Spicy Butternut Squash Chili, a simple vegan and gluten-free autumn vegetable chili featuring butternut squash, black beans, diced tomatoes, and topped with avocado and cilantro. A quick, easy, and comforting soup recipe!
Chili is delicious any time of year, but in the cold weather months there is nothing better than warming up with a bowl of spicy chili with seasonal veggies like butternut squash. This quintessential cold weather comfort food brings cozy vibes to any kitchen, and there are so many possible variations to choose from to make the perfect chili.
Here are three reasons why you should be making spicy chili with butternut squash:
- It’s ready in under 60 minutes. Not only is butternut squash chili fairly quick to make, it requires very little hands-on time. Other than spending a few minutes prepping vegetables, all you need to do is let it simmer on the stove and it’s ready in no time!
- You can make it ahead. This recipe is a great make-ahead food prep recipe because it can be made once and leftovers can be eaten all week long. Cut the squash and other vegetables ahead of time and to extend the life of the meal, throw leftovers in the freezer, and heat them up on busy weeknights.
- It’s so tasty. Between the subtle sweet flavors of butternut squash and the added spice, you won’t be able to get enough of this chili!
Ready to learn how to make a super easy plant-based butternut squash chili? Let’s do it!
📹 Recipe Video
Watch me make this chili recipe below, or keep scrolling for step-by-step recipe instruction photos.
The key ingredients for this butternut squash chili are veggies, black beans, spices, broth, and of course hot sauce. Here’s an overview of exactly what you’ll need to make it:
- Butternut Squash: Before cooking squash into the chili, you’ll need to peel, de-seed, and cut it.
- Veggies: Diced onion and bell peppers, as well as minced garlic cloves, add extra savory flavors to this recipe.
- Diced tomatoes: Just one can of diced tomatoes is all you need to bring a little acid and sweetness to the dish.
- Corn: We added 1 cup of corn kernels (you can use fresh or frozen corn) to bring some extra texture.
- Black beans: Canned black beans add plant-based protein to butternut squash chili.
- Spices: Cumin, chili powder, oregano, coriander, and a little salt and pepper are what you’ll need to spice up the soup.
- Vegetable broth: Broth helps thin the chili a bit and cooks the veggies. If you don’t have broth on hand, you can use water!
- Hot sauce: You can’t have “spicy” butternut chili without hot sauce. We added 1 teaspoon, but you can add more or less depending on your spice tolerance.
- Optional toppings: cilantro, avocado, cheese, pico de gallo
- Recommended tools: large soup pot or dutch oven, knife set, vegetable peeler
🥣 How to make (step-by-step photos)
1️⃣ Step One: Prep + cut the vegetables
Start by getting the veggies ready for cooking in the chili. You’ll need to peel, de-seed, and cut the butternut squash, as well as dice the onions and bell peppers.
- To prep butternut squash: Using a good quality kitchen knife, cut the ends off the squash. Then, peel the skin using a vegetable peeler or kitchen paring knife. Cut the squash in half and remove the flesh and seeds, then cut into small cubes.
- To cut onions: Slice the ends off, then cut the onion in half. Peel off the skin, and then make lengthwise cuts into the onion. Next, make cross-wise cuts to dice it.
- To cut bell peppers: Cut the top off, then slice in half and remove the seeds. Once the seeds are removed, dice each half of the bell pepper.
2️⃣ Step Two: Add ingredients to a soup pot
Once the veggies are prepped, heat some oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.
Add the diced onions to the pot and sauté them until soft, for about 5 minutes. Next, add garlic and bell peppers and cook until softened for about 5 minutes more.
Next, add the diced tomatoes, corn, black beans, cumin, chili powder, oregano, coriander, salt, pepper, and broth to the pot.
3️⃣ Step Three: Simmer the chili
The next step is to allow the soup to simmer for about 30 minutes, until the butternut squash and other vegetables are softened.
4️⃣ Step Four: Drizzle with hot sauce + serve
Finally, pick your favorite hot sauce and add a dash or two (or five!) until you reach your desired spice level.
Top your chili with your favorite toppings like avocado, cilantro, squash seeds, cheese, etc.— and enjoy!
❓ Recipe questions + quick tips
Butternut squash pairs well with both sweet and savory flavors. We love it with fall spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Thyme, oregano, and sage are also great spices to combine with butternut squash. You can mix it with spicy seasonings like cumin, paprika, cayenne, and chili powder. The natural sweetness of butternut squash is the perfect complement to just about any dish: you can use it in soup, salads, and stews, or roast it on its own to enjoy as a side dish.
No, butternut squash chili is not bad for you. In fact, butternut squash is high in many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Our butternut squash chili is a good source of plant-based protein from the beans, and the veggies and beans provide lots of fiber. Additionally, it’s a source of vitamin C, iron, and antioxidants.
Although butternut squash skin is edible, we recommend peeling it before using squash in soup or chili. The texture is tough and not pleasant to eat, so it’s best to set the peels aside and use them in homemade vegetable broth.
🌿 Recipe variations
We love how versatile that this recipe is. You can make it unique based on your preferences and what you have on hand. Here are some ways to switch it up:
- Mix up the spices and sauce: the spices we used in this recipe make the chili burst with flavor, but you can make it even more flavorful by adding a dash of cinnamon, a bay leaf, or a sprinkle of chopped cilantro. You can also experiment with different hot sauce flavors!
- Get creative with toppings: try garnishing the chili with cilantro, avocado, pico de Gallo, squash or pumpkin seeds, or a squeeze of lime juice. You can also mix in some Homemade Sourdough Croutons!
- Add different veggies: this chili would taste great with carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, or even kale. You can even combine it with some Pumpkin Sage Soup!
🧊 How to store
This butternut squash chili recipe is a great make-ahead recipe because it tastes even better as leftovers. Here’s how we suggest you store it for the best quality:
- Refrigerator storage: Store chili in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Freezer storage: Butternut squash chili will retain its quality when stored in the freezer for up to two months. Just make sure to keep it in a sealed container.
♻️ Sustainable kitchen tips
We love making our kitchen as eco-friendly as possible, and we know you do, too! Here are some ways to get the most out of this recipe’s ingredients:
Save the veggie scraps. Butternut squash peels and any scraps from the bell peppers and onions can be set aside and used to make your own vegetable broth. At the very least, they should be added to your compost bin.
Keep butternut squash seeds for roasting. Give the seeds a rinse and store them to use later! You can make a healthy, crunchy snack out of butternut squash seeds by combining them with oil and spices, then roasting them in the oven.
Repurpose or recycle food cans. Rinse out the cans from the black beans and tomatoes and keep them on hand to repurpose. If you’re not able to save them, make sure to toss them in the recycling bin (they’re better off there than in a landfill!).
🍲 More fall-inspired soup recipes
Want more plant-based comfort food recipes? These delicious soups are perfect for chilly nights:
- Roasted Tomato Leek Soup
- Creamy Vegan Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
- White Bean Kale Quinoa Soup
- Spicy Sweet Potato Carrot Soup
Spicy Butternut Squash Chili
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 1 medium butternut squash peeled, seeded, and cubed
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 4 whole garlic cloves minced
- 2 whole bell peppers diced
- 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup corn
- 2 cups black beans about 1 can
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoon oregano
- 2 teaspoons coriander
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- Optional toppings: cilantro, avocado, cheese, pico de gallo
- Sauté vegetables: Heat oil over medium heat in a large soup pot and add butternut squash and onions, sautéing until onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and bell peppers and cook until soft, about 5 minutes more.
- Simmer soup: Add diced tomatoes, corn, black beans, cumin, chili powder, oregano, coriander, salt, pepper, and vegetable broth to pot and simmer on medium-low heat for 30 minutes.
- Season + serve: Add hot sauce and stir to combine. Serve topped with toppings of choice.
- Tools needed: large soup pot or dutch oven, knife set, vegetable peeler
- Recipe notes: If you’d like to make this vegetable chili less spicy, add ancho chile and hot sauce at the end before serving.
- Leftovers + storage: This butternut squash chili recipe is a great make-ahead recipe because it tastes even better as leftovers. When chili is done and has cooled, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days, or freeze for up to two month (or longer).
- Nutrition notes: This vegan chili recipe is a good source of plant-based proteins because of the beans, and a good source of fiber per serving. It is also high in vitamin C, vitamin A, and iron.
UPDATE: This recipe was originally published in December 2018 and updated for clarity in October 2021.