This plant-based Sweet Potato Chilli recipe is warming, hearty and healthy. I love to curl up with a bowl of chilli at the end of a long day. It's a go-to comfort food, but also a fantastic convenience food because it's so easy to put together.
In this recipe we have two types of beans, red peppers and the fruity heat of scotch bonnets. The sweet potatoes are roasted first to achieve a soft velvety texture and bring out their rich sweetness. If you're worried about this being a lengthy process, don't be. The chilli is made while the sweet potatoes roast in the oven.
With a relatively quick 40 minute cook time, this is a dish you can easily prepare on a weeknight. It is also freezer-friendly so you can rustle up a large batch and have a few frozen portions on-hand for hectic days.
I really love sweet potatoes right now and have been planning to incorporate them into a chilli for a while. They have a wonderful caramelly richness that contrasts with the other more fiery flavours found in chilli. I am a also big fan of the heartiness they can bring to a dish. Sometimes vegetarian dishes aren't as filling as their meaty counterparts but I find the addition of sweet potatoes guarantees a satisfying meal that will keep you full for a while.
Key ingredients and alternatives:
- Sweet potatoes - I always roast them first to bring out their sweetness and add them into the chilli at the end so they retain their form. Because they are added towards the end of the recipe's cooking time they will not fully absorb all the flavours in the sauce so I add a little cumin, paprika and cayenne before roasting.
- Chopped tomatoes - form the base of the source. I recommend buying the best ones that you can afford. I tend to choose Petti and Mutti.
- Beans - I love soft and creamy Pinto beans and have also added black beans to add a little more texture. You can change up the beans in this recipe, just make sure you keep the volume the same. Black beans alone or kidney beans will also work well. You can also just use pinto beans, but because they are soft the chilli may lack texture.
- Red peppers - add a little crunch and absorb the flavour of the sauce. You can choose a different vegetable if you prefer. Carrots and courgettes would also work well.
- Scotch bonnet chillis - are one of my favourite chillis because they add sweetness and fruitiness as well as heat. They do tend to be quite hot and adding two scotch bonnets will give the chilli a medium level of spiciness. Remove the seeds and membrane unless you are after a very hot chilli. You can substitute scotch bonnets for long red chillies or chilli powder.
- Lime juice - I add this at the end to provide some tangy acidity.
- Seasoning - smoked paprika and cumin bring classic smoky chilli flavours.
How to make Sweet Potato Chilli:
1. Roast the sweet potatoes
Heat your oven to 200°C or 400°F, peel the sweet potatoes and chop into cubes (approximately 1.5cm x 1.5cm). Place the chopped sweet potato into a roasting dish and add olive oil, cumin, paprika and cayenne. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes, turning halfway.
2. Fry the onions, chillies, peppers and garlic
Place a Dutch oven or pan on a medium heat and gently fry the onions for 5 minutes. Add the red peppers, chillies, cumin and paprika and fry for another 5 minutes. Then add the crushed garlic and cook for another minute.
Pour in the chopped tomatoes and 1 cup of water and simmer for 20 minutes. Then add the black beans, pinto beans and sweet potato and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Finally, add the lime juice and a little salt to taste.
4. Mash / blitz
Add half of the chilli to a food processor and puree quickly. You want to do this until the chunks are removed but not so the mixture is completely smooth. You can also use a potato masher. Skip this step if you prefer a chunky chilli.
- White rice - this is the most common way to eat chilli and the way we tend to eat it most of the time.
- Quinoa - for a healthier alternative to white rice.
- Nachos - serve on grilled nachos. I recommend topping with plenty of cheese. and serving with sour cream and guacamole.
- On a jacket potato
- Stuffed peppers - ideal if you're after a lighter option or lunch.
A bowl of Sweet Potato Chilli just isn't complete without toppings. I always serve mine with grated cheddar cheese, chopped coriander and sour cream. My husband refuses to eat his without jalapeños. I'm also like to eat it with quick and easy guacamole and tortilla chips at weekends.
How spicy is the Sweet Potato Chilli?
The chilli comes with a definite kick. I'd say it's a medium level of heat. Spice lovers might want to increase the amount of chilli. If you're sensitive to spice I'd recommend reducing the amount of chilli and/or swapping the scotch bonnets for normal red chillis.
Tools and equipment:
Dutch oven - I always make chilli in a Dutch oven because it holds the heat well. If you don't have one you can use a saucepan.
Roasting dish - I opt for cast iron. It distributes the heat evenly and is easy to clean.
Food processor - for blitzing half of the cooked chilli. You can also use a potato masher for this but I find a food processor produces better results. If you prefer a more chunky chilli you can skip this step. Definitely give some of the chilli a whizz in the food processor if you're after a more meaty texture.
Leftovers and freezing:
You can store the leftover chilli in the fridge for up to 3 days and freeze for up to 3 months. I will often double the recipe to ensure a few portions can be tucked away in my freezer for days when there isn't time to cook.