Black Bean & Butternut Squash Chili

Jim Robinson

By Jim Robinson

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5 from 2 votes

Indulge in the rich, hearty flavors of fall with this vegetarian Black Bean & Butternut Squash Chili. A one-pot, nutrient-rich meal that’s easy to prepare, perfect for cozy, brisk evenings. Enjoy a blend of savory spices, tender butternut squash, and protein-packed black beans.

Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili in a Dutch oven topped with Avocado and lime.

It’s finally starting to cool down in my part of the world, and for me that means chili weather! Whether it’s for football Sunday or an easy one-pot weeknight dinner, chili is a personal favorite.

One of the things I love about chili is the versatility. It’s easy to create variations on a standard chili recipe by adding seasonal ingredients. Enter this Black Bean & Butternut Squash Chili.

Packed with protein-rich black beans and antioxidant-loaded butternut squash, it’s not just quick and delicious, but this chili is also a nutritional powerhouse. In under an hour, you’ll have a comforting, healthy meal that I hope will become your new go-to chili recipe.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • One-Pot Wonder: Your busy schedule just met its match! This chili is a breeze to prepare, combining all ingredients in one pot for a hassle-free cooking (and cleaning!) experience.
  • Nutrient-Packed: Each serving is packed with protein, fiber, and antioxidants, thanks to the black bean and butternut squash combo, making it a delicious and nutritious choice.
  • Perfect for Fall: The warm spices and seasonal ingredients make this chili a comforting dish that’s tailor-made for football Sunday or cozy autumn evenings.
  • Diet-Friendly: It contains no meat, dairy, or gluten, so it’s suitable for vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free diets.
Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili in a Dutch oven topped with Avocado and lime.

How to Make It

Ready to get started? Follow these simple steps to bring this hearty, nutrient-packed chili recipe to your table.

Top view of ingredients for Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili.

Key Ingredients 

  • Butternut Squash: Adds a creamy texture and sweet flavor, plus it’s loaded with vitamins to boost your health. You’ll want to cut it up into cubes, or defrost some if you previously followed our guide for freezing it.
  • Black Beans: A protein and fiber powerhouse that makes the chili hearty and satisfying. I indicate canned black beans in the recipe because that’s easiest for most people, but I recently converted to cooking dry beans in the instant pot, which is way cheaper if you eat a lot of beans.
  • Vegetable Stock: I incorporate this homemade vegetable stock recipe in many other recipes on this site, but store-bought vegetable broth or stock is also fine. Just watch out for high sodium!
  • Spices: A blend of chili powder, cumin, and optional cayenne pepper creates that classic, warm chili flavor. To me this is a mildly spiced chili, which you can adjust by omitting or adding more of the cayenne pepper. But if you want a little more heat…
  • Chipotle Peppers in Adobo (optional): For those who love a kick, amp up the heat and smokiness by adding these fiery, flavorful peppers.

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Sauté the onions: In a heated pot with oil, cook onions until they begin to soften.

Cooking onion in a Dutch oven and stirring with a wooden spoon.

2. Add Aromatics: Stir in garlic and spices, cooking briefly to release the flavors.

Chili spices added to sautéed onions in a Dutch oven.

3. Mix in Squash and Tomatoes: Add butternut squash, tomatoes, and vegetable stock; simmer until the squash is tender.

Butternut squash and black beans added to chili mixture in a Dutch oven.

4. Incorporate Beans: Stir in black beans and lime juice, and simmer to desired thickness.

Cilantro added to black bean and butternut squash chili mixture in a Dutch oven.

5. Finish with Cilantro: Remove from heat and mix in fresh chopped cilantro for that perfect extra touch (or feel free to omit…it’s a divisive issue, lol).

Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili topped with avocado and lime.

Recipe Tips, Variations, and Substitutions

  • Spice Level Adjustment: I already mentioned this, but if you’re after a bit of heat, add in chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, as suggested above.
  • Butternut Squash Substitute: Pumpkin is a great substitute for butternut squash and they’re often used interchangeably in cooking. You might find that pumpkins are more plentiful, depending on when you’re making this recipe.
  • Bean Variation: Feel free to experiment with different types of beans like kidney or pinto to vary the texture and flavor of your chili while keeping it just as hearty and satisfying.
  • Add Some Chocolate: I’m a big fan of adding chocolate to chili for adding complexity to the flavor profile. The bitterness of dark chocolate also helps balance the acidity of the tomatoes and brings out the flavor of the spices.

Storage & Make-Ahead Recommendations

This chili freezes really well, which makes it ideal for meal prep. You can easily freeze leftovers or prepare the entire dish, cool it down, and store it in airtight containers. It’ll be good in the freezer for up to 3 months. Just thaw overnight and reheat!

When it comes to reheating, I suggest doing it on the stovetop over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add a bit of water or vegetable stock if it’s too thick.

More Black Bean & Butternut Squash Recipes

Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili in a Dutch oven topped with Avocado and lime.
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Black Bean & Butternut Squash Chili

Indulge in the rich, hearty flavors of fall with this Black Bean & Butternut Squash Chili. A one-pot, nutrient-rich meal that's easy to prepare, perfect for cozy, brisk evenings. Enjoy a blend of savory spices, tender butternut squash, and protein-packed black beans.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time55 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 4
Calories: 489kcal



  • 2 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 butternut squash small, peeled, and cut into 1/2" cubes (about 3/12 cups)
  • 1 onion large, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper optional
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 30 ounces black beans 2 15-ounce cans, rinsed
  • 14 ounces tomatoes diced, usually one can
  • 1 tbsp lime juice fresh
  • 1/2 cup cilantro fresh, chopped, loosely packed


  • Heat oil in a Dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is just beginning to soften (about 4 minutes).
  • Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds.
  • Add vegetable stock. butternut squash, and tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the butternut squash is tender, about 35 minutes.
  • Add beans and lime juice and return to a simmer, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced to desired thickness, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.


This makes a fairly mild chili in terms of spiciness (at least in my opinion). When I make it for myself, I like to crank up the heat by adding these chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. It’s pretty spicy, but it has a fantastic smokey flavor that’s perfect for chili. If you decide to use it, try adding about 1 tsp at a time until you get the level of heat you like. You’ll need to pull out the peppers from the sauce and chop them up a bit to get them evenly distributed in your chili.


Calories: 489kcal | Carbohydrates: 85g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Sodium: 819mg | Potassium: 1836mg | Fiber: 26g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 22546IU | Vitamin C: 58mg | Calcium: 203mg | Iron: 8mg

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