This Turkey Chili Recipe with veggies, sweet potato and black beans has become a staple in my house so I want to share the recipe so you can try it out! I hope it becomes a favorite for you, too.
Fall is in the air and it’s time for a warm and cozy chili! There's just something about when the weather shifts and football is on the tv that makes me want to eat a nice bowl of this Turkey Chili recipe. So if you are like me and you love chili but are looking for a healthier option, this is your new absolute go-to.
This Turkey Chili recipe is a healthier take on chili with protein-rich turkey and loaded with nutritious vegetables, beans, and spices. Sweet potatoes and eggplant add heartiness and even more health benefits. This is literally my absolutely favorite recipe to make when the weather starts to cool off.
Some things I love about this Turkey Chili Recipe
- It is tasty. Let's get that out of the way right now! You do not have to sacrifice taste for nutrition. 🙂 This is an absolutely delicious option I would choose over regular chili even if it weren't for all the amazing health benefits of the ingredients.
- It's relatively inexpensive. By choosing vegetables that are in season in the fall and using mostly whole food, this recipe is much less expensive than going out to eat or getting a meal delivered. Although there tends to be a belief that cooking with whole fruits and vegetables is pricey, the reality is that if you plan ahead and make recipes like this one, you actually save money. It comes out to only a couple of dollars per serving when you price it out.
- Super easy to make! The hardest part is just chopping the veggies. And if you hate chopping, you can grab a device like this one to help you. For me, I love throwing on a good podcast or playlist and zoning out while I chop veggies and work in the kitchen. It's one of my favorite ways to decrease my stress levels and clear my mind. There is something about knowing I am preparing a fresh meal to support my health and also give me that savory emotional experience of biting into a comfort dish that helps me feel gratitude. What a blessing to be able to get in the kitchen and cook! Especially if you can get someone in there with you to help.
- Loaded with nutrition. This Turkey Chili recipe has many ingredients that I would consider functional foods because in addition to calories and protein/fats/carbs, they also have several vitamins and minerals that support things like immunity, heart health, and mental clarity. A healthy meal like this also helps to boost energy levels becasue it supports balanced blood sugars and brain health.
- It gets better with time and also freezes great! This is wonderful recipe for a group. But if you are just feeding yourself or a small family, you can make it and eat leftovers the next day or freeze the rest for up to 4 months for an easy dinner later when you are in a time pinch and don’t have the capacity to cook.
- Sneak in vegetables for your picky eaters! I love hiding vegetables in recipes like this because even the pickiest of eaters will enjoy the flavors.
Anytime I can sit down with a hearty bowl of deliciousness that also supports my health is a total win in my book. And you definitely don’t have to sacrifice taste for nutrition!
Ingredient Details for Turkey Chili Recipe
- 1 lb 99% lean ground turkey: you can also use 93% lean, but 99% lean is the lowest in total fat so it is the most heart healthy option.
- ½ yellow onion, diced: you can use more or less depending on your preference, but I do about a half of a medium onion and dice it in relatively large chunks.
- 3 cloves garlic, minced: don’t skip the garlic if you can help it! It has tons of unexpected nutrition including antimicrobial properties.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil: I use avocado oil but either one works great and are both heart healthy options.
- 1 medium sweet potato, diced: Sweet potato adds dimension and flavor to the dish and also complex carbs that help keep you full longer. In addition, it has Vitamin A which is great for your vision and immune health.
- 1 zucchini squash, diced: You can use zucchini or yellow squash depending on your preference. Diced in ~½ in pieces.
- 1 red bell pepper, diced: A tip for choosing red bell peppers is that the ones with 3 lobes on the bottom are less sweet than the ones with 4 lobes. I prefer the sweetness of the 4 lobe peppers personally.
- 2 carrots, diced: For best flavor, never use baby carrots in a recipe. They are less flavorful than “adult” carrots and carrots only take a couple minutes to peel and cut. Plus, you already have your peeler out for the sweet potato!
- 1 eggplant, peeled and diced (~½ in pieces): This is the fun one that you probably don’t cook with much. You can easily peel the purple skin off the eggplant using a peeler or a knife. Then cut it into circular discs, and from there it is easy to dice it. The eggplant has seeds in the middle and a spongy texture. It is high in antioxidants, fiber, and other vitamins and minerals that help with overall health and may decrease the risk of heart disease, cancer, and obesity.
- 1 cup corn, frozen or canned: You can also use fresh corn if you have it lying around, but canned or frozen works just as well! If you use canned, be sure you drain it first.
- 3 tablespoon chili powder: Chili powder may vary in spice levels. I use McCormick’s and 3 tablespoon is the perfect amount for me
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika: You can skip the paprika if you don’t have any or don’t care for it, but it does add some flavor to the dish
- 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes (do not drain): You can also use petite diced tomatoes.
- 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
- 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed: Rinse your beans for a couple seconds in a colander over running water to get off some of the extra sodium.
- 1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed: You can skip the kidney beans and do 2 cans of black beans or vice versa. Or even use a different bean altogether if you prefer! Either way, rinse your beans for a couple seconds in a colander over running water to get off some of the extra sodium.
- 1- 1 ½ cups water: You may need less or more depending on the thickness of chili that you prefer.
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
You can already see that this Turkey Chili recipe is loaded with veggies including sweet potatoes, zucchini, carrots, and red bell pepper. But there is one sneaky vegetable you probably didn't expect to see. This is my secret sauce, honestly. I started adding it to chili years ago right after college and still add it to nearly every chili I make because it just add that little extra something to make it hearty.
The secret ingredient to this chili is EGGPLANT!
Eggplant is loaded with powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins which are the same phytochemical that give blueberries their color. Anthocyanins can help decrease the risk of heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses. It can also help to boost your immune system and support your brain cells.
Plus, eggplant is a relatively inexpensive way to add more flavor and adds a heartier texture to this Turkey Vegetable Chili.
Eggplant is spongy and absorbs the flavor of the ingredients it is cooked with. When cooked properly it has a creamy consistency and it caramelizes a bit in the oven. So it’s my favorite healthy way to add a bit more creamy and sweet flavor to a turkey chili recipe without adding ingredients like cheese or sugar. Plus, it is a hearty vegetable so it enhances the flavor of the turkey.
*You will roast the eggplant in the oven while making the chili on the stovetop. While the chili is simmering, throw in the eggplant at the end.
- Chop the vegetables including onion, garlic, sweet potato, zucchini squash, red bell pepper, carrots and eggplant
- Drain the canned beans and rinse with water to remove some of the extra sodium
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat it with oil spray. Layer the diced eggplant on the baking sheet and spray with oil spray and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the eggplant for 30 minutes in the oven
- While the eggplant is in the oven, place a large pot over medium high heat
- Add the olive or avocado oil to the pot then add garlic and onions and saute for about 1-2 minutes
- Add ground turkey to the pot and break up the meat. Cook for ~2-3 minutes before throwing in the vegetables
- Next, add the diced vegetables including sweet potato, zucchini, red bell peppers and carrots to the pot. Cook for ~7-10 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink and the vegetables are starting to soften.
- Add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, corn, black beans, kidney beans, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes to the pot and stir.
- Add the water to the pot, starting with 1 cup. You can add another ½ cup of water as needed depending on the thickness of chili you prefer
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes
- Remove the eggplant from the oven and add it to the chili
- Add salt and pepper to taste and extra water as needed
- Top with avocado, greek yogurt, and salsa. Enjoy!
Toppings for the Turkey Chili Recipe
The options are pretty endless when it comes to toppings on this Turkey Chili Recipe!
You can top it with some avocado slices, greek yogurt in place of sour cream, and green or red onion. You could also throw some shredded cheese or salsa on top. I personally prefer a dollop of greek yogurt and some avocado. I mix it well into the chili and it is absolutely divine!
- Vitamin A from the sweet potatoes and carrots help support your immune system and vision health
- Antioxidants from the eggplant and zucchini reduce the risk of many diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes
- Complex carbs and fiber to help balance your blood sugars and keep you full longer from the sweet potatoes and beans
- Lean protein from the turkey with additional protein from the beans
- Lycopene (another powerful antioxidant) and Vitamin C from the tomatoes helps support your immune system
- Fiber from the vegetables and beans support a gut health and also help to keep you full longer and balance blood sugars
My tips from making this Turkey Chili Recipe
A meal prep tip is to chop all the veggies at once. You can either store them to make this recipe later or you can chop the veggies and make it immediately. Just be sure you store the onions and garlic in one container, the eggplant in another, and the remainder of the veggies in the final container.
I prefer to cook the eggplant in the oven because it really caramelizes that way. But if you find it easier, you can throw the eggplant in the pot at the same time as the other vegetables.
I use around 1 cups of water when I make this chili because I like my chili thick. If you want it a bit thinner, simply add another ½ cup of water!
Storing and Freezing Tips
- Once your turkey chili recipe is made, it will stay good in the fridge for up to 4 days. Store in an airtight container.
- If you want to freeze it, it will stay good in the freezer for up to 4 months. Be sure to put the date on the freezer container so you remember when you made it!
What to serve with the Turkey Chili Recipe
You can serve anything with this chili but it honestly serves as a filling meal all on it’s own! Dip some chips or have some cornbread or a fresh salad on the side if you’d like. I enjoy Siete brand of chips for a healthier option made with natural ingredients!
If you make this turkey chili recipe, be sure to leave a comment below to let me know how you like it! And take a photo and post it to your instagram stories and tag me at @mallorythedietitian so I can see how it turned out for you! 🙂
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