Butternut squash gives this warm and spicy vegetarian chili sweet fall flavours. A healthy vegan slow-cooker recipe for busy days.

Vegan Butternut Chili in a red bowl

We have a tradition around here on Halloween. We live in that neighborhood. The one where all the kids come. And our house often ends up as home base for our family and some friends.  Parents hang out in the garage and hand out candy while all the kids run around collecting their own stash of goodies.

Butternut Squash cut in half with chopped onions on a cutting board

It doesn’t happen every year, and honestly it is not happening this year. I’m travelling for work on Halloween and won’t be home in time to get things started food-wise. But most years I have a pot of something hearty  warming on the stove or in the slow cooker.  A soup, stew or chili. Something to fill to fill our bowls and our bellies. Something that feels good to eat while standing outside. Or maybe thankful to be inside on particularly chilly nights.  Something to save us from a pizza and makes less room for candy and treats.

I know – I’m no fun.

Chopped butternut squash and ginger for chili

But really, I love sharing a pot of something warm with friends. To me it is the ultimate in no-fuss entertaining. I’m using the word “entertaining” as loosely as possible here. It’s an undefined and organic gathering. I don’t know who will arrive, I don’t know if they will eat. Its a “If you are hungry there is chili in the kitchen” kinda thing. And I think it is the best thing…

Slowcooker full of chili ingredients - butternut squash, beans, chilis, tomatoes and spices

This butternut squash chili is one of those recipes I would share with my favourite crowd on one of these occasions. It’s warm, slightly sweet and vegan. It tastes like fall. And I know it is good for you. Filling and comforting. Perfect for taking the chill from your bones after walking around in the dark, the last October evening of the year.

Vegan Butternut Chili in two bowls with colourful napkin

For serving, add some chopped cilantro, diced red or green onions, jalapenos, shredded cheese or sour cream.

A few notes for Butternut Squash Vegetarian Chili

  • If you don’t have butternut squash you can substitute sweet potatoes
  • I used about half a medium sized squash for this recipe. I peeled and chopped the other half and tossed it into the freezer. Butternut squash freezes well and will keep for several months. Ready for your next recipe without the hassle of chopping and peeling. Save it for later and make this couscouse dish.
  • I’m a big fan of black beans, but you could use any combination of beans you like. Switch out either bean for red kidney or pinto.
  • I love how adding a little bit of whisky deepens the flavours and adds to the sweetness of this dish. But if it is not for you, substitute an equal amount of beer, apple juice or water.
  • Leftovers are wonderful, maybe even better the next day. This chili freezes well, I like to freeze it in single serve glass containers that are easy to reheat in the microwave for packed work lunches.

Vegan Butternut Chili in two bowls

Here is how you make Butternut Squash Vegetarian Chili:

Butternut Squash Vegetarian Chili

This warm and spicy chili is full of sweet fall flavours. A healthy vegan slow-cooker recipe for busy days.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time8 hrs
Total Time8 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 6 servings


  • 1 small white onion diced small
  • 1 rib celery diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups butternut squash peeled and diced
  • 19 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained (about 2 cups cooked)
  • 19 oz can Romano beans, rinsed and drained (about 2 cups cooked)
  • 398 ml can diced tomatoes
  • 127 ml can of diced green chilies
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala powder or your favourite curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup Canadian whisky
  • 1 cup vegetable stock


  • In a medium saute pan, over medium heat, heat oil and saute onion and celery until soft, 7-8 minutes. Add to slow-cooker insert.
  • Add remaining ingredients to the slow-cooker insert and set in slow-cooker base. Set to cook on high heat 4-5 hours, or low heat for 8 hours.
  • When cooking time is done, if desired you can mash some of the beans with a potato masher to thicken it up slightly. Depends on how thick you like your chili. Serve with your favourite toppings.


Use sweet potato if you don't have a butternut squash for this chili.
For the whisky, you could add apple juice or water if you want to avoid the alcohol.
Trish Cowper | www.infinebalance.com