Slow Cooker: Hearty Turkey Quinoa Chili

Okay, let’s be real – I know that there are one billion one million (yes, that’s a real number) chili recipes out there.  There are those precious family recipes passed from one generation to the next, the word-of-mouth recipes shared amongst friends, and the thousands of recipes floating around the internet.  You know what all of these recipes have in common?  They all claim to be the best chili ever.  Seeing as how chili recipes are endless, that’s a pretty bold statement.

Now that I’ve prefaced my post with that, you know I’m not saying this lightly… This is the best chili ever to me.  Please make sure you put the emphasis on the “to me” part of that sentence.  That’s the thing about chili – There are just so many variations that of course everyone’s palate thinks a different one is the best.

So why is this my favorite?  I can’t say it’s because of one specific thing.  It’s more about how well the flavors mesh together and how hearty this dish is.  Before making this dish, I had never had chili with quinoa in it before… Now, I don’t ever want to have chili without it!  The quinoa lends a whole new level of texture, makes it more filling, and adds great nutritional benefits (win, win, win!).

Have I convinced you to give this recipe a try yet?  I hope so!

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown your ground turkey and break into bite-size pieces.

Once the meat is browned, drain and pour into your slow cooker.  Add your crushed tomatoes and tomato paste on top.

Next, drain and rinse your black beans, kidney beans, and white shoe-peg corn and add all three to the slow cooker.

Tip:  As I mentioned in my Tri Colored Corn & Bean Salsa, it’s much more efficient to dump all of your canned beans/corn into a large strainer and drain/rinse them together.

While you’ve got your strainer out, measure one cup of quinoa and thoroughly rinse it.  Don’t skip this step because your quinoa will end up bitter if you do!  Add your rinsed quinoa to your slow cooker.

Tip:  I was a little worried about not pre-cooking the quinoa before adding it, but no worries, it’ll be completely cooked by the time you’re ready to eat.

Sprinkle your chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and crushed red pepper on top.  Finally, add 2 cups of water and use a large spoon to combine everything together.

Tip:  Make sure there’s enough water to almost completely cover everything – If necessary, add a little more.  When your quinoa is cooking, it will absorb the majority of this liquid.

Set your slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 and enjoy your day.  When you come back, you’ll be in for a treat – Your meal will smell tantalizing!  Dish out your chili in bowls, or follow my boyfriend’s lead, and eat it out of a large mug (Perfect if you’ll be eating while watching football).

Slow Cooker: Hearty Turkey Quinoa Chili

Source: Inspire & Indulge Original
Serves: 8


  • 1lb ground turkey
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 15oz can of black beans (if possible, low/no/reduced sodium)
  • 15oz can of dark red kidney beans (if possible, low/no/reduced sodium)
  • 11oz can of white shoe-peg corn
  • 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 6oz can of tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • optional: 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

What to Do

  1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground turkey and break into small bite-size pieces.
  2. Once the meat is browned, drain and pour into your slow cooker.
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste on top.
  4. Drain and rinse the black beans, kidney beans, and white shoe-peg corn and add all three to the slow cooker.
  5. Rinse the quinoa and add to the slow cooker.
  6. Sprinkle the chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and crushed red pepper on top.
  7. Add 2 cups of water and use a large spoon to combine everything together.
  8. Set your slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4.
  9. Scoop into bowls or mugs and enjoy with some cornbread, garlic bread, or crusty bread!

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35 thoughts on “Slow Cooker: Hearty Turkey Quinoa Chili

    • I promise this is SO good and I’m sure it’d still be great without the turkey. You could just add another variety of beans or I actually just read that chopped mushrooms are a good substitute for meat because they soak up the flavor of what they’re cooking in!

      Thanks for sharing the link for that tortilla soup. I’ve never made it but it definitely sounds delicious! Add it to my soup list 🙂

  1. YUM! Thank you for posting a chili recipe with ground turkey. John actually asked me not too long ago about making chili with ground turkey but I’ve been lazy and hadn’t looked up any recipes yet. I think I’ll have to make this later this week. Seriously, I may just commit to this weekend being the weekend I FINALLY try all of your amazing recipes at home.


    • Honestly, you can’t even tell that it’s ground turkey and not ground beef. Since there are so many great flavors in the crock pot, the meat soaks them all up! Jon and I pretty much substitute any recipe that calls for ground beef with ground turkey.

      Haha, if this weekend is THE weekend, you’ll have to become my official taste tester 😉

      • We are the same way! I’d never had ground turkey before but John got me hooked. Now we make turkey burgers, turkey tacos, turkey sloppy joes, you name it. I seriously can’t wait to try this!! And I am totally up for the taste tester position.

        • Leah, this chili was AMAZING. I made it yesterday for dinner and John could barely wait to eat it. It filled our house with the best smell and neither one of us could wait to eat it. It’s high in protein and low in fat and calories which is perfect for us. We both agreed that this recipe is going to be in heavy rotation, I can’t wait to make it again. Thanks so much for the incredible recipe! 🙂

          • YAY – This comment just made my day! I’m so happy you took a minute to come back and let me know how it turned out, especially since you liked it! Let me know if you try any fun modifications next time. 🙂

    • Thanks Joan! I’m all about using a slow cooker if possible – it’s just so easy! You have to try chili with quinoa – it’s a whole new level of chili!

      On a different note, did you get to make the warm apple salsa yet? If so, what did you eat it with and how’d it turn out? 🙂

      • Oh Leah — there’s quite a story behind it (grab a little coffee before reading). I bought the granny smith apples for it, and when I got home, the refrigerator was making a horrible, expensive, loud hum. Apparently our 2-year-old fridge’s fan decided it’s “tired” and wants a vacation. We had the repair guy out, but he’ll have to order the parts and it’ll be another week or so.

        Why am I telling you this, you wonder? Because I panicked, thinking that the humming Franken-fridge was about to give up the ghost and we needed to eat everything as quickly as possible. So my offerings of bread-with-cheese-and-yogurt-with-a-side-of-guacamole-and-yesterday’s-leftovers were met with… disdain. While I was fretting about the fridge, someone ate my apples (along with the ice cream I was saving for it) under the guise of “getting rid of things.” Sigh.

        I’ll try again after the repair guy comes with a shiny new part to make the fridge happy. Best laid plans, and all that… 🙂

        • Awww, Joan, so sorry to hear about your fridge troubles! Haha, I love the term ‘Franken-fridge’ – how fitting for the season too! I guess I can’t blame your family for eating the apples since they were ‘helping’ you and at least they’re healthy! 😉

          Here’s to next time!

    • Hi Sarah – thanks for stopping by and thanks for the pin! The quinoa really adds so many benefits to the chili and it makes one batch go even further since it’s more filling!

  2. Looks awesome, great idea to add the quinoa!! I love chili and cornbread in the fall, it’s one of my favorite comfort meals. I’m all about the slow-cooker these days too, so that we have a warm meal whenever we’re ready…so key when the kids schedule is unpredictable! 🙂

    • Thanks Maura! I agree – chili & cornbread (or garlic bread) is an unbeatable combo! Yes, everyone needs a slow cooker… they’re like a secret weapon in the kitchen!

    • I felt the same way. I’m so excited about the combo that I just want everyone to try it! I think it’s especially great for people that haven’t tried quinoa before because it’s a simple way to prepare it and it takes on the flavors of the chili.

  3. I never use ground turkey and suddenly I don’t know why – it’s leaner and better for you! And the addition of quinoa, I reckon that’s be a great texture. I’m adding to my to do list on pinterest … 🙂

    • You won’t be disappointed, Aimee! Haha, I was always a ‘beef’ person until my boyfriend. Since we’ve started dating, we’ve really limited our intake of red meat and when it comes to ground turkey, you can’t even tell it’s not ground beef!

  4. Wow! Leah! it looks delicious and I never heard of using turkey! I love turkey 🙂 hey I might have to give this a try but I don’t know how my hubby will like the idea of turkey instead of meat 🙂

    • Haha, don’t even tell your husband and see if he notices! I honestly doubt he will! Then you’ll know if you can start sneaking ground turkey into other dishes as well 😉

    • Yes, please try this! Although I’d love to know if there were any major differences between this recipe and the one you printed! I’m always looking to add a ‘special’ ingredient.

    • Hi Alyssa! Thanks for stopping by :). Ahhh, that’s awesome you just got a slow cooker. Is this your first one?? Chili is by far one of my favorite things to make in my crock pot – there is just SO much flavor. You’ll have to let me know if you try this recipe!

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