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This Butternut Squash Chili is cozy, hearty, and made from simple plant-based ingredients to keep you nourished during soup season. Serve with homemade cornbread and your favorite toppings. Gluten-free and Vegan.
This Butternut Squash Chili with White Beans is filled with fresh squash, creamy white beans, bold spices, and a savory broth that melds all of the flavors together. It’s creamy, smoky, and the perfect cozy bowl of chili to warm you up during the cold days of fall and winter.
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White Bean Chili with a Fall Twist
In the past, I typically steered toward tomato-based chilis (see Classic Chili, Vegan Chorizo Chili, and Vegan Chipotle Black Bean Chili) for their thick, hearty, great depth of flavor. But when I first started experimenting with this Vegan White Bean Chili with Jackfruit, I realized that white bean chilis can be just as thick and creamy without the need for any cream at all. Now, don’t get me wrong. Classic chili is still a hearty meal I welcome year round, but white bean chili is an extra kind of special. This butternut squash chili ticks every box, and then some. It’s creamy from the combination of butternut squash and white beans, plus has amazing, deep, smoky flavor thanks to the toasted nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, and fresh cilantro stems. Whether you serve it for a quick and easy dinner, make it for meal prep, or prepare it for a crowd on game day, this vegetarian chili is sure to be a hit!
What You Need for this Butternut Squash Chili
This chili is the epitome of minimal ingredients and maximum ingredients. It’s made start to finish with just 10 nutritious ingredients and 10 minutes of hands-on time. Here’s the main components:
- Butternut squash: Unlike my Pumpkin Chili that’s made with pumpkin puree, this butternut squash chili is made with fresh, cubed butternut. This squash can be found year-round in large chain grocery stores, but is most abundant during fall and early winter.
- White beans: I prefer navy beans in this chili, but Great Northern beans or cannellini beans would also work well. In a pinch, you could also use pinto beans or black beans.
- Nutritional yeast: Toasted nutritional yeast adds a deep, smoky flavor that truly makes this recipe. It’s cheesy without the dairy and contributes to the creamy, dreamy flavor.
- Broth: Vegetable broth works, but I highly recommend vegan chicken broth if you have access to it. Vegan chicken broth is filled with natural umami-rich flavors that add additional depth and savoriness to the chili. My favorite is Better than Bouillon No Chicken Base.
- Jalapeños: Despite this chili being made with 2 diced jalapeños, it’s on the milder side as we are de-seeding the peppers. If you’d like your chili to have more of a kick, leave a few of the seeds in and cook them into the chili, then serve with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes for additional heat.
How to Make Butternut Squash Chili
- In a large dutch oven or soup pot, toast the nutritional yeast until darkened and fragrant. Remove from the pot and set aside.
- Next, warm the oil in the pot, then add the onion and cook for 3 minutes, or until beginning to brown.
- Add the cilantro stems, bell pepper, jalapeños, cumin, smoked paprika, and toasted nutritional yeast. Sauté for an additional 3 minutes.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20-25 minutes.
- Season with additional salt and pepper, then serve immediately while warm and creamy.
Caitlin’s Cooking Tips
- Dried beans must be cooked beforehand. This chili is made with 4 cups of cooked white beans. If you are using dried beans, cook 1 1/3 cups of dried white beans separately before adding them to the chili. Cooking beans from scratch requires a significant amount of water and time and won’t cook through properly during the short simmer.
- Adjust the consistency, as needed. White bean chili is meant to be thick and creamy, but if you prefer a thinner recipe, add an additional tablespoon of broth at a time until your desired consistency is reached.
Just like my Classic Vegan Chili, I love enjoying this white bean chili topped with fresh herbs like cilantro or green onions, jalapeño slices, and an additional sprinkle of nutritional yeast. It’s the perfect hearty chili for weeknights, wholesome lunches, rainy weekends, or any occasion that could use a cozy bowl of goodness. Enjoy it as a standalone meal, or pair with Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins or Classic Cornbread to take this hearty meal to the next level.
If you’re looking for more cozy squash recipes, you’ll also love this Roasted Honeynut Squash, these Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells, and these Stuffed Acorn Squash with Mushrooms. You’ll also love these 20+ Vegan & Gluten-Free Pumpkin Recipes.
How to Store Butternut Squash Chili
Leftover chili will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It can also be frozen for up to 2 months in the freezer.
Once chilled, this chili will thicken considerably. Add a splash of broth before reheating in the microwave or a pot over medium-low heat on the stovetop until warm.
Substitutions and Variations
- Oil-free option: Sauté the onions and peppers in 1/4 cup of water or vegetable broth instead of avocado oil. Add more liquid to the pan as necessary if the aromatics begin to stick to the bottom of the pot.
- Milder option: Reduce the jalapeños, or replace with a milder pepper such as Anaheim peppers, roasted poblanos, or green bell pepper for a completely mild variation.
- Butternut squash substitution: Use another hard-skinned squash such as pumpkin, delicata squash, kabocha squash, or even acorn squash. The color of the soup will be slightly different, but it will be a similar creamy, nutrient-rich squash chili.
This easy butternut squash chili recipe is not only vegetarian, but 100% vegan and gluten-free, too. It’s a great fall chili for all kinds of eaters.
Yes. Unlike sweet potatoes or acorn squash that don’t need to be peeled before eating, it is recommended to peel butternut squash before eating. If you’re new to cooking with fresh squash, check out this helpful tutorial: How to Peel and Cut Butternut Squash.
I haven’t tested this specific chili recipe in a pressure cooker or slow cooker, but readers have shared success making this chili in the Instant Pot under manual high pressure for 5 minutes. If you are interested in Instant Pot or slow cooker recipes, you’ll like this Instant Pot Black Bean Soup and Slow Cooker Bean Quinoa Chili.
Absolutely. Both frozen and pre-cubed butternut squash are great options when you’re short on time and need a quick and easy meal prep. If using frozen, your chili may be slightly thinner, as frozen produce contains excess water.
Enjoy! If you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I would also love it if you could leave a comment below with a recipe rating! Thank you for the support 😊
Butternut Squash & White Bean Chili
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil or other high-heat oil
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 1/2 bunch chopped cilantro stems and leaves divided
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 2 large jalapeños deseeded and finely diced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 4 cups navy beans cooked and rinsed
- 3 1/2 cups butternut squash diced into 1/2” cubes
- 3 1/2 cups vegan “chicken” broth or sub vegetable broth
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Toast the Nutritional Yeast (Optional): For a deeper flavor I highly recommend toasting the nutritional yeast! Warm a large pot over medium heat and add the nutritional yeast. Stir frequently and toast for 3 to 5 minutes, until the yeast darkens in color and becomes fragrant. Remove from the pot and set aside; return the pot to the heat.
- Aromatics: Warm the oil in the pot, then add the onion and sauté for 3 minutes, until translucent and beginning to brown. Add the cilantro stems, bell pepper, jalapeños, cumin, smoked paprika, and toasted nutritional yeast to the pot. Sauté for an additional 3 minutes.
- Simmer: Add the beans, butternut squash, and broth to the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to help break things down and reduce sticking.
- Serve: Remove from the heat and season the chili with additional salt and pepper to taste, as necessary. Divide the chili into serving bowls and garnish with the chopped cilantro leaves, plus any additional toppings as desired. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days, or can be frozen for up to two months.
- Oil-Free: Sauté the onion and veggies in 1/4 cup water or vegetable broth instead of oil, adding more liquid to the pan as necessary if things start to stick