This Vegetarian Butternut Squash Chili is loaded with healthy vegetables like sweet bell pepper, tomatoes, and zucchini, chunks of delicious butternut squash, and three different kinds of beans. Enjoy this Butternut Squash Chili recipe topped with cheese, sour cream, and cilantro and serve with your favorite cornbread.
Vegetarian Butternut Squash Chili
Everyone will love warming up this winter with a big bowl of this healthy butternut squash chili. Simmered in a flavorful tomato broth and filled with fresh vegetables, butternut squash, and three different kinds of beans, easily prepare this simple chile ahead of time and enjoy all week long.
Somewhat sweet, super healthy, and always packed with flavor, butternut squash is one of those quintessential fall vegetables that seems to taste great with everything. Enjoy this nutrient-packed squash roasted, tossed in your favorite salad, or pureed into soup.
New to Butternut squash? Start HERE.
Ingredients in Butternut Squash Chili
To make this easy and delicious vegetarian butternut squash chili recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Onion, + bell peppers – also known as your mirepoix, this flavor foundation is found in countless recipes including jambalaya, chicken noodle soup, Easy Chicken and Dumplings, and stews of all kinds. A simple base made from finely diced vegetables (the mix of vegetables will vary by country and cuisine) that are cooked in butter or oil, low and slow as to sweeten the ingredients rather than caramelize them. In this particular butternut squash chili, I started with onion and bell peppers. Other popular mirepoix vegetables include carrots and celery.
- Garlic – also known as, flavor. Fresh is best.
- Tomatoes – I added both fresh cherry tomatoes and canned tomatoes. Use whatever combination works for you.
- Butternut squash – Yes! Beautiful butternut squash. But it whole and chop it up yourself or buy it pre-chopped.
- Canned chipotle chilies – Chipotle chilies in adobo sauce add a ton of extra flavor and heat! It’s one of my favorite things to add to stews and hearty meat dishes. If you’re sensitive to spicy foods, start with a small amount and add more if desired.
- Spices (ancho chili powder + ground cumin) – There’s no need to go wild with the spices or seasoning. However, a simple combination of ancho chili powder and ground cumin is all it takes to add a solid punch of flavor.
- Beans – In this particular chili recipe, I added black beans, kidney beans, and cannellini beans.
- Zucchini + spinach – You’ll add the zucchini and spinach toward the end of cooking because they don’t take long to cook. Feel free to add additional vegetables or just one of the two.
What’s any chili without a bunch of toppings, right?
- Green onions + cilantro – a little bit of fresh chopped green onion and cilantro add a ton of delicious, fresh flavor to contrast the rich and hearty flavors of the chili.
- Sour cream or Greek yogurt – A delicious and cooling contrast to this awesome vegetarian butternut squash chili. I always add a couple of good scoops to the top of my bowl.
- Cheese – Yes! Of course, always cheese. Any and all types of cheese works here.
- Avocado – Avocado was made for this chili.
How to make butternut squash chili
To make this butternut squash chili recipe simply,
- Cook the onions and garlic. Add 1-2 tablespoon of olive oil to a large stockpot or heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions to the pot and sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the minced garlic and stir to combine. Sauté for 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously.
- Add the vegetables. Add the diced bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, butternut squash, and canned tomatoes (with the liquid) to the pot and stir well to combine. Cook the vegetables with the onion for approximately 5 minutes, stirring often.
- Spice it up. Add the chopped chipotle chilies, ancho, chili powder, ground cumin, salt, and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes.
- Add some bulk. Transfer the zucchini, black beans, kidney beans, and water to the pot, mixing well to combine. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for at least 20 minutes, or until the squash is fully cooked and fork-tender.
- Add the greens at the end. Uncover and remove the pot from heat. Stir in the baby spinach or chopped kale, if desired. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
- Serve and garnish. Serve garnished with your favorite toppings such as avocado, shredded cheese, sour cream, or green onion.
Tip – if you prefer a more blended chili, use an immersion blender and blend until desired consistency is reached.
Tips and Tricks
- If you prefer a more blended chili, use an immersion blender and blend until desired consistency is reached.
- Feel free to add other healthy vegetables such as cauliflower, kale, chard, acorn squash, carrots, celery…
- Keep leftovers stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Save time a purchase pre-chopped butternut squash from your local grocery store.
- If you can’t find any butternut squash, pumpkin or acorn squash would also taste great.
How to pick a good Butternut Squash
Much like the acorn squash and spaghetti squash, it’s important to look for butternut squash that is heavy for its size. It doesn’t need to be the biggest one, but one that is solid and heavy for its size. You’ll often find me standing at the market picking up all the butternut squash seeing how their weight compares. Don’t worry – it’s totally normal.
Keep your butternut squash in a cool, dry place for up to two weeks until ready to cook.
Healthy chili recipe
More traditional chili recipes are hearty, heavy, and made with some kind of ground beef or ground turkey. I love cozying up to big bowls of chili like this throughout the cool winter months, but sometimes a girl needs something a little healthier.
This butternut squash chili couldn’t be healthier. Here’s why.
- It’s packed full of vegetables like bell pepper, zucchini, spinach, and onion.
- Not to mention all those big beautiful cubes of soft, buttery, butternut squash.
- No meat? no problem! There are so many delicious beans in this pot of chili that will fill you right up! And keep you feeling full!
- In other words, beans equal protein…and fiber.
Of course, you can always add meat to this recipe if you’d like. Or, prepare a bit of ground beef or ground turkey on the side as an option for any meat-loving people in your house.
For more butternut squash recipes check out,
- Chicken and Butternut Squash
- Pork Chops with Apples and Butternut Squash
- Butternut Squash Soup
- Spiced Butternut Squash Chia Pudding
- Butternut Squash, Zucchini, and Spinach Lasagna
- Curry Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk
If you try cooking this Butternut Squash Chili Recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
REMEMBER TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE FORKED SPOON NEWSLETTER FOR FREE AND RECEIVE WEEKLY RECIPE NOTIFICATIONS DELIVERED STRAIGHT TO YOUR INBOX!
Vegetarian Butternut Squash Chili
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic - minced
- 1 large yellow onion - chopped
- 2 bell peppers - seeded and diced
- 10 oz. cherry tomatoes - halved
- 1 small butternut squash - peeled, seeded and chopped into 1-inch cubes
- 15 oz diced tomatoes - (one 15 oz can), with liquid
- 2 chipotle chilis - roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 30 oz black beans - (two 15 oz cans), drained
- 15 oz kidney beans - (one can), drained
- 15 oz cannellini beans - (one 15 oz can), drained
- 2 zucchini - chopped
- 1.5 cups water - plus more if necessary
- 5 oz fresh baby spinach
- Cilantro - fresh, chopped
- Avocado - sliced
- Cheese - shredded
- Sour Cream
- Green Onion - chopped
- In a large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or stockpot (I used my 8-quart Dutch oven with plenty of room) warm 1-2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add the minced garlic to the onion and mix. Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously.
- Add the diced bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, and butternut squash. Mix well with a wooden spoon or spatula to combine. Cook the vegetables for approximately 5 minutes, stirring often.
- Add the diced tomatoes (with the liquid), chopped chipotle chilies, ancho, chili powder, ground cumin, salt, and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for a minute or so.
- Finally, add the zucchini, black beans, kidney beans, and water to the pot, mixing well to combine. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for at least 20 minutes, or until the squash is fully cooked and fork tender.
- Remove from heat and stir in the baby spinach or chopped kale, if desired. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.
- Serve garnished with your favorite toppings such as avocado, shredded cheese, sour cream, or green onion. Enjoy!
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)