Plant-Based Sweet Potato Chili

Sweet Potato Chili_600x500

This is a delicious, healthy, and hearty plant-based sweet potato chili. It is one of those “comfort foods” everyone just loves and will certainly win over even the kids!  This plant-based chili contains a surprise ingredient – cocoa powder!

When I set out to create a healthy whole food plant-based chili I started out with this sweet potato chili. This wonderful plant-based recipe is healthy, hearty, has a delicious flavor, and certainly satisfied that comfort food need. This Sweet Potato Chili won’t disappoint. There is however a surprise ingredient which quite happened by mistake.

While this started out pretty good, it was still missing something. I was looking for a replacement for the meat that is usually in chili, trying different things and nothing that really stood out. While grocery shopping I stumbled upon some red bulgur. Quickly I remembered how my grandmother always used bulger in various Armenian dishes and I started remembering how good it was – then it dawned on me. Bulgur can have the same texture as meat! While she used regular bulgur, I decided to try this version by Bob’s Red Mill.

Cooking a pot of sweet potato chili

Excited to try it, I went home and made another batch. Playing around with the amounts I was able to get just the right amount in this chili. Since Chili was something that I always loved chili but now that we are plant-based, I had to up the game. I was also in the middle of creating another recipe (why not have 2 going at the same time right). While adding the ingredients, I accidentally scooped 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder! I certainly couldn’t take it back now as it was in there before I realized what happened.

At this point there was no looking back for sure. I knew I had to forge on and hoping for the best, this was a HUGE home run! This little accident really took this to a whole new level.

So what goes into a Sweet Potato Chili?

Lots of healthy, goodness for sure. But this recipe has:

  • sweet potatoes
  • bulgur
  • light red kidney beans
  • diced tomatoes
  • green and red bell peppers
  • onions
  • cinnamon
  • seasonings and of course cocoa powder!

I even added flax meal because I try to include it in many of my recipes. I do use the golden flax meal because the taste is very mild. The brown flax meal has a stronger nuttier flavor. Many chefs use gold flax meal because it has a mild taste.

Start by heating a 4-6 quart dutch oven or stockpot on medium heat, adding 1/4 cup of the vegetable broth until slightly simmering. Add the vegetables and sweet potatoes and just a pinch of salt & pepper. Cook and stir occasionally until the onions start to turn translucent. Reducing the heat to medium low, add the garlic and all the spices, flax meal cocoa powder, tomatoes, beans, bulgur, and the rest of the broth, stirring for about 5 minutes. Then reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer until the sweet potatoes are tender and the chili has reduced to a heartier consistency, about 45 minutes. You will want to taste and adjust any seasonings. Serve and you have a delightful bowl of chili!

Sweet Potato Chili_600x500

Plant-Based Sweet Potato Chili

Yield: 6-8
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

This is a delicious, healthy and hearty plant-based chili. Everyone will fall in love with this, even the kids! And this sweet potato chili contains a surprise ingredient - cocoa powder!


  • 2 - 15 oz. cans of light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 - 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes, saving the juice
  • 4 1/2 Cups vegetable broth, reserving a little for sauteing the veggies)
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium-large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 1/2 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 Tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 - 1/2 Tsp. Chipotle chili pepper powder
  • 1/4 Tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 - 1/4 Tsp. cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • 3 heaping Tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. golden flax meal


  1. In a 6 quart Dutch oven or stockpot, warm 1/4 cup of vegetable broth on medium heat until slightly simmering. Add the chopped vegetables (onions, peppers, and sweet potatoes), along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook stirring occasionally, until the onions start turning translucent (about 3-5 minutes).
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add in the garlic, spices, cocoa powder, flaxmeal, tomatoes, beans and broth, stirring for several minutes.
  3. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook, stirring occassionally until the sweet potatoes are tender and the chili has reduced to a heartier consistency (about 45 minutes).
  4. If you want an even thicker consistency, use a potato masher to just slightly mash the means until the texture suits your preference. The chili tends to thicken up the longer it sits so be careful not to make it too thick. I usually do not smash the beans because it turns out the perfect consistency.
  5. Serve and as an option, garnish with my creamy sour cream, or thinly sliced green onions.


A note on canned tomatoes: you want to make sure the cans you purchase are BPA free as the levels in canned goods are known to be high.

Flax meal comes in either a light golden color or brown. Most chefs use the golden color as it is very mild in taste.

Slow Cooker/Crockpot option: This chili can be made in a slow cooker using the high setting for 4-5 hours, or cooking on low for 7-8 hours.

You can substitute the 2 cans of light red kidney beans for 1 can of black beans and 1 can of light red kidney beans.

Did you make this recipe? We'd love to hear from you!

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Michele Wallace

Entrepreneur and author of A Plant-Based Michele has also earned her Plant-Based Nutrition Certification from eCornell University. The book is an easy and complete guide for those wanting to get healthy and offers step-by-step instructions, including over 85 delicious and healthy recipes.
A Plant-Based Revolution is dedicated to whole food plant-based nutrition.

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