Vegetarian Sweet Potato Chili

vegetarian sweet potato chili recipe

Hearty, healthy, and the kitchen sink of recipes, a bowl of steaming chili is the perfect cold weather entrée. While I was home for Christmas, I flipped through my mom’s copy of Real Simple magazine and came across a recipe for vegetarian chili with sweet potatoes. “Sweet potatoes and veggie chili?” I thought. “Two of my favorite foods, together?!” The recipe shot to the top of my mental to-cook list as I tore out the pages for safekeeping.

Usually when I make veggie chili, I’ll use all the vegetables I have on hand, and throw in whatever kind of beans and tomatoes that are in my pantry. This time around, I mostly followed the recipe, and it turned out fabulously. Scroll down for the recipe!

Vegetables for sweet potato chili

prepped veggies for sweet potato chili

Red Le Creuset French oven and chili ingredients

Sweet potato chili by Cookie and Kate

Vegetarian Sweet Potato Chili
5.0 from 18 reviews
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 6
Extraordinary vegetarian chili containing sweet potatoes, black and pinto beans, peppers and cocoa powder. A wonderfully delicious, hearty & healthy vegan meal.
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced, or 1 heaping tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less, depending on how spicy you like your chili)
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ground sea salt and black pepper
  • about 28-ounces canned diced tomatoes, including the liquid*
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • about 2 cups OR one 14 oz. can vegetable broth
  • garnishes: sour cream, sliced scallions, sliced radishes (optional)
  1. In a 4 to 6 quart Dutch oven or stockpot, sautée the chopped vegetables (onion, peppers and sweet potatoes) in one to two tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high heat. You’ll need to stir the ingredients every few minutes so they can cook evenly.
  2. Once the onions start turning translucent, turn the heat down to medium-low. Add the garlic and spices (chili powder, cumin, cayenne, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and a dash of salt and pepper) and canned ingredients (tomatoes, beans and broth), and stir. Cover and cook for 45 minutes up to two hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. By the time your chili is done, the sweet potatoes should be nice and soft and the liquid should have reduced a bit, producing the hearty chili consistency that we all know and love. Season chili with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the chili into individual bowls, garnish as desired and serve.
  • Adapted from Real Simple.
  • Please don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients. They’re all common ingredients; I bet you have most of them in your cabinets already!
  • The original recipe suggested to cook the chili in a crockpot. I, however, took the opportunity to use my new Le Creuset French Oven from TJ Maxx. (Score!!! It was a 25th birthday present from me, to me.) I'm certain cooking the chili on the stove produces a tastier end result because you can sautée the chopped vegetables, which brings out their flavor. Do as you wish, but I recommend cooking on the stovetop.
  • To garnish your bowl of chili, try adding a dollop of sour cream and chopped green onions. Real Simple suggested thinly sliced radishes; frankly, I would go without. Alternately, you could try fresh cilantro and grated cheese. I served mine with grilled sweet potatoes and cheddar and dill beer bread. Recipes coming soon!
  • *I am concerned about the BPA levels in canned tomato goods and avoid canned tomato products as best I can. I recommend using Muir Glen canned tomatoes because their cans are BPA-free.

Have you ever tried sweet potatoes in your chili before? You must, I insist!

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  1. says

    Le Creuset for 25 bucks? Score, indeed! It looks so good. You seem to have a lot of natural sunlight coming through in all of your photos. Is it generally sunny is Oklahoma?

    • says

      Yep, it is pretty sunny around here. I think that day was actually kind of overcast, but I adjusted my camera settings accordingly. I’m so pleased with the results!

    • Christine says

      Wow! I made this recipe yesterday afternoon for a backyard birthday party. I wound up doubling the recipe and adding an extra can of beans and some extra vegetable stock. It actually simmered for about 5 hours on the stove, and by the time we ate it, all my meat lover friends were raving about how good it was! The sweet potatoes were a great addition; I can’t believe I’ve never made chili with sweet potatoes! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Deb says

    I am so making this chili tonight – have everything on hand (with a couple of substitutions).
    Fits into my New Year detox menu perfectly !!
    Happy New Year Kate.

  3. says

    Hey Kate! How you never fail to make my mouth water with your delicious creations! I would love to be a guest at your dinner table :) This sounds like the best combination EVER.

    I can’t wait to see what you come up with when you learn to crochet! You seem so crafty so I don’t think you will have any trouble at all!

  4. says

    This sounds so hearty and delicious! And perfect to make next time I have dinner with my sister who is a vegetarian.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog! I love the sound of these vintage postcards of Venice you mentioned. Did you post any pictures of them on your blog or anywhere else on the web? I’d love to see them!

  5. says

    This looks so hearty for a cold winter’s day…delicious!
    You have to try to coconut pancakes, they are so yummy. You should be able to find coconut milk in the Asian section of your market…it comes in a can.

  6. Christopher Nowakowski says

    my girlfriend linked this recipe to me the other day. made it for dinner and it was truly AWESOME. a little cornbread rounded out the meal.

  7. says

    Looks so good, I am buying ingredients today. Awesome photos as always. Glad you liked the the coconut pancakes, I love them…let me know when you post! Have a good weekend!

  8. Diana says

    Good call on the Le Crueset!! I made this recipe using the crockpot when I saw it in Real Simple magazine and everything came out really mushy.

  9. says

    This looks fantastic, and so easy! I have some peppers left over and a few neglected sweet potatoes from the last time I made wedges as a side dish with dinner… might have to whip this up tomorrow night!

    p.s. with your most recent post… I did the exact same thing last semester (getting put on the registry with the cheek swab) and I admire your decision so much, amazing!

  10. says

    Thanks for dropping by my blog! I love that I stumbled upon this recipe… the other day I was thinking that I wanted to do a vegetarian chili with a few sweet potatoes I had on hand. Like you, I usually dump the contents of my veggie drawer and see what happens, but this recipe looks great!

    P.S. Your blog and photos are gorgeous!

  11. says

    So… I made this chili the day I saw it on here. LOVED it! Such a great vegetarian dish — I didn’t even miss the meat. Liked it so much I’m posting it on my blog next week (with credit to you, of course. :)) Thanks Kate!

  12. Carolyn says

    I made this last night and it was an instant hit with my friends who were over to watch a film. I somehow had some leftover and I made your beer bread this morning to pair with it. I will definitely be making this again!

  13. says

    it does looks so delicious and healthy, thank you for sharing this recipe, I´m quite positive I will make it soon; my hubs adores chili and we try to eat mostly vegetarian meals. Perfect!.

    congratulations on that awesome 25th anniversary self gift.

    ps. firs time on your bog. think I will be coming back ;)

  14. says

    I cooked this Chili in our Restaurant this week and all our guests loved it. I’d definitely cook the beans on my own (together with some Kombu seaweed to make them more easier to digest).

    The addition of cocoa powder makes it really delicious.

    Thanks a lot!

  15. Lauren says

    OMG. I just made this to serve to my friends for lunch tomorrow, and I cannot stop eating it! It is so good. I added an extra can of pinto beans, cuz I like my chili really beany. And next time I will decrease the cayenne a little (I added the whole teaspoon), although the heat is kinda nice and it doesn’t really burn, but I know some people get scared when that heat kicks in. Overall a WINNER. And I made it in my Le Creuset, too. I like sauteeing the veggies first.

  16. Anna says

    How many does this serve? I have a dinner party of 6 coming over on Sunday, and while we’re making side dishes, I want to make sure and have enough chili for everyone.


    • says

      Hi Anna, the source of the recipe claims that it serves 4 but I think it would make enough to serve 6 with ample portions. If you want to be certain there’s enough, you could add an extra can of beans or more canned tomatoes.

  17. alisa says

    I googled ‘vegan sweet potato recipes’ and this was one of my first hits. I made it today – in my crockpot, though. It’s very tasty! I used 2 sweet potatoes, dark chocolate cocoa, and also threw in a can of green chiles I had. Thanks for the idea!

  18. Sarah says

    I don’t often comment on blogs, but I have to for this recipe! It is so delicious and surprisingly easy to make. I brought it to work to share with co-workers, and everyone was singing its praises.
    This is a keeper! Thank you!

  19. Stefany says

    My sister and I both made this for dinner this week and it was incredible!! I even topped with almond cheese which tasted great! Thanks for a killer recipe!!!

  20. Whytney says

    Hi Kate, I just stumbled upon this recipe which was linked from another food blog that I love – Anyway, I am a budding vegetarian (I still eat fish, though…) and I found this recipe and couldn’t stop thinking about it – probably because the only thing I had to go and buy for it was a sweet potato! (we call them “kumara” here in New Zealand). Chili is not typically something we eat here Down Under, but since it is an uncharacteristically cold rainy November day (it’s almost summer here!!) I decided this would be perfect. I currently have a big stock pot of it simmering on the stovetop and can’t wait to try it out with a big dollop of sour cream and chives on top! My boyfriend is excited, too, and actually bought me the stock pot as an early Xmas present solely so I could make this dish tonight! Ah, how does that old saying go – “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” – it’s so true!! Anyway, so glad I found your blog and I look forward to making many more of your delicious-looking dishes :} warm regards, Whytney.

    • says

      Thank you for your sweet comment, Whytney. I hope this chili was worth your effort! I have a butternut squash chili you might like as well. Do you have butternut squash in New Zealand?

  21. Sara says

    My boyfriend insists that he has to have meat with all his dinners or else he will go hungry. I’ve tricked him with spinach manicotti before and I’m hoping to trick him some more since meat can get so expensive. I really enjoy your recipes and can’t wait to try them out on him! He’s becoming more open minded since he realized food can be good and filling without meat.

    • says

      My brother is just like your boyfriend. I’m glad you’re convincing him to try more meatless meals! Something tells me he would really like this chili.

  22. Alexandra says

    I made it today; sauteed the vegetables w/o any oil in my cast iron frying pan. Cooked the Kidney and black beans (separately ) in my new Instant Pot Pressure Cooker; then cooked the vegetables, beans and remaining ingredients in the Pressure cooker for 8 minutes. I also cooked the rice in the pressure cooker. It is a very good chili; I think it was the cinnamon and cocoa. I will make this again.

  23. Ksenya says

    I meant to write you for a while.
    Your food blog is awesome and I have adopted a multitude of recipes from Cookie and Kate. In short, I cook a few C&K dishes every week. They are all delicious! Your ingredient lists and instructions are concise and easy to follow and photography .. ah! inspiring. When light permits I take photos too :).
    Probably you wonder about my name? I am Russian from St. Petersburg, having lived 10 years in Belgium and now residing in Vienna, Austria.
    But the world is small and You have introduced me to Kale and offered a handful of delightful quinoa recipes. Like you, I love sweet potato and this was my very first recipe and still one of the favorite ones.
    Thank you for all the smiles you’ve put on my face and delicious treats shared with friends!
    P.S. Please give an extra cookie from me tonight to the Cookie!

    • says

      Ksenya, thank you so much for your sweet comment. I’m delighted to hear that you are enjoying my recipes! It’s neat to know that they are being cooked in Vienna. I will be sure to give Cookie an extra treat tonight. Please stay in touch!

  24. Tracy says

    I subscribe to Real Simple and had the same reaction you had when I found the jewel. I think it the cocoa powder that gives it the richness of no other chili I have tried. Thanks for reminding me of how much I loved this!!

  25. Hapa Latina says

    I just discovered your site and this is the first recipe I tried. My carnivorous husband and I both loved it! Thank you so much and I look forward to trying out many more recipes in the future.

  26. NeeC says

    Ok, I love this Vegetarian Sweet Potato Chili! The leftovers freeze well and taste delicious when re-heated. Thank you Kate for all of your wonderful recipes.

  27. says

    I made this yesterday and it was a hit! My 5 year took a few bites and then asked if I would please pack it for her school lunch the next day! :) (I did omit the cayenne for her sake but added plenty of jalapenos to my bowl(s) of chili). I have a feeling this will be our regular Sunday afternoon watching football chili. Thanks! :)

  28. Sara says

    This is a keeper at our house. We usually make it for four people and even though it makes a lot, there is usually no leftovers!

  29. says

    Hi! This sounds really delicious but, unfortunately, I can’t eat tomatoes. Is there something I could substitute for the tomatoes that would keep the integrity of the recipe?


  30. Alyce NZ says

    This is such a cool recipe because once you do the main spices/stock you can virtually add anything you’ve got I did kumara (the kiwi word for sweet potato), leek and corn. My dad was even impressed- he thought there was beef in it because it was so filling. YUM

  31. Julia says

    This chili is absolutely delicious! Warning to those who can’t handle the heat – I only added 1/2 a teaspoon of cayenne and it was almost too spicy for me! Eating it with balkan yogurt solved that problem and the combination was amazing. Thanks for the great recipe!

  32. says

    This came out amazing!! I added several poblano peppers and butternut squash (I had them in the garden and didn’t know what to do with them). It is a very hearty and flavorful dish, thanks Kate!

  33. Dee says

    Just made this tonight and it was fantastic for a cold, snowy night. Not a wanna-be chili but had flavors of it’s own. We cooled off the cayenne with a little Greek yogurt. Thank you for a new winter staple in our recipe file. Hope you are liking KC. I’m from there and think it’s a pretty special place.

  34. Ess says

    I just made this for my Toastmasters meeting tonight, which is a health-related TM group, and everyone LOVED it! I’m a healthy vegan – I eat only whole foods, plant-based – no processed junk. And even the non-vegans raved about it!

    Thanks so much for sharing this, it is definitely a keeper. And everyone was amazed that there was cocoa powder in it. Fantastic addition!



  35. Mik & the fam says

    So good! The 2 year old loved it. We topped ours with a little shredded cheddar & sour cream, with tortilla chips on the side.

  36. Marlene says

    I was looking for a recipe for sweet potato fries and stumbled upon your site. Your recipes look great and I want to try more of them but I’m wondering if I can print the recipes. I didn’t find a print button anywhere.

  37. ellesse says

    YUM! made this this afternoon and boy was it good! the depth of flavor is outstanding! i didn’t even have cumin and chili powder. i will be keeping and making again and again!


  38. Kiirsti says

    Sweet potatoes in chili – who would’ve thought it would be so delicious! I was also really intrigued by the addition of cocoa powder and cinnamon.

    I would give this chili four stars based on when I had it for dinner the day I made it, but five stars for the leftovers (it tasted even more delicious the day after!).

  39. Ashlyn says

    Ive made this twice now and its very flavorful and tasty! Each time though the consistency seemed to be a little too liquidy. How runny/liquidy should this be?

    • says

      Hmm, I don’t recall my chili being runny. You might try increasing the heat just a little while the chili is simmering, or just use a little less liquid!

  40. Splashing in Puddles says

    We had this tonight with cornbread and it was really yummy. The seasons are perfect. I used dried beans & I cooked them first and drained them. Then I followed the rest of the your directions as written. I had a lot of extra liquid that just wouldn’t cook off and it wouldn’t thicken up for me so after about 3 hours I scooped off the extra liquid. Then I pureed about a cup of the chili and added that back to the pot to thicken it. Then it was perfect. I’ll definitely make this again but I’ll use less broth next time I guess?? Any ideas what happened? Could it be from using dried beans rather than canned?

      • Splashing in Puddles says

        I bet it had something to do with using dried beans. The chili was a favorite of my husbands so I’ll definitely be trying again. After I make it a few times I should figure it out & I’ll let you know the proportions for dried beans in case anyone else wants to do it that way.

      • Splashing in Puddles says

        So I made it again tonight first cooking the dried black and pinto beans.It turned out perfectly for me this time using a cup of broth rather than two. Other than that I followed the recipe exactly. Delicious!!

        • says

          Thank you for getting back to me! I’m glad to hear that solved the problem. I may need to revisit the amount of broth in my recipe.

    • lisa says

      We’re having a potluck at work tomorrow and our crew includes a vegan, someone with lactose intolerance, and another person following a gluten free diet – so my usual potluck go to dish -super cheesy lasagna with Italian sausage sauce is out of the question! The chili is on the stove now and smells wonderful. Thanks for providing just what I need to keep everyone happy.

  41. says

    I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect veggie chilli and I think I’ve found it! Made it in my slow cooker and it was gorgeous, and had leftovers as enchiladas. There’s loads left in my freezer too.
    I’ll definitely be making this regularly – thank you!


  42. Issy says

    I was searching for a vegetarian chili recipe and it brought me to your site. I decided to check out your other posts and I am completely in love with all your creations! You are so inspiring, and you make veggie dishes look beautiful and enticing. Honestly, this has been such a joy to browse through and experience. Thank you.

  43. says

    This looks absolutely amazing! I have been looking at veggie chili recipes all day-and it’s been fantastic! I saw a different recipie that called for using beer to deglaze your pan just after sauteeing the onions, has anyone tried this yet and if so, does anyone have a recommendation on what type of beer to use?


    • says

      Hey Chris! I haven’t tried that, but it sounds like a great idea to me. Negra Modelo comes to mind since this recipe has some Mexican flavors in it.

  44. Sara says

    This recipe has become a staple in my house over the last year. Making it again today for the umpteenth time!

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