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.
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.
About This Slow Cooker Turkey Sweet Potato 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. (This Vegetarian Chili is another wonderful option with similar chipotle flavors and black beans.)
I also have a secret ingredient that I believe sets this slow cooker quinoa chili apart from the pack: an actual six pack!
In addition to chicken broth 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, and I plan to rotate on through each time I make this easy chili recipe.
If you prefer not to make the slow cooker chili with beer, you can swap it for the same amount of additional chicken broth.
If you’re following a Whole30 or paleo diet, I recommend trying my Whole30 Chili.
Make Ahead Turkey Quinoa Chili
Since this Slow Cooker Turkey Quinoa Chili recipe makes a big batch, it can be made completely in advance.
This is a serious stress reliever for any dinner party menu, and it’s easy to multiply for a crowd. Combined with the cooler fall weather, the easy chili recipe made the perfect cozy meal.
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? That is why you will find so many chili recipes on this site! The consistency and flavors of my white chicken chili are completely different from my Instant Pot chili recipe and completely different from my Green Chili recipe.
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. It’s wonderful served over baked potatoes as well.
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!
Recommended Tools to Make This Chili
- 6-quart slow cooker
- Lesson learned the hard way: 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.
Slow Cooker Turkey Quinoa Chili with Sweet Potatoes and Black Beans
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound lean ground turkey
- 1 large yellow onion chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons chipotle chili pepper
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 3 small sweet potatoes (or 2 large) peeled and diced (about 1 pound)
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 can crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
- 1 can black beans (15 ounces) rinsed and drained
- 1 can beer (12 ounces) 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
- 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.
- 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 ½ 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.
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