This turkey sweet potato chili is a pot of stick-to-your-ribs goodness that’s also good for you. The combination of ground turkey and cannellini beans in a lightly spiced sweet potato purée tastes like indulgent comfort food but there’s no guilt here.–Angie Zoobkoff

david caricature

Why Our Testers Love This

Our testers are singing the praises of this comforting turkey chili with sweet potatoes. They love that the directions are “clear and easy to follow,” and that it doesn’t require babysitting all day. They all were surprised and pleased by the depth of flavor that the sweet potato puree adds to this quick chili.

What You’ll Need to Make This

  • Sweet Potato–This gets pureed to add flavor to the chili. To ensure that the sweet potato cooks through, don’t cut the pieces any larger than 3/4-inch (18 mm). You can also use butternut squash in place of the sweet potato.
  • Cayenne–The recipe calls for a pinch of cayenne, but if you prefer a spicy chili, go ahead and add a little more. Taste the finished sweet potato puree and adjust the heat level until it suits you.
  • Ground Turkey–Aim for a 93/7 turkey blend to keep the chili healthy, while still adding a little fat and flavor.
  • Sweet Paprika–Feel free to use smoked or hot paprika here, if you prefer.
  • Cannellini Beans–If you’re not a fan of beans, or don’t tolerate them well, you can leave them out, or substitute with a different grain, such as quinoa, bulgur, or barley. You may need to adjust your cooking time a bit.
  • Toppings–Any of your favorite chili toppings work well here, including sour cream, cheese, chopped scallions, cilantro, tortilla chips, and hot sauce.

Common Questions

What should I serve with sweet potato chili?

A warm pan of cornbread and a crunchy walnut, fennel, and pomegranate salad are perfect accompaniments to this filling chili.

Is chili considered a soup or a stew?

Lots of folks consider chili to be in its own food group, but it’s technically a type of Tex-Mex stew. It’s generally too thick and hearty to be considered a soup.

I don’t have a food processor. What can I use instead?

The recipe calls for a food processor to make the sweet potato puree. Our testers found that a blender, whether regular or immersion, worked just as well here.

Helpful Tips

  • If your chili is too thick after simmering, or after being refrigerated, thin it with additional vegetable or chicken stock, or water.
  • As written, this recipe is suitable for gluten-free or dairy-free diets, excluding any sour cream or cheese toppings.
  • The cooked chili can be refrigerated for up to 4 days, or frozen for up to 6 months. Divvy it into individual containers for an easy meal-prep lunch or dinner.

More Great Chili Recipes

Write a Review

If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David

Bowl of turkey chili surrounded by bowls of sour cream, tortilla chips, cilantro, and lime on a slab of wood

Turkey and Sweet Potato Chili

4.75 / 4 votes
Turkey and sweet potato chili is the perfect combination of heartiness and healthy. But no worries, you’d never guess from the taste that it’s anything but indulgent as heck.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories406 kcal
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time1 hour


For the turkey chili

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • One (10-ounce) sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper, plus more if desired
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 2 cups store-bought or homemade vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 1 pound, 2 ounces ground turkey
  • One (15-ounce) can cannellini or great Northern beans, drained
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve

  • Sour cream
  • Cilantro leaves
  • Lime wedges
  • Tortilla chips


Make the turkey chili

  • In a large saucepan set over a medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the sweet potato and garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the cayenne and 1 teaspoon each coriander, cumin, and paprika. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes more, tossing the sweet potato in the pan to coat it evenly in the spices.
  • Pour in the stock. The sweet potatoes should be covered with liquid. If necessary, add enough water to barely cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook until the sweet potato is soft, 10 to 20 minutes. Let it cool for at least 10 minutes.
  • Carefully transfer the sweet potato mixture to a food processor and blitz to a smooth purée. (Alternately, you can use an immersion blender in the pot to purée the mixture, then transfer to a bowl.)
  • Return the empty saucepan to medium heat and heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the red onion and sauté until the onion begins to soften, about 4 minutes.
  • Add the turkey and 1 teaspoon each coriander, cumin, and paprika and cook, using a wooden spoon to break the turkey into small pieces, until browned, 4 to 7 minutes.
  • Stir in the sweet potato purée, cannellini beans, and vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper, adding extra cayenne if you like things spicy. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 5 minutes, adding a splash of water if the sauce becomes too dry.

For serving

  • Spoon the chili into bowls and serve with sour cream, coriander leaves, fresh lime, and corn chips for a Mexican vibe.


  1. Sweet potato size–Cut your pieces of sweet potato no larger than 3/4-inch. The smaller the pieces, the faster they will cook during step 2.
  2. Storage–Leftover chili can be refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 6 months. Divvy into individual containers for easy meal-prep meals. Rewarm in the microwave or in a saucepan over low heat.
  3. Thinning–If the chili is too thick, thin it with extra vegetable or chicken stock, or water.
  4. Dietary needs–The chili is gluten-free and dairy-free, as long as no sour cream or cheese is added as a topping.
Mr & Mrs Wilkinson’s How It Is At Home Cookbook

Adapted From

Mr & Mrs Wilkinson’s How It Is At Home

Buy On Amazon


Serving: 1 portionCalories: 406 kcalCarbohydrates: 39 gProtein: 40 gFat: 11 gSaturated Fat: 2 gMonounsaturated Fat: 7 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 72 mgSodium: 507 mgFiber: 9 gSugar: 6 g

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

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2017 Matt Wilkinson | Sharlee Gibb. Photo © 2017 Patricia Niven. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This healthy turkey chili turned out to be a real surprise. The appearance wasn’t especially appetizing—a little too orangey for my taste—but flavorwise it was a hit. The sweet potato puree added depth as well as a degree of heartiness that, along with the beans, produced a delicious and unexpectedly filling meal.

For the most part, the instructions were clear and easy to follow, and the timing was pretty close. I did add a little extra cayenne to spice it up a bit. I served it with the sour cream, cilantro, lime wedges, and tortilla chips, and while each addition was pleasant, it was the lime juice that really elevated the flavor. This turkey sweet potato chili recipe is definitely a keeper.

Great chili! I have an inherent bias against soups/stews/chilis that don’t sit on the stovetop cooking all day. So it was with some skepticism that I tried out this recipe. At the end of the cooking time, I found that I had a chili with great texture (I like mine ‘stick a fork in it’ thick) and a nice depth of flavor.

I did not puree the sweet potato mixture in a food processor. Instead I used my immersion blender. Same results and much less clean up required. I did add more cayenne as well as 1/2 teaspoon salt and some grinds of cracked pepper. My family likes heat and one pinch was not going to cut it.

The salt tempered the sweetness of the sweet potato. When I make this again, I will definitely double the recipe. As written, it serves 4 people as an entree. More is definitely needed in order for there to be seconds and leftovers.

I will not lie, I was not expecting much from this turkey chili recipe at first glance. I even made a full plan for this recipe just in case it didn’t taste that good. I was planning on making it for lunch and I even purchased a tin of soup just in case this didn’t fully pan out.

This chili actually ended up being a rather delicious lunch! Initially I was worried about the sweet potato puree and whether or not the flavors were going to be chili enough for this household.

We were quite pleased with the end result and would absolutely make this recipe again! Super delicious and lightweight lunch.

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. 4 stars
    Worked perfectly for dinner, even in our RV kitchen. Used an immersion blender to do the sweet potatoes and added Texas Pete for heat ( we are from NC after all) and sour cream temper the heat. Loved it more the more I ate. Loved that it is so healthy for you. We have been indulging a bit too much on Christmas treats…

    1. Fantastic, Susan! We are delighted that you enjoyed this and that it turned out so well. Please let us know what you make next.

  2. 5 stars
    Do you ever have a friend who goes on a health bender and demands you come along for the ride? It’s abject misery unless you can find sustenance that’s delicious yet healthy (those two words have no business being associated together, in my opinion). This week’s tortuous meal plan allowed for lean proteins, certain legumes, and healthy tubers. But no dairy. Niet. Nein. Nada in the yummy lactose department. I went on my own bender trying to find a recipe that would fit the bill until I stumbled upon this dollop of salty goodness. It’s healthy. AND IT’S DELICIOUS! Mind blown. The spices are abundant and serve as a pleasant diversion from the richness of the sweet potatoes. It’s both filling and satisfying. The freshness of the cilantro and lime juice are imperative as they really bring the chili to life. My bender friend loved it.

    Disclaimer: I topped my chili with sour cream because I’m a rebel. AND I’M NOT SORRY!

    1. How do I love you, Kristen?! Let me count the ways. First, the “AND I’M NOT SORRY!” Second, the fact that you’d humor your friend and be (mostly?!) supportive despite inwardly groaning. And then, of course, that you turned to our recipe as a respite from mind-numbing blandness. We SO appreciate you!