Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili

This recipe for Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili was originally published back in 2013, but has since gotten a photo update and is worth re-sharing! It’s still one of our favorites. Tip: if you’re making a big batch to freeze for later, or to eat on for a few days, leave out the rice and add that just before eating – it will absorb a lot of the liquid otherwise! Enjoy!

All of a sudden, it feels like winter in DC. Last night, inspired by the cold air, I was craving a stew or chili of sorts – something with lots of veggies that would be filling and hearty but packed with nutrients after a lot of meals out over the weekend while traveling. Enter my latest creation: Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili. YUM.

butternut squash turkey chili recipe

While at the store yesterday replenishing our sad and bare fridge, I spotted some pre-peeled, seeded, and cubed butternut squash. I hadn’t had butternut squash in ages. Perfect! I would build the chili around it. No shame about buying already prepped butternut squash, by the way. Sometimes a few extra dollars is totally worth the time it saves you!

butternut squash turkey chili

For this recipe, like most of my recipes, I got creative and added things as they occurred to me. No need to follow a specific recipe, friends – cooking is more fun when it’s less rigid! Feel free to adapt my recipe below as you please. :) I included measurements but you can get creative based on what you like and have on hand.

butternut squash turkey chili

I started by sautéing some ground turkey in a little olive oil with garlic and onions. Then, I added the base of the stew – some low sodium chicken broth and a random jar of sundried tomato & basil pasta sauce that we had on hand and needed to use up. I wasn’t sure how the basil pasta sauce situation would be with the rest of the ingredients, but it all tasted great together! That said, regular tomato sauce would work fine, too, or any other variation of pasta sauce. If you use normal unseasoned tomato sauce, you will probably want to add some extra seasonings to the mix, though, for flavor. turkey butternut squash chili

After the stew simmered for awhile, it was still a little too soup-y, so I got creative and added in a package of 90 second brown rice (I cooked it first, then threw it in). This worked perfectly – it soaked up just enough of the moisture to make the mixture more like a chili. Et voila! Dinner is served.

butternut squash turkey chili

This recipe is definitely a keeper – it got two enthusiastic thumbs up from my official taste tester (Matt). :) Especially after he added a little hot sauce to the mix, of course.

healthy fall squash chili recipe

Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili

Prep Time 15 minutes Prep Time
Cook Time 30 minutes Cook Time
Total Time 45 mins Total Time


(makes about 8 servings)

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 (15.5 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15.5 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 32 oz. low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 jar (9 oz.) marinara sauce
  • 2 green peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 4 C. fresh spinach, packed
  • 2 C. cooked brown rice


  1. In a large pot over medium high heat, add the olive oil, onion, and garlic. Cook and stir for 3 minutes, then add in the ground turkey and stir until the turkey is fulled cooked (no longer pink).
  2. Add in the rest of the ingredients, except for the spinach and brown rice, and turn heat to high. Bring to a boil and let simmer uncovered for at least 20 to 30 minutes, or until butternut squash is soft. Stir occasionally.
  3. Stir in spinach and cooked brown rice, stirring until spinach is fully wilted.
  4. Serve hot, topped with plain Greek yogurt, grated cheese, or avocado, if desired. Enjoy!



Since this recipe made about 8 or so servings, I saved some in a tupperware in the fridge and froze the rest for later. Tip: freeze chilis and soups in ziplock baggies laid flat in the freezer – they will be way quicker to defrost than if you freeze them in one large block! And they won’t take up much space in there, either.


Like the sound of this recipe? Check out some of my other favorite chili and soup recipes already here on the blog:

And for some other favorite recipes using butternut squash, check out my recent “Healthy Recipes for Fall” post.


  1. 1

    Wow! Can’t wait to try that tip for freezing leftovers! So smart!

  2. 2

    I LOVE butternut squash… I also love when I make double for the freezer- it’s the best!!
    Tonight I’m making vegan zucchini lasagna and definitely putting half away for another night :)

  3. 4

    Ugh, what am I going to do with you? LOL! I have to get you off that meat habit! :)

    I think we’ll try this tonight since I have a butternut squash I need to use. I will rip out the turkey and chicken broth and probably sub quinoa and veggie broth though. I’m not a fan of the marinara sauce in something like this so I’ll use some crushed tomatoes and we have some fresh at home too. I’ll definitely post once it’s done.

    I definitely want to see Brittany’s vegan zucchini lasagna too!

    Thanks for the idea!

  4. 5

    I made your lentil sweet potato chili this weekend and LOVED it (and froze the extra servings in tupperwares – darn!!), so you know I’ll have to try this one soon! I’m totally with you on buying pre-cubed butternut squash … most vegetables I prefer to cut myself to save a little bit of money (and enjoy the therapeutic chopping!), but butternut squash is hard to deal with and SO worth buying pre-cut!

  5. 6

    I’m planning on making chili tomorrow night! I love the idea of using butternut squash – that’s something I wouldn’t have thought of. I always enjoy your recipes because they focus a lot on using ingredients you already have in the kitchen which is awesome. I hate wasting food!

  6. 7

    O man this is one we MUST try! My husband and I are in love with the Chicken and White Bean Soup; I have some cooking away right now to eat throughout the week!

  7. 9

    I don’t eat meat, but I need to try your Sweet Potato Lentil Chili stat!

  8. 10

    Tis the season for one pot meals and comforting stew-y things! I have a huge fairytale pumpkin to use up, and I think it would be great in this chili

  9. 11

    never thought of that freezer trick! brilliant!
    my freezer is a black hole, this will make more room for baked goods :)

  10. 12

    This looks amazing. I LOVE butternut squash. I am totally going to make this. Thanks for sharing.

  11. 13

    I loveeee BNS squash adn now that the weather is finally cooling off I will definitely be making this soon :)

  12. 14

    Butternut squash and turkey is the BEST COMBO ever!! <3

  13. 15

    I NEED to start freezing my meals… it’s always on my to-do list and then I end up just eating the same thing for a week! Alright seeing you do this has given me a little kick in the pants to start freezing excess food!

  14. 16

    yum, yum!! pinned for later! this is such a great recipe for runners who can’t figure out how to get carbs without lots of bread!

  15. 17

    I made this last week and it was delicious! Great combination of flavors, everything worked and the butternut squash makes this such a perfect Fall dish. I added two tablespoons of chili powder and a teaspoon of paprika to give it that chili goodness. A new fave for my house!

  16. 18

    This soup looks delicious. Thanks for sharing.:)

  17. 19

    That looks like a wonderful recipe for the fall and winter!

  18. 20

    This looks so yummy! I still make the Turkey, Veggie & Barley Chili every fall/winter that you posted a long time ago. I’ll have to try this one too!


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