Forget the calendar. For me the true start of fall is when the first batch of Slow Cooker Turkey Chili with Sweet Potatoes hits my crock pot.
Making the first chili of the season always feels a bit ceremonious to me.
I equate chili with, well, chilly.
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.
My ideal chili recipe is low on maintenance, high on flavor, and reasonably healthy. This 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 for this easy turkey chili recipe.
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’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.
5 Star Review
“This is the best chili recipe! The sweet potatoes and quinoa really add a new dimension and also help make a thicker chili which I prefer.”— Karen —
How to Make Slow Cooker Turkey Chili with Sweet Potatoes
This healthy slow cooker turkey chili recipe is as easy as it is delicious.
It uses simple ingredients, but they come together to create something truly special.
Plus, this recipe makes a big batch, so it’s the best turkey chili recipe for meal prep, game day, or a party.
- Ground Turkey. Lean, protein-packed ground turkey adds wonderful flavor to the chili and will help keep you full for hours.
- Sweet Potatoes. I love adding sweet potatoes to chili recipes for their sweetness, texture, and health beneits. Sweet potatoes are a wonderful source of fiber and vitamins.
- Quinoa. Quinoa’s nuttiness and high protein content helps make the chili extra satisfying and flavorful.
- Crushed Tomatoes. For liquid and must-have tomato flavor.
- Black Beans. Creamy and nutritious. Black beans are a great source of fiber and antioxidants. (For those who prefer a slow cooker turkey chili no beans, try my Healthy Turkey Chili instead.)
- Beer. The secret ingredient that sets this turkey sweet potato chili apart from the rest! It adds exceptional, simmered-all-day flavor. I used an IPA beer, but any dark or amber beer will work here.
- Spices. The key to fabulous chili flavor! This recipe uses a blend of garlic powder, chili powder, chipotle chili pepper, and cumin. It’s smoky, sweet, earthy, and perfect for complementing the sweet potatoes.
- Saute the turkey with the spices. then transfer it to the slow cooker.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker. Cook the slow cooker turkey chili on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours or on LOW for 5 to 6 hours. ENJOY!
- To Store. Refrigerate chili in an airtight storage container for up to 5 days.
- To Reheat. Reheat leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Freeze chili in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Meal Prep Tip
Up to 1 day in advance, cook the turkey and onion in spices as directed in Step 1. Refrigerate it in an airtight storage container until you’re ready to finish the recipe.
For those who want to wake up with their chili ready to go, you can slow cook chili overnight. Prepare the recipe as directed in a programmable slow cooker right before you head to bed, and set it to cook on LOW for 5 to 6 hours. Once the cooking time is done, it will switch to the “warm” setting.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Slow Cooker. Chili is better in a slow cooker!
- Dutch Oven. My choice for browning the turkey.
- Ladle. The easiest way to serve this turkey chili recipe.
The Best Slow Cooker
Having a high-quality slow cooker like this one allows you to make any of my delicious slow cooker recipes. This one is programmable, making it so you can’t overcook chili in a slow cooker.
Do you have any favorite chili or other autumn recipes that mark the start of fall for you the way this chili does for me? I’d love to hear all about them!
Frequently Asked Questions
Although you can put raw ground turkey in the slow cooker (I do for these Crockpot Stuffed Peppers), I don’t recommend it for this recipe, because you need the turkey broken into pieces. Browning also adds important flavor.
Yes, you can omit the quinoa if you prefer. I suggest reducing the amount of liquid so that your chili isn’t too thin. If you prefer to use rice, cook it separately, then stir it in at the end.
Slow Cooker Turkey Chili with Sweet Potatoes
- 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 sweet potatoes (or 2 large) peeled and diced (about 1 pound)
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
- 1 can (15 ounces) black beans rinsed and drained
- 1 can (12 ounces) 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
- 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 1/2 cup extra). Serve warm with desired toppings.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate chili in an airtight storage container for up to 5 days.
- TO REHEAT: Reheat leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze chili in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
- 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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