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Butternut Squash Quinoa Chili

Packed with plant protein and a warm hearty flavor, this butternut squash quinoa chili is the perfect weeknight meal when it’s cold outside. Top it with avocado for extra healthy fat and fiber!

This butternut squash quinoa chili is a one pot vegetarian meal that is full of plant protein from the quinoa and black beans. It’s sure to be the new star of your meatless Monday, or just a fun way to change things up from your traditional chili recipe.

Top a bowl of this butternut squash chili with fresh avocado, extra red pepper chili flakes, crispy tortilla chips, cilantro or micro greens for an extra boost of nutrition!

I don’t know about you, but growing up a meal wasn’t “a meal” unless it had meat. I lived my life operating this way until college when I found myself just not wanting meat some days, and since I was on my own no one was telling me I had to have it! At the same time I was learning about different plant foods that contained protein in class, something I never knew before.

What Does Being Plant Based Mean To Me?

Fast-forward to now and eat chicken, fish and red meat but there are some days when I’m just not feeling it whether that’s because it doesn’t sound good or shear laziness because I don’t want to prepare it! Enter quinoa, black beans, nuts, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, and hummus. My go-to plant-based sources of protein that I sprinkle and add to just about anything I’m eating.

For me practicing a plant-based diet means that a few days a week I’ll make a grain bowl loaded with quinoa, veggies and hummus. Or I’ll make this butternut squash quinoa chili and add avocado and greens on top of it. I choose almond milk coffee creamers and I always mix hemp seeds into my almond butter. The best part about eating this way is that any one can do it however they want! It’s inclusive and challenges you to get out of your veggie comfort zone, something I think is important for everyone!

butternut squash quinoa chili

The hardest part of this recipe is cutting the butternut squash, and with my trick it’s easy! Say it with me. Peal first! Grab your vegetable peeler and peel the skin. Then it’s easy to cut the rest into small cubes.

If you’re on a butternut squash kick be sure to check out this recipe for Thai butternut squash soup and baked butternut squash falafel! And if you’re looking to use pumpkin in chili, grab my favorite recipe in my Once Upon a Pumpkin Cookbook—the recipe is plant-based too!

Butternut Squash Quinoa Chili

Butternut Squash Quinoa Chili

  • Author: Maggie Michalczyk, RDN
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


The perfect meal to make once and have at least twice, this butternut squash quinoa chili is filled with plant protein for a filing and delicious meal. Don’t tell anyone but I also eat it like nachos with my favorite grain-free tortilla chips! 




  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped into ½-inch cubes
  • 1  cup quinoa, rinsed and drained*
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp chopped chipotle pepper in adobo
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (14 ounces) fire roasted tomatoes, including the liquid
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • A little bit of salt to taste
  • optional toppings: sliced avocado, tortilla chips, cilantro, micro greens, pumpkin seeds, cheese



  1. In a 4- to 6-quart Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat, warm the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion, and butternut squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent.
  2. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the garlic, chili powder, chopped chipotle peppers, cumin and cinnamon. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the bay leaf, black beans, tomatoes and their juices and broth.
  4. Stir to combine and cover for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. In the last 15 minutes, add the quinoa and stir to combine.
  5. You’ll know your chili is done when the butternut squash is nice and tender and the liquid has reduced a bit, producing a thicker, hearty chili. Remove the bay leaf and add salt to taste.
  6. Serve the chili in individual bowls, top with avocado. I added microgreens for extra nutrition and a pop of color.


**If you already have cooked quinoa on hand, add it to the chili in the last few minutes of cooking. 



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