Craving a hearty vegetarian dinner that’s perfect for a cold night? Try this butternut squash quinoa chili! This meal is easy to make and comprised mostly of pantry staples. It also makes quite a bit, so you’ll have leftovers to enjoy the next day!
Note: This recipe was first published in 2015 and has been updated with new photos in 2021.
Here’s what you’ll need to make this recipe, and some highlights and notes for each ingredient:
- Olive oil – You’ll use this to sauté some of your veggies. Olive oil is rich in heart-health monounsaturated fats, making it a great choice for everyday cooking.
- Yellow onion – Onions, while bitter raw, add a subtle sweetness once cooked.
- Bell peppers – I prefer using red bell peppers in this dish, but green work in a pinch too!
- Chili powder, cumin, pepper, and salt – These seasonings add classic chili flavors.
- Tomato paste – When combined with the broth, this gives a richer tomato flavor to the overall dish, as is common in chili.
- Butternut squash – This winter squash is rich in fiber and packed with vitamins and minerals.
- Fire roasted diced tomatoes – Using a can of these adds both tomato flavor and a hint of smokiness. Don’t drain them; just dump the whole can in.
- Black beans and pinto beans – Double up on the legume power! Both black and pinto beans contain a blend of carbohydrates and protein, and are rich in fiber.
- Chipotle chilis with adobo – You’ll find these in the canned section of the grocery store, typically in the “international” aisle. You’ll have quite a bit left after using them for this recipe. I always take the extras and save them in a few small freezer safe bags. Then when I need it for another recipe, I just take it out and chop from frozen to add into the dish. So simple!
- Broth – The broth adds the liquid component of the chili, and some is absorbed by the quinoa when cooking. You can use vegetable broth if you want to keep this dish strictly vegetarian, or feel free to use chicken broth if that’s what you have on hand or prefer.
- Quinoa – While technically a seed, nutritionally it stacks up similarly to other whole grains. It’s rich in carbohydrates and provides a bit of protein too. It helps bulk up this chili and make it super filling.
Step by step instructions
You’ll find full ingredients and instructions in the recipe card. While this seems like this butternut squash quinoa chili has a lot of ingredients, it actually comes together really quickly.
You’ll want to start with your mise en place (yep, perhaps I watch too many cooking TV shows) – the French term for “setting up” or “putting everything in it’s place.
Peel and chop your butternut squash, setting aside any extra for other recipes (you’ll find some ideas below).
Chop up your onions and peppers too. You can also prepare the spice blend by pre-measuring all those in a small prep bowl.
Once you’re ready to get started, heat your olive oil and sauté the onions and peppers. Then add the spice blend, letting it heat up for a minute until nice and fragrant.
Next up, you’ll dump in almost everything else – the tomato paste, squash, tomatoes, beans, chipotle chili, and broth.
Simmer that up for a bit, then add your quinoa. Keep cooking the chili until the quinoa is fully cooked. At that point, you’re ready to dig in!
Here are some common questions that may come up as you make this recipe:
- Can you make this chili spicy? As is, this recipe is not spicy at all. Using one chipotle pepper and a little adobo adds a subtle flavor but not much heat. If you like heat, bump up those chipotle peppers, and/or add a little cayenne!
- Can you reduce the sodium in this recipe? Sure – if you need to follow a diet that restricts sodium, look for low sodium canned beans and tomatoes, and leave out the salt in the recipe.
- Can you freeze leftovers? For best results, portion leftovers into individual freezer safe food storage containers or bags. Reheat anytime you need a cozy warm meal!
Other butternut squash recipes
We started making this dish a few years ago after we kept getting an abundance of winter squash in our CSA. As you can see, the bottom shelf of our fridge was a bit out of hand 😉
Of course, there’s many other tasty recipes you could make if you’re in the same predicament here too – here are a few of my favorites:
- Winter squash waffles – While the original recipe uses acorn squash, mashed butternut squash works equally well!
- Butternut squash breakfast casserole – It may seem weird to use a sweet winter squash in an egg bake, but this is one of my favorite fall breakfasts! All the flavors meld together very well.
- Butternut squash and pumpkin pasta – If you need a dairy free pasta recipe, this one offers a lot of creaminess and tastes delish.
- Fall steak salad – This salad features lean top sirloin steak, roasted butternut squash and cranberries, and flavorful blue cheese.
I hope you enjoy this recipe! If you get a chance to try it, I’d love for you to leave a recipe rating or comment below.
Share: What’s your favorite way to use butternut squash?
Butternut Squash Quinoa Chili
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 medium bell peppers, diced
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp pepper
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 ½ tbsp tomato paste
- 3 cups peeled and chopped butternut squash (about half of a medium-large squash)
- 14.5 oz can of fire roasted diced tomatoes (not drained)
- 15.5 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 15.5 oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 chipotle chili with adobo, finely chopped (can increase according to spice preferences*)
- 3 ½ cups lower-sodium vegetable broth or chicken broth*
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and pepper and sauté for approximately 5 minutes, until the vegetables start to get tender.
- Add the chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper, and cook for another minute, until fragrant.
- Add the tomato paste, butternut squash, tomatoes, beans, chipotle chili(s), and broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
- Add the quinoa and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes more or until quinoa is fully cooked. Enjoy! Feel free to serve with optional toppings like chopped avocado, cheddar cheese, green onions, and/or tortilla chips.
- Using 1 chipotle pepper plus a little adobo sauce does not add much spice but gives a subtle flavor, which is what I prefer for this recipe. But if you prefer a stronger chipotle flavor and a little heat, add more (I’d recommend 3 in this case).
- Using 3 1/2 cups of broth will make this a thicker dish. If you prefer it more liquid in your chili, add an extra cup of broth.
PS – Don’t forget to pin this post to refer to later!