Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili with Quinoa
One of my favorite vegetarian recipes, this Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili with Quinoa is a hearty vegetarian chili recipe that’s easy enough for a weeknight. This healthy chili can be made on the stove top or in your slow cooker or Instant Pot.
Do you love cooking with sweet potatoes and black beans as much as I do? I cook vegetarian recipes for dinner a few times a week, and many of my favorite vegetarian recipes start with sweet potatoes and black beans. This Mexican Quinoa and Sweet Potato Skillet and these Vegetarian Enchiladas are two delicious examples. These Sweet Potato Black Bean Taquitos are one of my favorite vegetarian freezer meals.
In this vegetarian chili recipe, sweet potatoes and black beans are combined with quinoa, tomatoes and spices to create a hearty, meatless chili that’s rich in flavor. This wholesome chili will convince even the most carnivorous eaters that vegetarian recipes can be filling and satisfying.
This Vegetarian Chili Recipe is:
- Hearty and filling, thanks to fiber and protein-rich black beans, quinoa and sweet potatoes.
- Vegetarian and vegan. (Be sure to keep the toppings vegan for vegan chili.)
- Easy to make – you can have it ready in about 45 minutes and more than half of that time is simmering time.
How to Make Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili on the Stove Top
Making this chili takes just a few simple steps.
You’ll start by chopping your onion and sweet potatoes. Be sure to cut the sweet potatoes into small (1/2-inch) cubes so they won’t take too long to cook.
I like to make this chili in my large Dutch oven because it has room for everything. If you don’t have a Dutch oven, you can use any large pot. I have this 7 1/4 quart Dutch oven and I use it weekly. It’s a splurge though, so here is a more budget-friendly, highly rated option.
Heat some olive oil in your pot and add the chopped onion. Sauté the onion until it starts to soften and then add the garlic. These aromatic ingredients are the beginning of your flavorful chili!
Next you will add the sweet potatoes to the pot and cook them for a few minutes, stirring often. Cooking the sweet potatoes a little before you add the liquid ingredients helps to develop their flavor. The sweet potatoes will still be very firm at this point.
After you have sautéed the sweet potatoes for a few minutes, add the spices and tomato paste to the pot. You want to add the tomato paste along with the spices and cook it for a few minutes to cook off the raw tomato paste flavor. Cooking your tomato paste a bit will help to develop its flavor and will enhance the flavor of your finished dish.
Now you’re ready to add the remaining chili ingredients: diced tomatoes, black beans, quinoa and vegetable broth. Simmer the chili for about 25 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes and quinoa are soft. You can add more broth if the chili is too thick for your tastes.
How to Make Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili in the Slow Cooker
You have two options when preparing this chili in your slow cooker:
- The Easiest Option: Put all of the ingredients (skip the olive oil) in your crockpot. Stir and then cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours.
- More Effort, Deeper Flavor: Complete steps 1 through 3 in the recipe on the stovetop. Transfer to your slow cooker and add the remaining ingredients. Stir and then cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours.
How to Make Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili in the Instant Pot
- Follow the directions in the recipe for sautéing the ingredients, using sauté mode on your Instant Pot. (Steps 1 through 3 in the recipe.)
- Stir in the quinoa and broth, stirring well.
- Add the black beans and diced tomatoes on top. Do not stir.
- Pressure cook for 6 minutes on manual/high pressure.
- Carefully quick release the pressure.
The best part about chili is that you can add your favorite toppings! There are so many options… avocado, green onions, chopped red onion, plain Greek yogurt or sour cream, shredded cheese, crushed tortilla chips, and more. A squeeze of fresh lime juice really brightens up the flavors! How do you like your chili?
Cooking Tips for Black Bean Chili
- Cut your sweet potatoes into 1/2-inch cubes (I measured!). If the sweet potato pieces are larger they will take longer to cook.
- You can make this chili with canned black beans, or homemade black beans. If you have an Instant Pot (pressure cooker) it is so easy to cook black beans from scratch, no pre-soaking required! Learn how to cook dry black beans in your Instant Pot here.
- This chili is not very spicy. You can add some adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo for more heat. I recommend starting with 2 teaspoons and adding more as needed to achieve your desired spice level.
More Chili Recipes:
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili with Quinoa
- 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1 medium red onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1.5 pounds sweet potatoes about 2 medium (4 cups chopped), peeled and chopped into ½-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 6 ounce can tomato paste
- 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth plus more as needed
- ¾ cup quinoa rinsed and drained
- 2 15 ounce cans black beans rinsed and drained
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds.
- Increase the heat to medium and add the remaining ½ tablespoon olive oil and the chopped sweet potatoes to the pot. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the chili powder, cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and tomato paste. Cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes to deepen the flavors of the spices and tomato paste.
- Stir in the the diced tomatoes, broth, quinoa and black beans.
- Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for about 25 minutes, until the quinoa and sweet potatoes are soft.
- Serve with toppings as desired: Greek yogurt or sour cream, avocado, shredded cheese, cilantro, chopped red onion, green onion. A squeeze of fresh lime juice also brightens up the flavors.
- Be sure to chop the sweet potatoes into 1/2-inch cubes. The smaller cubes will cook faster than larger pieces.
- This chili is not very spicy. If you want more heat, add 2 or more teaspoons of adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo, until your chili is as spicy as you want it.
- Read the post above for instructions to make this chili in the slow cooker or Instant Pot.
Originally published in February 2017. Post updated March 2019 with new tips and an improved, re-tested recipe to address reader comments. The new recipe uses less sweet potato and a little bit more broth and has an updated cooking method.
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