Spicy Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili

So this chili has a lot of ingredients, but its fairly easy to make, is delicious, and is seasonally adaptable. See bottom for serving suggestions.

About 1 hour, serves 6

2 medium yellow onions
6 cloves garlic
3 bell pepper
2 mild flavorful peppers (banana, anaheim, poblano, etc..)
2 jalapenos
2 serranos
1 habanero (optional)
1 cup chopped green beans (1.5 handfuls whole)
2 cups cooked black beans
1 sweet potato (in the summer I use 3 ears of fresh corn)
2 cans diced tomatoes (or 4 medium tomatoes, large dice)
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
3 T olive oil
2 T chili powder
1 T chipotle pepper flakes
1 t cumin
1 t paprika
½ t cayenne pepper (optional)
¼ t coriander
2 T Lime juice
Salt to taste
Start by chopping the onions and garlic. Large dice for the onions, mince the garlic or use a press. I set these aside and don’t start sauteing until I finish the peppers  so they don’t burn while I cut the sweet potato (1/2 in cubes) and the green beans (cut the ends off and then into 1 inch sticks).

Next chop the peppers. I learned a great trick from my friend Matt.

  1. Hold the washed pepper with both hands, thumbs on either side of the stem
  2. Press down with your thumbs to push stem (and the seeded white part) into the pepper
  3. Pull thumbs apart to separate the pepper into two

This makes it really easy to discard the seeds and most of the white part should be gone. I then slice into half inch sticks, turn and square them. This is good for the bell peppers, and the smaller flavorful peppers. I cut the hot peppers differently.


For the jalapenos, I prefer to leave the seeds in one for the extra heat. If you want it more mild, quarter the jalapenos lengthwise to remove the seeds easily. (washing your hands immediately with dish soap will help keep them from burning later on, and will prevent the oils from spreading to other areas).

The habanero is optional and very hot. However, one habanero in this amount of chili is not too spicy. Here’s the heat index as I see it:

  1. Bell pepper = not spicy
  2. Poblanos = slight tingle
  3. Serranos = pleasant heat
  4. Jalapenos (no seeds) = hot
  5. Chipotles = very hot, with flavor
  6. Jalapenos (seeds) = spice enthusiast
  7. Cayenne Pepper = heat without much flavor
  8. Habanero = spice masochist
But again, the heat degree goes down and is masked as these peppers are mixed into the chili. The sweet caramelized onions pair down the heat a lot. I consider myself a spice enthusiast and removed the seeds from the habanero. This chili didn’t burn, but was pleasantly spicy and didn’t linger (I think thanks to the small amount of citrus I added). My sister hates spicy food and would have told me her mouth was on fire if she even licked the spoon. It’s all in degrees I guess. Would rate this chili as a 5 on my scale. I don’t like the taste of raw jalapenos much as it’s more of a burning sensation to me than a flavor enhancer. I attribute this to the seeds. Basically, if you like things hotter, I would add more jalapenos and habaneros, but remove the seeds.

If making rice, start that now.


With the peppers chopped, set them aside in a mixing bowl and start the onions garlic on a medium low heat. Low enough so that they don’t brown. Deal with the green beans and sweet potato. When the onions are translucent, add the peppers. I like to let these sweat for a bit before adding anything else.


Next add all the spices, except salt. add the lime juice and cilantro (reserve some to top each bowl with). Add the green beans and sweet potato, cook 5 minutes. Add the black beans, tomatoes, and 2 cups of water. Cook until the sweet potatoes are soft.


Serving suggestions:

  • A scoop of rice or quinoa in the bottom of the bowl is a must
  • Crumbled tortilla chips give it a great crunch!
  • Fresh diced tomatoes, onion, cilantro and avocado and a bit more lime make this dish amazingly crisp
  • Daiya cheese and vegan sour cream are good, but definitely not necessary with the creaminess of the sweet potato