Chili in a white bowl, topped with cilantro and cheese. Cornbread resting on the corner of the bowl.

Gluten-Free Turkey Chili: Hearty Slow Cooker Recipe

This hearty and healthy Gluten-Free Chili requires minimal prep and simmers for hours in your slow cooker. It’s the perfect cozy-yet-healthy, comfort food meal on a cold evening.

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Is Chili Gluten-Free?

Chili is often naturally gluten-free, but not always. Gluten can be hidden in some of the ingredients.

Some recipes call for McCormick’s Chili Seasoning, BBQ sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and wheat flour to thicken the recipe. All of the above have gluten-containing ingredients unless you specifically use gluten-free versions: McCormick’s Chili Gluten-Free, Stubb’s BBQ Sauce (with certified gluten-free label), Worcestershire Sauce by Lea & Perrins (labeled gluten-free), and gluten-free flour or cornstarch.

This delicious gluten-free turkey chili recipe uses none of the above ingredients, but there are a few gluten-free considerations that we’ll go over in the ingredient list below.

Equipment

Chili in a white bowl, topped with avocado, lime, cilantro and cheese. Part of a crockpot in the background.
  • Slow Cooker: A standard, round 4-quart Crockpot is big enough for this slow cooker chili recipe recipe. I use my 7-quart oval Crockpot, which is also perfect for doubling the recipe.
  • Large Frying Pan: 12-inches is ideal

Ingredients

Ingredients on the counter: quinoa, spices, garlic, olive oils, canned tomatoes, raw turkey, canned black beans, chicken broth, tomato paste, carrots, onion, and yellow pepper

As a celiac, I love making family dinners that are naturally gluten-free and full of nutrient-rich, healthy ingredients.

This gluten-free chili is packed with multiple sources of protein, fiber, and vitamins.

Olive Oil

Vegetables: Step one of this recipe is sauteeing fresh garlic, onion, bell pepper, and carrots in olive oil for optimal depth of flavor. All four of those veggies (along with tomatoes, which are added later) make this list of the 15 Healthiest Vegetables from Medical News Today.

In a pinch, you can use ¾ tsp dried garlic powder instead of the 3 garlic cloves.

Ground Turkey: You can substitute the ground meat of your choosing.

In my home, we almost always opt for ground turkey over ground beef, due to the overall health advantages. This switch is easily made in flavorful dishes like this easy chili recipe or my husband’s gluten-free turkey meatballs.

That said, if I were making this recipe for a Super Bowl party or for guests who typically opt for red meat, I wouldn’t hesitate to substitute organic ground beef.

Spices: chili powder, cumin, and sea salt. Add optional cayenne pepper for a little kick!

Quinoa: I love quinoa and am always looking for easy ways to add gluten-free grains to my diet. Quinoa is an excellent source of protein and fiber.

This ingredient is optional, and quantities can be adjusted up and down depending on your preference. The recipe card includes instructions to change the amount of quinoa.

Make sure your quinoa is labeled gluten-free. While naturally gluten-free, it can be cross-contaminated during production. The gluten-free label provides extra reassurance that your quinoa is safe to consume on a gluten-free diet, especially if you have celiac disease and need to avoid gluten cross-contact.

I used Lundberg Tri-Color Organic Quinoa, which is certified gluten-free.

Black Beans: I’m not a fan of kidney beans, so I use my favorite bean, black beans in this chili. Feel free to use your favorite beans.

While beans are naturally gluten-free, they also can be cross-contaminated. Canned beans are a lower risk as they have been well-cleaned. If you feel safer using a brand with a gluten-free claim, Bush’s Black Beans are labeled gluten-free.

Tomato Paste

Fire Roasted Tomatoes

Chicken Broth: Not all chicken broth is gluten-free. Always verify ingredients or look for a gluten-free claim on the label. I use Pacific Foods Chicken Broth, which is labeled gluten-free.

Topping Ideas

Chili in a white bowl, topped with avocado, lime, cilantro and cheese.

Top your big bowl of chili with:

  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Green Onions
  • Avocado
  • Red or White Onions
  • Jalapeños
  • Crushed Tortilla Chips: Check the label to be sure the tortilla chips you purchase are gluten-free.
  • Fritos (labeled gluten-free): These sturdy chips are perfect for scooping chili!

Step-By-Step Instructions

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. I use a 12-inch skillet, so there is room to add the ground turkey later.

Add the chopped onions, bell pepper, carrots, and minced garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes. The onions will start to become translucent, a process that continues as they are cooked with the turkey and spices.

An aqua spatula stirring carrots, peppers, onions, and garlic in a frying pan.

Sautéing the vegetables will make them a much more fragrant addition to your chili. Plus, the recipe has no added sugar, because these veggies provide just the right amount of sweetness, especially when sautéed. I don’t recommend skipping this easy step.

Add the ground turkey. Break up the meat with a spatula, and cook until the ground turkey is no longer pink and is lightly browned, approximately 5-6 minutes.

Raw ground turkey on top of sautéed veggies. The turkey is being broken up by an aqua spatula.

Stir in chili powder, cumin, and salt. For a little extra spice, include the optional cayenne pepper. Cook the mixture for another 2 minutes.

Mixture of spices, turkey, and veggies in a frying pan.

Transfer the turkey mixture to the slow cooker.

Add quinoa, beans, tomato paste, fire-roasted tomatoes, and 2 cups of chicken broth. The remaining 1-2 cups of broth are reserved until the chili is fully cooked.

Broth being poured over unmixed chili ingredients in a crock pot. Visible quinoa, tomatoes, turkey/veggie mixture, black beans, and tomato paste.

Stir until all the ingredients are evenly combined.

Set the crockpot to low for 6 hours (or high for 3 hours).

The quinoa needs two hours to cook, but everything else is already fully cooked. You are giving the chili all those hours in the slow cooker simply for the flavors to mingle, creating the magic of chili.

Birds eye view: chili in the bottom of an oval crockpot bowl.

The quinoa will absorb a lot of liquid. Prior to serving, add 1-2 cups of broth until the chili is your preferred consistency, and stir to combine.

Serve with your favorite chili toppings.

Storage

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to six months.

Reheat the leftover chili on the stovetop or in the microwave.

Reheating in the slow cooker presents a couple of challenges: 1) your ceramic bowl could break if it goes from the fridge to the slow cooker’s heating element, and 2) the chili may remain at an unsafe temperature while reheating from refrigeration.

If you want to serve reheated chili in the crockpot, the USDA recommends first heating it on the stovetop and then transferring it to a preheated slow cooker, and making sure it maintains a temperature of 140 degrees.

Next-Day Chili: Homemade chili is always better the next day. If you have time, make this easy recipe the day before, but don’t add the extra broth, yet. Let the flavors meld in the slow cooker for six hours and then overnight in the fridge. The chili will thicken more overnight. Add 1-2 cups of broth, reheat, and serve.

Variations

Gluten-Free Beef Chili: Simply substitute ground beef for the ground turkey.

Beans: Substitute a can of your favorite beans. If you are Texan and subscribe to the motto, “If you know beans about chili, you know chili ain’t got no beans!”, feel free to omit them entirely.

More Veggies: I often use my chili as a catch-all for leftover veggies. Sweet potatoes and spinach are both wonderful additions to this hearty meal.

Quinoa Options:

My family and I are at odds over how much quinoa should be in chili. I have a couple in the “no quinoa camp” and I want as much as possible. Here are easy instructions to adjust the quantity of quinoa in this dish up or down:

  • More Quinoa: Increase quinoa to 1 cup and use a 28-ounce can of fire-roasted tomatoes, instead of a 14.5-ounce can.
  • Subtle Quinoa: Tip! If you are hiding quinoa from picky eaters, add it to the slow cooker during the last two hours of cooking. It will not absorb as much liquid and will be less prominent in the dish.
  • No Quinoa: Omit quinoa from the recipe and reduce total broth to 1½ cups.  You do not need to add extra broth during the final step.

Double the Recipe: Double all ingredients to make enough for a crowd. Cook the vegetables, ground turkey, and spices in two batches, so they fit properly in the pan. Then add everything to a large 7-quart slow cooker and cook according to the recipe card.

Chili in a white bowl, topped with cilantro and cheese. Cornbread resting on the corner of the bowl.

What to Serve with Gluten-Free Chili

Or turn this hearty chili into an optional topping for a baked potato bar (or even sweet potatoes for a vitamin-packed base), hot dog bar, or nacho bar at your next party!

More Guten-Free Meals for Easy Weeknight Dinners

If you make this recipe, please comment and review it!

Chili in a white bowl, topped with cilantro and cheese. Cornbread resting on the corner of the bowl.

Slow Cooker Gluten-Free Turkey Chili

This hearty Gluten-Free Turkey Chili is packed with flavor, protein, and colorful vegetables. The seasonings meld together beautifully while slow cooking for hours in your Crockpot. It includes just the right amount of quinoa, a gluten-free, whole grain that is a good source of protein and fiber.
5 from 1 vote
Rate this Recipe
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 15 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Mediterranean, Mexican
Servings 6

Equipment

  • Slow Cooker (I use a 7-quart Crockpot, perfect for doubling the recipe.)
  • Large Frying Pan

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 1 medium bell pepper any color, chopped
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 3 fresh garlic cloves minced
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper optional, for more spice
  • ½ cup quinoa gluten-free
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 3-4 cups chicken broth gluten-free

Instructions
 

  • Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onions, bell pepper, carrots, and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes.
  • Add ground turkey. Break up the meat and cook until lightly browned, approximately 5-6 minutes.
  • Add chili powder, cumin, salt, and (optional) cayenne pepper. Cook another 2 minutes.
  • Transfer the turkey mixture to the slow cooker.
  • Add quinoa, beans, tomato paste, fire-roasted tomatoes, and 2 cups of the chicken broth. (Reserve remaining broth until the chili is fully cooked.) Stir until everything is evenly combined.
  • Set crockpot to low for 6 hours (or high for 3 hours).
  • The quinoa will absorb a lot of liquid. Prior to serving, add optional 1-2 cups of broth until the chili is your preferred consistency, and stir to combine. Serve with desired toppings.

Notes

Gluten-Free Beef Chili: Substitute ground beef for the ground turkey.
Next-Day Chili: Chili is always better the next day. If you have time, make this easy recipe the day before, but don’t add the extra broth, yet. Let the flavors meld in the slow cooker for six hours and then overnight in the fridge. The chili will thicken more overnight. Add 1-2 cups of broth, reheat, and serve.
Quinoa Options:
  • More Quinoa: Increase quinoa to 1 cup and use a 28-ounce can of fire-roasted tomatoes, instead of a 14.5-ounce can.
  • Subtle Quinoa: If you are hiding quinoa from picky eaters, add it to the slow cooker during the last two hours of cooking. It will not absorb as much liquid and will be less prominent in the dish.
  • No Quinoa: Omit quinoa from the recipe and reduce total broth to 1½ cups.  You do not need to add extra broth during the final step.
Double the Recipe: Double all ingredients. Cook the vegetables, ground turkey, and spices according to steps 1-4 in two batches. Then add everything to a large 7-quart slow cooker and cook according to steps 5-7.
Keyword crockpot, gluten-free, slow cooker
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