A bowl of shredded beef chili with sweet potatoes on a plate containing a spoon, two lime wedges, and cilantro leaves.

When it comes to serving a lot of people, this shredded beef chili recipe with sweet potatoes is a MIRACLE dish. You throw all the ingredients in a cast-iron pot and leave them to cook down into a tender, flavorful, and filling stew. The secret ingredient here is time. It’s a game changer—letting the beef take on a melting texture and leaving the ingredients to meld into a luscious sauce you won’t be able to stop eating. Serve it over rice or quinoa or wrap it up with some guacamole and sour cream in a soft tortilla.–Izzy Hossack

A bowl of shredded beef chili with sweet potatoes on a plate containing a spoon, two lime wedges, and cilantro leaves.

Shredded Beef Chili With Sweet Potatoes

4.86 / 7 votes
This shredded beef chili with sweet potatoes, can be made in the oven or slow cooker. Loaded with tender braised beef, sweet potatoes, beans, peppers, and tomatoes, it’s the answer to all your chili dreams.
David Leite
Servings8 to 10 servings
Calories325 kcal
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time3 hours 35 minutes
Total Time4 hours


  • Slow cooker (if following the slow cooker method)


  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne, to taste
  • 1 3/4 pounds chuck roast or blade steak
  • 2 onions, peeled and sliced about 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced or grated
  • Three (14- to 15-ounce) cans chopped tomatoes
  • 8 1/2 ounces water
  • 2 cups beer, preferably an ale or stout
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 3 small sweet potatoes, peeled
  • One (14- to 15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 bell peppers, seeded and sliced into strips
  • Sour cream
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Lime wedges
  • Soft tortillas, tortilla chips, rice, or quinoa


  • Preheat the oven to 300°F (160°C).
  • In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, salt, cloves, cinnamon, paprika, cumin, oregano, thyme, and cayenne. Rub all over the beef, reserving at least 1 tablespoon spice mixture to add to the chili later.
  • In a large ovenproof pan with a lid, like a Dutch oven, sauté the onions in the oil over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then stir in the tomatoes, water, beer, and vinegar.
  • Add the beef to the pan, cover with the lid, place in the oven, and cook for 2 hours.
  • Cut the peeled sweet potatoes into roughly 1-inch (2 1/2-centimeter) chunks. Uncover the pan and add the sweet potatoes, beans, peppers, and remaining spice mixture. Cover with the lid again and return to the oven until the beef is falling apart tender. Check for doneness after 1 to 1 1/2 hours and, if it doesn't shred easily with a fork, simply cover and keep braising, low and slow, until it does. If you're using a particularly tough cut, it could take as long as 3 1/2 hours. But there's no rush.
  • Transfer the chunk of beef to a cutting board and shred the meat using a couple forks. If a less soupy consistency is desired, purée about 1 cup of the vegetables and liquid in a blender or with an immersion blender and then stir it back into the chili. Stir the shredded beef into the chili and serve with sour cream, cilantro, lime wedges and rice, quinoa, or tortilla chips.


Slow Cooker Variation

To make this chili in the slow cooker, follow the instructions through step 3 and then transfer everything to the slow cooker, cover, and cook on low until tender, 6 to 10 hours. Proceed as directed with shredding the beef.
Top with Cinnamon Cookbook

Adapted From

Top with Cinnamon

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 325 kcalCarbohydrates: 35 gProtein: 26 gFat: 8 gSaturated Fat: 3 gMonounsaturated Fat: 4 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 70 mgSodium: 778 mgFiber: 8 gSugar: 12 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2014 Izy Hossack. Photo © 2014 Izy Hossack. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

OMG! That really sums up our reaction to this STUNNING chili. I really love the method of rubbing the beef with the spice mixture and simply dropping it in the Dutch oven. I used a 2-pound chuck roast that nearly fell apart at the end of the designated cooking time. I used 3 really large sweet potatoes—nearly 3 pounds total. I chose to not peel the potatoes, which worked fine. The combination of the beef and the sweet potatoes is WONDERFUL.

We added a bit of shredded sharp Cheddar along with the sour cream, cilantro, and lime. I can’t wait to make it again.

Who doesn’t love a good chili? I gotta say, this shredded beef chili with sweet potatoes is a nice change from the ground beef variety. Lots of flavor, not too spicy, eat-it-from-the-pot tasty. Since it’s still grilling season here, finding a braising cut proved to be a challenge. My butcher saved the day and came up with a couple blade eye steaks that he said would be perfect.

The recipe came together in a snap. It was difficult to wait the full 3 hours, as after a couple of hours, the aroma was making us hungry. I did have to make one adjustment: we have someone with a severe allergy to fresh peppers in the house, so I eliminated the bell pepper. I added 1 additional small onion for the volume.

I allowed the pot to braise for a total of 3 1/2 hours. After adding the sweet potatoes to the meat and cooking for 1 hour, I found the meat was not as easily shreddable as I would have liked, so I gave it another 30 minutes in the oven. That’s the beauty of braising—you can always allow for a little extra time.

We loved it. We got 10 generous servings from the pot. A couple of tasters went back for seconds. I would certainly make this again in cooler weather. My only complaint about this recipe is that I wasn’t sure how the author wanted the onions sliced. I chose to cut them in half.

First, this shredded beef chili was yummy. Second, it’s not really a chili. It’s more of a stew—a good one. I loved the flavors—sweet, somewhat spicy, tangy. The meat turned into something wonderful after being braised that long. The beer (I used a dark Paulaner Salvator—a double bock beer) added a real nice flavor and depth to the dish.

I followed the recipe to a T, and it really worked well. No surprises. Total time was about 3 hours and 15 minutes, mostly unattended. We had the chili with some more Paulaner Salvator and soft tortillas that I’d heated over our gas burners.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. I’m confused. I’d like to use the slow cooker for this fabulous looking dish, but the notes for using it says to follow the steps THROUGH step 3, which says to put the beef in the oven for 2 hours. …? Do I cook the beef in the oven for 2 hours, THEN put everything in the slow cooker for 6 to 10 hours?

    1. Thanks for catching that, Melissa. I’ve updated the recipe to make more sense. You don’t need to cook it in the oven first. After sautéing the onions, you can put everything in the slow cooker.

  2. I don’t have an oven so I intend to do this in a big pot on the stove. Any ideas on adjustments to the recipe to make this work?

    1. Linus, you should be able to cook this on the stove over very low heat. Cover it and check on it occasionally. You want the liquid in the pot to be barely simmering to allow the beef to slowly braise.

      1. I got your reply 15 minutes before I started cooking! Thank you so much! It worked great. I used chuck roast, and simmered it very slowly like you said, in a decent thick pot. The meat was cooking for 4.5 hours and was perfect.

  3. This recipe looks like a great meal for the Sabbath – for me to prepare before going to bed, cook throughout the night until after the church services. I will definitely put this on the “to watch list” equivalent when it comes to recipes.

    If it is for the slow-cooker, I guess that everything goes into the slow cooker after sauteeing the garlic up until the beer and vinegar. From there, Bob’s your uncle.

    Or am I being daft?

    My projection for this recipe, it sounds fairly cinch to make with the high levels of return. Similar to a roast. Bring on those soft taco shells! It will be a feast.

    1. It certainly will, Mikey! Yes, after you saute the onions and garlic, throw the whole shebang into the slow cooker and your work is done.