucepan coated with cooking spray, cook the turkey, onion, red pepper and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink and vegetables are tender; drain. Stir in the chili powder, cumin and cinnamon; cook 2 minutes longer. If desired, serve with optional toppings.
  • Add the black beans, tomatoes, zucchini, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, bay leaf, oregano, salt, pepper and remaining water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in corn and quinoa; heat through. Discard bay leaf; stir in cilantro. Serve with optional toppings as desired.
    Freeze option: Freeze cooled chili in freezer containers. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Heat through in a saucepan, stirring occasionally; add broth or water if necessary.
For more savory and healthy recipes like this one, check out these ground turkey recipes that make going lean taste great!
Nutrition Facts
1 cup: 264 calories, 5g fat (1g saturated fat), 20mg cholesterol, 514mg sodium, 43g carbohydrate (4g sugars, 9g fiber), 15g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 starch, 2 lean meat, 2 vegetable.

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  • Kanika
    Oct 16, 2019

    I made this and froze it and finally thawed it out and ate it around 2-3 weeks later because I meal prep a lot. And it was delicious! I also put the whole lb of my turkey in it bc I want more meat in my chili. It makes a lot of chili but I enjoyed this recipe and its great for meal prep. I will be making this again!

  • xlsalbums
    Feb 26, 2017

    My family didn't like this! It actually looked better before I added the quinoa. The quinoa made the texture of the chili weird and it seemed like a bowl of mush instead of chili. If you take the 1/2 lb. of turkey out then this could be a vegetarian recipe and we like meat in our chili!

  • ChocolateMudCake
    Mar 14, 2016

    Made this for my husband and I because we are trying to eat healthier. It tasted great! We are pushing 50 and our metabolisms aren't what they use to be. Thank you for submitting such a great recipe that is healthy and tasty!

  • Shoes58
    Jan 25, 2016

    OK -- i liked this recipe more than my other--it was hearty and tasty and i swear it felt healthy as it was consumed.But i probably will not make again...unless i have a different audience.

  • svetabrus
    Jan 11, 2016

    Amazing recipe! It's very tasty and healthy! I feel more energetic after I eat it! I made it many times and it always come out good.

  • Kimberly Hines
    Aug 26, 2015

    I make this recipe for new mamas. There's so many nutrients packed in! Personally, I think it could use more kick, but that's simple to add individually at serving time.

  • garrett8250
    Sep 5, 2014

    I've made this recipe several times, and it's always well-liked. The recipe makes quite a lot, but it freezes well. I like to use one can of kidney beans and one of black beans, instead of two cans of black beans called for. I also just leave out the "adobo" stuff since I don't know what that is and don't care to go out and find it, and it's still very flavorful and excellent.I also leave out the corn. I put in chopped celery instead (less starchy and zero calories). I also throw in a handful of chopped kale, because why not? I like things hot and spicy, so I also add jalapeño peppers and extra chili powder. Make sure to use organic zucchini and red pepper -- those are on the Dirty Dozen list! ;-)If you want even more protein (and flavor), add some chopped ham or turkey deli meat along with the ground turkey.

  • cccosey
    Feb 22, 2014

    We like spicy food at our house so this was excellent. I realized that I didnt have enough tomatoes so I added rotel and I just skipped the corn all together. It was still yummy. I think I will make this again!

  • lorischlecht
    Feb 17, 2014

    I hate to be the Debbie Downer among all the excellent reviews, but I didn't love this. Out of fear of it being too spicy, I only added half a chipotle pepper, and a tsp of the sauce, since I have to feed my young son. I found it "ok" but I won't go out of my way to make it again. It makes so much. But it sure was simple to throw together.

  • overthetop55
    Sep 12, 2013

    This chili was excellent. It had just enough bite to satisfy the husbands liking for spicy foods and still not too spicy for my sensitive tongue. Also it is very colorful. I will definitely make this again