This vegetarian chili recipe is a great, plant-forward choice for those trying to reduce their red meat intake. Sweet, spicy, and savory, this easy sweet potato black bean chili is filling, satisfying, and absolutely delicious! Plus, there’s a secret ingredient in this chili recipe that may surprise you – read on to learn what it is, give it a try, then let us know what you think!
Three Must-Know Cooking Skills
For recipe success, learn how to:
Culinary Tips for the Best Sweet Potato Chili
Make sure that the oil is hot before adding the veggies. This will help with flavor development.
Toasting the spices before adding the liquid helps build flavor, but be careful not to burn them! Burnt spices add a bitter flavor to dishes.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: substitute regular olive, canola, or avocado oil.
- Green Bell Pepper: substitute red, yellow, or orange bell pepper.
- Sweet Potato: substitute butternut squash.
- Red Onion: substitute yellow or white.
- Garlic: substitute 2 teaspoons pre-minced garlic, 2 teaspoons garlic flakes, 1 teaspoon granulated garlic, or ½ teaspoon garlic powder.
- Fire-Roasted Tomatoes: substitute regular diced or crushed tomatoes, but note the flavor won’t be quite the same!
- Beans: substitute all kidney or all black beans. Pinto beans would be another good substitution.
- Water: substitute vegetable or chicken broth.
There are many ways that you can adapt this smoky black bean and sweet potato chili recipe to your taste.
Can’t imagine your chili without meat? Turn this into a sweet potato black bean turkey chili by browning ½ pound of ground turkey before adding the bell pepper, sweet potato, and onion.
Feel free to turn this into a three bean chili recipe by adding another can of black or kidney beans.
Turn this into a sweet potato black bean quinoa chili by adding ½ cup quinoa with the beans. You may need to add an extra ½ cup of water, depending on how thick you like your chili.
Need a little more heat? Add 2-3 chopped chipotles in adobo along with the spices.
For a slow cooker sweet potato black bean chili, use just 1 cup of water, eliminate the olive oil, and place remaining ingredients in a crockpot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
For a pressure cooker vegetarian chili recipe, turn the Instant Pot to the sauté setting and follow steps 1-3. Add the remaining ingredients, using only 1 cup of water, place the lid on, turn to high pressure, seal, and cook for 5-7 minutes. Allow pressure to naturally release, or if you can’t wait that long, manually release after 10 minutes.
You just need a few basic pieces of kitchen equipment for this one pot chili recipe!
- Chef’s Knife
- Cutting Board
- Can Opener
- Liquid Measuring Cup
- Dry Measuring Cups & Spoons
- Enameled Dutch Oven Pot or Regular Stock Pot
Sweet Potato Chili Nutrition Facts
This plant-forward chili recipe is packed with all kinds of nutrient-dense ingredients that promote health – veggies, spices, beans, and…cocoa powder? Yep! Keep reading to learn why.
Beans of all varieties contain plant-based protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrients promote gut health, decrease risk of developing heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, and promote a healthy weight. Check out our Food as Medicine article to learn more about these health benefits. All of the world’s longest lived populations consume beans daily. Beans are incredibly versatile and can be altered to meet any texture, flavor, or health preference.
Sweet potato, green bell pepper, onion, garlic, and tomatoes are the featured vegetables in this vegetarian chili recipe. All of these veggies contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals which promote health and decrease disease risk (1, 2).
Chili powder, cumin, and cinnamon add flavor and nutrition to this recipe. Using spices decreases the need for salt, which may help reduce hypertension risk and therefore promote heart health (3). Additionally, these spices contain powerful antioxidants which may help reduce inflammation in the body (4).
Although you probably wouldn’t expect to find cocoa powder in a savory recipe, it actually adds really great flavor depth to this spicy and smoky chili! Cocoa also contains phytochemicals and minerals that promote heart health and reduce inflammation (5).
Serving Suggestions for Healthy Veggie Chili
Ladle chili in a bowl and top with diced avocado, chopped fresh cilantro, shredded cheese, and/or a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream. If you want a vegan bean chili, simply leave off the cheese and yogurt.
This vegetarian sweet potato chili makes great leftovers! The chili thickens and the flavors continue to develop in the fridge, so you are sure to enjoy lunch or dinner the next day even more!
To store leftover chili, cool completely, then place in an airtight container. Keep in the refrigerator for up to one week. This recipe is great for freezing too. Cool completely, place in one large freezer-safe container or individual containers, and freeze for up to 3 months.
Want more healthy plant-forward recipes?
Check out these recipes that are packed with flavor and nutrition!
Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium green bell pepper, diced (~1 cup)
- 1 medium sweet potato, diced ¾” (~2 cups)
- 1 small red onion, diced (~1 cup)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Tablespoon chili powder
- 1 Tablespoon cumin
- 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 28 ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes, crushed or diced
- 2- 15 ounce cans low-sodium black &/or kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups water
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Heat a large pot over medium high heat. Add oil.
- Once the oil is shimmering, add the bell pepper, sweet potato, and onion. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Sauté for approximately 10 minutes or until the onion is translucent and the sweet potatoes are beginning to soften.
- Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, cocoa powder, and cinnamon, and sauté for 30 seconds, stirring frequently.
- Add tomatoes, beans, and water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 25 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!