Butternut Squash Turkey Chili is a hearty butternut squash chili recipe that’s incredibly easy to make and packed with flavor.  Includes Instant Pot and stove top instructions!

bowl of butternut squash turkey chili on top of linen with spoon inside bowl

It feels very strange sharing this Butternut Squash Turkey Chili with you in April.  This dish has nothing to do with spring, but I’m sharing it nonetheless because I think we all need more meal inspiration utilizing long lasting produce and pantry ingredients, right?

See my list of 75 Pantry recipes here if you need even more ideas. 🙂

A few weeks ago, I created this recipe on the fly on my Instagram stories.  I took a poll at the end asking if viewers were interested in the recipe, and 75% said “Heck Yes!”.  So here it is!

It may be spring, but I’m not mad about eating a lot of soup and chili right now.  They’re some of my favorite meals, and I love creating exciting new combinations.

I’ve made 2 batches of this chili in the past 2 weeks, and never got tired of it.  I highly recommend eating it with a wedge of my skillet cornbread — it’s pure comfort food!

front shot of bowl of butternut squash chili with linen underneath and spoon inside

Why you’ll love this Butternut Squash Chili recipe

  • This is a very hearty chili.  It’s packed with ground turkey, sweet butternut squash, beans and veggies.  It’s a satisfying meal with or without cornbread!
  • This chili recipe is full of warm spice flavor that’s complimented by the sweet butternut squash, kick of heat from cayenne pepper, and pop of freshness from cilantro and lime.
  • The prep for this butternut squash chili may be done in advance, making meal prep even faster.  The entire dish may be made ahead as the chili tastes even better the longer that it’s stored.
  • You decide whether you’d like to make the chili in the Instant Pot or on the stove top.  It’s nice to have options!
  • This recipe is easily customizable with whatever you have on hand.  The butternut squash may be substituted with your favorite winter squash or sweet potato.  Use tomato sauce in place of diced, and whatever veggies and beans that you have on hand.  Make this a vegetarian butternut squash chili by omitting the ground turkey and bulking it up with more beans and veggies.
  • Garnish the chili with a variety of toppings to change things up — avocado, hot sauce, cheese, sour cream and green onions are all great ideas!

overhead shot of butternut squash chili in a bowl topped with sour cream, cilantro and lime

Recipe ingredients

There are a considerable amount of ingredients in this chili recipe, but they’re all necessary in order to create layers of flavor. 

Most of the ingredients listed for this butternut squash turkey chili are pantry staples, and the remaining ingredients may be customized with what you have on hand.

  • Olive oil.  Substitute with any oil that you have on hand.
  • Ground turkey.  I use lean ground turkey, which contains dark and white turkey meat.  Lean ground turkey includes dark and white meat, and typically contains 8 grams of fat per serving.  The fat content keeps the meat from drying out more quickly, and the dark meat adds more flavor.  If you’re watching your fat content, use ground turkey breast.
  • Red onion.  I used red onion as it adds even more flavor, but use whatever you have on hand.
  • Garlic.  This recipe includes 3 cloves, but feel free to add as much or little as you wish.  If you don’t have fresh garlic on hand, use 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder in place of every clove of fresh garlic.
  • Chili powder.  There are 2 tablespoons of chili powder in this recipe which may sound like a lot, but it’s not overly spicy.  Chili powder is a blend of spices which typically includes chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin and oregano, but each individual blend is different.  
  • Smoked paprika.  The smokiness of this paprika makes all the difference in flavor.  Regular paprika may be substituted if you don’t have the smoked variety on hand.
  • Ground cumin.  Cumin adds a warm, earthy, nutty flavor.  
  • Cayenne pepper.  This is where the real heat or spiciness comes from.  I’ve included 1/4 teaspoon in this recipe for mild heat, so feel free to add more if you like your chili spicy!
  • Butternut squash.  The butternut squash is what sets this chili apart.  The sweetness of the squash compliments the savory flavors so well, and gives it a boost of nutrition.  If you don’t have butternut squash on hand, substitute it with pumpkin, kabocha squash or sweet potato.
  • Red bell pepper.  I love the color and sweetness that red bell pepper adds to this chili, but it may be substituted with green, yellow or omitted altogether.
  • Tomato paste.  This is a thick, rich concentrate that adds umami, or savory flavor, to this chili.  I use this in place of tomato sauce in order to get maximum tomato flavor without making my chili overly saucy.
  • Chicken stock.  The stock is another way to get a layer of flavor into the butternut squash turkey chili and keep it from getting too thick.  Vegetable stock or water may be substituted.
  • Diced tomatoes.  No chili is complete without tomatoes!  I recommend using fire roasted diced tomatoes for maximum flavor.
  • Kidney beans.  The color and flavor of kidney beans work wonderfully in this chili, but feel free to use black beans, pinto beans or your favorite instead.
  • Corn.  Corn adds a pop of color, sweet flavor and texture to this chili.  Both fresh or frozen corn work perfectly in this recipe.
  • Cilantro.  Cilantro adds freshness and color.  If you’re not a fan, substitute it with parsley or omit it altogether.
  • Lime.  The acid and flavor of fresh lime juice really make the flavors of this chili pop.
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.  

How to make Butternut Squash Turkey Chili

instant pot butternut squash chili with wooden spoon in center

This chili recipe comes together quickly, so I recommend having all of your ingredients prepped beforehand. 

This recipe includes instructions on preparing the chili in the Instant Pot or stove top.

Stove top instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the ground turkey and break up into small chunks with a wooden spoon. Cook for 3 minutes, then add the onion and cook for 5 minutes longer.
  2. Add the garlic and spices, and cook for 30 seconds, then add the butternut squash and bell pepper and cook for 1 minute more.
  3. Add the tomato paste, stock, diced tomatoes, beans, corn and salt and pepper to taste, and stir well to combine. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes or until thickened and the squash is tender.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro and lime, and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Instant pot instructions

  • To make in the Instant Pot, follow the instructions for Steps 1-2 on Sauté mode. After adding the ingredients in Step 3, secure the lid and cook at High Pressure for 5 minutes. It will take the Instant Pot 10-15 minutes to come to pressure.
  • Quick release the pressure, and add cilantro and lime.

angled overhead shot of butternut squash chili in bowl with sour cream and lime slices on top

How to serve chili

The wonderful thing about chili is that the toppings may be customized to suit each individual’s tastes, and they can be changed up to make each and every bowl different from the last.

Serve chili with a variety of toppings for your family or when entertaining.

Great chili toppings include:

  • Sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Avocado
  • Chopped red onion, green onions or chives
  • Chopped cilantro or parsley
  • Hot sauce

This butternut squash turkey chili is nice and hearty, so it’s completely satisfying on it’s own. 

If you’d like to serve it with bread, see the homemade bread recipes below:

How to store chili

Store butternut squash chili in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Recipe notes

  • Butternut squash may be substituted with your favorite winter squash or sweet potato. This recipe is customizable with any veggies or beans that you have on hand!
  • Make this vegetarian butternut squash chili by omitting the ground turkey and adding 1-2 extra cans of beans.
  • Store chili in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • Garnish the chili with a variety of toppings to change things up — avocado, hot sauce, cheese, sour cream and green onions are all great ideas!

overhead shot of instant pot butternut squash chili in bowl with sour cream and lime slices on top

More chili recipes you’ll love!

Yield: 8 servings

Butternut Squash Turkey Chili

bowl of butternut squash turkey chili on top of linen with spoon inside bowl

Butternut Squash Turkey Chili is a healthy, easy butternut squash chili recipe that's packed with veggies and flavor! Includes Instant Pot instructions.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb. lean ground turkey
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 14 ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the ground turkey and break up into small chunks with a wooden spoon. Cook for 3 minutes, then add the onion and cook for 5 minutes longer.
  2. Add the garlic and spices, and cook for 30 seconds, then add the butternut squash and bell pepper and cook for 1 minute more.
  3. Add the tomato paste, stock, diced tomatoes, beans, corn and salt and pepper to taste, and stir well to combine. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes or until thickened and the squash is tender.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro and lime, and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
  5. Serve with optional toppings if desired and enjoy!

Notes

  • To make in the Instant Pot, follow the instructions for Steps 1-2 on Sauté mode. After adding the ingredients in Step 3, secure the lid and cook at High Pressure for 5 minutes. It will take the Instant Pot 10-15 minutes to come to pressure. Quick release the pressure, and add cilantro and lime.
  • Butternut squash may be substituted with your favorite winter squash or sweet potato. This recipe is customizable with any veggies or beans that you have on hand!
  • Make this vegetarian butternut squash chili by omitting the ground turkey and adding 1-2 extra cans of beans.
  • Store chili in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • Garnish the chili with a variety of toppings to change things up — avocado, hot sauce, cheese, sour cream and green onions are all great ideas!

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 276Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 59mgSodium: 363mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 8gSugar: 7gProtein: 22g

Nutrition information is mean to be an estimate only. The numbers will vary based on the quantity consumed, brands used and substitutions that are made. This information does not included added salt.

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