Smoky Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili Recipe on Food52

One-Pot Wonders

Smoky Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

January 21, 2013
7 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

Make game day memorable with this sweet, smoky, and flavorful chili recipe that just so happens to be vegan, too. —Gena Hamshaw

  • Serves 6
  • 1 1/2 cups dried black beans
  • 4 cups sweet potato, diced into 3/4 inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped white or yellow onion (about one medium to large onion)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 chipotle pepper en adobo, chopped finely
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground chili powder
  • 1 14 or 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (and more as needed)
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup chives, snipped into small pieces
  • 1 large Haas avocado
In This Recipe
  1. Soak the black beans in water for 6 to 8 hours, or overnight. Drain the soak liquid. Submerge them in fresh water, with enough to cover them by a few inches. Bring beans to a boil and lower to a simmer. Cook till beans are tender, approximately 45 minutes to one hour. Drain and set them aside.
  2. Heat the tablespoon of oil in a dutch oven or a large pot. Saute the onion for a few minutes, then add the sweet potato and garlic. Keep sauteing until the onions are translucent, about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Add the chili en adobo, the cumin, the chili powder, and the smoked paprika. Heat until the spices are very fragrant. Add the can of tomatoes and one can of vegetable broth.
  4. When broth is bubbling, reduce to a simmer and cook for approximately 30 or 35 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are totally tender. As you co along, you can continue to add the remaining cup of vegetable broth as is needed and depending on the texture chili you like. Season to taste with salt.
  5. When chili is finished, allow it to sit for a little while so that flavors can marinate. To serve, top a generous bowl with some fresh avocado slices and chives.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • 8675309
  • MKinLA
  • Tucker & Me
    Tucker & Me
  • gingerroot
  • Kaitlyn O'Keefe
    Kaitlyn O'Keefe
Gena is a registered dietitian, recipe developer, and food blogger. She's the author of three cookbooks, including Power Plates (2017) and Food52 Vegan (2015). She enjoys cooking vegetables, making bread, and challenging herself with vegan baking projects.

    45 Reviews

    LFK February 9, 2021
    Delicious!! Added two cups of vegetable stock at square one and a bit more after that. 2 tsp of kosher salt worked for me. The finale seemed to require acid. Squeezing two lime wedges over a serving did the trick. I often garnish w/sour cream, yoghurt, or cheddar cheese...but resisted my non-vegan impulses...
    8675309 March 13, 2019
    A nice go-to recipe for chilly winter days. The sweet potato flavor can overpower the black beans so maybe increase the bean-to-potato ratio or reduce the amount of sweet potato content. To reply to Dana below - yes - it does freeze well. I've made/frozen it twice - no problem!
    Sherry S. January 19, 2018
    Great recipe, although I made a few changes. I used butternut squash instead of sweet potatoes, used a full 28 oz can of fire-roasted tomatoes and just one cup of vegetable broth, doubled the spices, used two chiles in adobo and one of my cans of beans was kidney. This recipe gets deeper and more flavorful as it sits. This is a real winner.
    Dana December 2, 2017
    anybody know if this recipe freezes well?
    8675309 March 13, 2019
    Dana - yes, it freezes well. I make a big batch, split it into three containers, eat from one and freeze the other two. Have had it frozen for up to a month and still full of flavors. Hope this helps!
    big 8. May 17, 2017
    Is there a pressure cooker version or how would you modify? Tbx
    gustus October 17, 2016
    I love this recipe and have made it several times, and it just now dawned on me that I never commented on it. I even took it to a potluck chili contest, and it won (bragging rights only) for best vegetarian chili. I gave credit Gena and Food52 full credit when asked for the recipe. I have started adding an extra 1-2 cups of broth, just to make the batch stretch further, and haven't noticed any dilution of flavor. Thanks for this cool season staple!
    MKinLA January 27, 2016
    I came to this recipe by way of a adaptation from Washington Post (with attribution to this original). The adaptation uses rinsed canned black beans (low sodium), added along with the tomatoes and broth. Found myself out of smoked paprika so used sweet paprika, a little extra chipotle in adobo, a dash of Smoked Tabasco, and a few twists of Trader Joe's South African Smoke seasoning blend. Knocked out by the vibrant flavor of this chili. Added 1 T of dark brown sugar at the end to bump up the natural sweetness of the sweet potatoes (sweet and spicy is a personal favorite; does not *need* it) and drizzled a cilantro yogurt cream over the top, which compliments the flavor, cools the heat, and cuts the calories of sour cream. Will probably top with cilantro instead of chives henceforth. The picky 12-year-old across the street gobbled down two bowls and pronounced it "heavenly," so kids can be fans, too, if they're spice tolerant. It's even better than it sounds, and it's definitely going into heavy rotation during the cooler months a lot more often than just Meatless Mondays.
    KathyS January 25, 2016
    Made this just in time for "snowzilla" and wow! It is a keeper (though agree with Tucker & Me and think the directions need to be updated). Anyway, I love the smoky, sweet, and spicy heat from all of the flavors. Thanks!
    Tucker &. January 25, 2016
    It IS a fabulous dish. Had leftovers in an omelet this week, and stuffed in a tortilla.
    Tucker &. January 12, 2016
    Maybe I'm blind, but there is nothing about adding back in the beans or did I miss it. Also, the ingredients call for 2 cups of broth then refer to a second "can" in the directions. I know what needs to happen here, but it could use a little more clarity...just sayin' :-)
    Miriam P. March 27, 2016
    @Tucker & Me, I was wondering the same thing too about adding the beans in. Does. When do you add the beans?
    Tucker &. March 27, 2016
    I add them (3 cans drained and rinsed when I have no time to deal with dried beans) after the aromatics with the tomatoes and broth.
    Kaja1105 February 9, 2021
    The recipe also appears in the Food52 vegan cookbook, and there is says to add the beans with the tomatoes and broth. I made a big pot of black beans last week to use in a different recipe and decided to use some of the extra beans in this one. Excellent! I had no chili powder, so I used 1 tsp. of ground chipotle.
    trisha September 20, 2015
    I'm jumping the gun on fall but found fingerling sweet potatoes at the farmers market and gave this recipe a try. I used 2 cans of black beans and doubled up on the chipotle peppers in adobo (and added in a heaping tablespoon of the adobo sauce). AMAZING! It's still simmering away and the flavors are already great, I love how much the smoky flavor actually comes through. Packing this up in jars and I'm set for lunch for the week.
    gingerroot November 4, 2014
    Kaitlyn O. March 11, 2014
    awesome idea!! I added corn and red quinoa and it was fantastic :)
    Gisele73 February 3, 2014
    This is delicious and easy! With canned beans, quick as well. Thanks very much.
    sarah W. January 3, 2014
    can you make this ahead of time?
    plainhomecook January 3, 2014
    Sure! It may lose a little heat but otherwise will be fine.
    Sarah Q. November 11, 2013
    This was absolutely delicious. It's the first time I used Chipotle peppers in adobo as they are hard to find in Dublin. Oh my, what a smoky delicious difference a real depth of flavour. Going to make it again tonight!
    rsfgs October 23, 2013
    Yum. Thanks for the recipe. I used canned black beans and a winter ale instead of vegetable stock (once cooking was underway I realized I was stock-less). Would definitely make again. A good, hearty, fall dish.
    BarbaraAnneCampbell September 19, 2013
    SomeFoodThings,are Tolomg,[email protected]
    Erika K. September 19, 2013
    Hi plainhomecook. I actually used canned beans when I made it. Just skip step 1 and drain 2 cans of organic black beans. Add to chili in step 4 when sweet potatoes are cooked, as Tedi suggested.
    plainhomecook September 19, 2013
    Thank you Erika!
    plainhomecook September 18, 2013
    I'm cooking this for a crowd and am in a hurry. How would you suggest I modify to use canned black beans? Thanks!
    Meryl S. July 23, 2013
    When do you add the beans?
    Tedi August 28, 2013
    I just added them in when the potatoes were cooked to warm them through, as another reviewer suggested.

    I will be making this again and again! I added in extra potatoes and ended up having enough to freeze (makes a lot for 2 people). I'm anxious to see how it tastes when thawed.

    Great recipe!
    kyurman October 7, 2018
    Would love to know how your chili held up after freezing.
    Thanks in advance!