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Butternut Squash Chili

Kelly Harrison
14 cups

Chef notes

In my house, chilly on the outside means I’m making chili on the inside. To me, chili is the ultimate comfort food and this hearty and warming bowl of goodness brings the magic. Plus, it’s a one-pot wonder and serves a crowd (it yields about 14 cups), making it a perfect game-day meal, cozy family feast or scrumptious solo supper with tons of leftovers. You butternut not pass on this recipe — it’s so good.

If you prep everything before you start cooking, it comes together super-fast: Shred the chicken, purchase already cubed butternut squash at the store or peel and slice it beforehand, measure spices and tomato paste, drain your beans, open your tomato cans and broth.

Store-bought rotisserie chicken is a time-saving game-changer and could not be more convenient — simply remove skin and shred chicken breasts into small pieces using your fingers. Leftover turkey meat works great as a chicken swap — and hey, of it’s already in your fridge, it’s a perfect way to use it up! Just shred it with your fingers and add it to the pot.

You can swap in ground sirloin or poultry for the shredded, cooked chicken as well. If you do, here’s what I recommend: Use 1 pound ground meat and add it in right after the veggies are fully sauteed. Cook it over medium-high heat until it’s cooked through, while breaking it up into crumbles and mixing it with the cooked veggies. Then, blend in all the spices and tomato paste and follow the rest of the recipe (skipping the addition of shredded chicken at end).

Start with 2 cups broth and add a third towards the end if you prefer a thinner consistency with more liquid.

You can dial up the seasonings and give it a smokier flavor by adding more smoky paprika, cumin and chili powder.

This will stay in the fridge for up to 3 to 4 days.

Leftovers freeze well, so this is a great make-ahead for when family and friends pop over. Or you can freeze in individual containers if you live alone; then you’re set for many cozy future meals. You can freeze in a sealed container for up to 3 months.


  • 1 onion, diced (~1.5 cups)
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced (1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2-3 cups cubed butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (if starting with a whole butternut squash, it should weigh ~2-3 pounds uncut with skin and seeds)
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans fire-roasted tomatoes with liquid
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2-3 cups chicken broth
  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken or turkey
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
  • optional garnishes: Greek yogurt, light sour cream, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, chopped avocado, fresh herbs



Liberally mist a large pot or Dutch oven with olive oil spray and heat over medium-high heat. Alternatively, you can pour some olive oil from the bottle, about 1 tablespoon. Add onions and peppers and sauté for about 8 minutes until soft and slightly browned. (If the veggies become dry at any point, spritz with more oil spray.)


Add the seasonings (chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika and cinnamon) and stir for about one minute to lightly toast them. Mix in the tomato paste.


Add the cubed squash, canned tomatoes with liquid, drained beans and 2 cups broth. Bring to a boil, lower heat and let simmer until the squash becomes fork-tender, about 35 minutes. Add the shredded chicken or turkey and salt, and mix everything together. Add the third cup of broth if you’d like a thinner consistency with more liquid. Let it simmer for 5 to 10 minutes to warm the chicken and allow all of the flavors to mingle. Taste and season with additional salt, pepper and any preferred seasonings.


Ladle into bowls and serve with preferred toppings, such as shredded cheddar cheese, sliced avocado, chopped herbs and Greek yogurt.