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Slow Cooker Turkey Quinoa Chili with Black Beans

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This slow cooker black bean quinoa chili recipe takes just 10 minutes to prep and then slow cookers in the crockpot for incredible flavor without any work from you. Between the quinoa, beans, and turkey, each filling serving of turkey quinoa chili has 25 grams protein and almost half of your daily fiber. Oh, and the flavor! This turkey butternut squash chili is both savory and sweet and can be spicy – simply add some jalapenos while cooking or top with your favorite hot sauce.

Make turkey butternut squash chili for a cozy, comforting dinner or as an easy meal prep lunch, it reheats really well.

bowl of turkey quinoa chili with butternut squash in bowl with sour cream and hot sauce

This slow cooker turkey chili with quinoa was originally published in January 2018 and republished in September 2020 to update the recipe with my favorite kitchen shortcut and update the pictures. Here’s a picture of black bean quinoa chili from 2018:

bowl of turkey quinoa chili with cheese and sour cream

I’ve been thinking a lot about my style of cooking recently. Do I have a style? What is it? What are the recurring themes that show up in the recipes that I create?

After a lot of thought, and a helpful comment from my bro-in-law, I’ve come to the conclusion that my food style is a mix of Midwest and Southern California. I’ll explain.

I like to think that even though I’ve lived in LA for six years, that I’ve haven’t lost my midwest sensibility. I cook with regular, everyday ingredients; I keep things simple and easy; and I balance nutrition with a family approach.

But I definitely like to incorporate an underlying theme of Los Angeles. Kale is always welcome at my table; I like to add in nutritious and virtuous ingredients when I can; and I love to blend in a bit of ethnic fusion to keep things interesting.

At least this is my newly-realized hope! I do think that this style is embodied in this recipe. Take a traditional dish like chili, add in some nutritious extras like quinoa, squash, and black beans all while keeping things super easy and quick in the slow cooker. LA vibes all wrapped up in a satisfying bowl of stick-to-your-ribs chili that’s also super healthy. It’s the best of both worlds!

How to Make Black Bean Quinoa Chili:

Did I mention the best part of this black bean quinoa chili? It comes together in 10 minutes of prep! Here’s how to make it:

  • Brown turkey. This ground turkey chili recipe doesn’t require you to brown the turkey first, but I think it’s well worth the 5-6 minutes that it takes. It will give the turkey butternut squash chili the best texture. Simply heat oil in a pan, add turkey and season with sea salt. Cook for 4-6 minutes, until cooked through. Transfer browned turkey to the slow cooker.
  • Mix up ground turkey chili. Add butternut squash, marinara sauce, rinsed black beans, quinoa, broth, chili powder, cumin, and sea salt to slow cooker. Stir to combine.
ingredients for turkey quinoa chili recipe in crock pot
  • Cook butternut squash and quinoa chili. Cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 4-5 hours, or until squash is soft and tender.
black bean quinoa chili in slow cooker
  • Serve! Top your bowl of slow cooker turkey chili with onions, shredded cheese, sour cream, and hot sauce if desired.
turkey butternut squash chili

Do You Have to Cook the Quinoa First?

No, I wouldn’t make another step unless it’s absolutely necessary! The quinoa will cook alongside everything else in this turkey quinoa chili recipe, so you can add it dry and uncooked.

Can You Make Crockpot Quinoa Chili Vegetarian?

Yes, you can absolutely make this quinoa and black bean chili vegetarian! Simply omit the ground turkey and make as directed.

3 bowls of turkey butternut squash chili

Can You Make This Quinoa Chili Recipe in the Instant Pot?

Yes, you can also make this simple turkey chili in the Instant Pot or pressure cooker.

To make in the Instant Pot, turn saute function on, add olive oil, and brown turkey as directed. Turn off, add remaining ingredients, reducing broth to 3 cups and cook on high pressure for 20 minutes. Quick release according to manufacturer instructions and serve.

1 bowl of turkey butternut squash chili

How to Store Turkey Quinoa Chili Leftovers:

Store this slow cooker quinoa chili in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Alternatively, you can also store this healthy turkey chili in the freezer for 2-3 months in a freezer container.

Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then reheat in the microwave or a sauce pan until heated through and hot.

How to Serve Turkey Quinoa Chili Recipe to the Whole Family:

One family meal encompasses my approach to food, and this turkey quinoa chili recipe is no exception.

It’s seasoned quite simply so that you can add in more spice or flavor with toppings depending on who is eating it. Six-month-old Eden has loved eating it plain, and three-nager (did I say that?!) Demi first proclaimed she didn’t like it, but it was nothing a few corn chips for scooping couldn’t solve.

  • Let the kids top their own bowls of turkey quinoa chili.
  • Serve with tortilla or corn chips, fruit, and milk on the side. Learn more about one family meal and how to make it work for you.
black bean quinoa chili

More Easy Quinoa Recipes:

If you like this turkey and quinoa chili recipe, you’ll probably like some of my other quinoa recipes:

  • Turkey & Quinoa Meatballs – These easy meatballs use quinoa instead of breadcrumbs for a delicious gluten-free and nutritious meatball.
  • Black Bean Quinoa Salad – Great for parties or lunch meal prep. It’s filling and flavorful and vegetarian and gluten-free.
  • Summer Quinoa Salad – The best of summer produce, tossed with fluffy quinoa and dressed with the best summer herb…
  • Chicken Meal Prep with Quinoa – Loaded with protein and fiber and perfect for weekday meal prep.
  • Chicken Broccoli Quinoa Casserole – Just 6 ingredients and 10 minutes to prep this nutritious comfort food classic.
  • Pizza Quinoa – An easy casserole made with nutritious quinoa and inspired by traditional pizza flavors!

Helpful Tools to Make Turkey Butternut Squash Chili:

  • Crock Pot – I like this basic version more than some of the fancy crockpots and it’s been used a TON and still in great shape.
  • Instant Pot – You can also make this easy turkey chili in your pressure cooker.
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bowl of turkey quinoa chili with butternut squash in bowl with sour cream and hot sauce

Slow Cooker Turkey Quinoa Chili with Black Beans

  • Author: Emily Dingmann
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 hours
  • Total Time: 5 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Tex Mex
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

EASY black bean quinoa chili recipe takes just 10 minutes to prep. Turkey quinoa chili gets incredible flavor from my SECRET ingredient!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground turkey (not 99% fat-free)
  • 2 tsp. sea salt, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 16 oz. cubed butternut squash
  • 24 oz. jar marinara sauce (Not Italian)
  • 215 oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • toppings: sour cream, shredded cheese, green onions, cilantro, tortilla chips

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add turkey, 1 teaspoon sea salt, and garlic to pan and cook for about 4-6 minutes, breaking up with wooden spoon, until cooked through.
  2. Transfer turkey to slow cooker.
  3. Add squash, marinara sauce, black beans, quinoa, broth, chili powder, ground cumin, remaining 1 teaspoon sea salt and pepper to slow cooker and stir to combine.
  4. Cook on low for 2-3 hours on high or 4-5 hours on low or until squash is tender.
  5. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste and top with favorite toppings.


Notes

  • Makes 12 cups total, each serving is 1 1/2 cups.  
  • This chili is very thick, if you like your chili with a bit more liquid, add 2 additional cups (6 total) of broth.
  • You can skip the turkey browning step, though the end result is better and it only takes a few minutes!

Keywords: quinoa chili, black bean quinoa chili, quinoa chili recipe, turkey quinoa chili, turkey butternut squash chili

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Comments

    • Emily

      Hi Sydney, I haven’t tried freezing this, but my guess is that it would freeze fine. I often freeze chilis and stews without any problem. If you do, let us know how it goes!

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