Vegan Smoky BBQ Sweet Potato Chili

Vegan Smoky BBQ Sweet Potato Chili

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The Highlights…

  • Vegan (non-meat, non-dairy)
  • Savory
  • Easy, hands-off cooking in the crock-pot
  • Great “leftovers” options!

Smoky BBQ Sweet Potato Chili Plant Based Chili Vegan Chili Black Bean Herbivores Kitchen 1

Vegan Smoky BBQ Sweet Potato Chili

Chili recipes abound the minute our thoughts change from summer to fall.  I’ve got a number of options that I rotate through, but this smoky bbq sweet potato option is one of my favorites.  It’s classic in its southwestern style undertones, but I add a few key ingredients toward the end that give it a tangy bbq sweetness that complements the sweet potato base.  Like all of my recipes shared on this website, this one is vegan and packed with a number of healthy non-meat, non-dairy ingredients.

Smoky BBQ Sweet Potato Chili Plant Based Chili Vegan Chili Black Bean Herbivores Kitchen 1Keeping It Simple For Busy Cooks…

To keep it simple, I’ll typically make mine in my Kitchen Aid Multi-Purpose Cooker in the morning as the kids eat their breakfast and leave it to do its thing all day.  Although it looks like it, this isn’t a pressure cooker.  I chose it over the pressure cooker because of it’s multi-function options, which allow me to cook an entire meal in one dish.  For example, the saute feature allows me to cook the onions and garlic after which I can switch to the lo-slow cook for the rest of the dish.  It also has features for simmering, braising and boiling, among others.  I love the low stress of coming home to dinner being ready, especially when daylight is at a premium.

Also to save time, I prefer to use pre-cubed and frozen sweet potatoes.  Sweet potatoes are one of my favorites inclusions in my vegan recipes.  They give dishes a meaty, satisfying texture.  I pick mine up at my local natural food grocery store, but if you can’t find them you can peel and cube 2 sweet potatoes for this recipe.  I’m a big fan of getting beans and other legumes into my vegan cooking as well.  For this dish, I chose black beans, kidney beans and pinto beans.  Sometimes I’ll add lentils (another vegan favorite!), especially red lentils which soften up and give the chili a really thick consistency, but I don’t find that they’re ideal for an all day slow-cooker meal as they absorb a lot of water and I like to be around to keep an eye on them.

Smoky BBQ Sweet Potato Chili Plant Based Chili Vegan Chili Black Bean Herbivores Kitchen 1The Final Touches…

Just before serving this chili, I like to take a potato masher to the beans and sweet potatoes to thicken it. I also think that this gives the chili a more consistent flavor with bites of all ingredients instead of bites with big pieces of one ingredient or another.  This is just a personal preference.  As toppings, I dice avocado (a great vegan option in lieu of cheese and sour cream) and add on toasted tortilla strips which I pre-bake in the oven with a sprinkle of salt and chili powder.  Some fresh herbs, like cilantro, round out the flavors.  Sometimes I add a few pumpkin seeds on top for some added nutrition, crunch and flavor.

Using the Leftovers…

This chili keeps well in the fridge, thickening up a bit as it cools.  Sometimes I’ll use the leftovers to top a potato or a plate of vegan nachos.  Or, mix it with cooked rice or quinoa and make a nice vegan breakfast burrito the next morning.

The Recipe…

Smoky BBQ Sweet Potato Vegan Chili

This smoky bbq sweet potato chili won't leave you wanting for anything. Classic in its southwestern undertones, this chili also features a sweet and tangy bbq quality which pairs really nicely with the sweet potato. I serve it with diced avocado and homemade tortilla strips seasoned with olive oil, salt and chili powder.
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Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 6 hrs
Total Time 6 hrs 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 4


Sweet Potato Chili

  • 1 sm. yellow onion diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced minced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp chipotle paste (I like to use Olo's brand)
  • 4 cups sweet potato peeled and cubed
  • 25 oz can black beans rinsed and drained
  • 14 oz can kidney beans rinsed and drained
  • 14 oz can pinto beans rinsed and drained
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp brown mustard
  • 1/2 tbsp agave
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce I use a vegan brand, like Annie's
  • salt & pepper to taste


  • 1 avocado diced
  • 2-3 tortillas cut into strips
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 bunch cilantro


  • Heat 3 T. of olive oil in your multi-cooker (if using) or in a large soup pan. When shimmering, add the diced onion and cook on a low heat to soften for approximately 8 minutes. Add the garlic with 4 minutes remaining.
    Add the chili powder and cumin and continue to cook over low heat until fragrant. About 1-2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and chipotle paste. If you don't have a pre-made chipotle paste, you can purchase a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in the ethnic foods section of your grocery store. For a recipe like this, I will chop 1-2 chipotle peppers. These do sometimes have quite a bit of heat, so the smaller you cut them, the more distributed the heat will be. You can freeze the remaining contents of the can in a small bag for later use. Cook for 1-2 minutes more.
    Add the sweet potato and stir to coat. Allow the sweet potato to cook with the onion, garlic and spices for 1-2 minutes.
    Add the diced tomatoes, black beans, kidney beans and pinto beans along with 4 c. of water.
    In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, mustard, agave and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well and pour into the chili.
    If cooking in a soup pan, bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and allow the chili to simmer for 40 minutes or until the sweet potato and beans are softened. If cooking in a crockpot or multi-cooker, although the chili to cook for 4-8 hours on a low setting.
    While the chili is cooking, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Slice your tortilla into thin strips. I like to stack the tortillas and use a pizza cutter. Either toss the strips in 1 t. of olive oil, or spread them out on a oven tray and spray lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle salt and chili powder over the tortilla strips and bake in the oven for 10 minutes, turning the tray halfway through. Allow to cool before serving.
    Dice the avocado and wash and strip the cilantro. ;Before serving the chili, use a potato masher to lightly mash the beans and the sweet potatoes in the chili. This will better blend the flavors and thicken the chili.
    Serve the chili topped with tortilla strips, diced avocado and cilantro.
Keyword barbeque, bbq, beans, chili, sweet potato, vegan, vegan chili, vegan soup
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