Butternut Squash Chili

How cold is it today in your neck of the woods? I woke up this morning to 1 degree outdoors, and I heard the temp was below zero in many Midwest locations. Nothing sounds better on a chilly winter day than a warm soup recipe. I’ve been playing around with my favorite chili recipe over the past few months, and I think I perfected it with this version of Butternut Squash Chili.

My Butternut Squash Chili is adapted from my mom’s chili recipe that I have been using for years.  She wrote it down for me on a scrap of paper while I was in law school – a crumpled page that I still have floating around in my spice cupboard in case I happen to forget an ingredient or two.

This chili combines traditional ingredients – diced tomatoes, onion, tomato sauce, and beans – with a few special things to add a kick of flavor. The first special ingredient is a colorful roasted butternut squash:

The second is one 12-ounce beer. Adding beer to chili creates a really nice flavor! To finish out the chili, I add my favorite chili powder – the medium spice version from The Spice House in the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago. It has extra kick from cayenne pepper and ancho chili.

Another option is to make this chili vegetarian by leaving out the ground turkey. Either way, this is my favorite winter dinner in a bowl.

Butternut Squash Chili

My favorite chili recipe made with ground turkey and butternut squash.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings 6 people


  • 1 yellow onion {chopped}
  • 3 garlic cloves {minced}
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 can chili beans in medium sauce
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes with garlic
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 12 ounce beer


  1. Chop butternut squash into cubes. Toss with 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.

  2. While the squash is roasting, chop and saute the onion and ground turkey in 1 tablespoon olive oil until browned. Chop the meat up into small pieces while it cooks.

  3. Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, beans, and bay leaves. Stir and add 1 Tablespoon medium chili powder.

  4. Add 1 {12 ounce} bottle of your favorite beer. {I like to use an IPA or lager}. Turn the heat up and bring the chili to a boil.

  5. Stir and turn the heat down to simmer / low. Simmer the chili for 1.5 to 2 hours. Stir at least twice every hour. Add more chili powder to taste, if needed!

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