Peanut Butter Energy Balls

This peanut butter energy balls recipe is the best easy snack! Healthy oatmeal balls pack protein and fiber into tasty bites. Here’s a healthy snack that’s so delicious, you might find yourself sneaking one for dessert. Try this peanut butter Energy Balls recipe! Yes, we can’t stop riffing on combinations of peanut butter and oatmeal, though any nut butter works here. Just mix a handful of simple ingredients together and bam! You’ve got an instant homemade snack that’s infinitely more delicious than store-bought granola bars or energy bites. Even better, they’ve got a good amount of protein and fiber for a tiny ball. We think they’re pretty darn perfect. Ingredients in the best energy balls recipe These energy balls are quick and easy to make, and full of very simple ingredients you might already have on hand. That’s very intentional, in fact. Years ago, we used to make energy ball recipes with trendy Medjool dates, a large variety of date with a sticky sweet, caramel flavor. We love them, but they can be hard at the grocery and very expensive. Also, I burned Alex out on Medjool date energy bites (oops!). Now we now want our energy balls recipes super […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

This peanut butter energy balls recipe is the best easy snack! Healthy oatmeal balls pack protein and fiber into tasty bites.

Energy balls

Here’s a healthy snack that’s so delicious, you might find yourself sneaking one for dessert. Try this peanut butter Energy Balls recipe! Yes, we can’t stop riffing on combinations of peanut butter and oatmeal, though any nut butter works here. Just mix a handful of simple ingredients together and bam! You’ve got an instant homemade snack that’s infinitely more delicious than store-bought granola bars or energy bites. Even better, they’ve got a good amount of protein and fiber for a tiny ball. We think they’re pretty darn perfect.

Ingredients in the best energy balls recipe

These energy balls are quick and easy to make, and full of very simple ingredients you might already have on hand. That’s very intentional, in fact. Years ago, we used to make energy ball recipes with trendy Medjool dates, a large variety of date with a sticky sweet, caramel flavor. We love them, but they can be hard at the grocery and very expensive. Also, I burned Alex out on Medjool date energy bites (oops!).

Now we now want our energy balls recipes super simple. Oatmeal, peanut butter, and honey are things we always have on hand…so why not use them? They’re beyond easy to make: and kids love them too! Here’s what you’ll need for these peanut butter oatmeal balls:

  • Old Fashioned rolled oats
  • Creamy peanut butter: no sugar added! Use sunflower butter for nut free
  • Honey: substitute agave syrup for vegan
  • Kosher salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Vanilla or chocolate protein powder: see notes below
  • Mini chocolate chips: make sure to get mini-chips! They’re best for keeping the balls tightly packed
Peanut butter energy balls

How to roll peanut butter energy balls

This energy balls recipe could not be easier: all you have to do is mix together the ingredients and roll them up! It’s that simple. Want them to look as beautifully uniform as the energy balls in the photo? Here are a few tips on rolling these energy bites:

  • Freeze the dough 5 minutes before you roll. Just a few minutes in the freezer firms up the texture so it’s easy to roll.
  • Use a cookie scoop (1 1/2-inch or #40). This is the magic behind making them look so uniform! A cookie scoop is perfect for proportioning out the dough. Don’t have one? No problem, just approximate.
  • Use mini chocolate chips. Using mini chocolate chips helps the entire texture to stick together well: large chips can cause fractures.
Peanut butter oatmeal balls

Use any nut butter you like: and some troubleshooting tips

These don’t have to be peanut butter energy balls, of course. You can use any nut butter you like: almond butter, cashew butter, pecan butter, or sunflower butter for nut-free! Here are a few notes if you use a different nut butter:

  • Make sure to use a creamy nut butter. You’ll want a nut butter with a nice creamy texture that will make the energy balls stick together.
  • You can use homemade, but be aware of texture. You can use homemade nut butter, but be aware: some homemade versions can be very dry.
  • If it’s too dry, add a little more honey or a few tablespoons milk. If you can’t get the balls to stick together, it’s ok: all nut butters have a different consistency. Just add a little more honey or your milk of choice (dairy or non dairy) until the dough is able to stick together.

Are these healthy energy balls?

These peanut butter energy balls come out 1,000 times more delicious than a store-bought granola bar. And guess what? They’re fairly healthy too. You can get a decent amount of protein in a few balls (which would equal 1 store-bought energy bar). Here are the particulars:

  • Protein: Each energy bite has 3 grams of protein of 6% of your daily need.
  • Fiber: Each energy ball has 1 gram of fiber or 5% of your daily need.
  • Fat: Each energy bite has 4 grams of fat or 5% of your daily allotment.
  • Calories: Each ball has 100 calories.

Of course when it comes to healthy snacks, carrot sticks or a handful of almonds are the healthiest. But if you’re looking for something irresistibly tasty and

Energy balls recipe

What protein powder to buy (or omit it!)

Here at A Couple Cooks we don’t usually include protein powder in our recipes. But for these peanut butter oatmeal balls we wanted to maximize the overall protein content! If you prefer, you can definitely omit the

Alex did a little research into how to find healthy protein powder; here’s what we found:

Energy ball flavor variations!

There are so many ways to mix up this energy balls recipe! As we’ve mentioned above, no need to make them peanut butter oatmeal balls, though that’s our favorite way. Here are a few ideas on how to vary the flavors:

  • Almond joy: Use almond butter instead of peanut butter, and add 1/4 cup shredded coconut (so delicious!). Remember if your almond butter has a dry texture, add a little more honey or a few tablespoons milk until the dough comes together.
  • Birthday cake: Add 1/4 teaspoon almond extract and 3 tablespoons all natural sprinkles.
  • Cherry vanilla: Substitute dried cherries for the chocolate chips (roughly chopped) and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.
  • Blueberry lemon: Substitute dried blueberries for the chocolate chips and add 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest.

There are so many more options…how would you customize these energy bites? Let us know in the comments below.

Peanut Butter Energy Balls

These peanut butter oatmeal balls are very similar to our oatmeal bars recipes! Because oatmeal, peanut butter and honey are the best classic combination, right? Try these fan favorite oatmeal bars:

This energy balls recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free. For plant-based, dairy-free, and gluten-free, use agave syrup.

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Energy balls

Easy Energy Balls


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 20
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This peanut butter energy balls recipe is the best easy snack! Healthy oatmeal balls pack protein and fiber into tasty bites. 


Ingredients

  • 2 cups Old Fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (no sugar added, or any nut butter or sunflower butter for nut free)
  • 1/3 cup honey (or agave syrup for vegan)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup vanilla or chocolate protein powder (we use this one)*
  • 3 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Freeze the bowl for 5 minutes. 
  2. Roll the dough into 20 small balls, pressing the dough together with your hands. We used a 1 1/2-inch cookie scoop (#40) to make uniform balls. You can also make smaller balls if desired. (If the texture of your nut butter makes the dough very dry, add a little more honey or a few tablespoons milk of choice until you can press it together into a ball shape.) Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Enjoy!

Notes

*If you prefer, you can omit the protein powder from this recipe and still have a delicious snack. You can also add natural foods like chia seeds or flax seeds (2 tablespoons of each has 4 grams protein).

  • Category: Snack
  • Method: Raw
  • Cuisine: Snack

Keywords: Energy balls, Energy balls recipe, Peanut butter energy balls, Peanut butter oatmeal balls

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Chocolate Covered Bananas

Frozen chocolate covered bananas are the perfect easy and healthy dessert! Store them in the freezer for whenever you crave a sweet bite. Here’s our new favorite treat that’s simple, healthy, and ultra delicious: Chocolate Covered Bananas! We know, this concept it not new or revolutionary. But man, is it perfect for a sweet treat craving! The crunch of a crisp dark chocolate coating around an icy banana makes magic. Here’s the new thing for us: making small chocolate covered banana bites! It gives you a healthy treat in the freezer anytime a chocolate craving hits. Surprisingly, this tiny bite satisfies like a legit chocolate dessert. How to make chocolate covered bananas Recently, my sister told us she’d been loading up on frozen chocolate covered banana bites from the store. Try them, then make your own recipe for it! she urged us. We grabbed a box and agreed: these are perfection! Dark chocolate plus icy banana is the ultimate treat, and a perfect healthy snack for kids too. The bite format of these is much more satisfying than a large frozen banana on a stick. Here are the basic steps for making homemade chocolate covered bananas: Slice the bananas into […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Frozen chocolate covered bananas are the perfect easy and healthy dessert! Store them in the freezer for whenever you crave a sweet bite.

Chocolate Covered Bananas

Here’s our new favorite treat that’s simple, healthy, and ultra delicious: Chocolate Covered Bananas! We know, this concept it not new or revolutionary. But man, is it perfect for a sweet treat craving! The crunch of a crisp dark chocolate coating around an icy banana makes magic. Here’s the new thing for us: making small chocolate covered banana bites! It gives you a healthy treat in the freezer anytime a chocolate craving hits. Surprisingly, this tiny bite satisfies like a legit chocolate dessert.

How to make chocolate covered bananas

Recently, my sister told us she’d been loading up on frozen chocolate covered banana bites from the store. Try them, then make your own recipe for it! she urged us. We grabbed a box and agreed: these are perfection! Dark chocolate plus icy banana is the ultimate treat, and a perfect healthy snack for kids too. The bite format of these is much more satisfying than a large frozen banana on a stick. Here are the basic steps for making homemade chocolate covered bananas:

  • Slice the bananas into 1/4-inch rounds and freeze. Freezing for 45 minutes turns them into a sort of banana ice cream.
  • Melt chocolate. We like using a double-boiler method (more on that below), or you can use your microwave.
  • Dip and top. Use a jar or measuring cup for easiest dipping. It helps to have 2 people for this part: one to dip and one to top, since the chocolate hardens right away.
  • Freeze again! 30 more minutes in the freezer has them perfectly frozen! Then you can store them in container up to 1 month.
Frozen Chocolate Covered Bananas

Tips on melting the chocolate

Melting chocolate for frozen chocolate covered bananas might sound easy. But working with chocolate is easy to mess up! The chocolate can seize up if it gets any liquid in it, or if you overheat it. Here are a few things to know about melted chocolate:

  • Use the “double boiler” method. Our preferred method is simmering water, then placing a heat proof bowl or jar into the simmering water and stirring. Just make sure to use hot pads and don’t splash any of the water! Using this method, you can leave the bowl of chocolate in the warm water so it stays warm during the entire dipping process.
  • Or, use the microwave. This also works! Sometimes we accidentally overheat the chocolate this way, so we tend to avoid it. Melt it in a liquid measuring cup, heating for about 30 second intervals and then stirring several times until the chocolate melts.
  • For dipping, use a tall jar or measuring cup. It’s easiest to have a tall bath of chocolate to dip the bites into. So a tall jar is better than a shallow bowl.
Chocolate covered banana bites

Frozen chocolate covered banana toppings

Melting the chocolate is the only tricky part of chocolate covered bananas. Otherwise, it’s pretty simple: dip the banana on a fork, shake off extra chocolate, and slide it back on the parchment. Then add toppings right away, since the chocolate hardens quickly! Toppings are optional, of course. But they add an extra festive layer! Here’s what we used, and a few more ideas:

  • Crushed peanuts: crush them very finely so they’re the texture of confetti
  • Crushed pistachios: we love the festive green color
  • Other crushed nuts or seeds: like pecans, hazelnuts, or pepitas
  • All natural sprinkles: if you can, find a brand that’s colored naturally like these sprinkles: they’re dyed with vegetable dyes like beet and spirulina
  • Shredded coconut
  • Chocolate shavings or chunks
  • Freeze dried strawberries or raspberries
How to make chocolate covered bananas

Storage info

Once your chocolate covered bananas are fully frozen, you can place them in a freezer safe container. Here’s the best part: simply store them in the freezer for anytime a chocolate craving strikes! Homemade chocolate banana bites should be stable frozen for about 1 month. Of course, they’ll probably never last that long!

Let us know what you think about this treat! It’s a great healthy dessert for kids, and they can help with the topping process too. Our 3 year old son loved it! And we rarely feel bad letting him have another banana bite.

Chocolate covered bananas

More chocolate recipes

Are you a chocoholic? (Guilty, as charged). Here are a few more healthy and decadent ways to get your chocolate fix:

This frozen chocolate covered bananas recipe is…

Vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free (with dairy free dark chocolate chips).

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Chocolate Covered Bananas

Chocolate Covered Bananas (Frozen Bites!)


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: About 30 to 35 bites
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Frozen chocolate covered bananas are the perfect easy and healthy dessert! Store them in the freezer for whenever you crave a sweet bite.


Ingredients

  • 2 ripe medium bananas
  • 1 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips* (5 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon refined coconut oil
  • 1 pinch salt
  • Toppings (optional): 2 tablespoons each crushed peanuts, crushed pistachios, and all natural sprinkles

Instructions

  1. Freeze the bananas (45 minutes): Slice bananas into 1/4-inch rounds. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze for 45 minutes. 
  2. Melt the chocolate: Start a pot of simmering water. Place the chocolate in a glass measuring cup or large wide mouth jar, and place it into the simmering water. Very carefully, stir the chocolate until it melts, using a hot pad or gloves to hold the glass. Do not let any of the water splash, or it will split the chocolate. (You can also melt the chocolate in the microwave in a liquid measuring cup, heating for about 30 second intervals and then stirring several times until the chocolate melts.)
  3. Dip and top the bananas: Make sure your toppings are ready, if using. Leave the jar in the double boiler to keep the chocolate warm. Use a fork to dip each banana slice into the jar, then shake off excess chocolate.  Transfer the slice to the parchment lined baking sheet, using your finger to gently slide off the banana. Add toppings immediately (the chocolate freezes quickly) — this process is easiest with 2 people, 1 person to dip and 1 person to top. This recipe uses only 1 cup of chocolate for the bananas, but it’s nice to have extra chocolate to make the dipping process easier. You can dip pretzels or cereal into the remaining chocolate, or discard it. 
  4. Freeze: Return the bananas to the freezer and freeze for 30 minutes. Then transfer the banana bites to a freezer safe container.  Store up to 1 month.

Notes

*Only about 1 cup is used in the recipe, but you’ll need the extra to make the dipping process easier. Find extra items to dip into the remaining chocolate if you like (like pretzels, cereal, etc). 

  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Frozen
  • Cuisine: Dessert

Keywords: Chocolate covered bananas, Frozen chocolate covered bananas, How to make chocolate covered bananas, Chocolate covered banana bites

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Garden Vegetable Soup

This easy vegetable soup recipe is simple and satisfying! It’s a veggie-loaded homemade spin on canned soup that’s infinitely tastier. Craving simplicity? Meet this easy and satisfying Vegetable Soup! Sometimes you just need that classic noodle soup: you know, the your mom made you or the one you dumped out of a can after school? This recipe came from a day where Alex took stock of our pantry and whipped up a simple homemade vegetable soup. We’ve been making it ever since! This vegetable soup is loaded with colorful veggies and cozy spiral past, swimming in a bright yellow turmeric broth with tons of flavor. It’s like canned soup, but a homemade version that tastes infinitely better. Here’s how to make it! How to make vegetable soup This vegetable soup recipe is the very definition of simple. It’s a homemade version of canned noodle soup, but we’ve packed it full of healthy veggies and restorative spices. Here are the main steps for this easy vegetable soup (or jump right to the recipe below!): Prep the veggies: Dice an onion, bell pepper, carrots and celery. Sauté: In a large pot or Dutch oven, saute the veggies until tender, about 5 to […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

This easy vegetable soup recipe is simple and satisfying! It’s a veggie-loaded homemade spin on canned soup that’s infinitely tastier.

Vegetable soup

Craving simplicity? Meet this easy and satisfying Vegetable Soup! Sometimes you just need that classic noodle soup: you know, the your mom made you or the one you dumped out of a can after school? This recipe came from a day where Alex took stock of our pantry and whipped up a simple homemade vegetable soup. We’ve been making it ever since! This vegetable soup is loaded with colorful veggies and cozy spiral past, swimming in a bright yellow turmeric broth with tons of flavor. It’s like canned soup, but a homemade version that tastes infinitely better. Here’s how to make it!

How to make vegetable soup

This vegetable soup recipe is the very definition of simple. It’s a homemade version of canned noodle soup, but we’ve packed it full of healthy veggies and restorative spices. Here are the main steps for this easy vegetable soup (or jump right to the recipe below!):

  • Prep the veggies: Dice an onion, bell pepper, carrots and celery.
  • Sauté: In a large pot or Dutch oven, saute the veggies until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Add spices: The blend of spices in this soup is so, so delicious! It brings in the savory vibe of canned soup.
  • Simmer: Add the broth and remaining veggies and bring it to a simmer. Once simmering, add the noodles and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. That’s it!
How to make vegetable soup

Best veggies for a vegetable soup

The goal with this vegetable soup? Pack it with quick-cooking veggies so it’s easy to make! Many vegetable soup recipes include potatoes or squash, and here’s the thing: hard root veggies take a long time to cook. So for this soup, we picked veggies that will cook up in no time! This recipe is an update to our previous version that loads it with even more veggies. Here’s what we think are the perfect quick-cooking veggies to include for the maximum healthy punch:

  • Onion
  • Bell pepper
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Garlic
  • Green beans
  • White beans like cannellini or Great Northern
  • Peas

Secret spice blend for the broth

It’s easy to make a vegetable soup recipe, but often the broth leaves something to be desired. Vegetable broth on its own is a little bland, so you’ve go to have a great blend of seasonings to amp up the flavors. Here’s what we included in this broth to make it satisfying and slurp-able:

  • Garlic powder
  • Dried basil
  • Dried oregano
  • Dried thyme
  • Ground turmeric

What’s turmeric? Turmeric is a bright yellow spice that’s part of the ginger family. It is most often used dried and ground, and has an earthy, almost mustard-like flavor. Because turmeric has some potential restorative properties and we love the flavor, we added a good amount of this golden spice to make for a vibrant broth. It looks bright and beautiful, and tastes great! Grab a jar and can use up the rest with these top turmeric recipes, from yellow rice to vegan nacho cheese.

Vegetable soup recipe

Variations on this vegetable soup recipe!

Because it has a short ingredient list, this homemade vegetable soup is easily customizable! Add any quick cooking vegetables you love, or other spices or seasonings. Here are a few ideas:

  • Chickpeas or kidney beans instead of white beans
  • Canned tomatoes: add a 15-ounce can diced or fire-roasted
  • Spinach, kale, or chard: add a few handfuls (chopped or baby greens) in the last 5 minutes
  • Frozen butternut squash: this soup works with frozen since it’s already partially cooked! Add it with the green beans
  • Pesto: Basil pesto adds big flavor to the broth! Add 1 to 2 tablespoons with the broth

What other veggies would you add? Let us know in the comments below!

Or, make it even simpler: noodle soup!

Want to make this more like straight noodle soup? This recipe is a spin on an older version of this recipe that was essentially onion, carrots, celery and noodles. Essentially, it was vegetable noodle soup! Want to make the old version?

  • Remove the red pepper, white beans, green beans, and peas, and make the recipe as listed below!
Easy vegetable soup

Make vegetable soup into a meal

This vegetable soup recipe is packed with healthy veggies and plant-based protein. Because here’s the thing: if you’re going to pend the time on a soup, why not make it filling enough for a meal? This soup works as an easy lunch or healthy dinner recipe! You can always top with grated Parmesan cheese or a dollop of Greek yogurt to make it more filling, or add an easy side dish. Here are a few ideas for making this easy soup into a meal:

Homemade vegetable soup

This vegetable soup recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based and dairy-free. For gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta.

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Easy Vegetable Soup


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (88 votes, average: 4.25 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 6
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

This garden vegetable soup recipe is simple and satisfying! It’s a veggie-loaded homemade spin on canned soup that’s infinitely tastier.


Ingredients

  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon each dried oregano and dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 8 cups (2 quarts) vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt, to taste
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen green beans
  • 15-ounce can white beans (cannellini, Great Northern or other), drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
  • 5 ounces pasta spirals (about 2 cups dry)

Instructions

  1. Dice the onion. Dice the bell pepper. Thinly slice the celery. Peel and thinly slice the carrot into rounds. Mince the garlic.
  2. In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, carrots, and garlic, and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes until the onion is translucent.
  3. Add the garlic powder, dried basil, oregano, thyme, and turmeric and stir. Continue cooking for about 1 minute.
  4. Add the vegetable broth, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt,  frozen green beans, drained and rinsed white beans, and fresh ground pepper. Bring a simmer.
  5. Add the frozen peas and pasta and continue simmering until the pasta is cooked, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for several minutes. Taste and add the additional salt as necessary.
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: vegetable soup, vegetable soup recipe, easy vegetable soup, homemade vegetable soup, How to make vegetable soup

Looking for more soup recipes?

Outside of this homemade vegetable soup recipe, here are a few of our favorite soup recipes:

Last updated: February 2021

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

This Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe is cozy and cheesy: the ultimate comfort food! It’s fast and easy to whip up in a pressure cooker. There’s nothing more comforting than a good bowl of mac and cheese. Ever tried it in your pressure cooker? Turns out, Instant Pot mac and cheese is layer upon layer of cozy. The way the Instant Pot cooks pasta makes it soft and supple, which has a down-home sort of vibe to it. It’s not al dente, but it almost feels like an elevated version of box mac and cheese. The big selling point here? The method is very hands off: throw the ingredients in the pot and press Go! Nothing better than that. Here are all the cozy secrets to this method. Ingredients for this Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe This Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe might even better easier than cooking from a box. (Maybe?) You need only a few ingredients, and assuming you stock cheese and pasta: they might already be in your pantry. Here’s what you need: Short pasta: Sure, you can use macaroni. But our favorite pasta shapes for mac and cheese are any other short type […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

This Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe is cozy and cheesy: the ultimate comfort food! It’s fast and easy to whip up in a pressure cooker.

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

There’s nothing more comforting than a good bowl of mac and cheese. Ever tried it in your pressure cooker? Turns out, Instant Pot mac and cheese is layer upon layer of cozy. The way the Instant Pot cooks pasta makes it soft and supple, which has a down-home sort of vibe to it. It’s not al dente, but it almost feels like an elevated version of box mac and cheese. The big selling point here? The method is very hands off: throw the ingredients in the pot and press Go! Nothing better than that. Here are all the cozy secrets to this method.

Ingredients for this Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe

This Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe might even better easier than cooking from a box. (Maybe?) You need only a few ingredients, and assuming you stock cheese and pasta: they might already be in your pantry. Here’s what you need:

  • Short pasta: Sure, you can use macaroni. But our favorite pasta shapes for mac and cheese are any other short type of pasta: shells, penne, fusilli, bowties, orecchiette and more. See below!
  • Sharp cheddar cheese: make sure it’s not aged
  • Monterey Jack cheese
  • Milk
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Seasoned Italian breadcrumbs (optional)
Mac and cheese Instant Pot

Pasta cooks to soft, not al dente in an Instant Pot

Over here, we’re sticklers for getting the perfect al dente when we cook our pasta. But here’s what to know about mac and cheese in the Instant Pot:

  • Cooking pasta in the Instant Pot comes out with a soft texture, not al dente. But here’s the thing: it’s still delicious! Cooking the pasta to a softer texture helps it to soak in sauces and it has more of a “down-home” cozy comforting vibe. Think of it as a totally different way to make a pot of pasta!
  • Leftovers of this Instant Pot mac and cheese work too. Even though the pasta comes out soft, leftovers work too! Add a splash of milk and reheat it in a skillet, and this tastes almost as good as new.

How to make Instant Pot mac and cheese: basic steps

There’s barely 5 minutes of hands on time here! It takes about 25 minutes to complete, but most of this Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe is hands off. That’s what makes it great as a quick weeknight meal, or to whip up for kids or as a side dish for a stunning main. Here are the basic steps to this recipe:

  • Pressure cook the pasta for 4 minutes. Remember that there’s a “preheat time” of about 10 minute before the Instant Pot gets up to pressure. This part takes about 15 minutes total.
  • Quick release! If you’re an Instant Pot pro, you’ll know: quick release recipes are the best! This means you don’t have to continue to wait for a natural release.
  • Switch to slow cooker mode and stir in the milk and cheese. Stir until they form a creamy sauce, just a minute or two.
Instant pot mac and cheese recipe

Bread crumbs optional!

If you’re a mac and cheese purist, there’s something so satisfying about topping this gooey, cheesy mess with crunchy breadcrumbs. The contrasting texture is extremely satisfying. But of course it’s not necessary! We like using seasoned Italian breadcrumbs because it adds a little nuance of herbs. They’re easy to find at the store, or you can make your own breadcrumbs and add Italian seasoning.

Best noodles for mac and cheese in the Instant Pot

You can use macaroni for Instant Pot mac and cheese…but what’s the fun in that? In fact, our favorite pasta for this comfort food is anything but macaroni. We love using a unique pasta shape to keep things interesting. Shells are a favorite around here: and while they aren’t unexpected, there’s something that’s even more homey about them than the typical mac. Here are our favorite types of short pasta for mac and cheese, in order of preference:

  1. Conchiglie (shells): what we used here
  2. Cavatappicork-screw shapes
  3. Orecchiette: ear shapes
  4. Gigli (Campanelle)lily shapes
  5. Penne: long thin tubes with diagonal ends
  6. Gemelli: twisted tube shapes
  7. Rigatoni: long thicker tubes
Instant Pot mac and cheese

Sides to serve with Instant Pot mac and cheese

If the idea of using your Instant Pot for mac and cheese is to not do any cooking: let’s stick with the theme! There are lots of ideas for adding nutrients and fiber to round out this pasta into a meal. Here are a few no-cook side dishes to serve alongside:

  1. Spinach salad: This Spinach Apple Salad is full of good-for-you ingredients and topped with a tangy dressing.
  2. Veggies & ranch: Go simple with this Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip and carrot sticks. Perfect for kids (and adults, really).
  3. Coleslaw: Try this Best Coleslaw with a tangy, creamy dressing.
  4. Celery salad: This Celery Salad with Apples is unexpectedly refreshing and a great counterpoint to pasta.
  5. Citrus salad: This Simple Citrus Salad is gorgeous, with beautiful colors and a citrus zing.

More Instant Pot pasta recipes

Want to keep cooking up pasta in your pressure cooker? Here are a few other ideas to try outside of this Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe:

Instant pot mac and cheese

A note on pressure cookers

All pressure cooker brands vary! Here’s the brand we use: the Instant Pot 6 Qt Programmable Pressure Cooker. We also have 2 Instant Pot sealing rings and use one for savory recipes and one for sweet recipes. This recipe is customized for a 6 quart pressure cooker. We also can’t speak to using other brands and types of pressure cookers for this recipe. Use them at your own risk!

This Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe is…

Vegetarian.

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Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 to 8 as a main, 10 to 12 as a side
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe is cozy and cheesy: the ultimate comfort food! It’s fast and easy to whip up in a pressure cooker. Stovetop variation below.*


Ingredients

  • 1 pound short pasta (shells, macaroni, penne, etc)*
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) sharp cheddar cheese (not aged), grated
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs (or plain breadcrumbs, optional)

Instructions

  1. Place the dry pasta in the Instant Pot and stir in 4 cups water and the kosher salt, onion powder and garlic powder. Lock the lid of the Instant Pot. Place the pressure release handle (vent) in the “Sealing” position.
  2. Cook on High Pressure for 4 minutes: Press the Pressure Cook button, making sure the “High Pressure” setting is selected, and set the time. Note that it takes about 10 minutes for the pot to “preheat” and come up to pressure before it starts cooking. (During cooking, avoid touching the metal part of the lid.)
  3. Quick release: Vent the remaining steam from the Instant Pot by moving the pressure release handle to “Venting”, covering your hand with a towel or hot pad. Never put your hands or face near the vent when releasing steam. Open the pressure cooker lid. There will be water remaining, which is what is intended. 
  4. Slow cook and make the sauce: Switch to the “slow cook” setting on the Instant Pot. Stir the pasta, then stir in the grated cheese. Add the milk and continue to stir for a minute or two until the cheese melts to form a creamy sauce, adding more milk if necessary. Serve warm, topped with breadcrumbs.

Notes

*Stovetop variation: Cook the pasta to al dente in boiling water. Drain and return to the pot. Stir in the remaining ingredients and heat on low heat until the cheese melts and forms a creamy sauce.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Instant Pot Mac and Cheese, Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe, mac and cheese Instant Pot

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Vegan Chocolate Pudding

This vegan chocolate pudding is so rich and chocolaty, no one will know its dairy free! Cocoa powder and oat milk combine into a decadent dessert. Bookmark this recipe stat. This vegan chocolate pudding is so creamy and rich, you’ll think it’s the real thing! The flavor is pure rich chocolate, and it gives you all those nostalgic Snack Pack-style vibes. (It did for us, at least.) The best part: there are no weird “tricks” to this dairy free chocolate pudding. Ever made pudding with avocado or tofu and while it’s good, deep down part of your brain is not quite convinced? This one tastes like the real thing — and it’s made with real ingredients, just like a traditional pudding. Ingredients for vegan chocolate pudding Like we said: there are no crazy ingredients for this easy vegan chocolate pudding. No avocado aftertaste, or weird tofu tricks for a pudding like consistency. This one is pure real ingredients! Here’s what you’ll need: Cocoa powder Cornstarch (or arrowroot powder) Granulated sugar (or coconut sugar) Oat milk or almond milk Semisweet vegan chocolate chips Vanilla extract Use your favorite non dairy milk (almond or oat milk) You can use your favorite non-dairy […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

This vegan chocolate pudding is so rich and chocolaty, no one will know its dairy free! Cocoa powder and oat milk combine into a decadent dessert.

Vegan chocolate pudding

Bookmark this recipe stat. This vegan chocolate pudding is so creamy and rich, you’ll think it’s the real thing! The flavor is pure rich chocolate, and it gives you all those nostalgic Snack Pack-style vibes. (It did for us, at least.) The best part: there are no weird “tricks” to this dairy free chocolate pudding. Ever made pudding with avocado or tofu and while it’s good, deep down part of your brain is not quite convinced? This one tastes like the real thing — and it’s made with real ingredients, just like a traditional pudding.

Ingredients for vegan chocolate pudding

Like we said: there are no crazy ingredients for this easy vegan chocolate pudding. No avocado aftertaste, or weird tofu tricks for a pudding like consistency. This one is pure real ingredients! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Cocoa powder
  • Cornstarch (or arrowroot powder)
  • Granulated sugar (or coconut sugar)
  • Oat milk or almond milk
  • Semisweet vegan chocolate chips
  • Vanilla extract
Vegan chocolate pudding

Use your favorite non dairy milk (almond or oat milk)

You can use your favorite non-dairy milk in this recipe! Here are a few notes about the types of non dairy milk and what works the best in vegan pudding:

  • Oat milk: We like the consistency and flavor of oat milk: it’s one of our favorite vegan milk options! It’s our favorite for using in this pudding and has a neutral flavor. It’s also nut free.
  • Almond milk: Almond milk is a little thinner in consistency than oat milk, but it also works well in this pudding.
  • Soy milk: You can use soy milk for this pudding if you like! We haven’t tested it, but it should work in the same fashion.
  • Coconut milk: We don’t recommend coconut milk here: it can add a strong coconut flavor. It’s also higher in fat than the other milks. (Of course you can give it a try if desired.)
Vegan pudding

How to make vegan chocolate pudding: some tips

The method for making this vegan chocolate pudding is the same as a traditional chocolate pudding! You’ll whisk together cocoa powder, sugar, cornstarch, and milk until thickened, then remove from the heat and add chocolate. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you go about the process:

  • Whisk the dry ingredients fully, then gradually whisk in milk. The dry ingredients can make for lumps later if you don’t get them all whisked in.
  • Once it starts bubbling, stir often. Make sure to get into the edges of the pan so the pudding doesn’t stick.
  • The pudding will thicken fully as it cools. Pull it off the stove when it’s thick, but not fully set up into pudding consistency. See more below!

Troubleshooting: how to avoid lumpy pudding?

The biggest issue with making vegan chocolate pudding: the pudding can get lumpy! To prevent this, make sure to whisk all the dry ingredients well before starting the process: get out any clumps of cocoa powder and cornstarch. Then make sure to add the milk in gradually, whisking after each addition so that it becomes smooth. This is before you even apply the heat!

When you start heating the mixture, continue to stir often to prevent lumps. If you do all these things and end up with some minor lumps, it’s ok! It shouldn’t affect the overall flavor.

Dairy free chocolate pudding

Refrigerating makes it fully thick!

The trick with homemade vegan chocolate pudding is that it thickens fully in the refrigerator. It will thicken to pudding-like consistency after refrigerating for about 2 to 3 hours. Here’s what to know about this process:

  • Plan in advance for the refrigeration step! The hands on portion of this recipe takes only about 10 minutes. But the refrigerating takes a few hours. You may want to make this the day before you plan to serve and store in the fridge.
  • Press plastic wrap or wax paper onto the surface of the pudding. This prevents a film from forming on the top of the pudding. Once it’s cold, you can remove the wrap.
  • Speed up the process by refrigerating in small serving dishes. This can speed up the chilling by about 1 hour or so, depending on the size of the dishes. But you’ll still need to use small pieces of plastic wrap or wax paper for the tops.
Kid friendly
Vegan pudding is also an easy recipe to make with kids! Our 3 year old loved it

It’s kid friendly, too

This vegan chocolate pudding went over very well with our 3 year old! It’s an easy recipe you can make with kids. And it’s a great as a healthy dessert to serve to kids. We served it after a Friday night pizza party and it got rave reviews!

This vegan chocolate pudding recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

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Vegan chocolate pudding

Easy Vegan Chocolate Pudding


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 6 to 8
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

This vegan chocolate pudding is so rich and chocolaty, no one will know its dairy free! Cocoa powder and oat milk combine into a decadent dessert.


Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch (or arrowroot powder)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (or coconut sugar)
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 1/2 cups oat milk or almond milk
  • 1/2 cup semisweet vegan chocolate chips
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan with the heat off, thoroughly whisk together cocoa powder, sugar, cornstarch, and salt, working to remove all lumps. Gradually pour in the milk in small amounts, whisking after each addition until it is smooth.
  2. Turn the heat to medium and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently.
  3. Once it just starts to bubble on the edges, reduce the heat to low. Cook, stirring often, until thickened, about 2 minutes (make sure to stir into the edges of the pan so it doesn’t stick). The pudding will continue to thicken and set as it cools, so it doesn’t need to be fully thick at this point.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate chips and vanilla, stirring until fully melted.
  5. Transfer to a container and press plastic wrap or wax paper on the surface (this prevents a film from forming on the top). Refrigerate 2 hours until cold and set. Keeps for 1 week in the refrigerator.

  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Vegan

Keywords: Vegan chocolate pudding, oat milk pudding, dairy free chocolate pudding

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Creamy Broccoli Potato Soup

This broccoli potato soup is intensely creamy, satisfying, and 100% plant based! It’s an easy healthy soup that everyone loves. Hold onto your hats! Here’s a creamy broccoli potato soup that will blow your mind. (We hope.) It’s impossibly creamy, whole food plant based (WFPB), and it tastes like the coziest bowl of comfort. And it’s 100% made of veggies! How’s that for amazing? This easy and healthy soup is vegan and gluten-free, so it works for a variety of diets. But it tastes like an elevated version of broccoli cheese soup from a can (you know the one). Here are all the secrets to making this crowd-pleaser…everyone will ask for the recipe. What’s in this broccoli potato soup? This a vegan broccoli soup, but it looks legit cheesy, doesn’t it? This recipe was born out of an idea to make the dairy-filled version. But then I sat back and thought about how my stomach would feel after eating a rich, creamy soup. Is there broccoli potato soup that’s creamy and plant based? Oh yes, it can be done. Here’s what’s in this soup: Yukon gold potatoes make for a creamy base Cashews achieve a rich, shiny texture Frozen broccoli […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

This broccoli potato soup is intensely creamy, satisfying, and 100% plant based! It’s an easy healthy soup that everyone loves.

Broccoli potato soup

Hold onto your hats! Here’s a creamy broccoli potato soup that will blow your mind. (We hope.) It’s impossibly creamy, whole food plant based (WFPB), and it tastes like the coziest bowl of comfort. And it’s 100% made of veggies! How’s that for amazing? This easy and healthy soup is vegan and gluten-free, so it works for a variety of diets. But it tastes like an elevated version of broccoli cheese soup from a can (you know the one). Here are all the secrets to making this crowd-pleaser…everyone will ask for the recipe.

What’s in this broccoli potato soup?

This a vegan broccoli soup, but it looks legit cheesy, doesn’t it? This recipe was born out of an idea to make the dairy-filled version. But then I sat back and thought about how my stomach would feel after eating a rich, creamy soup. Is there broccoli potato soup that’s creamy and plant based? Oh yes, it can be done. Here’s what’s in this soup:

  • Yukon gold potatoes make for a creamy base
  • Cashews achieve a rich, shiny texture
  • Frozen broccoli makes for the easiest soup possible (embrace it!)
  • Onion & garlic add big flavor
  • Dried thyme & dill add just the right herby punch
  • Veggie broth, white wine vinegar & Dijon mustard round out the broth
Creamy vegan broccoli potato soup

Frozen broccoli makes it fast and easy!

Frozen vegetables don’t make a lot of appearances in Alex and my recipes. Every single broccoli recipe on this website uses fresh broccoli. BUT! In a broccoli potato soup like this one, you want the broccoli to be basically overcooked: super tender, so it melds into the texture of the soup.

So why use fresh broccoli when frozen is already cooked? Frozen veggies still retain most of the nutrients you’d find in the fresh version since they are flash-frozen. Use any type of frozen broccoli: this recipe calls for a 1 pound bag.

Want to use fresh broccoli? Here’s how.

Got fresh broccoli on hand and want to use it here? Go for it! Here’s what to do:

  1. Chop it: Chop the broccoli into small florets. You’ll need 4 cups.
  2. Steam it (& cook longer): Steam it like in our Best Steamed Broccoli recipe, but cook it several minutes longer than the recipe specifies. You’ll want it very tender, not crisp tender. This simulates the texture of frozen and what you’ll need for this soup. Also leave out any seasoning, since you’ll add salt as part of the soup recipe.
Steamed broccoli

The trick to making broccoli potato soup creamy?

There are a few tricks, really! Here’s what makes the impossibly creamy base of this tasty broccoli potato soup:

  • Yukon gold potatoes: Cooking up potatoes and then blending them with spices helps to make a super creamy body of the soup. But they’re nothing without…
  • Cashews: Cashews are the trick to making recipes creamy without dairy! (Here are all our favorite creamy cashew recipes.) They add a richness and shine to the broth, so they cannot be omitted here. If you have a nut allergy, we’d recommend trying some of our other soup recipes instead. The cashew trick is just too good here! Using only potatoes would result in a dull and blander soup.
Broccoli potato soup

It’s kid friendly, too!

Our son Larson loved this one, so thought we’d mention it’s also great for kids! He loves eating soup, so we love making this one for him. A few other kid friendly recipes he particularly enjoys lately: Vegan Sloppy Joes, Peanut Butter Dip and Baked Taquitos.

What to serve with broccoli potato soup?

Want to make this broccoli potato soup into a meal? This healthy soup is a fabulous way to eat all the best veggies. Here are a few ideas for sides to serve with it:

Broccoli potato soup

This broccoli potato soup recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, and gluten-free.

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Broccoli potato soup

Creamy Broccoli Potato Soup


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Description

This broccoli potato soup is intensely creamy and 100% plant based! It’s an easy healthy soup that everyone loves (plus it’s vegan and gluten free).


Ingredients

  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes (about 6 medium)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup raw unsalted cashews
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 pound frozen broccoli florets (or 4 cups small steamed broccoli florets*)
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried dill
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Instructions

  1. Dice the onion. Mince the garlic. Peel the potatoes and cut them into bite-sized chunks.
  2. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the vegetable broth, cashews and potatoes and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and bring to a boil. Reduce to a rapid simmer (not a boil), and simmer about 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender and falling apart when poked with a fork.
  3. Meanwhile, run the frozen broccoli under hot water to thaw it. Chop it into smaller florets as necessary. All packages are different, so make small bite-sized florets the size you’d like for a soup. You can chop the broccoli stems off and keep them in the soup as well. Place the broccoli in a bowl and mix it  with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a bowl and black pepper. Peel and grate the carrot into long strips (we used a handheld julienne shredder).
  4. When the potatoes are tender, use a ladle to transfer everything to a blender. Add the thyme, dill, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard and another 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Hold the top tight and blend everything for a minute or two until fully creamy. (This quantity just fits in a standard blender.)
  5. Pour the creamy soup back into the pot and add the broccoli and carrot. Simmer about 5 more minutes until the broccoli is cooked through. Taste and add additional salt as necessary (we added 1/4 teaspoon more).

Notes

*If you’re cooking fresh broccoli, here’s how to simulate frozen: Cut it into very small florets. Then steam it but cook it a few minutes longer so that it’s very tender (not crisp tender as indicated in the recipe). Leave out any seasoning, since you’ll add salt as part of the soup recipe.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Soup

Keywords: Broccoli Potato Soup, Vegan Broccoli Soup

More vegan comfort food recipes

This broccoli potato soup is pure comfort food! Here are a few more of our comfort food favorites:

  • Vegan Shepherd’s Pie Here’s the very best vegan shepherd’s pie! The hearty veggie and lentil filling contrasts fluffy potatoes in this stunning plant based dinner recipe.
  • Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo WOW! This tastes decadent, but the creamy sauce is filled with healthy plant based ingredients. An easy dinner in under 30 minutes!
  • Ultimate Vegan Chili Bursting with flavor, this one’s seriously delicious and totally plant based. Dollop with vegan sour cream and load with toppings!

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Vegan Sloppy Joes

This vegan Sloppy Joes recipe has a tangy lentil filling that’s full of flavor and nutrients! It’s a plant based dinner everyone will love. Looking for plant based recipes to please everyone at the table? These days, Alex and I getting lots of requests for veggie-centric recipes to feed a crowd. In fact, per the New York Times, 40% of Americans are now looking to eat more plant based recipes. And what better to please a crowd than Sloppy Joes? These vegan Sloppy Joes have a zingy lentil filling that tastes just as good as the meaty version. Put it on a toasted bun with some bread and butter pickles, and WOW! You’re going to love this one (promise). Ready to get cooking? What’s in these vegan Sloppy Joes? These vegan Sloppy Joes are full of whole food plant based (WFPB) ingredients. Lentils form the base, and they’re covered in a gooey sauce with savory spices! Here’s what they’ve got: Onion, garlic, and green pepper bring big flavor Brown or green lentils are the base: they provide texture and lots of plant based protein Olive oil & vegetable broth for sauteing and simmering Organic ketchup: look for organic and read […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

This vegan Sloppy Joes recipe has a tangy lentil filling that’s full of flavor and nutrients! It’s a plant based dinner everyone will love.

Vegan sloppy joes

Looking for plant based recipes to please everyone at the table? These days, Alex and I getting lots of requests for veggie-centric recipes to feed a crowd. In fact, per the New York Times, 40% of Americans are now looking to eat more plant based recipes. And what better to please a crowd than Sloppy Joes? These vegan Sloppy Joes have a zingy lentil filling that tastes just as good as the meaty version. Put it on a toasted bun with some bread and butter pickles, and WOW! You’re going to love this one (promise). Ready to get cooking?

Vegan Sloppy Joes

What’s in these vegan Sloppy Joes?

These vegan Sloppy Joes are full of whole food plant based (WFPB) ingredients. Lentils form the base, and they’re covered in a gooey sauce with savory spices! Here’s what they’ve got:

  • Onion, garlic, and green pepper bring big flavor
  • Brown or green lentils are the base: they provide texture and lots of plant based protein
  • Olive oil & vegetable broth for sauteing and simmering
  • Organic ketchup: look for organic and read the label to find a ketchup with as few ingredients as possible!
  • Vegan Worcestershire sauce: It can be found at your local grocery store or online! If you don’t eat 100% vegan, you can use regular (it has a small amount of anchovies).
  • Spices: mustard powder, onion powder and chili powder round it out!
Sloppy Joe lentil filling

The basic method: how to make vegan Sloppy Joes

These vegan Sloppy Joes are very easy to make! They do take about 50 minutes total, but most of that is hands off. So, you’ll have to plan ahead on this one. Leftovers save well, so if you don’t have time on a weeknight, meal prep a batch and have it in the fridge. It tastes just as good days later! Here are the basic steps for this recipe:

  • Prep the veggies: Dice the onion, garlic and green pepper. Because what good Sloppy Joes recipe doesn’t have green pepper?
  • Saute: Saute the veggies for 5 minutes.
  • Simmer: Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes until a thick sauce forms and the lentils are tender.
  • Stir in ketchup and serve. You’ll stir in one last hit of ketchup to intensify the flavor.
Plant based sloppy Joes

Why lentils? A note on plant based meats

Many vegan Sloppy Joes recipes use plant based meat versions of ground beef. Here’s the thing: Alex and I aren’t so into plant based meat substitutes (like veggie crumbles or Impossible Burger). They’re all the rage these days, but guess what? They’re also processed food.

According to Dr. David Katz in Heated, plant based meats are a step up from eating processed meats, but a step down from whole foods. So if you’re looking to eat lots of plants for your health: start with actual veggies! That’s why we’ve used lentils as the filling in these Sloppy Joes.

Make it in advance, or use our quicker version!

If you want to make it on a weeknight but don’t have 50 minutes, we get it! We usually don’t either. Here’s what we would do:

  • Meal prep in advance. Make it the night before or on the weekend. Leftovers save well! Just refrigerate them until serving, and reheat in a saucepan. Add an extra squeeze of ketchup if it seems dry.
  • Use our quicker version. Try our Two-Bean Sloppy Joes: they take just 20 minutes! We like the flavor and texture of these a little better, but the bean version is nice for a quick fix.
Plant based dinner ideas

Everyone loves them…including kids!

These vegan Sloppy Joes are a nice plant-based meal for people who are on the fence about veggies. They’re crowd pleasing and have a cozy, comforting vibe. They’re also a great vegan recipe for kids! Our son Larson loved them. Of course, they do get a little sloppy: so beware!

More healthy plant based dinner recipes

Looking for more healthy plant based dinner recipes? That’s our forte around here. Here are some you might enjoy:

  • Minestrone Soup Minestrone soup is a colorful Italian soup full of hearty vegetables and pasta! This recipe is an easy plant based dinner or lunch recipe.
  • Easy Sheet Pan Dinner This easy sheet pan dinner is filled with healthy vegetables and fresh flavor! Throw it all in the oven while you cook rice or quinoa. Dinnertime win!
  • Easy Chickpea Curry The ultimate healthy and easy weeknight dinner! It’s done in 20 minutes, totally plant based, and full of flavor.

This vegan Sloppy Joes recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free. For gluten-free, use gluten-free buns.

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Vegan sloppy joes

Vegan Sloppy Joes (That Everyone Loves!)


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (7 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings

Description

This vegan Sloppy Joes recipe has a tangy lentil filling that’s full of flavor and nutrients! It’s a plant based dinner everyone will love.


Ingredients

  • 1/2 green bell pepper (about 3/4 cup diced)
  • 1 medium onion (about 1 cup diced)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups brown or green lentils
  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups organic ketchup, divided*
  • 2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon each mustard powder, onion powder, chili powder, and kosher salt
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • Pickled onions, to serve
  • Bread and butter pickles, to serve
  • 8 whole wheat buns (make sure they are vegan, use gluten-free as desired)

Instructions

  1. Dice the bell pepper. Dice the onion. Mince the garlic.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the bell pepper and onion and cook 5 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add the lentils, vegetable broth, 1 cup ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, mustard powder, onion powder, chili powder, and kosher salt. Simmer uncovered for 30 to 35 minutes until most of the liquid is cooked out and the lentils are tender.
  4. Stir in another 1/2 cup ketchup. Remove from the heat and serve on a bun with pickled onions and pickles. (If desired, toast the buns prior to serving.) Make ahead: Leftovers save well for 3 to 4 days. Make in advance, refrigerate and then reheat in a saucepan. Add an extra squeeze of ketchup if it seems dry.

Notes

*Look for organic ketchup and read the label to make sure it has as few ingredients as possible. 

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Vegan

Keywords: Vegan Sloppy Joes

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Butternut Squash Pasta

Everyone loves this butternut squash pasta! It’s covered in a creamy sauce blended with garlic, spices, and goat cheese. Top with Parmesan & serve! Say hello to our new favorite way to eat squash: this butternut squash pasta! Alex and I have been on quite the run of healthy pasta recipes lately, from creamy cavatappi with hidden cauliflower to our best ever vegan lasagna. But could you make room in your heart for your more? Because this one is darn good. Tender butternut squash is pureed into a creamy sauce with garlic, spices, and goat cheese. It’s savory with a sweet undertone, and the perfect sauce to cover al dente pasta. It’s a little like mac and cheese, but a little sweeter and loads healthier. What’s in this butternut squash pasta? The ingredients in this butternut squash pasta are simple: the squash carries a lot of flavor and color for the sauce itself! Here’s what’s in it: Butternut squash Olive oil & vegetable broth for sauteing and simmering the squash Garlic to bring big flavor Chili powder and nutmeg to add complexity Goat cheese to add creamy body Other than salt and pepper, that’s it! It’s quite simple to make. […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Everyone loves this butternut squash pasta! It’s covered in a creamy sauce blended with garlic, spices, and goat cheese. Top with Parmesan & serve!

Butternut squash pasta

Say hello to our new favorite way to eat squash: this butternut squash pasta! Alex and I have been on quite the run of healthy pasta recipes lately, from creamy cavatappi with hidden cauliflower to our best ever vegan lasagna. But could you make room in your heart for your more? Because this one is darn good. Tender butternut squash is pureed into a creamy sauce with garlic, spices, and goat cheese. It’s savory with a sweet undertone, and the perfect sauce to cover al dente pasta. It’s a little like mac and cheese, but a little sweeter and loads healthier.

What’s in this butternut squash pasta?

The ingredients in this butternut squash pasta are simple: the squash carries a lot of flavor and color for the sauce itself! Here’s what’s in it:

  • Butternut squash
  • Olive oil & vegetable broth for sauteing and simmering the squash
  • Garlic to bring big flavor
  • Chili powder and nutmeg to add complexity
  • Goat cheese to add creamy body

Other than salt and pepper, that’s it! It’s quite simple to make. The only time consuming part is chopping the squash…

Butternut squash

The best way to cut butternut squash?

OK, we know butternut squash can be a pain to cut! It’s worth it in the end, but it can be stressful to wrangle. We’ve created a video to show you just how to do it! The main pointers are that we cut off the neck of the squash, then peel both halves. Then you’ll cut them each into strips, then squares. It’s much easier to watch, so here’s a quick video of How to Cut Butternut Squash!

Fresh vs frozen butternut squash

Let’s say you want to shortcut the chopping part. Can you use frozen butternut squash instead of fresh? Yes! Frozen butternut squash makes this recipe a breeze, and cuts the prep time! With frozen butternut squash you can make this recipe in about 30 minutes. Are there any differences in the recipe? The only thing that you’ll have to pay attention to is the amount of broth that’s added in the blender. Keep reading…

Butternut squash pasta

Main tip: add splashes of broth until a creamy sauce forms!

Once you’ve cut your squash, you’ll saute it with garlic, then simmer it with the veggie broth, chili powder and nutmeg until it’s tender. Then you’ll dump it all in a blender and whiz it up! At this point, the ability of the sauce to blend will depend on the freshness of the squash and whether it’s fresh or frozen. So, add additional splashes of broth until the puree blends into a creamy sauce! Then, you’ll add the goat cheese and blend again: the goat cheese adds the final flavoring and creamy body.

What to serve with butternut squash pasta

And that’s it: a creamy, healthy butternut squash pasta full of nutrients and a total crowd pleaser! Our son Larson is very into this one (he calls it “mac and cheese”). While we’re not the type of people to secretly hide vegetables, we enjoy that this gets him to eat his veggies! To make it into a meal, here are a few easy side dishes that we recommend:

  • Easy Arugula Salad This easy arugula salad is fool-proof: you don’t even need to make dressing. It comes together in minutes!
  • BEST Kale Salad This is the BEST way to eat kale! A dressing of lemon, garlic and Parmesan cheese transforms kale into tangy goodness in this Tuscan kale salad.
  • Easy Garlic Bread Wow, is this easy garlic bread tasty! It’s crunchy on top, chewy on the inside, and full of flavor: the perfect side to go with pasta.
Squash Soup
If you’re looking for other squash recipes, this Curried Butternut Squash Soup is a stunner.

Some favorite butternut squash recipes

Alex and I are big squash fans over here! Confession: we used to skip it in favor of sweet potatoes because they were so much easier to prepare. But today, it makes frequent appearances in our fall and winter repertoire. Here are a few more favorite butternut squash recipes:

This recipe is…

Vegetarian. For gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta.

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Butternut squash pasta

Butternut Squash Pasta


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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 6 to 8

Description

Everyone loves this butternut squash pasta! It’s covered in a creamy sauce blended with garlic, spices, and goat cheese. Top with Parmesan & serve!


Ingredients

  • 1 pound penne pasta (or gluten-free pasta)
  • 4 cups diced butternut squash (1 small) or frozen
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth, plus more for blending
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ounces goat cheese
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for the garnish
  • Finely chopped fresh Italian parsley, for the garnish

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta until it is al dente (start tasting a few minutes before the package recommends: you want it to be tender but still a little firm on the inside). When the pasta is done, drain it and return it to the pot.
  2. Peel and dice the butternut squash. Mince the garlic.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the butternut squash and saute 5 minutes. Add the garlic for 30 seconds. Add the broth, chili powder, nutmeg, red pepper flakes, kosher salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Cover and bring it to a high simmer, bubbling constantly. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the squash is tender.
  4. Carefully transfer all the contents to a blender and blend until creamy, stopping and adding additional splashes broth as needed to come to a creamy texture (the exact amount will vary based on the freshness of the squash). Add the goat cheese and blend again until a creamy sauce forms.
  5. Stir the sauce into the pasta. Serve immediately, garnished with grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Butternut Squash Pasta

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Quick Instant Pot Applesauce

Instant Pot applesauce is quick and easy to make at home, and oh so delicious! Outside of apples, all you need is a pressure cooker and a cinnamon stick. What to do with lots of apples? Make applesauce, of course! I grew up with an apple tree as a kid, and have fond memories of my family making applesauce every year. This homemade applesauce is our family favorite recipe, and it’s so good that Alex and I have adapted it for the Instant Pot! A pressure cooker makes it seriously quick and easy to make. All you need is a bunch of apples and a cinnamon stick. It comes together with no added sugars in under 30 minutes! Before we start: let’s talk apples! What apples are best to use in applesauce? Use any sweet tart cooking apple: and make sure you love the flavor raw! The flavor of homemade applesauce is 100% dependent on the type of apple you use. So take a taste before you start. Alex and I love tart apples, so our favorite varieties are Macintosh, Jonathon, Ida Red, and Honeycrisp.  How to make Instant Pot applesauce: a tutorial Alex and I just took our son Larson […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, Vegetarian Recipes

Instant Pot applesauce is quick and easy to make at home, and oh so delicious! Outside of apples, all you need is a pressure cooker and a cinnamon stick.

Instant Pot Applesauce

What to do with lots of apples? Make applesauce, of course! I grew up with an apple tree as a kid, and have fond memories of my family making applesauce every year. This homemade applesauce is our family favorite recipe, and it’s so good that Alex and I have adapted it for the Instant Pot! A pressure cooker makes it seriously quick and easy to make. All you need is a bunch of apples and a cinnamon stick. It comes together with no added sugars in under 30 minutes!

Apples

Before we start: let’s talk apples!

What apples are best to use in applesauce? Use any sweet tart cooking apple: and make sure you love the flavor raw! The flavor of homemade applesauce is 100% dependent on the type of apple you use. So take a taste before you start. Alex and I love tart apples, so our favorite varieties are Macintosh, Jonathon, Ida Red, and Honeycrisp. 

How to make Instant Pot applesauce: a tutorial

Alex and I just took our son Larson apple picking, and we have a huge bag of apples to use up. Now that we have an Instant Pot, we use this Instant Pot applesauce instead of our stovetop recipe. It takes less time, and it’s much more hands off. It’s a healthy applesauce too: there are no added sugars, just fruit! A cinnamon stick infuses cozy flavor. It’s a great project to do with kids, too (our son actually did it at preschool, which is how we got the idea). Here’s exactly how to make applesauce in a pressure cooker!

Step 1: Core and chop the apples (no need to peel!).

Wash, core and chop 3 pounds of sweet cooking apples. Should you leave the apple skin on for applesauce? We do! But it depends on your preferences of prep time, equipment, and applesauce color.

  • Leave the apple skins on. Leaving the skins makes for fast prep, and it gives the applesauce a rosy color! The tradeoff is that you’ll have to food process (or blend) the applesauce, then strain out the skins, or use a food mill. To us, it’s worth the blending step: and we love the look of rosy applesauce!
  • Peel the apple skins. If you prefer, you can peel the apple skins. It takes more time before pressure cooking, but you won’t have to food process or strain at the end. You also can just mash with a potato masher. Using this method, the applesauce will be more of a yellow brown color.
Instant Pot applesauce: chop the apples

Step 2: Pressure cook for 6 minutes, then natural release for 5 minutes.

Add the apples to the Instant Pot with 1 cup water, a cinnamon stick, and 1 pinch kosher salt. Pressure cook on high for 6 minutes (note that it takes about 5 minutes for the pot to “preheat” and get up to pressure). Then set a timer and wait for a natural release for 5 minutes. Open the pressure cooker and remove the cinnamon stick.

Step 3: Blend or mash the applesauce.

Once you get to the blending or mashing, there are a few options depending on whether you’ve chosen to leave on the skins and what your equipment is:

  • Chunky applesauce: This method is easiest if you’ve peeled the skins. Mash down the apples with a potato masher. If you have left the skins on, you can remove the apple skins with a fork.
  • Smooth applesauce (shown in photos): Run the applesauce through a food processor (or blender) until it’s smooth but still has texture. Then pass it through a strainer to remove any pieces of the peel. Another option is to run it through a food mill, which quickly removes the peel. (This is my family’s method, but not everyone has a food mill these days!) 
How to make applesauce: Strain it

Step 4: Taste.

Depending on the apples you use, this Instant Pot applesauce will likely be perfect without any added sweetener! If you’d like, you can add a drizzle of maple syrup to taste. But it should come out perfectly sweet and tangy. (It’s nothing like the “natural” flavor sold in stores, which is totally tasteless!)

Homemade Applesauce
Our son Larson with the hand modelling here (only 2 and he’s a pro!)

More with apples!

We’ve got lots more apple recipes where these come from! Since we’re focused on the Instant Pot, here are two apple recipes we think you might enjoy:

  • Applesauce cake: Want to bake with this Instant Pot applesauce? This Easy Applesauce Cake is mixed right in the pan so you don’t have to dirty any bowls. It comes out perfectly moist and spiced, with a dusting of powdered sugar (it’s great for making with kids, too).
  • Apple crisp: Did you know you can make Instant Pot apple crisp? It cooks in just 2 minutes and the apples come out tender and cozy. This one has become a favorite in our house (and the topping has a short cut using organic granola).
Apple picking
Nothing’s better than a day at the apple orchard!

What kind of Instant Pot to use?

All pressure cooker brands vary! Here’s the brand we use: an Instant Pot 6 Qt Programmable Pressure Cooker. This recipe is customized for a 6 quart pressure cooker. We also can’t speak to other brands and types of pressure cookers. For example, Instant Pot Mini works differently, so use it at your own risk!

This Instant Pot applesauce recipe is…

Vegetarian, gluten-free, plant-based, dairy-free, vegan, naturally sweet, and refined sugar free.

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Homemade applesauce

Quick Instant Pot Applesauce


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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: About 4 cups

Description

Instant Pot applesauce is quick and easy to make at home, and oh so delicious! Outside of apples, all you need is a pressure cooker and a cinnamon stick.


Ingredients

  • 3 pounds apples (6 to 8 medium apples)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Chop the apples: Core and dice the apples. Core and dice the apples. Leave on the skins (for an applesauce with a rosy color), or if you’d like, peel the apples (it’s easier to make chunky applesauce this way; see Step 3).
  2. Place the apples in the Instant Pot with the water, cinnamon stick, and salt. Lock the lid. Place the pressure release handle (vent) in the “Sealing” position.
  3. Cook on high pressure for 6 minutes. Note that it takes about 5 minutes for the pot to “preheat” and come up to pressure before it starts cooking. (During cooking, avoid touching the metal part of the lid.)
  4. Natural release for 5 minutes. After the Instant Pot beeps, set a timer and wait for the natural release to let the Instant Pot release pressure. Then vent any remaining steam by moving the vent to “Venting”, covering your hand with a towel or hot pad. Never put your hands or face near the vent when releasing steam. (During this time the pressure indicator in the lid may drop on its own, meaning that there is no remaining steam in the pot.)
  5. Open the Instant Pot and carefully remove the cinnamon stick. To make a chunky applesauce, mash down the apples with a potato masher. If you left the skins on, remove the apple skins with a fork (it’s easiest to do a chunky applesauce if you peel the apples first). To make a smooth applesauce, use one of the two methods: run the applesauce through a food processor (or blender) until it’s smooth but still has texture. Then pass it through a strainer to remove any pieces of the peel. Another option is to pass it through a food mill, which quickly removes the peel.
  6. Taste: depending on the type of apples, the applesauce will likely be sweet enough as is. If not, add a drizzle of maple syrup.

  • Category: Essentials
  • Method: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: Apples

Keywords: Instant Pot Applesauce, pressure cooker, applesauce, apple, sauce

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, Vegetarian Recipes

3-Bean Healthy Chili Recipe

This healthy chili recipe is full of good-for-you ingredients and big flavor, featuring a trio of beans, quinoa, and lots of hearty spices. This post was created in partnership with ALDI. All opinions are our own. Is it chili season already? Wasn’t it just moments ago we were eating watermelon salad in our flip flops? As the weather changes, foods follow suit: changing from light and bright to hearty and spiced. As much as I hate to admit it: we’re craving all the fall over here! So Alex and I are starting the party with this insanely-tasty healthy chili recipe. It’s got a savory, hearty flavor even though it’s meatless. And it’s full of good-for-you ingredients; a trio of protein-packed beans, quinoa, and loads of spices. We got all of the ingredients at ALDI: our go-to place to stock up on fall ingredients that are high quality, organic, and affordable. Ready to get cooking? PS The cast-iron pot below is also available at ALDI! The Crofton Cast Iron 4.6 Qt. French Oven is available starting September 25 for a limited time ($24.99). Want to try it too? Let us know if you head to ALDI to stock up and make this recipe! Tell us […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, Vegetarian Recipes

This healthy chili recipe is full of good-for-you ingredients and big flavor, featuring a trio of beans, quinoa, and lots of hearty spices.

3-Bean Healthy Chili Recipe

This post was created in partnership with ALDI. All opinions are our own.

Is it chili season already? Wasn’t it just moments ago we were eating watermelon salad in our flip flops? As the weather changes, foods follow suit: changing from light and bright to hearty and spiced. As much as I hate to admit it: we’re craving all the fall over here! So Alex and I are starting the party with this insanely-tasty healthy chili recipe. It’s got a savory, hearty flavor even though it’s meatless. And it’s full of good-for-you ingredients; a trio of protein-packed beans, quinoa, and loads of spices. We got all of the ingredients at ALDI: our go-to place to stock up on fall ingredients that are high quality, organic, and affordable. Ready to get cooking?

PS The cast-iron pot below is also available at ALDI! The Crofton Cast Iron 4.6 Qt. French Oven is available starting September 25 for a limited time ($24.99).

Want to try it too? Let us know if you head to ALDI to stock up and make this recipe! Tell us in the comments below. Or tag us on Instagram using @acouplecooks and @aldiusa.

Pouring beans and tomatoes into a pot

What makes this a healthy chili recipe?

If you search the internet for healthy chili recipes, you come up with a lot of turkey chilis. But what about making it even healthier by going meatless? We won’t go into the nitty gritty here, but research is showing the value of eating lots of plants. So to us, a healthy chili is loaded with vegetables instead of the traditional meat.

A healthy chili is also loaded with good-for-you ingredients that are full of valuable nutrients! Here are some of the heavy hitting veggies in this chili:

  • Simply Organic Beans: pinto, kidney, and black beans
  • Simply Organic Quinoa: packed with plant-based protein
  • Tomatoes, onions, and corn
  • Simply Nature Flax Seed: Optional, but it adds protein and omega 3’s

This recipe works as a family dinner recipe for a weeknight, or for entertaining paired with our smash hit Easy Vegan Cornbread!

Healthy chili ingredients

The flavor secrets to this chili

It can be difficult to load flavor into a vegetarian chili because, well, meat tastes really good. So we’ve had to use a few secrets to making the flavor delicious and satisfying. Here are a few of our tricks to this healthy chili recipe:

  • Simply Nature Organic Ketchup: Ketchup brings in a little sweetness and tang to this chili. We like to use organic ketchup because it usually tastes better and is free from high fructose corn syrup.
  • A hefty dose of chili powder: Using quite a bit of chili powder helps to bring big flavor. Some chili powders can be spicier than others, so make sure you’re using a brand that fits your spice tolerance.
  • Cumin, oregano, fresh garlic, and garlic powder: These spices round out the chili and bring a depth of flavor.
Stirring chili

Toppings for a healthy chili

Loading up chili is the best part, right? But if you’re thinking about healthy chili, the toppings can be a place where calories can add up. One tip we’d say is to add just enough toppings to add flavor, but not so much that someone might say, “Want some chili with that sour cream?”

With that in mind, here are our favorite toppings to load up that chili — and the first one is our favorite new idea!

  • Southern Grove roasted and salted pepitas (pumpkin seeds): Not only are they cozy, they add a nice crunch and a bit of plant-based protein
  • Plain Greek yogurt, sour cream, or Cashew Cream (for vegan chili)
  • Shredded cheese — just enjoy it in moderation (or omit for vegan chili)
  • Thinly sliced green onions or chives
  • Hot sauce

What other chili toppings do you like? Do you do saltine crackers (is that a regional thing)?

Healthy chili
Pepitas make a great chili topping!

This recipe is…

Vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free (with vegan toppings).

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Healthy chili recipe

3-Bean Healthy Chili Recipe


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (14 votes, average: 4.43 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 8

Description

This healthy chili recipe is full of good-for-you ingredients and big flavor, featuring a trio of beans, quinoa, and lots of hearty spices.


Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup Simply Nature Organic Quinoa
  • 2 small or 1 medium yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Simply Nature Organic Ketchup
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 15-ounce cans Simply Nature Organic Beans (we did 1 can each black, pinto and kidney), drained
  • 2 28-ounce cans Simply Nature Organic Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, vegan if desired
  • 2 tablespoons ground Simply Nature Flax Seed (optional)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from a can of chipotle chilis)*
  • To garnish: Sour cream or Greek yogurt (or Cashew Cream for vegan), Mexican blend shredded cheese, and Southern Grove Pepitas

Instructions

  1. Cook the quinoa: Place the quinoa in a saucepan with 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to very low. Cover the pot, and simmer where the water is just bubbling for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the water has been completely absorbed. (Check by pulling back the quinoa with a fork to see if water remains.) Turn off the heat and let sit covered to steam for 5 minutes.
  2. Dice the onions. Mince the garlic.
  3. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes until lightly browned. Add the ketchup and spices and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
  4. Add all other ingredients, and throw in the quinoa whenever it is cooked. Simmer for 25 minutes. Serve immediately with toppings. Store leftovers refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for 3 months.

Notes

*Totally optional, but stirring in adobo sauce adds another level of complexity. Chipotles in adobo sauce are available in a small can; the chilis are packed with adobo sauce, a purée of tomato, vinegar, garlic, and some other spices. You’ll just add the sauce.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Healthy chili recipe, Chili recipe, Bean chili recipe, Meatless chili recipe, Vegetarian chili recipe, vegan chili recipe

3-bean healthy chili recipe

More healthy fall recipes

Are you feeling it too? Here are some more of our favorite fall recipes:

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, Vegetarian Recipes