If you want to enjoy a hearty, meatless chili that is ready in under 30 minutes, try this flavorful, filling, and delicious quinoa sweet potato chili. This is a quick and easy combination that you can make for lunch or dinner even on busy weekdays.
Apart from this vegan chili with beans and millet recipe, which is our meatless version of the classic chili, we love this sweet potato quinoa chili recipe for being so easy and quick. If you like Tex-Mex or Mexican spicy food, you might want to check out our vegan portobello fajitas with sheet pan fajita veggies recipe or our copycat chipotle veggie burrito recipe. And don’t forget about this yummy and nutritious nut-free vegan queso dip recipe!
What to expect from this recipe
What you can expect is to have a flavorful main course meal out of a handful of ingredients that you can make in 30 minutes. What else? We can tell you at least 3 reasons why you should give this sweet potato quinoa chili a try:
- You can easily fit it into your weekly meal plan since this recipe is perfect for both batch cooking and for preparing something to eat in under 30 minutes.
- It has no fancy ingredients. Beans, sweet potatoes, and quinoa are usually found in most stores and in most vegan pantries.
- Last but not least, it is very nutritious. Beans and quinoa are high protein ingredients, while the sweet potato is one of the most nutrient-dense veggies among root vegetables.
You don’t need a lot of main ingredients per see. Half of the below list is about spices. If you want to make a flavorful vegetarian chili, then you need a combination of the right spices.
- Quinoa – Well, it is a vegan quinoa chili recipe, so you need quinoa to make it. If you really have to sub it out, use millet instead.
- Sweet potatoes – We recommend using orange ones. If you use white, it will taste more like classic potatoes. If you use purple, well then you have a whole different color and a lot more earthy, nutty taste.
- Tomatoes – We recommend using juicy, large tomatoes like heirlooms rather than cherry tomatoes. Much more flavor.
- Sieved tomato puree – You can probably find several types of tomato sauces in the stores. We recommend choosing sieved tomato puree which is thicker and unseasoned.
- Red kidney beans – Classic chili beans are pinto beans, kidney beans, or black beans. You can use whichever type you have in your pantry. You can also use pre-cooked beans or canned ones.
- Sweet smoked paprika powder
- Hot chili powder or flakes – Optional
- Basil – We used dried ground basil.
- Oregano – We used dried ground oregano.
- Parsley – We used dried ground parsley.
- Salt and black pepper
🛒 You can find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Preparing the ingredients
- Peel and chop onion and garlic.
- Wash, peel, and dice the sweet potatoes.
- Wash and chop tomatoes.
- Pre-cook beans if you were to use them.
- Rinse and drain quinoa well to remove bitterness.
- Add to stockpot with double amount of cold water and salt. Bring it to a boil.
- Once it boiling, turn the heat low. Simmer until the water disappears, then remove from heat and cover with a lid. It should stay covered for 5 minutes. Now, you have fluffy, cooked quinoa.
- Take a large pot and heat it over medium heat.
- Add oil, chopped onion, and garlic (photo #1). Cook them for 2-3 minutes.
- Add diced sweet potato (photo #2). Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes just to caramelize it a little bit.
- Season it with ground basil, oregano, parsley, salt, and pepper (photo #3). Stir until combined.
- Add chopped tomatoes, stir well and cook for 2-3 minutes (photo #4).
- Add tomato sauce and bring it to boil (photo #5). Cover it with a lid and cook it for 15 minutes or until the diced sweet potato is soft.
- Finally, add the cooked quinoa and cooked or canned beans (photo #6). Stir to combine and heat up all ingredients. Ready to be served!
Top tips to make it perfectly
- Low to medium heat only! -> Always keep it on medium heat and stir to make sure the tomato sauce is not sticking to the bottom. Or use a good non-stick frying pan*. You can also make this chili recipe in a stockpot* for batch cooking.
- More beans, veggies, leafy greens? -> You can use more beans or other veggies depending on your preference. We think this combination gives a loaded but well-balanced chili. We often add a few leafy greens like spinach or kale for some added nutrition.
- Mild or hot? -> Depending on how hot and spicy you prefer your chili, you can go from mild chili powder to sriracha chili paste or to freshly chopped raw chili peppers.
- Cooking quinoa separately? -> We found it harder to cook quinoa directly in the chili as we need to pay attention more closely to whether the liquid is enough to match how much the quinoa will absorb, as well as how much is needed for the sweet potato to still be cooked. We find it much easier just to cook the quinoa separately and mix it in the chili once the sweet potato is soft and the chili is done.
What to serve with chili?
Our favorite way to eat any chili is either with rice as a one-pot dinner meal or we often make a vegan chili-loaded soft tortilla wrap with rice, vegan sour cream, guacamole, and shredded vegan cheese.
The following toppings also compliment this vegan chili recipe nicely: chopped avocado, hot salsa, spring onion, chives, cilantro, or lime juice.
Other popular chili side dishes:
- Grain-free red lentil tortillas
- Tortilla chips
- Easy vegan coleslaw
- Veggie fries
- Cauliflower rice
- Baked potato
Let us know in the comments what is your favorite side dish!
FAQs and substitutions
How to store it?
This chili recipe is perfect for batch cooking. You can easily store leftovers in the refrigerator for 3-4 days without any problem. Reheat it in a microwave or in a small pot.
What else can you add?
We would happily add any of the following veggies: butternut squash, spinach, or kale.
We also make any vegetarian chili recipe with a wide variety of beans or even mixed beans. The most popular ones are pinto beans, black beans, red kidney beans, and white cannellini beans. However, chickpeas would also taste delicious. And sweet potato black bean chili is so yummy.
This sweet potato quinoa chili recipe is meat-free, dairy-free, and egg-free.
- Vegan – All ingredients are supposed to be vegan.
- Nut-free – All ingredients are supposed to be nut-free but check for cross-contamination info on all packaging you need.
- WFPB-friendly (whole foods plant-based) – If you want to skip using oil, saute onion and garlic in vegetable broth or start with the tomato sauce and cook everything in that.
- Gluten-free – All other ingredients should be gluten-free but always look for certified store-bought products. Most soft and corn tortillas are vegan, but not gluten-free. We recommend trying these coconut flour tortillas or these multi-grain tortillas. Or try our homemade flourless grain-free tortilla recipe (made of red lentils and buckwheat) that we use a lot in different Mexican or Tex-Mex dishes.
- Soy-free – Especially check the vegan sour cream you are about to use since a lot of brands uses soy as a base. You can try our homemade sour cream recipe which is soy-free. All other ingredients are supposed to be soy-free.
More vegan Mexican recipes
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Quinoa Sweet Potato Chili in 30 mins!
Prepare the ingredients
- Peel and chop onion and garlic. Wash and chop tomatoes. Wash, peel and dice sweet potato. We used canned beans so nothing to do there.
- Rinse and drain quinoa well to remove bitterness.
- Add it to a stockpot or pan with double the amount of cold water and salt. Bring it to a boil.
- Once boiling, turn the heat low. Simmer until the water disappears. Remove from heat and cover with a lid. It should stay covered for 5 minutes. Now, you have fluffy, cooked quinoa.
- Take a large pan and cook chopped onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil. Cook them for 2-3 minutes.
- Next up is chopped sweet potato. Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes to caramelize them a bit.
- Season it with ground basil, oregano, parsley, sweet paprika, salt, and black pepper. Stir until combined.
- Add chopped tomatoes, stir well and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add tomato sauce now and bring to a boil. Cover it with a lid and cook it for 15 minutes or until diced sweet potatoes are soft.
- Add canned beans and cooked quinoa at the very end as they don’t need to be cooked, just reheated.
- You’re almost ready! Add sriracha or chili paste (if any) to your taste. Check the seasoning again. Add more salt and black pepper to your taste. Now, you’re done!
- Always keep it on medium heat and stir to ensure the tomato sauce is not sticking to the bottom.
- Depending on how hot and spicy you prefer your chili, you can go from mild chili powder to sriracha chili paste or to freshly chopped raw chili peppers.
- It will last in the fridge for 3-4 days without any problem.
UPDATED: This recipe was originally posted in Sep 2020. More info, details, and a step photo collage were added, and it was republished in Sep 2022.