Butternut Squash Chili is a delicious, hearty, and healthy dinner. Made with vegetarian ingredients, even the biggest meat lovers will enjoy this.
For the last several years I’ve had so many readers gently request for more vegetarian recipes. Their reasons are always different. Sometimes it is about budget – it has become so expensive to feed a family! Other times it is about health as vegetarian recipes tend to be a little more heart healthy. Regardless of the reasons, I’m happy to comply.
This Butternut Squash Chili is the perfect vegetarian recipe. It is hearty, healthy, easy to make, and with all the flavor packed in, it’s hard to miss the meat. Whenever I talk about meatless chili, I ruffle a few feathers. So if you decide to call it soup, I won’t hold it against you. Either way, I encourage you to make it and love it. It is cozy, delicious, and sure to become a favorite.
How to Make Butternut Squash Chili
Here is a brief overview of how to make the best vegetarian chili recipe. Scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of the post for the full recipe, including all ingredients and measurements.
- Heat the olive oil. Use a large stockpot, everything will be added to this pot.
- Cook the vegetables. Add the butternut squash, onion, and garlic to the pot, along with all the seasonings. Cook until the squash is tender.
- Add the rest of the ingredients. Scrape any brown bits off of the bottom and bring the chili to a boil.
- Simmer the soup. Allow to simmer and taste. Add more salt and pepper as needed.
Cutting Butternut Squash
For this chili recipe, you will need about six cups of squash or one medium-large squash. When choosing a squash from your garden, farmer’s market, or grocery store, look for one that is fairly large and doesn’t have any blemishes or cuts.
- Peel the squash using a vegetable peeler or a sharp knife.
- Cut off the stem and about a quarter inch of the bottom. Cut the squash in half vertically. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and discard them.
- Dice the squash into one-inch pieces. Do your best to cut the cubes evenly so that they cook evenly.
Variations and Substitutions
- Add meat. If you want to add a little protein and don’t need this to be a vegetarian recipe, add cooked ground turkey like in my Turkey Chili recipe.
- Double the recipe. If you are making this for a big group or some really hungry kids, double or triple the recipe. This is also a great idea because the recipe freezes great, making it easy to have an easy meal later. See more on freezing chili below.
- Swap the tomatoes. If your family doesn’t like chunks of tomato, you can use crushed tomatoes instead.
- Add more vegetables. Add shredded carrots or riced cauliflower to the other vegetables at the beginning for some extra fiber.
- Swap the beans or add more. If you don’t love kidney beans, you could use black beans or pinto beans instead of or in addition to the kidney beans. No matter what kind of beans you use, be sure to drain and rinse them well to eliminate the extra sodium.
Make it in the slow cooker!
This recipe can also be made in the crockpot! Combine all ingredients in your slow cooker. Cook the chili on low for eight hours or on high for four hours.
How to Serve Butternut Squash Chili
This vegetarian chili is perfect as is, but I love to top mine with sour cream (plain Greek yogurt would also work) and cilantro. Round out this hearty meal with a piece of Homemade Cornbread or an Easy Side Salad. Here are a few other ideas for toppings:
- Green or red onion finely diced
- Pickled Jalapeños
- Shredded cheese
- Corn chips
Store leftover butternut squash chili in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. Reheat portions on the stovetop or microwave until heated through, stirring halfway through. Remember that leftovers should only be reheated once so only reheat the portion you plan to eat. Always use your best discretion with leftovers.
Freeze the chili all together or in portions to pull out for an easy lunch or dinner. Allow the chili to cool completely and put it in a freezer-safe container or bag leaving some room at the top for it to expand. Place in the freezer for up to three months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat over low heat on the stovetop.
If you make this butternut squash chili recipe or any of my other recipes, please leave a comment and let me know what you think. I love hearing from you!
Butternut Squash Chili
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 large butternut squash (raw, peeled, de-seeded, and cubed) about 6 cups
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 30 ounces kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 28 ounces diced tomatoes undrained
- 15 ounces tomato sauce
- In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.2 tablespoons olive oil
- Add the butternut squash, onion, and garlic. Season the vegetables with chili powder, cumin, kosher salt, ground chipotle, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Sauté until the squash is tender, about 10 minutes.1/2 large butternut squash, 1 medium yellow onion, 3 garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons chili powder, 1 tablespoon cumin, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Add in the beans, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce, scraping any browned bits from the bottom. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for 20 minutes. Taste and add more salt and pepper to taste.30 ounces kidney beans, 28 ounces diced tomatoes, 15 ounces tomato sauce