Southern Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili

The first time I had this Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili I sat there and just said, "Wow!" to myself over and over again as I slowly devoured the whole bowl.

Take a big spoonful and you'll get a sweet, savory, and flavorful bite of salted sweet potato, smoky chipotle, and faint - but rich molasses. I had never tasted these flavors together before, but they make quite an impression!

About 4 years ago, I was reading through my monthly issue of Our State magazine - a gorgeous publication all about the great state of North Carolina. I was flipping through the articles and suddenly, this mouth-watering cup of chili appeared on the page before me. Lynn Wells, one of the main food writers for the magazine, was the master behind this amazing dish - or rather, giant pot.

Over the years, I've tweaked this into my own recipe with a little more this, and a little more that. Each time I made it - which was at least 3-4 times each cold-weathered season - I kept perfecting it and perfecting it.

It's always a crowd-pleaser and it's always "doubled."

This means that you're getting about 6-7 quarts of chili with the instructions below - (easily enough for 10-15 people as a meal.) Or if you cook this up on a Sunday, enough to feed you and a friend dinner for the entire week!

Regardless of who is helping you eat all of this chili, just know you need a big, sturdy pot. I always make this in my 8-quart Martha Stewart Cast Iron Dutch Oven.

To make this recipe lighter, I typically use ground turkey, but the original calls for beef. I also like to add in some of my favorite Guajillo Chili Powder into this recipe, which really brightens up and rounds out the chilies. Lastly, I recommend using Fire Roasted diced tomatoes if you can find them. Their smokiness mirrors the chipotle spices perfectly.

Yield: 6 Quarts or 10-15 servings

Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes


  • 6 tablespoons Olive Oil

  • 2 large Sweet Vidalia Onions

  • 4 Sweet Potatoes, (peeled optional) cubed

  • 2 pounds Lean Ground Turkey

  • 2 teaspoons Salt

  • 2 tablespoons Chili Powder

  • 2 tablespoons Cumin

  • 1 tablespoon Ground Chipotle Pepper

  • 1 tablespoons Guajillo Chili Powder*

  • 2 cans (15 oz.) Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes

  • 4 tablespoons Tomato Paste

  • 4 tablespoons Molasses

  • 4 cups Chicken Stock

  • 2 cans (15 oz.) Black Beans, drained & rinsed

  • 1 teaspoons Cayenne Pepper (optional)

  • Sour Cream (for topping - optional)

  • Chopped Green Onion (for topping - optional)

*If you can't find Guajillo Chili Powder, order yours here, or just use more regular chili powder.


Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven on Medium heat. Add cubed sweet potato and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once slightly cooked, add onion and sauté until the sweet potato is mostly cooked through and the onion is slightly browned (between 20-30 minutes depending on your cube sizes.) Then remove from the pan and set aside.

Add ground turkey to the Dutch oven and cook until browned. In a small bowl, add salt, chili powder, cumin, chipotle pepper and guajillo chili powder until thoroughly mixed. Pour over the cooked ground turkey and mix together to fully incorporate the spices. Cook for 3-5 minutes to allow the spices to open up.

Add and stir in the diced tomatoes, paste, molasses and stock. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes.

While the chili is cooking, rinse, drain, and cook the black beans in a separate pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil until warmed through.

Then add the beans, sweet potato, onion, and ground turkey back to the Dutch oven. If desired, add in the Cayenne Pepper. Simmer for another 10 minutes on Medium-Low heat. Serve immediately or let the pot cool to store in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Top liberally with sour cream and chopped green onion.

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Chelsea Boccardo Smith

Chelsea is the creator and founder of At Chelsea's. She enjoys sharing home entertaining tips, recipes, and menu ideas. Find time saving checklists & party planning guides on her Etsy shop. When she's not writing about her most recent party, she's out trying a new restaurant or taking her dog, Amber, for a long walk.
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