Butternut Squash Chili

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The best bean free butternut squash chili. A perfect game day recipe or weeknight meal for cold winter nights. #chili #weeknightdinner #easy #butternutsquash

If you’ve read my other Texas Chili post, you know that I can’t stand beans in my chili. However, I did trial some originally for this recipe and actually thought they were quite good. Yet when I spotted that Trader Joe’s had these perfectly pre-cut butternut squash squares, I decided to try them out in place of the beans. They worked beautifully. Not overly mushy with that perfect comforting flavor, they really added something special. I actually prefer them to the beans! But I guess that isn’t too hard considering my previous statement.

The best bean free butternut squash chili. A perfect game day recipe or weeknight meal for cold winter nights. #chili #weeknightdinner #easy #butternutsquash

As we prepare for winter in Dallas (below the 40’s! Eek!), I have my ingredients for this meal ready to go. It’s actually become one of our favorite weeknight and football game meals this season. Whenever I’m much too lazy to create a grocery list, I know that I can just pick up some ground beef and whip this up in about 40 minutes. For a quick bowl game meal, you could make this chili and put it over some corn chips with a little good, white American cheese for chili cheese nachos. Top with green onions, radishes, and even a dollop of whipped cottage cheese. I plan to make this while my family is visiting too – it’s so easy! You can also make it ahead and freeze for later. If you do this, add a little broth as you reheat it in a covered dutch oven.

For the broth, I encourage you to try out this instant pot chicken broth if you’re following the Heal Your Headache diet. It’s really simple to make in an instant pot or crock pot, which just takes a few hours longer. And for the tomatoes I like to use a brand called Carmelina, where the only ingredients are tomatoes.

One thing to be careful of is chili powder. When I recently visited my in laws, I found they had a chili powder that contained cocoa and some other potential migraine triggers. Morton & Bassett makes a good brand that’s free of triggers and it’s also the same price on Amazon that it is in my grocery store. Here’s a little tip: if you ever make your chili too spicy, try adding more sugar.

Another twist? If you’re vegetarian, try adding 2 cans of Cannellini beans instead of the meat or doubling the butternut squash.

I guarantee your family will love this one!

The best bean free butternut squash chili. A perfect game day recipe or weeknight meal for cold winter nights. #chili #weeknightdinner #easy #butternutsquash

The best bean free butternut squash chili. A perfect game day recipe or weeknight meal for cold winter nights. #chili #weeknightdinner #easy #butternutsquash
5 from 2 votes
The best bean free butternut squash chili. A perfect game day recipe or weeknight meal for cold winter nights. #chili #weeknightdinner #easy #butternutsquash
Butternut Squash Chili
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
40 mins

This beanless chili is perfect for game days, especially on top of corn chips with a little bit of cheese! Comforting and cozy, you can make this recipe ahead of time and freeze to have ready. 

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American, Holiday
Keyword: Beanless, Butternut Squash, Chili, Gluten Free
Servings: 4 people
Author: The Dizzy Cook
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 14oz can chopped tomatoes * I used Carmelina
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1.5 tbsp chili powder * See notes in post if you make it too spicy.
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp honey or sugar
  • 1.5 cups broth or stock of choice
  • 2 cups chopped butternut squash * I used the pre-cut Trader Joe's squash that are roughly 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • radish and green onion for topping
  1. Add 1tbsp of olive oil to a heat heavy bottomed pot, I like to use my dutch oven for this, and heat over medium. Add chopped shallots and garlic, sautéing for a minute or two until fragrant. Then add your ground beef and cook, breaking it up into small bits. If you have leftover liquid from the beef, I like to take a paper towel and stir it around the pot with a wooden spoon to soak up some excess liquid. 

  2. Once your beef is cooked, add the butternut squash, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, honey (or sugar), and smoked paprika. Stir to combine, still over medium heat. Then add your chopped tomatoes and broth with 1/2 tsp kosher salt. Stir again and bring the dish to a simmer (small bubbles on top). 

  3. Allow to simmer on low heat for 30 minutes then serve warm. 

Recipe Notes

This recipe freezes really well, just use some broth to reheat it in a dutch oven. 
To make this vegetarian, omit the meat and either double the butternut squash or add 2 (14oz) cans of Cannellini beans. 

For a twist, serve this on top of tortilla chips with some cheese, radish, green onions, and a dollop of whipped cottage cheese (for migraine safe).

Alicia was diagnosed with Chronic Vestibular Migraine in 2016 and has been able to successfully manage her symptoms through medication, supplements, lifestyle changes, and the Heal Your Headache Diet by Dr. David Buchholz from Johns Hopkins. She's the owner of The Dizzy Cook.


  1. Casey

    5 stars
    Delicious! Lots of flavor and easy to cook!


  2. Alice Thomas

    At what point do you add the Butternut Squash? 🙂


    1. Alicia

      Oh my goodness, I’m sorry about that. I add it after the beef is cooked! Thanks for the catch.


  3. Mickayla

    5 stars
    This is amazing! I doubled the chili powder, but other than that, it was just perfect for my tastes!


  4. Emily

    Any guidelines on brands of American cheese that are ok??


    1. Alicia

      People usually enjoy Boar’s Head or Andrew and Everett!


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