This vegetarian chili is so delicious you won’t even notice there is no meat. Made with a mix of beans, tomatoes, vegetables, and spices, it’ so super healthy and affordable I’m slotting this into a regular meal rotation. I made a big batch and then froze portions off for later comfort eating. 

I produced this for Food & Home Entertaining (July issue) for a feature on recipes that can be made in a slow and a pressure cooker. You can choose how you want to roll with this as both methods work really well here. You can of course also just use the recipe and cook it on your stove top the conventional way. I would cook it for about 1 – 1.5 hours adding the sweet potatoes about half way through. I’m completely besotted with my pressure cooker since I recently started using it and I’ve ordered a larger second one because it’s just that great. 

Chilli is comforting, spicy, warm and so versatiIt’s Its awesome with rice or spooned over baked potatoes and topped with grated Cheddar. I love all the garnishes that go with it too like:

Tasty things to add to your chili:

  • chopped avocado or guacamole
  • chopped red onion and diced tomato
  • chopped chili or pickled jalapeno
  • grated cheese
  • corn chips
  • fresh coriander/cilantro leaves

A super healthy and delicious vegan chili with sweet potato

A super healthy and delicious vegan chili with sweet potato

*Cooks note ~ with this recipe I’ve kept it on the mild side even though I’ve added 3 types of chili, but add more if you like more heat. I’ve also used the orange variety of sweet potato as these are much firmer and taste so much better than the white fleshed kind

Recipe – serves 4 – 6 

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 celery stalk finely chopped
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 carrot finely chopped
  • 1 small red or green chilli minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 red pepper diced
  • 1 yellow pepper diced
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 2 tins of beans (kidney, butter, black or cannellini) – rinsed and drained
  • 2 tins of chopped peeled tomatoes
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp chipotle in adobo sauce (or 2 Tbsp pickled jalapeno + 1 tsp smoked paprika)
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 large sweet potato cut into small to medium-sized cubes (about 2 cups)
  • Avocado (or guacamole) chopped coriander, rice and corn chips to serve

Slow Cooker

Heat the olive oil in a large nnonstick frying pan and sauté the celery, onion and carrot until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin and chilli and fry for a further minute until aromatic.

Add this to a slow cooker pot along with all the other ingredients except the sweet potato and season well with salt and pepper.

Cook on high for 2 hours and then add the sweet potatoes. Cook for a further 2 hours on high. Or cook for 8 hours on low adding the sweet potatoes half way through the cooking time.

Pressure cooker

Follow the steps as per above but add the sweet potatoes with the other ingredients at the beginning. Cook for 15 minutes and then use a slow release of pressure.

A few tips to consider when buying and using a pressure cooker for the first time:

  1. Whether you are buying a stovetop of free-standing pressure cooker, don’t get one smaller than a 6 litre capacity. It becomes impractical to cook very small quantities. My advice would be to go one size up from that for a general all-purpose appliance.
  2. If you have enough space to store a pressure cooker on a counter top, a free-standing one is easier to control the temperature and you will get more consistent results. There is no risk of overcooking or burning your food as everything is automated.
  3. A stovetop pressure cooker is also fantastic but just be careful to adjust the heat once the pressure has been achieved to avoid food burning, especially if you are cooking with gas. The pressure cooker requires high heat initially to reach pressure but can cook for the remaining time over a low heat. You need to get the heat adjustment right. Start on high and end on low.
  4. Modern pressure cookers come with safety features so you will need to read the manufacturers instructions very carefully. This can be a little daunting at first but once you have figured out the basics, you will be using your pressure cooker all the time.
  5. Always add the minimum amount of liquid to a pressure cooker and the general rule of thumb is one cup (250ml). Check the instruction for the pressure cooker and your recipe to ensure that you don’t add too much or too little. Pressure cookers work with steam so in general, they require less cooking liquid than conventional cooking techniques.
  6. Never fill your pressure cooker over the maximum line on the appliance, which will be 2 /3 full. Also don’t pack the food too tightly in the pressure cooker as this could cause the appliance to malfunction.
  7. Ensure that the food that you cook in a pressure cooker is pretty evenly sized, especially with meat. Cut the meat into similar sizes to get an even cooking result.
  8. If you have ingredients in your recipe that cook at different times, you can interrupt the cooking at whatever stage you need to. Use the quick release method to stop the cooking process to add your ingredients that require less time to cook. Bring the pressure cooker back up to pressure and continue until done.
  9. You have two choices on how to release the pressure cooker so check the recipe instructions. It will either be via quick release or fast release method. Be very mindful when you are releasing the pressure quickly as a lot of steam escapes at speed and you could easily burn.
  10. Timing is very important in pressure-cooking and a few minutes can over cook  your food. Read the recipe carefully.


A super healthy and delicious vegan chili with sweet potato



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  1. healthyvegetarianfoods

    looks divine and i agree that there is just something so comforting about this meal – i serve it with lentil papadums (that i cook in the microwave)

  2. Sam

    Thanks Core, I’m so glad you enjoy it.

  3. Terri Van Gorp

    I am so looking forward to making this for myself. I truly appreciate the recipe for both the pressure cooker and the crock pot. I just bought an INSTANT pot. Do you have recipes to share?
    Ps…your photography is AMAZING!

  4. Sam

    Hi Terri and thank you. AS far as I know, we don’t get Instant Pots in SA but I understand it has a pressure cooker function and a slow cooker function so you can play around. I don’t have any specific IP recipes sadly. You could Google how to convert them (I think the IP cooks at slightly lower pressure than the stove top pressure cooker. I hope you enjoy the chilli 🙂

  5. HI Sam, made this last night and it was delicious! Thank you for wonderful recipe x

  6. Sam

    I’m so pleased you enjoyed it Petra and thanks for letting me know x

  7. Hi Sam! Made this for the family last night (in my pressure cooker) and it was absolutely delicious, despite no chilli because of the girls. Thanks so much 🙂 I love the fact that everything maintains it’s shape when cooked in the pressure cooker and doesn’t turn to mush xxx

  8. Hey SAM,
    It looks delicious and yummy as well as perfect for breakfast and dinner. Will try soon as I’m a big fan of African recipe 🙂

  9. Sam

    Thanks, Ellen, I hope you enjoy it. It’s become a standard item in my house these days and perfect to freeze off in batches for quick mid week suppers.

  10. Terri Van Gorp

    I froze this in 2 cup batches and had leftovers today. So wonderful! Just wondering….do you by chance have a calorie count per 1 cup serving?

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