Easy Butternut Squash Turkey Chili Recipe


It’s chili season! This butternut squash turkey chili recipe is a great way to warm up on a cold day. The best part is that it is a great food to add to your healthy recipes list.

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a blue and white bowl with butternut squash chili with black beans with two rolls next to it on a wood table

It was a chilly, rainy morning this morning and that got me thinking of cozy comfort foods. This was the first recipe that popped into my head and I got started on it right away. It is definitely a meal that the whole family can enjoy. I added some tasty sourdough dinner rolls as a side to this soup. YUM! Soup and rolls really create the perfect cozy meal this time of year

Can you use the instant pot to make the chili?

Yes! I personally use my pressure cooker to make this butternut squash turkey chili. I think its a good idea to use an Instant pot because then you only get one pot messy. This is because you can use the saute mode to saute the onions and garlic.

This step gives the good chili extra flavor! Then switch instant pot to the slow cooker mode after adding in the rest of the ingredients to cook you food. You can also use the pressure cooker mode on the manual high pressure, if you are in a hurry to get this hearty meal on the table!

Can you use a crock pot to cook the butternut squash turkey chili?

This will work too. For the slow cooker instructions, it is still a good idea to saute the onions and fresh garlic in a separate pan. Then you can add it to the slow cooker for the rest of the cooking. Once you add the rest of the ingredients you will follow the normal instructions that are the same for the instant pot.

Can this recipe be made in a stock pot?

Yep! This is also a good option if you only want to dirty one pot. You can saute the garlic and onions with the meat in your heavy-bottomed pot before simmering it with the rest of the ingredients. The only downside to this is that you will have a pot simmering on your stove for 45-60 minutes. If this makes you uncomfortable then you can use the instant pot or slow cooker. Instant pots are also more energy efficient.

blue and white bowl with butternut squash turkey chili inside next to two sourdough dinner rolls on a wooden table.

Can this butternut squash turkey chili be frozen?

This is a great meal for doing freezer meals. If doing meal prep is your thing then this delicious chili should be added to your freezer meal list. When you are making this chili and planning on freezing it you will want to follow the cooking instructions.

After your meaty chili is done, then let it cool down enough to put in a gallon freezer bag. When you are wanting to eat you frozen chili, put it in the fridge to thaw over night and then just re-heat in a stock pot or instant pot.

How to make your butternut squash turkey chili

I will be giving my instructions using the instant pot cooking method. If you want to make your chili using another method then check above for instructions on how to do that. First you need to cook your butternut squash. I usually do this in the morning to give it time to cool.

a butternut squash cut in half and the seeds scraped out sitting on a baking tray.

Using a large sharp knife, cut the squash in half the long way. There will be seeds inside that you can scrape out with a spoon into the garbage. Place the squash on a cooking tray with skin side down. Add some salt and pepper to the squash. Put your squash in a 375 degree oven for about 40 minutes. Poke a fork into the squash to see if it is ready. If it is soft then the squash is ready.

You don’t want to over cook the squash because if you add mushy squash to the chili it will fall apart. When the squash has cooled enough to handle, peel or cut off the skins and chop the squash into bite sized pieces. Store in an air tight container to later add into your soup.

woman peeling a roasted butternut squash on a white and green cutting board.

Now to make the soup. Start by chopping up one yellow onion and mincing three or four cloves of fresh garlic. Turn your instant pot on the saute setting on medium-high heat. You can just do medium heat if that is what your pot has. Add the olive oil to the pot. Once the oil is hot then add your onions. Saute your onions until they become somewhat translucent.

Add the garlic, chili powder, salt, pepper, and cumin. Cook the ingredients together for about a minute. Add the lean ground turkey to the pot and cook with the seasoned onions until the meat is mostly cooked. It is okay if the meat isn’t all the way cooked as you will be cooking the chili for several hours or simmering it for long enough to cook the meat all the way.

After the meat is mostly cooked, add the black beans and the pinto beans. Mix up the beans with the meat. You can add a little more chili powder and salt here if you think it needs some more flavor. Add the canned tomatoes, low sodium chicken broth, and tomato paste.

butternut squash turkey chili that is cooking inside the instant pot.

Stir up the chili and put on the lid to the instant pot. Press the slow cook setting and cook for 3-6 hours. If you are in a hurry cook on high for 2-3 hours. With about 30-45 minutes left of cooking add your cubed, butternut squash.If the chili is looking too thick for your taste, you can add a cup of water or enough to get it the consistency that you like. Serve the chili warm with your favorite toppings!

What toppings can you add to the chili?

white and blue bowl with butternut squash turkey chili inside with cheese  on top.

This chili is one of my favorite cozy healthy meals. It can be dressed up with some yummy toppings. Some of our favorite toppings are: Cheddar cheese, sliced avocados, tortilla chips, or a dollop of sour cream. We have even eaten this delicious hot bowl of chili with some sourdough dinner rolls. So good!

blue bowl on a wood table with butternut squash turkey recipe with black and pinto beans with two rolls on the side

Butternut Squash Turkey Chili

This healthy recipe is savory and filling. Perfect way to warm up on a cold day.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8


  • 1 Instant Pot Optional, can use stock pot or slow cooker. See notes above.


  • 2-4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion Diced
  • 3-4 clove fresh garlic Minced
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 2 tsp salt more or less to taste
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 15oz can black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 15oz can pinto beans drained and rinsed
  • 2 15oz can diced tomatoes include the juices in the chili
  • 1 6oz can tomato paste
  • 1 butternut squash roasted, peeled, and cubed
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth more or less to make the consistency you like


  • 1 cup cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1 ripe avocado cubed
  • 1 bag tortilla chips
  • sour cream


  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the butternut squash in half the long way. Remove the seeds and place on a baking tray with peel side down. Roast for about 45 minutes or until soft. Poke a fork in and if it slides in easily then it is ready. Don't over cook.
  • Once the squash is cooled, peel and cut into cubes. Set aside until later in the recipe.
  • Using your instant pot saute setting on medium heat, saute the chopped onions until they are translucent. Add the garlic and cook stirring constantly for about one minute. Add the chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Mix and cook for one minute.
  • Add the ground turkey and cook with the onions until it is mostly cooked. It will cook more later. Add the canned tomatoes, paste, black and pinto beans. Mix in the chicken broth.
  • Put the lid on the instant pot push the slow cooker button and set on medium for 4-6 hours. If you are in a rush you can cook on high for 2-3 hours. Or you can pressure cook for 4 minutes on high. Naturally release for 10 minutes.
    Add the cubed butternut squash into the chili for the last 30 minutes of the cooking.
    Serve warm with your favorite toppings!

For the Freezer Meal

  • Make the chili as instructed above. Let the chili cool. Once the chili has cooled put in freezer ziplock bags.
    To Thaw:
    Place frozen chili in a bowl in the fridge over night. The next day take out and put in a cooking pot or instant pot to re-heat the chili.
Keyword Easy, fall, winter, cozy, comforting.

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