Shredded Beef Chili With Sweet Potatoes

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

LC What Folks Are Saying About This Recipe Note

“OMG!” “Yummy.” “Lots of flavor, not too spicy, eat-it-from-the-pot tasty.” “We loved it!” That’s what folks are saying about this shredded beef chili recipe with some sweet heat. Sorta makes you want to try it, doesn’t it?

Shredded Beef Chili With Sweet Potatoes

  • Quick Glance
  • (4)
  • 25 M
  • 4 H
  • Serves 8 to 10
4.8/5 - 4 reviews
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Special Equipment: Slow cooker (if following the slow cooker method)


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Preheat the oven to 300°F (160°C).

Mix together the sugar, salt, cloves, cinnamon, paprika, cumin, oregano, thyme, and cayenne in a small bowl. 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.

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    • 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.

    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.


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    1. Thanks for a great recipe! I used it as inspiration, making a couple of changes here and there. I used a 3.75 lb slab of chuck, omitted the salt, used only 2 cans of diced tomatoes, 12 ounces of milk stout and about 4 oz of water; kept everything else in the recipe as stated. I used the immersion blender and blended about 75% of the liquid/onions/beans/sweet potatoes/peppers to thicken things up. It took about 4.5 hours for the chuck to be fork-tender. The amount of beef I used meant it was more like chili-flavored shredded beef versus a beef chili, but everyone loved it. Some ate it with forks, and others had it with tortilla chips. We all liked the combination of the spices – there weren’t any spices that stood out or overpowered the others. Looking forward to it on nachos and in tacos as leftovers. Yum!

    2. Well, the verdict is in and I have to say that though the meat and sweet potatoes were tender, and the sauce had a nice depth of flavor, to call this chili is a stretch. It was so very soupy, and I didn’t add any of the water, only two cans of chopped tomatoes and one can of drained black beans. I pureed well over a cup of the vegetables and added it back to the dutch oven hoping it would thicken to chili consistency. No dice. Also, in my opinion the clove and cinnamon dominate the flavor profile and was not what I was hoping for. Will add another drained can of beans to the copious leftovers and perhaps thicken with a corn masa slurry to thicken so I can serve the leftovers in corn tortillas. Would I make it again? Likely not.

      1. lexi, many thanks for reporting back. I’m really sorry that this wasn’t more to your liking. I think that chili is a lot like biscuits and buttermilk pancakes and vanilla ice cream and even macaroni and cheese in that it’s a very iconic thing about which people have very strong feelings. the trick is that there are countless variations of each. I totally get that this chili isn’t for you and I love your idea of stirring in a masa slurry. We have a few more chili recipes that are in testing now and doing really spectacularly well. We’ll have them on the site in a few weeks. Perhaps these will be more to your liking? At any rate, I so appreciate your input. Fingers crossed the next recipe you try from the site is more aligned with what you’re seeking…

        1. Update: After several days in the fridge the spices I didn’t care for were more muted and I liked it much more. I added another can of organic black beans and that helped to thicken the chili when I reheated it. Would make it again, but without the cinnamon and clove. Instead, I would use some ancho chili powder and more cumin and maybe some Mexican oregano. Sure, that changes the flavor profile of the recipe, but the best part of this recipe is the technique.

          I love Leite’s Culinaria and have been a subscriber since the beginning when I lived in Australia. In fact, David even sent me a terrific Leite’s Culinaria cap which I treasured until it wore out many years ago.

          1. Many thanks for the update! Am quite relieved that it was not a loss. And I agree, tweaking a recipe to salvage what parts speak to us—whether technique or ingredients or what have you—is at the essence of cooking. Glad to have a kindred soul here. We so appreciate your loyalty!

    3. Does the chuck roast have to be boneless? Cut up or in one big piece? If it’s bone-in should I remove the bone or just cook it longer? Making this today so need an answer asap. Thanks!

      1. lexi, it can be either boneless or bone-in chuck roast. Some home cooks prefer boneless because there’s one less thing to fuss with. Other home cooks prefer bone-in because they claim it imparts more flavor to the meat. Whichever you prefer is fine. As the recipe instructs, there’s no need to cut up the meat prior to cooking. Just leave the roast in one big chunk. If you buy bone-in, do not attempt to remove the bone prior to cooking the roast. Simply keep an eye on the time and, yes, if necessary cook it a little longer. And then when you shred the cooked chuck roast, simply discard the bone along with any gristle and chunks of fat. Let us know how it goes!

    4. Just as an aside, that rub! (Wait a second as I blow some off my keyboard.) Long story short: I made a bit too much and had about 3 tbsp leftover. And used it on everything. A bit in my coffee in the morning because I don’t do the pumpkin spice thing at the local coffee place. Smells divine. Dipped my hot croissant in it this morning. Heaven. Great variation on cinnamon toast. A little in some hummus. Surprising. I didn’t get the tacos, but I found something really interesting.

    5. Just made this in my crock pot for the family. I let them choose whether they wanted it on baked sweet potato or plain potatoes. It’s a hit! Will make this again. Leftovers tomorrow as tacos.

      1. Terrific, Louise! Love that you served it on baked potatoes and are repurposing leftovers as tacos. Clever serving ideas to keep it from being boring! Out of curiosity, what size slow cooker do you have and how long did you let it cook?

        1. I have a 6 quart slow cooker. It was too big for this recipe, but that’s alright. I started it on high and then brought it down to low after about 90 minutes and then let it cook for about 4-5 hours. Then I put in the peppers and beans and let it cook another hour.

          I also cut back on the tomatoes and only used one can because (a) I only had one can left in the pantry and (b) I thought I wouldn’t need anymore because I wasn’t cooking the sweet potatoes in the broth. There was still a goodly amount of delicious broth to keep this moist.

          For the record, the tacos were apparently quite good with some good old Cheddar on them. I didn’t get to taste them because everything got eaten before I got home.

    6. I actually made this recipe last year, and while I loved the flavours, I found that the beef didn’t break down the way it should have. I did ask for the specific cut of meat from the butcher, so I don’t think the issue was that I had the wrong cut. Still, I think the meat required a lot more time in the oven than indicated in the recipe. I gave it an hour or so more and the meat still had to be sliced with a knife to serve it.

      1. Janice, what cut of beef did you use? We had that exact same problem when we made the recipe with brisket, which was an option in the original version of the recipe. But when we subsequently made this chili with chuck, we didn’t experience that problem at all, hence this modified version of the recipe on our site.

        1. I probably used brisket as per the recipe in the book! I’ll definitely give it a try with chuck as you suggested because I LOVED the flavor, I was just sad the meat didn’t turn out quite right (though to be honest, once sliced, it was quite tender). Thanks for the suggestion :)

          1. You’re very welcome, Janice. No problem. I’ve actually had the same thing happen to me with brisket in other recipes—I think I just didn’t allow it to cook for as long as it’d like. It’s why we test recipes and, if necessary, adapt them slightly for a better experience in the kitchen. Let us know how it goes!

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