Slow Cooker Turkey Quinoa Chili with Sweet Potatoes and Black Beans


Although fall’s official start date was a few weeks ago, for me the true mark of the season comes with a series of “firsts”: the first apples to appear at the farm stand; the first leaves to turn orangey-red; the first pot of Slow Cooker Turkey Quinoa Chili with Sweet Potatoes and Black Beans to hit my crock pot. Watch the short, fun recipe video above to see the chili being made (email/RSS subscribers, you’ll need to click here to watch it on my blog), then read on below to learn more about this turkey quinoa chili. I suspect you’ll want it in your own slow cooker by the end of the post!

The BEST Slow Cooker Turkey Chili with Quinoa Sweet Potatoes and Black Beans

Making the first chili of the season always feels a bit ceremonious to me. I equate chili with, well, chilly, and until the air rouses me to utter at least a mild “brrrrrr,” I feel it is my duty to summer to postpone the chili-making until I am in need of something hearty to fill my tummy and warm my bones.

We had one such evening a week or so ago, when the air unexpectedly felt crisp and the weatherman uttered the words “wind chill” for the first time in months. The evening happened to coincide with the night I had a big group of girlfriends over for a pumpkin carving party. We took over my entire kitchen, sipped wine, and cracked each other up with our Jack-o-lantern attempts. Personally, I’m grateful to whomever had the forethought to create carving stencils.

Since this Slow Cooker Turkey Quinoa Chili makes a big batch, can be made completely in advance (a serious stress reliever for any dinner party), and is easy to multiply for a crowd, I thought it would be perfect for our night of fall fun. Combined with the cooler fall weather, it turned out to be the perfect cozy meal.

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Turkey Chili with Quinoa and Black Beans. This is the best crock pot turkey chili ever!

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili with Quinoa and Sweet Potatoes

Telling someone you made a pot of chili at once says everything and nothing at all. If you invite me over for chili, I’ll know to wear comfy pants, bring a beverage to share, and expect a casual evening with a chance of football. The concept of chili is intrinsic: a relaxed atmosphere, warm kitchen, and a certain sense of community that comes from all serving ourselves from the same steaming pot. The specifics of your chili in particular, however, will remain a surprise to me, until I take my first bite.

Will it be thick or thin? What kind of meat did you use? Beans or no beans? What’s the secret spice?

I’m of the belief that no two pots of chili are exactly the same, and even though I’ve made this turkey quinoa chili recipe dozens of times, each time I do, I’m freshly surprised by the richness of its flavor. A different spice or ingredient will grab my attention. I love the chili leftovers even more, because the ingredients have longer to blend and even intensify.

Slow Cooker Turkey Sweet Potato Quinoa Chili

My ideal chili recipe is low on maintenance, high on flavor, and reasonably healthy. This Slow Cooker Turkey Quinoa Chili nails all three. Other than browning the turkey before adding it to the slow cooker and chopping the sweet potatoes, the prep work is non-existent. Simply dump the ingredients into your crock pot, and in a few hours, your home will be filled with the aroma of warm spices and robust tomatoes. You don’t even need to precook the quinoa!

I’m also of the mind that chili should be nice and thick, all the better for filling bellies and standing up to a hefty array of toppings. Between the quinoa, black beans, and big chunks of sweet potato, this chili has plenty of body. The ingredients play well with each other, and the sweet potato is especially lovely intermixed with the sultry spices.

I also have a secret ingredient that I believe sets this slow cooker quinoa chili apart from the pack: an actual six pack!

How to make the best slow cooker quinoa chili. Use beer!

In addition to chicken stock and tomatoes, the final liquid I added to the slow cooker with the quinoa chili is 12 ounces of one of my favorite local beers, Lakefront Brewery’s IPA. Since moving to Wisconsin, I’ve come to heightened levels of respect for the state’s fierce microbrew culture. We have hundreds and hundreds of options for local brews, to the extent that selecting a single six pack when I’m in the grocery store can be debilitating. Fortunately, my local grocery store Pick ‘n Save helped to alleviate the decision distress by partnering with Lakefront to offer a “Pick Six” pack that features six different Lakefront beers. I used one beer to cook the quinoa chili, then offered the rest to my pumpkin carving guests.

Slow Cooker Turkey Quinoa Chili with Sweet Potatoes and Black Beans

Do you have any favorite chili or other autumn recipes that mark the start of fall for you the way this Slow Cooker Turkey Quinoa Chili does for me? I’d love to hear all about them!

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Slow Cooker Turkey Quinoa Chili with Sweet Potatoes and Black Beans

A healthy and hearty slow cooker turkey quinoa chili with sweet potatoes, black beans, and warm spices. Easy to make, great leftover, and healthy too!

Yield: Serves 6

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 3-4 hours (on high); 4-6 hours (on low)

Total Time: 3-4 hours (on high); 4-6 hours (on low)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle chili pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 3 small or 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (about 1 pound)
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1, 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1, 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1, 12-ounce beer (I used an IPA; any dark or amber beer would be great too!) or substitute additional low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 – 3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • For serving: cilantro, avocado, shredded cheese, tortilla chips, and sour cream or plain Greek yogurt

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium high. Add the turkey, onion, salt, garlic powder, and black pepper. Cook and stir, breaking up the turkey as you go, until the turkey is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chili powder, chipotle chili powder, and cumin, then transfer to the bottom a large slow cooker.
  2. To the slow cooker, add the chopped sweet potatoes, quinoa, beer, 2 cups chicken stock, crushed tomatoes, and black beans. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 5-6 hours, until the potatoes are tender. Stir in additional chicken stock if the chili is thicker than you would like (I added about 1/2 cup extra). Serve warm with desired toppings.
  • Leftover slow cooker turkey quinoa chili can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to three months.
  • If you are doubling this recipe it WILL NOT FIT in a 6-quart slow cooker. Borrow a second one, place part in a smaller crock pot, or upgrade to a larger size. You’ve been warned.
All images and text ©/Well Plated.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 (of 6)

  • Amount Per Serving:
  • Calories: 450
  • Total Fat: 10g
  • Saturated Fat: 2g
  • Cholesterol: 57mg
  • Sodium: 748mg
  • Carbohydrates: 51g
  • Fiber: 7g
  • Sugar: 5g
  • Protein: 28g

If you like this Slow Cooker Turkey Quinoa Chili, don’t miss these other stellar crock pot meals:

Healthy Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes. Our whole family loves this easy crock pot recipe! Perfect football food for game day and tailgates too. {whole 30, paleo} @wellplated

Healthy Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Sweet Potatoes

This crock pot teriyaki chicken is INCREDIBLE. The honey teriyaki sauce is out of this world and it only takes 10 minutes to prep! The perfect easy, healthy dinner. @wellplated

Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken

Chicken Quinoa Crock Pot Stuffed Peppers. Healthy and freezer friendly! Perfect for back to school too! #glutenfree #backtoschool

Slow Cooker Chicken Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Slow Cooker Cauliflower Curry with red lentils. Healthy, comforting and so easy to make! #slowcooker #crockpot #vegan

Slow Cooker Red Lentil Cauliflower Curry

 

I originally shared this post is partnership with Pick ‘n Save for a sponsored post in 2015. I’m resharing it again on my own initiative, because I love the recipe and now have a fun video to go with it. As always, all opinions are my own, and thanks for supporting the brands and companies that make it possible for me to continue providing quality content to you!

About Erin Clarke

I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, lover of bourbon, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN...

115 comments

  1. Great chili recipe and I especially love the addition of the sweet potatoes!~Carolyn @ Cabot

  2. i am so with you about adding chili nights..also beer adds a depth of flavor! i am so excited to be using slow cooker all the time again. 

  3. Love the quinoa in here! And I totally feel you on being chilly when eating chili- there’s a certain ambience chili nights have :)

  4. We are having our first chilly (chili? ha. get it?) day of fall here in Philly, and this chili looks JUST PERFECT. Can’t wait to get my sweatpants on, some TNF on TV and cuddle up with a big bowl of this :)

  5. This is such a great recipe for the quickly approaching cold weather. I love the addition of beer (holla!) and sweet potatoes. Pinned.

  6. Hey girl- This looks really good! When it starts getting cold out I like to bake!!  Maybe cookies,or whatever. My Mom is the same way!  

  7. One of my favourite ways to make chili is by adding quinoa in there. Perfect healthy recipe for fall ;-)

  8. Sweet potatoes and quinoa are two of my favorite ingredients! Can’t wait to try this recipe this week! I think I will adapt it to a stovetop version as my slow cooker is currently out of commission. Yum!

  9. I agree, I love it that there are so many different ways you can make a chili and they are all delicious! the weather has finally started to cool down here and I’m so ready for chili season! I love the quinoa in this one :)

  10. Looks like the perfect weeknight meal!!

  11. This recipe is a keeper😀, we enjoyed it last night for dinner then again tonight. It feels so healthy I’m not going to think about the beer lol. A delicious flavor combo. Thanks again !!!! 

  12. Fact: One can never have too much chili. LOVE your version! Pinning!

  13. Do you have a recommendation for those of us who simply can’t have beer–with or without alcohol content?

  14. Made this last night and it was wonderful!!  My husband, son, and I loved the flavor of it!  We’ve never tried a chili with sweet potatoes in it but my husband especially loved the sweet potato flavor in it.  I ended up using ground beef instead of the turkey.  Also, I’m not a beer drinker at all, so I honestly didn’t know which beers were dark beers so I just bought a can of Budweiser because it’s a well-known brand.  Yeah, I soon learned it’s not a dark beer LOL!  Still turned out delicious though.  I topped mine with avocado and sour cream and I LOVED it!   Thanks for creating such great recipes.  I’m such a fan of yours, Erin!

  15. I made this for dinner. Thank you so much for this recipe! It is delicious! I did add some masa flour to it during tgr last half hour of cooking, as I like it thicker. You’re awesome, Erin!!!

  16. this looks great!  Do you drain the beans before adding them in or toss in the whole thing?

  17. How much would you say is a serving size? One cup? Currently making this in my crock pot…sleeping tonight will be difficult, I’m so excited to try this tomorrow! :) beautiful recipe, thanks for sharing!! 

  18. Sorry, typo in my name! Thanks again! 

  19. Our entire family loved this recipe, including my daughter who usually can’t handle too much spice. This was PERFECT. Thanks for a great recipe! 

  20. This is the best chili recipe! I made it for a Halloween party and everyone loved it.  The sweet potatoes and quinoa really add a new dimension and also help make a thicker chili which I prefer.  We served it with diced onions, shredded cheese, avocado and greek yogurt.  It’s perfect with cornbread and tortilla chips!

  21. Hi Erin! This looks looks amazing!

    I’d love to include your slow cooker turkey chili recipe in a chili roundup I’m doing for Parade Magazine.

    If that’s fine with you, could I use one of your gorgeous pictures with a link back to your original post (http://www.wellplated.com/slow-cooker-turkey-quinoa-chili/)?

    Let me know, thanks!

  22. Absolutely loved this recipe! I added extra vegetables (green pepper, carrot, and corn) and it ended up being too much for my crockpot, so I made it on the stove instead, brought to a boil and then simmered for about 45 mins to an hour. I topped with some grated cheddar cheese and crushed up 2 or 3 Tostito roasted garlic and black bean tortilla chips. It was AMAZING. I love that it’s healthy, without tasting like a healthed out version of a favourite. It’s still hearty and has all the flavour of your regular chili. In all honesty, I think that I like this better than my mom’s chili. 

    I will definitely remake, but next time I will cut the recipe in half since I’m a single, female, university student who doesn’t want to eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for an entire week. 

  23. I can’t wait to try this, but I’m wondering if you could help me measure the ingredients for a small slow cooker? Thank you!!

  24. It’s a 1.5 qt slow cooker. I’m assuming this is too small..? 

  25. Hi! 

    I am making this tomorrow and was curious your thoughts on leaving the beer out to keep this gluten free. Would you just add 12 ounces extra chicken stock? Thanks so much! 

  26. I’m making this right now in the crockpot! Just discovered your blog tonight on pinterest, and I’m from Milwaukee as well! Super cool to follow a foodie from my hometown while I now live in Austin. And also, really jealous of your 6 pack of Lakefront beer, I miss them so much! Will be trying more of your recipes soon as well. :) 

  27. I love this recipe!!! I made it a few weeks ago and everyone liked it, even my brother-in-law who is a great cook (he makes awesome chili) and a health nut. The flavors were new for me… I’m originally from Spain and we don’t cook with sweet potatoes or turkey. And I never saw a crockpot until I moved to the States! 
    I’m making two batches right now for a friend who just had an operation. Since you mentioned it can be frozen I’ll fill a few ziploc bags and give them to her and her family.
    Thanks for the recipe!

  28. I found this recipe a few months ago, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made it since! I’ve sent it to all my family and friends, and we are all obsessed with it! I made a few modifications though, because I like chili spicy! I opted out of the beer, and added two cans of hot rotel and four tablespoons of chili powder. It’s pretty darn amazing. I even shared the recipe with a lady in the grocery store when she asked what I was making!! I can’t wait to try more of your recipes! <3

  29. THIS IS SO YUMMY. I AM EATING IT RIGHT NOW. Super chunky like I like chili and lots of flavor! 
    Finals start tomorrow so I wanted to make something delicious, hearty, and relatively healthy that I could eat all week and this is going to be perfect!!!
    My slow cooker was not big enough, so I cooked it in a big pot on the stove. I followed the advice from a different comment and got it to boil before putting it on super low for 45 minutes covered. 
    I didn’t have chipotle chili so I just used double the chili powder (and a little extra of all the spices). I also almost half a bulb of chopped garlic in with the onions and turkey.
    Didn’t have any beer (it’s sunday) so I used 2 extra cups of chicken stock.
    Also I just used maybe one cup of left over squash and no sweet potato, but I did add a whole red pepper.
    Also I added some frozen corn to my individual bowl. (It thaws almost instantly)
    Anyways Its fantastic and I look forward to having it probably every night this week!

  30. I love this chili recipe. I’ve used it so many times for family and friends. You should totally enter this chili contest! I think you have a good chance at winning (because I don’t want to steal your credit)!
    http://bushbeans.thedailymeal.com/ 

  31. This chili recipe is so yummy! Do you know calories per serving?

  32. I loved this!! Made it tonight for the husband and I. He wants it again next week! I did not make it in a crockpot, I just made it on the stove and it was done in about 30 minutes. I did cook the quinoa beforehand. Yummy! Thanks. 

  33. My husband’s work is having a chili contest for an extra vacation day and I would love to make this chili! Do you think if it was left in a crockpot at his work most of the day it would over cook the sweet potatoes and make them mushy? Sounds SO amazing just worried about it turning into mashed sweet potatoes. 

  34. I thought after making this about six times I should comment on this post. This recipe is amazing. It’s my absolute favorite chili, favorite crock pot recipe, and favorite unusual use of sweet potatoes. This will be a staple in my cookbook for a long time. As many times as I’ve made this I’ve only made tweaks out of necessity. It’s perfect made exactly as you’ve posted. Thank you for this recipe!

  35. Hi Erin!  We made this during the week this past week and it was amazing!  I’ve actually been making a lot of your recipes lately – when I go to meal plan, your blog is one of the first websites I pull up to explore when making my list :)

    Thanks for being you – love your blog and recipes!!

    Becky

  36. Hi making this right now. I did not read all 55 comments but do you have nutritional info on this. Counting calories.  : ) Thanks.  

  37. First thanks for replying.  I did just that. I entered  ingredients into fitness pal and found it to be under 400 cal. Which is what I was hoping. The chili was delicious.!!! Thanks again. 

  38. According to MyFitnessPal, the chili nutritional info is as follows:

    Calories per serving: 329
    Carbs : 45
    Fat: 8 
    Protein: 21
    Sodium: 500
    sugar: 8

    I put it in as 8 servings for the whole thing instead of 6 because it sure does make a big ole’ pot!

    Thanks for sharing!

  39. Loved this chili! Always a relief when a pinterest recipe turns out this delicious! 

    I did make a few changes, as I found the original recipe to be a bit acidic for my taste:
    – I added a little dash of nutmeg and about a tablespoon of brown sugar (splenda)

    Yum!

  40. Made this a couple days ago and used a local brewery’s (Saranac) S’more beer and added jalapenos and a bell pepper. Came out great. Thanks for the recipe! 

  41. Hi there!  I’m excited to try this recepe tonight!  Is there a substitute for the chicken stock?

    Thanks so much!

    • Hi Haley! You could use water, but it will lack a bit in flavor and seasoning. Chicken stock is the best option, but if you sub water, you can taste the chili at the end and add extra salt/spices to taste.

  42. So it’s August and I made this anyway! Not too early for chili. Second time I’ve made this recipe. Thank you!

  43. This was a great recipe! I made it as you stated, and subbed more chicken broth instead of the beer. Also…in case anyone else has the same issue…my sweet potatoes (which were a pretty small dice) didn’t cook all the way through on low after 5 1/2 hours. I’m using one of the Fagor Multi-Cookers. I was told that I probably should have cooked it on high for an hour and then finished it off on low for another 5 hours. So if anyone else runs into the same issue, that might help.

  44. Can you freeze leftovers?

  45. For how many hours is this cooked? Low or high temp? 

    • Hi Lynn! I specified options for both in the recipe directions. Let me know if you still have questions once you have a chance to read them through. I hope you love the recipe!

  46. I thought this was way better without the beer,(and don’t get me wrong I love beer) it lost it’s slight sweetness and became more bitter. Loved everything else about it especially the quinoa .

  47. What a yummy chili! And your pumpkin carving party sounds perfect! What a fun idea, I might have to steal that!

  48. Hi Erin! I have some whole wheat pearl couscous in my pantry – do you think those could be used in place of the quinoa?

    • Hi Annie! Since couscous and quinoa have different cooking times, I wouldn’t recommend this swap, as the couscous cooks more quickly. You could compare the cooking times of the two, and then add the couscous later on in the cooking time so that it doesn’t get too mushy. Use your best judgement, and if you decide to experiment, I’d love to hear how it comes out!

  49. I have not had good luck with making chili, partly because I tend to get tired of the flavor very easily.  What I like about this one is a) the use of chipotle, and b) the use of non-traditional ingredients like turkey, sweet potatoes and quinoa.  Since I live on the border with Mexico – in Texas – I have certain expectations for chili, so that it is traditional.  I think that instead of the usual American chili powder mix, I’d probably put in pure ancho chile powder, just to simplify the flavor a bit (and reduce the amount of cumin)

  50. Don’t usually use my slow cooker but this is very inspiring (:

  51. turkey chili is one of my favorite cold-weather go-to’s, but can you believe I’ve never made it in a crockpot?! that’s clearly changing asap ;) xo

  52. Loved this chili. We all liked how filling it was but oh so light.  Wished that I had chipotle chili spice. Next time. 

  53. sigh … keyboard failure. try again: awesome :)

    only had half a cup of quinoa so added 1/2 up of red lentils as well. Very good

  54. I bought the ingredients and will be making this tomorrow for our New Year’s Eve round robin; I can’t wait! If it will let me edit my comment, I will add a rating to this comment after I make it. :) I have a quick question first, though… Do you think a double batch would fit in an 8 qt slow cooker? Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Cheryl! Yes, I think it will fit! If it starts to look too full, you can reduce the amount of liquid, then add a bit more to thin it after people start serving themselves. Doubling might alter the cooking time though, so keep an eye on it (and maybe build in a little extra time for a buffer, as it might take longer). I hope you love it!

  55. This looks so good! I just got an Instant Pot. Could this be done in that instead of the slow cooker? Wondering how to convert cooking times though. Any ideas? Thanks!

    • Hi Lisa! I have heard so much about Insta pots, but to be honest with you, I’ve never used one, so I don’t feel comfortable giving advice on converting the recipe. I would see if you can find some guidelines online or in the appliance’s manual about converting slow cooker recipes for the Insta pot and take it from there. I’m sorry I can’t be more help! If you do decide to experiment with the Insta Pot, I would love to hear how it turns out!

  56. Hi, I made your recipe this afternoon. I don’t have a slow cooker so I used a large stock pot on the stove. After step one I just added everything to the pot, brought it up to simmer, then tuned it to low and put a lid on it for about an hour and twenty minutes and the potatoes were nicely cooked. I added corn too. Topped with avocado & a little goat cheese. It was delicious! Thanks.

    • Elaine, I am so happy that you loved this! Thanks so much for sharing the tip about the stovetop. That will be incredibly helpful to others. I also really appreciate your taking time to leave this wonderful review. Thanks!

  57. what about adding canned pumpkin?  How do you suggest adding that? I would love to add pumpkin to the mix :-)  Just not sure what amount  and wondering if it would need additional chicken stock. I will be using the slow cooker. This looks amazing !!

    • Hi Tracy! To be honest, I probably wouldn’t add canned pumpkin to this. You could definitely experiment, but the recipe is designed for chopped vegetables, versus something puréed, like canned pumpkin. If you want pumpkin, you could try using diced fresh pumpkin in place of the sweet potatoes. If do decide to play around with the canned pumpkin route, I would reduce the amount of chicken stock as you said by a cup or so. You definitely will need to play around with the spices too. Canned pumpkin actually doesn’t have much flavor on its own, so would need to add some additional things to make up for that. I hope you enjoy the recipe!

  58. We love this recipe! I’m wondering if anyone has meal-prepped with it? Freeze the ingredients to dump into the slow cooker at a later date?? Wondering how or if that would work. Thank you!

    Rating: 5
    • Hi Anne! I’m glad this recipe has become a favorite. I’ve never tried this route, but all of the ingredients are fairly freezer friendly, so I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. I’d suggest browning the meat, onions, and spices first, then freezing those in one container. The sweet potatoes can be chopped and frozen in a separate container. From there, I’d thaw in the ingredients in the fridge overnight, then make the recipe as directed. If you try it this way, I’d love to hear how it comes out!

  59. This was so yummy! The whole family loved it, I even had to print out a copy of the recipe for my Mom :)

    Rating: 5
  60. I was craving chili over the weekend so I made this last night. So happy with how it turned out – flavorful, warm and definitely easy!! The portions are generous and filling, plus healthy :) Thanks so much for sharing, I’ll definitely be making this again!

    Rating: 5
  61. Jacqueline Gonzalez Reply

    I am planning on making the quinoa chili with sweet potatoes. We grilled a turkey yesterday and plan on using the leftovers for the chili.  Since it is already cooked so I need to cook it in the skillet and if not should I just add the ingredients from that step into the slow cooker? Thanks and can’t wait to try this recipes!

    Cheers!
    Jackie 

    • I hope you love the chili Jackie! I would still go ahead and sauté the vegetables, because that really helps develop their flavor. Your turkey that’s already cooked you can just add at the very end and warm through.

  62. I’m excited to try this! Do you think the extra would freeze well?

  63. Made this last night and it was so good! The toppings take it to the next level! Thanks so much!

    Rating: 4

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