Butternut Squash Chipotle Chili with Avocado

Readers' favorite butternut squash chili recipe - cookieandkate.com

Fall is in the air, as they say. The green leaves are just beginning to acknowledge the change in seasons along their peripheries; my nose is following suit with incessant sneezes. It’s that wonderfully awkward transitional time when I’m never sure what to wear: shorts now, or a sweater for later? And what do I cook: the last of the tomatoes, or sweet potatoes? We’ll be bundled up in scarves, carving pumpkins and crafting Halloween costumes before we know it. I can’t wait.

diced butternut squash

Football season seems to be in full swing, too. My old friends are taunting me with photos of game day meals made in the college town I used to call home—let’s be honest, football is really all about the food and beer anyway. Forget standing in crowds at stadiums! Give me a comfortable seat, friends, good food and drinks. The fact that a game is on while I chit-chat is purely secondary.

Avocados from Mexico

This butternut squash and black bean chili is just right for fall weather and football games. It strikes that balance between spicy and sweet that I love in Mexican food, like a good mole sauce. Chipotle and chili powder provide ample spice to round off the sweet, seasonal flavor of butternut squash. Top with crispy tortilla strips and plenty of creamy, diced Avocados from Mexico for a hearty meal that will satisfy vegans, carnivores and gluten-free eaters alike. Meals like that aren’t easy to come by, you know?

Butternut squash vegetarian chili

The chili happens to be super simple to make, too. Once you have your vegetables chopped, your work is almost done. Speaking of which, I’ve done my fair share of cursing at butternut for being difficult to peel and slice, but I didn’t have any trouble when I followed Simply Recipes’ method. I don’t know if it was her method, my trusty y-shaped vegetable peeler or this butternut squash in particular, but it was a breeze. Try it!

Butternut squash chipotle chili

4.9 from 27 reviews
Vegetarian Butternut Squash Chipotle Chili with Avocado
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Hearty, spicy and sweet vegetarian chili made with butternut squash and black beans. Top with creamy avocado for an easy meal that satisfies vegans, carnivores and gluten-free eaters alike.
Ingredients
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 small butternut squash (1½ pounds or less), peeled and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ground sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½+ tablespoon chopped chipotle pepper in adobo* (start with ½ tablespoon and add more to taste, I thought mine was just right with 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, including the liquid**
  • 4 cups cooked black beans or 2 cans, rinsed and drained
  • 14-ounce can (about 2 cups) vegetable broth
  • 2 Avocados from Mexico, diced
  • 3 corn tortillas for crispy tortilla strips***
  • cilantro (optional, for garnish)
Instructions
  1. In a 4 to 6 quart Dutch oven or stockpot, sautée the chopped vegetables (onion, bell pepper, butternut squash, garlic) in one to two tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat. You’ll need to stir the ingredients every few minutes so they can cook evenly.
  2. Once the onions start turning translucent, turn the heat down to medium-low. Add all of the spices and canned ingredients, and stir. Cover for about one hour, stirring occasionally. Taste test for spice level and add more chipotle if desired.
  3. By the time your chili is done, the butternut squash should be nice and tender and the liquid should have reduced a bit, producing the hearty chili consistency that we all know and love.
  4. Make the crispy tortilla strips: stack the corn tortillas and slice them into thin little strips, about 2 inches long. Heat a small pan over medium heat, add a drizzle of olive oil and toss in the tortilla slices. Sprinkle with salt and stir. Cook until the strips are crispy and turning golden, stirring occasionally, about 4 to 7 minutes. Remove tortilla strips from skillet and drain on a plate covered with a piece of paper towel.
  5. Serve the chili in individual bowls, topped with crispy tortilla strips and plenty of diced avocado. I added a little sprinkle of red pepper flakes (optional). Cilantro would be nice as well. You might want to serve this along with some chipotle hot sauce (Tobasco makes one) for the spice addicts like myself.
Notes
  • Serves 3 to 4. This chili is very hearty, but feel free to add another can of tomatoes or more vegetable broth if you want to thin it out a bit. Double the recipe for a crowd.
  • *Chipotle in adobo sauce is usually found in the Mexican section of the grocery store. I never need a whole can at once, so I use what I need and then transfer the rest to a small freezer bag, pressing it flat so that I can pull off as much as I need later.
  • **Find BPA-free cans of diced tomatoes if possible. Muir Glen's canned tomatoes are BPA-free.
  • ***Look for corn tortillas that contain minimally processed ingredients. There should only be about 5 ingredients listed, and wheat shouldn't be one of them.

Disclaimer: This is a working partnership with Avocados from Mexico and Muy Bueno Cookbook and I was compensated for recipe development. Opinions expressed are my own, always. The truth is I love avocados!

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P.s. Looking for the butternut chili presented by a contestant on ABC’s The Chew? This is it!

Comments

  1. says

    “with avocado” is the story of my life these days. What to have for dinner? hmm, how about something with avocado!
    There’s a little bit of summer and plenty of fall – exactly what I’m in the mood for these days – in your chili. Yum!

  2. says

    We make a chili similar to this and it’s one of our favorites for the Fall season, and beyond. I like to put quinoa or bulgur in it to make it heartier, which it scarcely needs. I do love a good chili.

  3. Sarah says

    Delicious! Found this recipe today on pintrest and prepared it this evening. I would suggest starting with 1/2 T of the chipotle in adobe (or maybe even less) and adding more to taste. 1 T was a little spicy and seemed to really overpower some of the really delicate sweetness of the cinnamon and butternut squash…even with this issue it’s a keeper. I also used 1 can black bean and 1 can garbanzo, because I like to mix these two beans, two cans black beans I’m sure would still be really good.

    • says

      Thanks for your feedback, Sarah! I started out with 1 teaspoon chipotle in adobo but thought it was nicely balanced with 1 tablespoon. I’m a spice head, though, so I’ve adjusted the instructions to start with 1/2 tablespoon and add more to taste.

  4. Valeria says

    I have found this new love for avocados…back in Italy, it wasn’t part of my diet (or my food culture) at all, but now in London, where ALL food and cuisines are available, I can’t seem to live without them. Surely enough, my carbon footprints are sky-scraping, but they make me feel so so good. I will compensate with other local stuff :) this chili looks amazingly tasty, and pretty versatile as well. On my to-do list for the next weeks, when we expect a drop in temps that will induce to hot, comforting food like this.

    • says

      That is how I feel about avocados, too! I eat as local and seasonal as I can, but I’m not giving up my avocados (or lemons and limes). Can’t do it!

  5. says

    I need to make a big pot of this; it sounds utterly delicious & I am so grateful for the tip about freezing chipotle in adobe! I’ve been hoarding a tin because it’s not that easy to find here and haven’t wanted to use it because I know I won’t use all of it but now that problem is solved.

  6. Yvette says

    This sounds wonderful! I’ll be sure to make it very soon. I’m striving to be a vegetarian with a focus on a weight watcher friendly menu. This looks nice & healthy. Thanks so much!

  7. lisa says

    You mention finding PBA free cans of tomatoes – I too have heard the terrible things tomatoes do in cans…I’m told to find tomatoes in jars, but they are tough to find that way.
    My garden tomatoes are just ripening all at once and I’d love to use some for this reipe…do you think I could just cut them up and stew them for this recipe? Or just toss them in cubed?? Thanks!

    PS – Welcome to nor cal! I hope you are enjoying your life in St Helena!!

    • says

      Lisa, I have found that Pomi brand tomatoes come in BPA-free containers, so you might have better luck finding those. I think some other brands are starting to use BPA-free cans as well. That said, I think your garden tomatoes would be perfect in this chili. Just chop them up and throw them in the pot with their juices, that should work!

  8. Tiffany says

    This recipe sounds fantastic! However, I don’t really like beans….I know, I know, they’re healthy. I’ll eat ANY vegetable, just not beans! Is there a goood sustitution for the beans? Or just eliminate them all together? What about tofu? Just trying to figure out another option…
    Thanks!

    • says

      I’m sorry, this chili is so full of beans that I don’t know what to suggest. I don’t think it would taste like chili without them! Then it would be a butternut squash soup. Tofu might be interesting.

  9. says

    I’m a believer that avocado makes everything better. So it goes without saying how much I dig this chilli. And how I could use a bowl or two with the crisp air swirling around these parts as of late.

  10. Ellen says

    Thank you for the recipe! I made this the other night and it turned out wonderfully. I slightly modified the recipe by adding an additional can of stewed tomatoes (I love tomatoes) and ~1 teaspoon of dried ancho chilies powder. My husband was pleasantly surprised and commented, “I don’t even miss the meat!” I consider that to be SUCCESS! Thanks again.

  11. Courtney says

    I ran into this recipe the other day and knew I just had to try it–I’m so glad that I found your site, because it was absolutely amazing! I usually make chili with meat, but I think this has just become a new favorite recipe. I look forward to checking out some of your other recipes in the future! :)

    • says

      Thank you, Courtney! I’m really glad to hear you enjoyed the chili. I also have a sweet potato chili recipe if you want to switch things up a bit. Let me know how those other recipes turn out, please!

  12. gracie says

    Your recipes make me so happy Kate! I can’t wait to make this on the weekend. Any suggestions about what I should substitute for the chipotle? I have never seen it for sale in Ireland. Thanks.

    • says

      Thanks, Gracie! I’m sorry I didn’t answer your question sooner. If you can find dried chipotle powder, that would be ideal. Hot smoked paprika would work as well. Or if you can’t find those things, maybe just add some extra cayenne pepper? The only downside to that is that you’ll lose the smoky flavor of the chipotle/paprika.

    • says

      Sorry Joanna, I haven’t tried it. I would sauté the vegetables on the stove as directed in step 1, then transfer them to a crock pot and add the beans, etc. That way you’re still getting the extra flavor that sautéing brings out and the butternut will be cooked all the way through. I’m not sure how long it will take to cook in the crock pot, though. If you try it, please let us know!

  13. Janet says

    This chili is delicious! I was so lucky to eat it in Kirsten’s kitchen last night. :) My boyfriend and I are trying a vegan diet for a few weeks and we are having fun experimenting with new recipes. This was fantastic and I can’t wait to make it myself soon!

    • says

      Thanks, Janet! I’m so glad you both enjoyed it. I have a bunch of vegan recipes if you want to give them a try. Hope you are doing well, it was so fun to hang out with you during Kirsten’s wedding festivities!

  14. Holly says

    Delicious!! My first time ever making any type of chili and I will be most definitely making this one again! Thank you so much Kate :)

  15. Monica says

    This was so good! I love the smoky hot of the chipotle and the sweet of the butternut squash. Great flavor! And it’s a huge amount. I’ll be eating this for days! I might have to freeze some.

    • says

      Glad you enjoyed the chili, Monica! I think it should freeze nicely, I always make giant batches of beans and freeze them for later. Works well!

  16. WonderBunny says

    Made this last week and it turned out awesome. I didn’t put the chipotle in it as I’m not a huge fan of the smoky flavor. I did use fresh Cheyenne peppers that gave it a nice softly spicy flavor to compliment the flavor of the butternut squash. I also used red and black beans instead of straight black – plus I diced and stewed tomatoes from my garden while I was cutting up the squash and added those to the chili. Excellent recipe!

  17. says

    This was soooo delicious! I served it to company last weekend and they scraped the pot clean, even though one of them usually prefers meat at every meal. My two modifications: I added one extra can of diced tomatoes with green chilies, and served with sour cream. My boyfriend keeps asking “Are you sure there aren’t leftovers?”

  18. Wren says

    I made this tonight. I haven’t tasted it yet, but it smells amazing! The only thing is that I cooked it for as long as you said to, and it only got more watery not less. I added a little bit of cornstarch, which seemed to help. Overall, thanks for the great recipe!

  19. Salvatore says

    Just wanted to let you know this recipe was amazing! I made it last night and both my partner and I immediately agreed this is a new favorite! He is usually not a huge fan of spicy dishes but went through two bowls of the stuff anyway!
    I brought some leftovers to work for lunch and by the time my bowl made its way around the table I barely had enough for myself!

    My only alterations… skipped the cumin (he isn’t a fan) and cilantro (didn’t have any) and didn’t simmer it for the full hour (a. I think it was cooked enough – and b. we were too hungry) :)

    Thanks!!!

  20. melody george says

    This recipe is unbelievably good…and its one of those dishes that tastes even better the next day heated up after a night in the fridge….just loved it!!

  21. Josh says

    This was seriously delicious and easy to make. The only changes I made was to add a half-bunch of cilantro (not just use for garnish), serve with tortilla chips, and serve with grated strong cheddar. Thanks for the recipe!

  22. Carrie says

    This was a huge football Sunday crowd pleaser! I added a couple of tablespoons of cocoa powder and HIGHLY recommend it!

  23. Michele Conard says

    This sounds yummy and I want to make but was going to try it in a crock pot. Do you think it will work and have any suggestions? Thanks!!

    • says

      Hi Michele, I’m sorry for the delayed response. I would suggest sautéing the vegetables in a pan on the stove for a few minutes before adding them to the crock pot to bring out their flavors.

  24. Carrie says

    I’m doing the Daniel Fast…started January 1st….and on a whim bought the prechopped butternut squash at our local Walmart thinking I could figure out something to do with it.
    So, one morning, when packing my lunch, I grabbed romaine, butternut squash, avocado, cucumber, and balsamic dressing. When combined I decided that I LOVED avocado and butternut squash together. Went to Google. Popped those two ingrediets into a search, and Voila….I ended up here! I made this recipe on Saturday, fed my Mom, fed myself, fed a friend at work, and fed myself half a dozen more times! This chili is AMAZING. Some things I did differently, just based on preference, was I used green pepper, and some hot red chili peppers, chipotle chili powder, about double the amount of cumin, (omitted the cinnamon, because I totally forgot), and used a 29 ounce can of diced tomatoes. This is a Daniel Fast approved recipe (minus the tortillas crisps) and was the most flavorful thing I have eaten in a while. I have not only kept this recipe, but I have given it out to many in the course of the last few days. Thank you for posting! I have a new favorite chili recipe!

  25. Sharon says

    I made this for the staff appreciation lunch at my daughter’s high school. It was the veggie favorite! I did add more chipotle because we like heat in the southwest. Thank you Kavita!

  26. says

    This chili was uh-mazing! The squash was fantastic, and the saucy part of the chili equally delicious. It’ll be our lunch today & we can’t wait. Thank you!

  27. says

    this looks LOVELY! On my list of “must try soon”…

    BTW, you’re blog has been an inspiration to me as I start out on my own food blog adventure. thank you! :-)

    ~lynn

  28. Jackie says

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was so yummy!! It tasted great and I wish I could bottle the smell coming from my kitchen while it was cooking. Thanks for the awesome recipe!

  29. Kristen says

    Silly question, but I grabbed a jar of crushed chipotle peppers instead of the peppers in adobe sauce. Will this work in place?

    Thanks!

    • says

      Are they like red pepper flakes? I’m sure the chili will be great with the crushed peppers. I’m not sure how the heat levels compare between the two, so start with a little bit and add more to taste as the chili simmers.

  30. Lynn says

    This is wonderful and easy to make! We like butternut squash so I am always looking for more recipes that include it. Thanks.

  31. Melonee Tubb says

    Just discovered your blog yesterday, made this last night. I cannot wait to try more of your recipes! The hot toddy is next on my list :-D

  32. Christine says

    I made this last weekend, for the twentieth time overall, and have been enjoying the leftovers for lunch all week. This recipe is well-constructed, and the product is delicious. Thanks for sharing it.

  33. Christine says

    I’ve made this twice now & it’s delicious! I made just a couple changes due to personal preference (it’s great as-is); I double the amount of chili powder and add some rough chopped fresh tomatoes as well. Mostly bc I love the super rich taste of chili & I had some extra tomatoes to use up before they went mushy. But seriously, this recipe is amazing. You don’t even miss the meat & the cinnamon/nutmeg add such a dimension w/the squash. Thanks for this!

  34. Leigh says

    I happened upon your website today SO GLAD that I did! I am making this chili as I I type. Perfect weather for a hearty bowl of warming goodness!

    I can’t wait to eat it!

    Thank you!!

      • Leigh says

        Don’t give it another thought… I’ve been happily browsing your site and enjoying other recipes along the way – crispy sweet potato fries… awesome!

  35. Corrie says

    I just made (and ate) this recipe and I am an instant fan. You’re very talented and I can’t wait to try more recipes on your website. Thank you!

  36. tricia says

    This recipe is seriously the bomb! Husband loves it too (ground turkey on the side for him to add in). The avocado on top takes this from a great recipe to an amazing one! A full avocado on a 1 cup serving is how you intended it, right? ;-) Chili is something I’ve always missed since becoming vegetarian– 2 years ago! thanks for a super tasty replacement!!

  37. Mary Ann says

    Kate, Hope Cookie is still on the mend. I made your chili this past weekend. Used a bigger butternut squash and added an extra can of tomatoes (used the fire roasted ones),it is grrrrreat! And I mean it. Love, love, love the flavor the avocado brings to it.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you! Looking forward to trying some of the other recipes in the list.

    Mary Ann and 7 collies

  38. Raniya says

    I’ve made this chili twice and I love it! Aside from vegetable prep, it is so easy to prepare. It makes my apartment smell divine, and it tastes delicious! Thank you so much for the recipe!

  39. Nicole says

    Thank you for this recipe! I tried it last night and it was delicious, even using sub-par chili powder. I did puree 2-3 cups of the mixture once cooked because I like what it does to the texture :)

  40. Emily says

    I made this last night and it was absolutely delightful!! Thank you very much for the recipe! I wish I’d read the tips on peeling butternut squash BEFORE making the chilli though. What a nightmare! I will definitely try the trick you used next time! :)

  41. says

    Okay I made this a couple weeks ago but remembered I needed to comment and tell you this was soo good! I don’t think I even made any changes to it….I threw some some sour cream, guac, and cheese on top and it was a perfect lunch.

    ALSO your tip about laying leftover chipotles and adobo sauce in a ziploc bag has been amazing. I usually feel bad because I toss out the leftovers but now I’ve been able to use them at will and that’s great. :)

  42. Monique says

    WOW! Your whole post was fantastic. The meal was delicious. I made no adjustments. AND the link to cutting/peeling butternut squash was just what I needed. I just thought I had no muscles. Thank you Kate!

  43. Gina says

    I found this recipe on Pinterest and made it for dinner tonight. Delicious!! Can’t wait to try more recipes from your blog!

  44. says

    OMG I seriously can not wait to make this next week! My husband will love this (and so will I) – looks delicious! I just love your recipes. We are trying to incorporate more ‘vegetarian’ food in our real-food changeover this year …. this is perfect.

      • says

        Well, I made this tonight and we loved it. Seriously loved it. For caloric purposes, I divided it into 6 portions as I felt 4 servings were very enormous portions! I used fresh organic adobo instead of chipotle (I missed that ingredient when I food shopped this week!) – the adobo was a nice substitute. I never made fresh corn chips like that before – great idea! So easy too!

  45. Marsha says

    All I can say is YUMMY!! Someone went on The Chew and made your recipe.. She did not credit you but it was the same exactly as yours..even the name. I pulled it up on their website and got what I need at the store & when I went to make it the show had pulled it. Ugh…So I went on Pinterest and searched the name of the recipe and low and behold you popped up(thank you very much) and I saw this was posted in 2012. I added some portabella mushrooms(it gave it a meaty flavor), 2 more cans of dark red kidney beans along with the black beans and some veggie stock. We all didn’t miss the meat at all. We seem to be able to get butternut squash here all year long…so This will be something to make many more times…. Thank you Kate… :)

    • says

      Marsha, that is exactly what happened! I asked The Chew to link to my site for the full recipe instead of taking the whole page down, but they have not. Regardless, I’m so glad you found my recipe and enjoyed it!

  46. Julie says

    The Chew did finally put a link. That’s how I found the recipe. Can’t wait to make it on Monday!

  47. Cameron says

    Made this today. I had to add a lot more cumin, and some extra chili powder. I’m from Texas so chili has to be a lot thicker. This one was way to watery, so I added some cornstarch to help. We like spicy, so added some red hots hot sauce or could do jalapenos. The nice thing, is you can add this and that during the cooking process to your liking. When it was finished cooking, I was incredibly happy with the result, especially being a person who likes his meat. You won’t miss the meat in this recipe….

    • says

      Thanks, Cameron. I’m glad the chili suited your preferences. I’m from Oklahoma and didn’t think it was too watery, but maybe I cooked mine longer. :)

      • Cameron says

        sorry, I probably sounded too critical. It really was great! I have never been very satisfied with a vegetarian type meal as I was with this one. This recipe will be something prepared again in my household and I will definitely try more of your recipes very soon.

        • says

          No, thank you, Cameron! I’m glad you enjoyed the chili so much. You might check out the “favorites” link below my header—those recipes are really popular with readers and are pretty hearty as well!

  48. Kalina P. says

    We came across this recipe over a year ago and I never thought to comment on it. This is our go to chili recipe and honestly it is the only type of chili we make now even though our family eats meat quite regularly. I’ve begun freezing meals since my return to school and was wondering if you have any recommendations for freezing this. Thanks.
    (BTW this is one of the few recipes that I follow exactly every time because the flavors are just too perfect to mess with)

    • says

      Hey Kalina, thanks for commenting! I’m happy to hear that you’ve been enjoying the chili. I haven’t tried freezing the chili but I think it would be a great candidate for freezing. I like to freeze soups in individual portion mason jars. Just leave plenty of room at the top for liquid expansion and wait to screw on the lid until after it’s frozen. Then you can toss the frozen jar in your lunch box and defrost it in a microwave later.

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