Simple & Nutritious Turkey Quinoa Chili

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turkey chili recipe

What’s Up, Hungry People!

Today we’re talking chili, and not just any chili. We’re shaking things up a bit and going for turkey instead of the typical beef or bison—although I have a soft spot for bison chili too.

Chili became a favorite of mine relatively recently, thanks in part to my trusty crock pot. After experimenting with bison, I felt it was time for a new twist. Turkey chili, my friends, is where it’s at this time!

Minimal Prep, Maximum Flavor

Open a couple of cans, and roughly chop some onions, peppers, and mushrooms. Oh, and let’s not forget the frozen corn I sneakily added—though it wasn’t in the original picture (my bad!). The corn lends a subtle sweetness that balances out the flavors. And guess what? We’re swapping out beans for quinoa, bringing a unique texture to the table.

ingredients for turkey chili

Here’s What You Need:

  • Ground turkey: A lean protein source that forms the base of the chili.
  • Turkey or chicken broth: Provides liquid for cooking and adds depth to the flavor.
  • Quinoa: A healthy grain substitute for beans, adds texture and protein.
  • Tomato sauce: Offers a rich, tomatoey base for the chili.
  • Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce: Adds smoky heat and complexity to the dish.
  • Celery: Provides a slight crunch and mild, earthy flavor.
  • Red onion: Adds sharpness and color, enhancing the overall taste.
  • Red bell pepper: Offers a mild, sweet flavor and vibrant color.
  • Garlic: An essential aromatic that adds depth and a spicy undertone.
  • White mushrooms: Add earthy flavors and a different texture to the dish.
  • Cherry tomatoes: Contribute natural sweetness and a burst of moisture.
  • Chili pepper: Brings heat and pungency to the chili.
  • Paprika: Adds warmth and color without overwhelming spiciness.
  • Onion powder: Amplifies the onion flavor without adding more bulk.
  • Garlic powder: Intensifies the garlic flavor, complementing the fresh garlic.
  • Salt & pepper: Season to taste, balancing and bringing out other flavors.
  • Ricotta cheese (optional): For topping, adds creaminess and a mild, sweet contrast.

Let’s Cook!

This recipe is not just a feast for your taste buds; it’s also pretty good for you. With lean turkey meat and a plethora of veggies, it ticks all the healthy boxes.

Plus, it’s a “set it and forget it” kind of meal—my favorite kind.

slow cooker turkey quinoa chili

I didn’t even bother browning the turkey. I just tossed all the ingredients into my crock pot, snapped a few pics for the ‘gram, and set the temperature to low. Then, off I went to conquer my day.

slow cooker chili healthy ingredients

All-Day Cooking with a High-Heat Finish

I gave it a good stir every couple of hours, and for the grand finale, cranked up the heat to high for the last hour.

My total cooking time clocked in at about six and a half hours.

Trust me, by the end of the day, the aroma had permeated the entire apartment complex. Even bringing my pup Theo back inside after his potty break made my stomach growl in anticipation.

cooked turkey chili in crock pot

Tips for a Perfect Slow Cooker Chili

  • Ground Turkey Substitutes: If you’re out of turkey, ground chicken or even bison can work well.
  • Broth Options: Vegetable broth can be a great substitute if you’re looking for a less meaty option than turkey or chicken broth.
  • Rinsing Quinoa: Always rinse quinoa thoroughly before adding to remove any bitterness.
  • Adjusting Spice Level: If you find chipotle too spicy, consider reducing the amount or using mild green chiles instead.
  • Overcooked Quinoa: If the quinoa gets mushy, your cooking time might be too long. Aim for 6 hours on low rather than 8.
  • Thickening the Chili: If the chili is too watery, remove the lid for the last 30 minutes of cooking to allow some of the liquid to evaporate.
  • Fresh Garlic Alternative: If you run out of fresh garlic, you can increase the amount of garlic powder, but do it sparingly.
  • Veggie Variations: Feel free to add other vegetables like corn or zucchini for more variety.
  • Cheese Choices: If you don’t have ricotta, a sprinkle of shredded cheddar or a dollop of sour cream can also do the trick for topping.
  • Storing Leftovers: This chili freezes exceptionally well. Just let it cool down before transferring to airtight containers.
easy crock pot turkey chili

Quinoa: The Bean Alternative

The quinoa played a starring role here, giving the turkey meat some much-needed texture. If you’re like me and aren’t too keen on beans in your chili, quinoa is your new best friend.

Bonus point: there’s enough of this goodness to feed Nick and me for the entire week. How awesome is that?

ricotta cheese on qunioa turkey chili

After cooking up this turkey and quinoa chili, you’ll see why it’s such a game changer. It’s hearty but healthy, simple but scrumptious, and best of all, it’s got the “set it and forget it” convenience we all crave. With a dollop of ricotta on top, each bite feels like a mini celebration.

Enjoy this bowl of goodness, and may your slow cooker adventures continue to be this rewarding.


Turkey & Quinoa Chili

The Starving Chef
Whip up a hearty and nutritious pot of Turkey & Quinoa Chili that's big on flavor but low on prep time.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 20 minutes
Course Fall, Main Course
Cuisine Healthy, Slow Cooker
Servings 6



  • Add all the ingredients, except for the ricotta cheese, to a crock pot.
  • Cook on low for 6-8 hours, with the last hour on high, or cook on high for 4-5 hours, stirring occasionally.
  • Serve hot, especially perfect for a chilly day. Top with a dollop of optional ricotta cheese. Enjoy!
Keyword chili, quinoa, slow cooker, turkey
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!