Black Bean and Sweet Potato Turkey Chili

black bean and sweet potato turkey chiliSo last week I explained a new feature you’ll be seeing pop up around here every once and a while called “Friday Faves.”  You can click on my last post and read the intro to see what it’s all about.  While these totally aren’t meant to be *giveaway* posts, that’s not to say we can’t give anything away every once and a while.  I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who jumped on that post and left comments, because as bloggers, that’s really how we connect with all of you out there and we love hearing your thoughts, ideas, and funny stories!  To say thanks, I used to pick one of the comments from that post and it was lucky number 17, Michele.  Michele- I’m going to send you a big ol’ box of some of the goodies featured in that post, so check your email!

Fall LeavesNow onto today’s recipe.  Somehow in the last couple of weeks fall has arrived in Boise.  It’s suddenly very chilly in the mornings, and gloriously sunny in the afternoons.  The perfect sweater-but-no-coat weather for most of the day and I love it.  I spent a large portion of my last week trudging through nurseries and tree farms, picking landscape plants for the house we’re building and it has reminded me why (especially as a horticulturist at heart) I love this season so much!  And when fall arrives, my slow-cooker makes more appearances on my counter (much to my grill’s dismay.)  I’d been thinking about this chili in my head for a long time and finally thought I’d start throwing it together.  It’s definitely a little different than the other chili recipes on our site.  You might be surprised by some of the ingredients, but don’t be scared.  We’re friends, remember?  Tender sweet potatoes actually pair really well with black beans, and this chili might be super low in calories but it’s crazy high in flavor and heartiness.  Chock full of veggies and perfect for topping, this is a great fall slow-cooker meal that will make your house smell awesome.

We’re going to start by sauteing some vegetables.  I know people love to just throw everything in a crock pot, but I’m telling you right now, for most crock pot recipes it’s worth the extra step of sauteing veggies, or searing meat, etc.  You’ll get deeper flavor, better texture, and overall better dishes when you follow full instructions that call for cooking things before tossing them in the slow-cooker.  Okay, I’ll hop off the soap box now.  Saute some diced onion, garlic, jalapeno, and bell pepper for about 5 minutes, until veggies are soft and fragrant.  You don’t need 2 peppers like you see in my photo- you just need one bell pepper and I happened to have both a yellow and a red so I used half of each.  Because I thought it looked pretty.  I definitely prefer sweet peppers (red, yellow, or orange) but if they’re just too pricey, or unavailable, go ahead and use a green bell pepper.  When those are cooked, place them in your slow-cooker.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Turkey Chili fresh ingredients

Next up, ground turkey breast.  I created this recipe using 20 ounces because the packs from the grocery store like this photo below are always 20 ounces (why?  I don’t know, it’s kind of a strange number…)  If you’re not using a package like my photo, you can use a pound if that’s easier to buy.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Turkey Chili ground turkey

Now here’s a little trick I use often to either lighten recipes that use ground meat, or to stretch a small amount of meat and make it go further in a recipe (good for money-saving, too).  I’ve said it before- I don’t love mushrooms, so if you’re like me- rest assured, you probably won’t even know they’re in here.  That’s the point!  I mince up mushrooms and toss them right in with the ground meat.

mushrooms whole and chopped

What happens is they take on the flavors and seasonings of the meat (in this case, cumin, smoked paprika, oregano, chili powder, salt and pepper)  and since they cook along with it they just sort of disguise themselves in there. Since they have a soft texture, you don’t really notice them in the final product, but it makes it seems like there’s more meat than there is.  In this case, it was more a matter of bulking up the chili and adding secret veggies.  Add the turkey mushroom mixture to the slow-cooker with the vegetables.

ground turkey and mushrooms

Next up is the sweet potatoes.  I use a vegetable peeler to peel the skin off and then dice them into 1/2 inch cubes.  Since sweet potatoes are never uniform in size, just weigh them at the store; I shoot for about 1 1/2 pounds.  It doesn’t have to be exact; a little less is certainly fine.  You can even buy pre-chopped sweet potatoes in many produce departments.

sweet potatoes peeled and chopped

Add in some black beans

black beans

and canned tomatoes

canned tomatoes

and then another secret ingredient: pumpkin puree!  It may seem strange, but it adds a velvety texture and gives the chili body and richness.  Plus it packs in lots of good-for-you vitamins and the flavor blends really well with the sweetness of the sweet potatoes.  Just pretty pretty please, make sure your can doesn’t say “Pumpkin Pie” flavored… (and click here for a recipe for homemade pumpkin)

pumpkin puree

But we’re not stopping there.  Just when you thought this chili couldn’t get any crazier, we’ve got 2 front-seat tickets on the crazy train.  (I don’t even know what that means.  Things like that come out of my mouth when I write my posts at midnight…)  2 more seasonings give this chili a mellow warmth:  just a touch of cinnamon and a little unsweetened cocoa powder.  They’re not uncommon ingredients in chili, but still ones you don’t see very often.  The trick is not overdoing those types of flavors, and I put in just enough that it gives flavor, but not enough to overwhelm it.

cinnamon and cocoa powder

Stir everything up with some beef broth and let that slow cooker do its thing.

chicken stock

When it’s all done, it’s thick and rich and super hearty.   I like to stir in a big handful of chopped cilantro before serving, but that’s totally optional.

Delicious Black Bean and Sweet Potato Turkey Chili

There’s so many good things in there, and when you get them all in one bite it’s a great mix of both flavors and textures.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Turkey Chili

You can top this with any traditional chili toppings you like, however, I like to keep it simple so I can still taste the unique flavor.  A dollop of sour cream and a couple slices of avocado are perfect.  You can however, load anything on there.  And if you make this and have some eaters that aren’t too fond of the unique flavor, just squeeze a bunch of lime juice in there and add cheese and sour cream on top and it will actually mask the subtle sweetness and taste more like a traditional chili.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili in a bowl

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Turkey Chili

5 from 3 votes


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil divided
  • 1 medium onion diced (any color)
  • 4 cloves garlic peeled and minced
  • 1 bell pepper diced
  • 1-2 jalapenos minced
  • 20 ounces ground turkey breast
  • 8 ounces mushrooms minced (about 2 heaping cups)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoons pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 28 ounce can tomatoes not drained
  • 2 15 ounce can black beans drained and rinsed
  • 32 ounces beef broth one box/carton
  • 1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree make sure you're not using pumpkin pie filling 🙂
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • optional: sour cream sliced avocado, chopped cilantro or green onion, and fresh lime juice for serving


  • Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat.  Add 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil and add onion, garlic, bell pepper, and jalapenos.  Saute for about 5 minutes, until veggies are tender and fragrant.  Add to slow cooker.
  • In same skillet, heat remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil.  Add turkey and mushrooms and stir to combine.  Sprinkle in cumin, salt, pepper, oregano, chili powder and smoked paprika.  (note: the meat will taste very seasoned when done.  Keep in mind these seasonings are not to flavor just the meat, they will season the entire pot of chili, so they are intentionally strong!)  Add turkey mixture to slow cooker.
  • Add sweet potatoes, tomatoes, beans, broth, pumpkin, cinnamon, and cocoa powder to slow cooker and stir til combine.  Place lid on pot and cook for  4-6 hours on high, or 8-10 on low.   Slow-cookers vary greatly in temperature and cooking times, but really, the important thing to note is if the sweet potatoes are tender.
  • When done, turn off heat and let chili sit with lid off for 10-15 minutes to thicken.  Season with additional salt to taste before serving.  If desired, serve with sour cream, sliced avocados, and a small squirt of fresh lime juice, and any other toppings desired.


*"Sweet potatoes" and "yams" are often sold interchangeably depending on what part of the country you live in.  Just buy whichever one is orange 🙂
It freezes beautifully, so I like to make the recipe and then freeze half for another night.  You can certainly halve the recipe as well, which I recommend if you have a small slow cooker.


Serving: 16g, Calories: 185kcal, Carbohydrates: 24g, Protein: 14g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 23mg, Sodium: 534mg, Fiber: 8g, Sugar: 5g
Calories: 185kcal
Author: Sara Wells
Did You Make This Recipe?Snap a picture, and hashtag it #ourbestbites. We love to see your creations on our Instagram @ourbestbites!

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Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. Very similar to a pumpkin turkey chili recipe that I already make, I’ll have to try adding sweet potatoes, yum!

  2. I actually threw together a pot of chili with pork this morning in the slow cooker — going to go add some pumpkin to it right now! Yum, great idea!

  3. Looks great and can be adjusted with low salt products as well for those on low sodium diets…

  4. I have a bunch of sweet potatoes that I need to use. This looks amazing! Can’t wait to try it.

  5. We are having a chili cook-off at our church for Halloween and I need to bring chili (for the non competitive category because I am not confident in making chili) and this looks like a great recipe! I have never made chili before so I can’t wait to try it. Thanks!

  6. Looks interesting, unique and super tasty! Could you substitute ground beef for the turkey in a pinch?

  7. My husband has learned to trust that everything I make from “my favorite Mormon girls” will be delicious. However, since he can’t stand black beans, sweet potatoes, pumpkin or mushrooms, this one might be pushing it a bit too far. I’m definitely making it next time he’s out of town though!

  8. I do NOT eat mushrooms (it’s a taste/texture thing), but as I trust y’all implicitly, I will follow the recipe direction as they are. This is a big step for me, I have to say. :o)

    Also, my boys MUST have cheese with their chili no matter what. So if one were to top this with some cheese, what would you recommend? Jack? Mild Cheddar?

    1. If you have a food processor, use that to chop your mushrooms so they’re super small 🙂 And honestly, you could always leave them out if you really dislike them! You can use any kind of cheese, I put cheddar on it for my boys last night and it was great 🙂

      1. Good idea about the food processor; I’ll definitely do that. I really think that I must have had a bad mushroom at some point because lots of people, including my husband, love them.

  9. i have most of these ingredients so i think ill give it a go tomorrow. seems interesting but i cant wait to try it! 🙂

  10. Thanks for getting back to posting recipes like this. It is why I visit your site often. Your recipes are great. I’ve stopped using traditional cookbooks, so it is disappointing when all my favorite recipe blogs are so consumed in writing cookbooks they stop posting the recipes they are working on and talk about everything but food.

  11. One of my family’s favorite recipes is Southwestern Shepherd’s pie. I found it in a magazine a few years ago. It’s pretty much your chili recipe but in shepherd’s pie form. It has almost all of the same ingredients that I love so I can’t wait to give this recipe a try. Sweet potatoes mixed with the peppers, cinnamon, cumin and tons of cilantro make such an amazing combination!

  12. It’s a good thing I trust you lovely ladies, or I would think you had lost it! It does seem strange, but I can’t wait to try it!

  13. This is a recipe I would only make because I trust you guys! I’m going to be adventurous and give it a try!

  14. Oooooh. Fingers crossed that I can expand my husband’s traditionalist chili tastebuds with this one. It looks amazing.

    1. Haha, if he ends up hating it, just squeeze lots of lime juice in there and cover it in cheese and he’ll never know 🙂

  15. That looks awesome!! I am going to make this even though I am a bit wary of some of the ingredients. I trust you completely!!!

  16. Oh my! I have to try this. I’m visiting Logan right now and leaving Friday morning! Its killing me that I’m missing you guys. I’m going to buy your cookbook while I’m here without your lovely signatures 🙁

  17. That looks so good! I have so many soup recipes that it’s actually getting hard to find one that is really that different than something I already make. But this is definitely different and I’m excited to try it this fall.

  18. Thank you for always posting such fun recipies. This will be one to try, for sure. I always love coming to your site.

  19. The last time I bought ground turkey I ended up freezing it and I was too lazy to portion it out before hand. I thought for sure I would regret that decision and end up with too much meat for one recipe or too little for another, but you just solved that for me by using the entire package! lol Looks like this one was made just for me. 🙂 YUM!

  20. Yay! I’m so excited your coming to Logan! I’m going to tofw just because your speaking and we’re sneaking out early Friday night to go to Deseret bookstore! I’m counting the days until Friday! 🙂

  21. I actually have all of these ingredients (with the exception of the pumpkin) and was trying to figure out what to do with them! Perfect timing, this is what’s for dinner tonight (after a quick trip to the store)!

  22. Wow. This is going on the menu for the weekend. I found myself nodding my head after each listed ingredient. By the end I was nodding and saying “yes” out loud. My children asked me “yes what?”, and I told them I was just excited about dinner. That seemed to placate them and they just walked away, which leads me to believe I may get overly excited about food too regularly. Hmmmmm. But in this instance, I think it’s totally warranted. I hate chili, but this looks divine!!!!

  23. I was going to ask if using canned fire roasted tomatoes would change the flavor too much. That seems to be the preferred canned tomato in our house.

  24. Ah…love the “secret ingredients”. What you said about the mushrooms is so true. If only my family knew how much they ate them 😉 I was getting so excited as I was reading this post because I had every ingredient in my kitchen already. Then I got to “pumpkin purée”. Darn it! Of course I only have pumpkin pie. This is going on our menus for the next week. I have no idea if my family will eat it.

  25. YUMMO! we’ve been adding dark chocolate to our chili for years now.. always great results. must try the cinnamon. This chili recipe looks so divine! On my wknd menu!! Thank u!