A smoky chipotle butternut squash chili recipe that’s perfect for these crisp fall days! Loaded with tender butternut squash, simmered with onions and peppers, in a warm broth. Top with all your favorite chili fixings like avocados, shredded cheese, tortilla chips, and cilantro!

Butternut squash chili topped with cilantro avocados and tortilla chips

Enter: fall comfort food that’s accidentally vegan-friendly and loaded with tons of veggies and lots of my favorite protein — you guessed it, black beans!

Each bowl of butternut squash chili is loaded with tender squash, fire-roasted tomatoes, tons of spices like cumin, chili powder, and all your other typical chili ingredients. Simmered in a base of stock and coffee, I’ve even added a hint of cocoa powder to this. Before you hit the little ‘x’ mark at the top of your screen – you should know this chili doesn’t taste like coffee or cocoa. These flavors are used to enhance the other flavors we’re using. And what you’re left with is a comforting bowl of squash and black bean chili that’s bursting with flavor. 

Now, if you’ve got a protein lover at home, you can easily brown off a pound of ground beef, ground turkey, or chicken and add it to the soup pot right before it starts to simmer. Let it all cook down, then serve it up with cornbread muffins for the ultimate meal.

squash chili with beans in dutch oven

Ingredients for butternut squash chili:

  • Onions: I like using red onion for this recipe. However, a yellow or even a white onion will also work here!
  • Red Bell Pepper: Adds a hint of sweetness and plays beautifully with the butternut squash.
  • Jalapeños: Add just a bit to add heat. We’ll take out the ribs and seeds so that it won’t be too intense. If you’re cooking for littles, feel free to swap this for a green bell pepper or a poblano pepper instead.
  • Garlic cloves: Mince up some fresh garlic; it adds so much flavor to this recipe.
  • Cooking liquids: I like to use a combination of coffee and vegetable broth or chicken broth. If you’re weirded out by the thought of using coffee, just use additional broth!
  • Seasonings: You’ll need kosher salt, chili powder, smoked paprika, ground cumin, and cocoa powder for the seasonings. They’re all pretty typical for a chili recipe, except for the cocoa!
  • Chipotle Peppers: You can use the minced peppers that come in a jar or the canned peppers packed in adobo sauce.
  • Brown Sugar: Helps add just a touch of sweetness.
  • Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes: An essential ingredient for most chili recipes!
  • Black Beans: I like to use 2 (15-ounce) cans of black beans, but you could also use pinto beans or even kidney beans instead.
    Butternut Squash:
     You’ll need a medium butternut squash that is about 2 pounds in weight. Be sure to peel and remove the seeds before dicing them into roughly 1-inch cubes.
  • Cornmeal: I like to add cornmeal to help naturally thicken the chili a bit more. It’s an ingredient that I use in my chili con carne recipe too.
  • Toppings: Bowls of chili are only as good as their toppings! Use cheddar cheese, sour cream, greek yogurt, cilantro, and anything else you like on top!
diced butternut squash in bowl

How to make butternut squash chili:

  1. Saute the onions. Start by adding a glug of olive oil to a large dutch oven. Add the onions and saute, stirring them often with a wooden spoon until they’re tender and translucent.
  2. Toss it all in. Add the red bell pepper, jalapeños, and butternut squash. Let the veggies soften slightly before you add the garlic, cocoa powder, ground cumin, smoked paprika, chili powder, and chipotle peppers, along with the brown sugar and tomatoes.  You’ll also want to pour in the chicken broth and the coffee. Allow the chili to reach a simmer before you lower the heat, cover, and cook on low until the butternut squash is about halfway done. At that point, you want to stir in the black beans and cook the chili just long enough for the butternut squash to become tender.
  3. Finish it off. This is completely optional, but I like to add a little cornmeal to the chili to make it heartier! Sprinkle in 1 tablespoon at a time and allow the chili to thicken for a few minutes. 2 tablespoons is the sweet spot for me! And the benefit of using cornmeal is that this recipe remains gluten-free! If you wanted to skip the cornmeal, you can transfer some of the prepared chili to a blender and blend. The beans should help thicken the chili up a bit more.
  4. Serve it up. Serve the chili in your favorite bowl topped with tortilla chips or with cornbread muffins on the side. Add sour cream (if you’re not vegan) or diced avocados with cilantro, and serve with lime wedges on the side!
butternut squash chili in cast iron with onions and peppers
butternut squash chili in cast iron pot

FAQs about this recipe:

Can I freeze this chili once prepared?

Yup, you can freeze it in freezer-safe containers or zip-top bags. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before warming and serving.

How do you reheat leftovers?

I keep leftovers in an airtight container and just microwave it, stopping and stirring a few times in between to heat it through evenly!

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Original recipe shared Sept. 2015, updated with new images, post, and minor edits Oct. 2022.

bowl of chili topped with avocados and cilantro
Yield: 8 servings

Chipotle Butternut Squash Chili

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes

A smoky chipotle butternut squash chili recipe that’s perfect for these crisp fall days! Loaded with tender butternut squash, simmered with onions and peppers, in a warm broth. Top with all your favorite chili fixings like avocados, shredded cheese, tortilla chips, and cilantro!

Chipotle Butternut Squash Chili


  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil (or olive, etc.)
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1-2 jalapeños, seeded and diced
  • 1 ½- 2 pound butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • ¾ cup coffee (or additional broth)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoons EACH: cocoa powder AND ground cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo, minced
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans black beans, drained
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal, optional


  1. SAUTE: heat the oil on medium heat in a 5-quart dutch oven or larger. Add onions and saute for 4-5 minutes, frequently stirring until translucent. Add the bell pepper, jalapeños, and butternut squash, and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, and let cook for 30 seconds before adding the broth, coffee, brown sugar, cocoa cumin, paprika, chili powder, chipotle peppers, and tomatoes; stir to combine.
  2. SIMMER: Bring the chili to a simmer, cover with a lid, lower the heat to low, and cook for 25-30 minutes. Taste the chili and season with additional chili powder, salt, and chipotle peppers as desired. Add the drained black beans and allow the chili to cook for another 20-30 minutes uncovered until the squash is fork tender. To make the chili thicker, I like to stir in 1 tablespoon of cornmeal and let simmer for another 5-7 minutes to thicken. Add the second tablespoon if the chili is still thin for your liking.
  3. SERVE: Serve the chili in bowls, topped with tortilla chips, sour cream, grated cheese, diced avocados, and chopped cilantro with lime wedges!


  • Jalapeno peppers are optional, you can replace them with diced bell peppers for a more mild chili.
  • Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are sold in the international food aisle.

Have you made this recipe?

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