Sweet Potato Vegetarian Chili a Satisfying One-Pot Wonder

Sweet Potato Chili

The idea of one-pot cooking is irresistible. We’re all drawn to the prospect of a speedy, less-messy meal. I made this sweet potato vegetarian chili because I enjoy cooking in one pot. You can’t cook everything that way, but soups, stews, and chilies are truly one-pot wonders. It’s easy to lose yourself over just one task in just one pot. You start with a building block of something as simple as sauteed onions and you add layers until it’s done. Sometimes you don’t know it’s done until its done.

This chili however came together entirely differently. I’ve been working on this one-pot vegetarian chili for 4 (or more) years now. It’s a staple at our good friend’s annual (except last year) potluck chili and tree trimming party. It seems I’m the only one inclined to attempt an eclectic vegetarian chili. And every chili party needs an eclectic vegetarian chili.

Chili is a particularly satisfying one-pot wonder. I’ve posted several versions from pork to fish. Chili embraces variety and by nature is eccentric: no two are alike, unless of course you get your chili from a can.

But this chili comes from my imagination, so each time I make it I tweak it just a bit more. I keep notes on this vegetarian chili year-after-year and I think I finally have it to a place where you can make it yourself. GREG

Cooking Notes

Technically this vegetarian chili is no longer a one-pot wonder. It requires a baking sheet to roast the sweet potatoes. I did start out as a one pot meal. However, in the couple of years it took to finish writing this recipe I discovered the potatoes taste better and have better texture when roasted. It’s a step you can do a day or so in advance and then adopt a one-pot mentality once you begin to assemble the chili.

Sweet Potato Chili 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 10–12Published

Use fire-roasted canned tomatoes if you can find them. Hunt’s and Muir Glen both make good choices.

Sweet Potato Chili


  • 2 pound sweet potato (peeled and diced in 3/4‑inch cubes)
  • 1 large poblano chile (trimmed, seeded, and diced)
  • 4 tablespoon olive oil (divided)
  • salt and ground black pepper (as needed)
  • 1 large onion (peeled and diced)
  • 1 large red bell pepper (trimmed, seeded, and diced)
  • 2 clove garlic (peeled and minced)
  • 2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder (or more or less to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 4 cup vegetable stock or water (plus more as needed)
  • 2 (15-oz) cans chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 2 (15-oz) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes (see notes)
  • 2 (15-oz) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro (leaves and most of the stems chopped)


Preheat the oven 425˚F

Toss the sweet potatoes and poblano with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and black pepper. Spread in a single layer onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Don’t crowd them use two baking sheets if necessary. Roast in the heated oven for about 40 minutes, or until deeply golden brown on the edges and tender inside. You may need to toss the potatoes and poblano or rotate the sheets halfway through cooking depending on your oven.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large Dutch oven set over a medium-high heat. Add the onion, red bell pepper, and garlic, and cook for 8 minutes, stirring often. Sprinkle in chipotle chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne (if using) and cook 1 to 2 more minutes, stirring often.

Deglaze the pan with the vegetable stock or water making sure to scrape the bottom well with a wooden spoon.

Add drained beans and both kinds of tomatoes with all their juices.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-low and cook 30 to 40 more minutes (maybe even more!) until thickened and reduced. Keep an eye on it, stirring often. You want the diced tomatoes to begin to break down, creating a saucy rather than brothy texture. Add splashes of water as needed to keep the desired consistency.

Stir in the chopped cilantro stems and leaves and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Gently stir in the roasted sweet potatoes and poblano, stir until warmed through. This chili is best if its made in advance, allowed to cool and then gently reheated before serving. In which case it will need a splash of water at reheating time.