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Butternut Squash Black Bean Chili

by | Nov 13, 2023 | Recipes

This Butternut Squash Black Bean Chili is sweet, spicy, and perfect for the chilly weather of Fall and Winter. It’s loaded with butternut squash, black beans, tomatoes, onions, red bell pepper, and fresh garlic in a thick, well-seasoned beef broth.

Overhead photo of Butternut Squash Black Bean Chili served in a bowl.

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As soon as the temperatures outside begin to drop, I start craving chili. I typically opt for a beef chili. It’s a savory classic that brings a one-two punch of protein and complex carbs to quickly kill any hunger pains.

But sometimes meat isn’t an option for folks. Maybe you’re doing a meatless Monday meal. Or maybe you’re making chili for a potluck with some vegetarians. Or…dare I say it…maybe meat is just too damn expensive and you’re trying to find a way to make your dollar still go as far as possible. And that’s where this Butternut Squash Black Bean Chili comes in to save the day.

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INGREDIENTS    TIPS & TRICKS    HOW-TO    RECIPE

Butternut Squash Black Bean Chili

Butternut Squash Black Bean Chili certainly has less protein per serving than a beef chili. However, butternut squash is loaded with complex carbohydrates (the ones that take longer for your body to break down and process).

So instead of a one-two punch of protein and complex carbs that comes in a beef chili, you get a double punch of complex carbs that are heavy on fiber. Meaning this chili is gonna keep your tummy full and satisfied just as long as one with meat.

Close up photo of Butternut Squash Black Bean Chili in a bowl.

Butternut squash is naturally sweet and in this chili I’ve paired it with onion and red bell pepper, which bring additional sweetness. To balance things out, there’s a decent amount of chili powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper to create a smoky, earthy broth with a good kick of heat.

Gonna try out this recipe?

Leave a star rating or review in the comments to let me know what you think!

Ingredients For Butternut Squash Black Bean Chili

Overhead photo of ingredients needed to make Butternut Squash Black Bean Chili. Ingredients include butternut squash, beef broth, diced tomatoes, black beans, tomato paste, diced onion, diced bell pepper, chili powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, garlic, and salt.

…a few notes about ingredients and making this Butternut Squash Black Bean Chili…

You can use either fresh butternut squash or frozen that has already been diced for you. Both cook up about the same consistency in this chili. I like to buy fresh butternut squash when it’s in season, dice it up, and then toss it into the freezer so that it’s at the ready any time I want to make a batch of this chili.

In this recipe, I dry sautée the onions because the salt brings out the moisture that’s in the onions. With that moisture, the onions don’t really burn. If you’d prefer to use olive oil or another kind of oil to sautée the onions, I’d recommend only using about 2 teaspoons of oil.

This Butternut Squash Black Bean Chili is moderately spicy due to the amount of cayenne pepper. If you’re someone who doesn’t do well with spicy, try using half the amount called for in the recipe.

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Pinterest pin image for Butternut Squash Black Bean Chili. Image is a close up of chili in a bowl.

Recipe Notes, Tips & Tricks

Ingredient Swaps & Variations – While this Butternut Squash Black Bean Chili calls for black beans, you can use any kind of bean that you’d like as a replacement. When I don’t have black beans on hand, I typically swap them out for a pinto bean because pinto beans have a mild flavor and a creamy texture.

If you’re making this chili vegetarian friendly, the only thing you’ll need to do is replace the beef broth with vegetable broth.

Though this is a meatless chili, if you’re looking to add protein to the dish I would suggest adding ground turkey. If you’re wanting to add protein that isn’t an animal source, opt for crumbled tofu or tempeh.

Ways to Use Butternut Squash Black Bean Chili Leftovers – My favorite way to use leftovers of this chili, or any chili really, is to make Frito Pies. If you’re not familiar with Frito Pies, it’s basically a pile of Fritos corn chips that’s topped with chili (and optionally, diced onion and shredded cheese). Alternately, you can use leftovers of this chili for a twist on traditional chili dogs and chili burgers…or go wild and give it a try in a Cincinatti Chili recipe.

Overhead photo of some of the ingredients used to make chili. Shown are diced butternut squash, black beans, diced tomatoes, diced red bell pepper, tomato paste, diced onion, chili powder, and cumin.

How to Make Butternut Squash Black Bean Chili

Step 1. Add the onion to a medium pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the salt over the onions. Stir frequently to dry sautée the onions. Sautée the onions until they begin to turn clear. As you sautée the onions, a fond will begin to develop at the bottom of the pot.

Overhead photos of steps to make chili. Top photo shows onions being sauteed in a pot. Bottom photos shows tomato paste being added to sauteed onions.

Step 2. Add the tomato paste to the pot. Stir to heat the paste through and thoroughly combine it with the onions. Allow the tomato paste to cook for about 3 minutes while stirring frequently.

Step 3. Once the tomato paste is combined with the onions, add the chili powder, cumin, cayenne, and garlic to the pot. Stir well to ensure the spices are completely mixed into the tomato paste. Continue cooking the tomato paste mixture for another 3 minutes and stirring frequently.

Overhead photo of steps to make chili. Top photo shows spices being added tomato paste mixture. Bottom photo shows diced tomatoes and diced bell peppers being added to tomato paste mixture.

Step 4. Add the red bell pepper and the diced tomatoes to the pot. Stir well to combine them into the tomato paste mixture. Continue cooking for another 3 minutes.

Step 5. Slowly add the beef broth into the tomato paste mixture. Bring to a boil.

Overhead photo of steps to make chili. Top photo shows measuring cup filled with beef broth beside pot with tomato paste mixture in it. Bottom photo shows butternut squash and black beans next to pot with chili in it.

Step 6. Add the butternut squash and black beans to the pot. Return to a boil and continue cooking about 15-20 minutes, or until the squash is cooked through and fork tender.

Closeup photo of Butternut Squash Black Bean Chili in a pot.

If you make this recipe, tag me in your photos on Instagram—I love seeing what you guys decided to make!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use frozen butternut squash to make this chili?

Yes, absolutely! I recommend thawing the frozen butternut squash prior to adding it to the chili. It’s not required really, but if you add the frozen squash directly into the chili it will take longer for the chili to come back up to a boil and cook the squash.

Can this Butternut Squash Black Bean Chili be frozen after it’s been cooked?

Yep! This chili freezes very well and will keep up to 3 months in the freezer.

Can a different kind of bean be used in this chili recipe?

Sure. I’d recommend pinto beans over any other alternative because of their mild taste. However, use whatever kind of bean you happen to have on hand. The cooking time may vary based on the kind of bean you use, so just be sure to check on your chili every so often to ensure the beans are cooked fully through before serving.

Other Recipes You May Enjoy

Butternut Squash Black Bean Chili

Butternut Squash Black Bean Chili

Yield: 7 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

This quick sweet and spicy chili is a double punch of complex carbs and fiber that will warm you up on cold days and keep your belly full all through the night.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups diced butternut squash
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15 oz can of black beans, drained
  • 1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 6 oz can of tomato paste
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 4 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Instructions

1. To a medium pot over medium-high heat, add the onion and salt. Dry sautee until the onion begins to turn clear.

2. Add the tomato paste to the pot. Stir well to heat tomato paste through and combine with the onion. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

3. Add the chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, and garlic to the tomato paste mixture. Stir well to combine and cook mixture another 3 minutes while stirring frequently.

4. Add the red bell pepper and diced tomatoes to the tomato paste mixture and continue cooking another 3 minutes.

5. Add the beef broth to the pot slowly mixing it into the tomato paste mixture. Bring to a boil.

6. Add the butternut squash and black beans to the pot and return mixture to a boil. Continue boiling for 15-20 minutes, or until butternut squash is cooked through and fork tender.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 7 Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 170Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 850mgCarbohydrates: 34gFiber: 11gSugar: 8gProtein: 10g

This nutrition data is provided and calculated by Nutritionix. Please keep in mind that your specific nutritional values may vary based on the brand of ingredients you use to make this recipe.

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Hey there! I’m Krystal, the sassy-mouthed, self-taught, home cook behind the content here at Sweet, Savory & Sassy. I have a deep love for sharing food with people and showing folks just how easy it really is to make dishes that will bring a little extra joy to those you love. There’s nothing like making something special for friends and family and seeing their face light up in delight during that first bite!
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