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 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 – especially after a lot of meals out over the weekend while traveling. Enter my latest creation: Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili. YUM.
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!
I’m obsessed with how this chili turned out. It’s got delicious fall flavor, and it’s a perfect meal to warm you up on a cold night. It freezes well, too, so you can prep it ahead of time.
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 based on what you like or have on hand!
To make this recipe as I made it, you’ll need:
- ground turkey
- olive oil
- butternut squash (peeled, seeded, and cut into cubes, OR buy pre-prepped at the store)
- canned kidney beans
- canned black beans
- chicken broth (I recommend low sodium)
- marinara sauce (I used jarred)
- green bell peppers
- cooked brown rice
How to Make Butternut Squash Turkey Chili
I started by sautéing some ground turkey in a little olive oil with garlic and onions over medium-high heat. After a few minutes, I added the ground turkey and stirred until the turkey was fully cooked (no longer pink).
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.
Next, I added the rest of the ingredients – except for the spinach and brown rice – and turned the heat to high. (Make sure to drain & rinse your canned beans!).
Then, I brought the soup to a boil and let simmer uncovered for at least 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. (The butternut squash should get soft).
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). Here’s where I added the spinach, too.
This worked perfectly – it soaked up just enough of the moisture to make the mixture more like a chili. Et voila! Serve hot, topped with plain Greek yogurt, grated cheese, or avocado, if desired.
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.
How to Freeze Chili
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.
You can find the full butternut squash turkey chili recipe at the bottom of this post. Enjoy!
Like the sound of this recipe? Check out some of my other favorite chili and soup recipes already here on the blog:
- Sweet Potato Lentil Chili (vegan) <— one of my most popular recipes!
- Chunky Turkey & Vegetable Soup
- Coconut Curry with Chicken
- Homemade Minestrone Soup (vegan) <— great basic recipe to get creative with
- Turkey, Veggie, & Barley Chili
- Chicken & White Bean Chili Soup <— LOVE
And for some other favorite recipes using butternut squash, check out my recent “Healthy Recipes for Fall” post.
- 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
- 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).
- 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.
- Stir in spinach and cooked brown rice, stirring until spinach is fully wilted.
- Serve hot, topped with plain Greek yogurt, grated cheese, or avocado, if desired. Enjoy!