Chili Cook-off? Make A Winner – Sweet Potato Chili

As summer is here and in-person gatherings are becoming popular (and safe) again, people are reaching back into their memory of what “fun” used to look, taste, and feel like. One common activity among many is attending a chili cook-off. In 2019, I entered a chili cook-off with my Zucchini Chili (recipe in my cookbook From Vine to Table: The Unexpected Joys of Zucchini’s Magic) and received raves. So I was willing to try a vegetarian chili with sweet potatoes and see how it fared. You’ll have to “judge” for yourself. 

I made this chili in my Dutch oven on the stovetop. Another method to make this chili is the slow-cooker. It is easily adaptable to whatever time and appliances best suit your culinary needs. 

I scaled back the volume of ingredients for 2-4 persons because I didn’t want to have a lot of leftover chili at this time of year. Even so, this recipe still makes generous portions. 

Cooking away in the Dutch oven.

Thick chili plated and ready for toppings.

A little cheese and avocado for this bowl. It is great with any of your favorite chili toppings.

Chili Cook-off? Make A Winner – Sweet Potato Chili

Yields 2-4 people

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  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 3 mini bell peppers (red & orange), chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 15.5 ounce diced tomatoes (fire-roasted or jalapeño flavored)
  • 1 15.5 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium sweet potato (about 6-7 ounces or 1 1/2 cups), peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste


  1. In a medium-sized Dutch oven, swirl about 1 tablespoon olive oil and saute onion and bell peppers for a few minutes to soften. Add in chili powder, cumin, cocoa, cinnamon and salt and pepper. Cook a minute more to draw out the fragrance of the seasonings.
  2. Add the tomatoes (liquid too), beans, sweet potato and about 1/2 cup water.
  3. Cover and cook on medium heat until sweet potatoes are tender (about 1 hour).


ALTERNATIVE COOKING METHOD: Add all ingredients to a slow cooker (except olive oil), cover, and cook on high for 4 hours.

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