Sweet potato black bean tacos are a delightful mix of smoky, spicy, and sweet. The smokiness comes by way of chipotles in adobo sauce. If you’ve never worked with this ingredient, you are in for a serious treat!
The sweet potatoes for the tacos can be cooked in the oven or air fryer. Vegan & gluten-free.
I live with an ardent sweet potato lover.
Whenever I go out of town or am away for the night, I can be 100% sure that David is making sweet potatoes for dinner. They’re his easy, go-to meal.
Sometimes he cooks them whole in the air fryer or oven. He usually serves them with red wine mushrooms and sautéed spinach.
Other times he makes a simple curry with sweet potatoes as the star of the show.
Sweet potatoes have so many possibilities!
Sweet potato black bean tacos
So when I make sweet potato black bean tacos for dinner, I know David is going to be celebrating.
These sweet potato black bean tacos include a special ingredient that makes them even more magical.
Chipotle peppers in adobo.
What are chipotle peppers in adobo?
Chipotle chili peppers are actually jalapeño peppers that have been dried and smoked.
Chipotle peppers in adobo are sold in small cans. You can find them in Mexican and Latin food markets, as well as online and in most grocery stores. Look for them alongside the salsas, tortillas, and jarred peppers.
They usually sell for just one or two dollars. And each can has several peppers and sauce inside.
Since this recipe only calls for one pepper, one can will last for a while!
Because they are made with jalapeños and the size of the peppers can vary, it’s good to start with one pepper and work up from there.
It’s easier to add heat than it is to take it away!
If you’re really heat averse, use a half teaspoon of the adobo sauce instead of a pepper. Or remove the seeds in the pepper before using it in this dish.
Keep the remaining peppers and sauce in a covered glass container in the refrigerator. They will last for about a month.
Or, like tomato paste, you can freeze the remaining peppers in sauce in freezer-proof containers.
Cook the sweet potatoes in the air fryer or oven
I like to cook the sweet potatoes separately before incorporating them with the black beans. That way they can easily brown without having to keep a constant eye on them in the skillet or adding a bunch of oil.
You have choices when it comes to cooking the potatoes. Roast them in the oven or cook them in the air fryer. I give directions for both in the recipe box below.
(Of course, if you’d prefer to cook the sweet potatoes in a skillet on the stove, that will work too. You will need more oil than is called for here.
Because the sweet potatoes take the longest to cook, I recommend browning those first in a skillet, and then continuing with the onions and garlic after the sweet potatoes are pretty much cooked.)
How to make sweet potato black bean tacos
While the sweet potatoes are roasting in the oven or cooking in the air fryer, bring a skillet to a medium heat. Add oil, onions, and garlic. Sauté until they are translucent and fragrant.
Then add black beans, spices, a chopped chipotle pepper in adobo, agave or maple syrup, and salt. (A little bit of sweet from the agave or maple syrup balances the heat of the pepper.)
Add a couple Tablespoons of water to evenly combine the spices and de-glaze the pan.
Then add the cooked sweet potatoes and another Tablespoon of water to evenly mix everything together.
Taste for salt and heat. Add more salt, if needed.
The size and heat of peppers can vary. So if you’d like the dish to be spicier, add a half teaspoon of the adobo sauce from the can and/or another chopped chipotle pepper.
If the dish is too hot for you, add an additional drained and rinsed can of black beans.
Keep in mind that you’ll be serving this filling in a taco shell with salsa, avocado, and/or guacamole. And all of those things will cool any stinging heat in the filling.
Fresh cranberry salsa
If it’s around the holidays, fresh cranberry salsa goes particularly nicely with these smoky sweet potato black bean tacos. The tart tanginess of the cranberry salsa is just right for balancing the smoky heat.
If cranberries aren’t in season, no worries. Sweet potato black bean tacos are also great with easy guacamole or avocado alone.
Finish the tacos with a sprinkling of green leaf lettuce and cilantro.
Smoky sweet potato & black bean tacos
- 1 large sweet potato cut evenly into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 1/2 teaspoons organic canola oil or other neutral flavored oil, divided (Or use oil spray)
- 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 1/2 cups black beans 1 15 ounce can, drained & rinsed
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce chopped small (If you're heat averse, remove the seeds.)
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon agave syrup or maple syrup
- 3 Tablespoons water divided
- 6 hard corn taco shells or your preferred tortilla, warmed according to package directions
- 1 1/2 cups chopped green leaf lettuce
- 1 batch easy guacamole or 1 sliced avocado
- 1 batch cranberry salsa Optional
- TO COOK SWEET POTATOES IN THE OVEN: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a parchment paper lined baking sheet, toss sweet potato pieces with 1 teaspoon oil. Lay the pieces evenly across the baking sheet, making sure not to touch or overcrowd. Bake sweet potatoes for 20 minutes, stopping once or twice throughout the baking time to toss the potatoes for even browning. After 20 minutes, check to see if they're done - brown on the outside and soft on the inside. If not, cook 5 minutes longer. Once finished, remove from oven and set aside.
- TO COOK SWEET POTATOES IN AIR FRYER: Put sweet potato pieces into air fryer basket. Spray sweet potatoes with oil or toss with a teaspoon of oil. Cook at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes, stopping once or twice to shake the basket.
- While the sweet potatoes are cooking, in a large skillet, bring remaining half teaspoon of oil to a medium heat. Saute onions and garlic for a few minutes, until translucent and fragrant.
- Add black beans, chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, cumin, paprika, ancho chili powder, salt, and agave or maple syrup to the skillet. Put 2 Tablespoons of water into the skillet and combine all of the ingredients.
- Add the cooked sweet potatoes to the skillet and the remaining Tablespoon of water to fully incorporate all of the spices.
- Taste for salt and add more if desired. If you'd like spicier tacos, add an additional chopped chipotle pepper or a half teaspoon of adobo sauce. Fully incorporate all of the ingredients in the skillet.
- Fill the warmed taco shells with a few spoonfuls of black bean and sweet potato mixture, green leaf lettuce, a dollop of guacamole or slices of avocado, and orange cranberry salsa, if using.
Use the sweet potato & black bean mixture for baked taquitos! They can be made in the oven or air fryer.
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