Slow Cooker Quinoa Chicken Chili

This is a hearty, healthy, fool-proof chili (or is it a soup? a chili soup?) packed with protein.  Like majorly packed with protein… chicken, black beans, and quinoa make every spoonful a little protein explosion!  This isn’t a chili in the sense that it’s spicy or chili-flavored (you know, that beany meaty kind…), but it’s stocked with beans, corn, peppers, onion, garlic, chicken, and quinoa, so call it what you want… I’d say chili-ish in nature :)  The beauty of the recipe is it’s ease.  You can take the time to use fresh ingredients, but if you’re headed out to work or have a busy day planned, getting some help from the store is no prob with this…

A couple important notes: first, as with all of my slow cooker meals, I steer clear from too much salt.  The beauty of a slow cooker is, well the slow cooking- the tender meat, steeped flavors, and ease.  The risky part is that you can’t taste along the way as you can with stove-top meals.  Can’t you imagine what a bummer it’d be to throw together a slow-cooker meal, be excited alllll day while you wait for it to cook, come home ready and anxious to eat, and then find that it’s horribly salty or over-spiced?  Blah.  No good.  So instead, I’d rather error on the under-salted side if anything, and then add more at the end if needed.  Plus, everyone has different preferences when it comes to salt and pepper and such, so I opted to play it on the safer side and let you make it more salty at the end if you want :)

The other note is more specific to this recipe in particular.  Often times with slow-cooker soups, you add everything at the beginning and then when it’s done it’s done.  This is mostly true for this one, but there’s one difference… the quinoa soaks up a bunch of liquid.  So at the end you’ll add a wee more chicken broth to get the exact consistency you want- just a heads up so when you open the lid to your slow-cooker and see your soup is crazy thick, you’ll know this is normal/part of the process :)

The soup is great right out of the pot or…. you can top it with melted cheesy goodness for an extra comforting bowl of goodness.


2 chicken breasts, boneless/skinless

2 cups whole black beans (1 can)

2 cups diced fire-roasted tomatoes (1 can)

2 cups corn kernels (1 can)

1 1/2 cups chopped onion

1/2 cup bell pepper (I used red)

3 cloves garlic (about 2 tbsp)

1 tbsp diced Serrano pepper (seeds removed, unless you like heat)

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth (homemade is best, but a good quality store-bought will do the trick)

1/8 tsp cayenne

1/4 tsp ground chili chipotle

1/2 tsp thyme

1/4 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp paprika

3/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

1 bay leaf

3/4 – 1 cup quinoa (uncooked- the more you add, the thicker the soup will be)

extra chicken broth (to thin after cooking), about 2 cups

extra salt and pepper, to taste

for garnish: cheese, avocado, and chopped green onion

*This meal was made to be easy and simple… if you’d like to use fresh ingredients, by all means please do!  Soaked beans, roasted garden tomatoes, and corn right off the cob would be delicious and clearly preferred if you have the time!!


Pour beans, corn, and tomatoes in Crock Pot

Roughly chop onion and garlic

Add to pot

Dice bell pepper

And Serrano…

(they are typically green, fyi… I picked this guy a little late from my garden)

Remove seeds (unless you want it extra spicy!) and then dice

Add to pot

Add chicken broth and stir it all up!

Add all spices/herbs and bay leaf

Add quinoa and stir

Place chicken breasts in soup- immerse completely in liquid

Cover and cook on high for about 4 hours or on low for about 7-8

Keep in mind the quinoa will soak up a lot of the liquid- pretty much all of it, so if you open your

pot and see it’s thick, don’t worry!  This is why extra broth is written into the ingredients list…

You’ll notice when you stir it, the chicken will be so tender it’ll

fall apart right there in the pot- just what we want!

Remove bay leaf

Add chicken broth- about 2 cups, until you have a consistency you like

Now you’ll have something like this… much better!

(The pot will heat up the broth so it’s all well-mixed and evenly warm)

Taste the soup and adjust seasonings as you want- as I mentioned in the intro, I play it on the

safe side when using my slow cooker- I’d rather have to add salt and pepper

later rather than have a meal that’s too salty!!

Add whatever you need to make it to your liking!

Serve up in bowls…

Optional- top with grated cheese (who doesn’t love melted cheese on their chili!?)

Top with chopped green onions and avocado


(Leftovers will keep well for a few days in fridge)
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Hi, I'm Natalie! I like to cook, eat, and adventure. I live in a little home with an itty-bitty kitchen, a crazy feline, and a very hungry boyfriend. Lots of cooking and devouring goes down here. Farmer's markets inspire me, as do the seasons and travel. I create simple recipes using wholesome real food. Enjoy!
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