Vegetarian Butternut Squash Chili with Avocado Recipe

Creating a hearty, flavorful meal doesn't have to mean using meat. This vegetarian butternut squash chili with avocado recipe is a perfect example. Combining the creaminess of butternut squash with the freshness of avocado, the heat of chili and a variety of other flavor-packed ingredients, this dish is sure to become a favorite.

Vegetarian Butternut Squash Chili with Avocado Recipe
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This recipe calls for chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, a popular ingredient in Mexican and Southwestern cuisines, known for its rich, smoky flavor. It's commonly found in the Hispanic foods aisle of supermarkets. If you're unable to find it, smoked paprika can serve as a substitute. Also, using fresh butternut squash is recommended for the best flavor, though pre-cut packaged squash can save prep time.

Ingredients for Vegetarian Butternut Squash Chili with Avocado

Olive oil: Used for sautéing, it adds a delicate flavor to the dish.

Red onion: Gives a sweet flavor and crunchy texture.

Red bell peppers: Add color and sweet, slightly tangy flavor.

Butternut squash: Its sweet, nutty taste is the star of the dish.

Garlic: Adds robust flavor.

Chili powder: Brings heat and depth to the dish.

Chipotle pepper in adobo: Provides a smoky heat.

Ground cumin: Its earthy, spicy flavor complements chili dishes.

Ground cinnamon: Gives a subtle warmth and sweetness.

Bay leaf: Adds a subtle bitterness that enhances other flavors.

Black beans: Adds hearty texture and plant-based protein.

Small tomatoes: Adds tangy flavor and juiciness.

Vegetable broth: Adds flavor and needed liquid for the chili.

Salt: Enhances all the other flavors.

Avocados: Their creamy texture and subtle flavor balance the heat.

Corn tortillas: Provides a crunchy element in the dish.

Fresh cilantro: Adds a fresh, herby taste.

Red pepper flakes: For extra heat, if desired.

One reader, Addy Ostrander says:

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This vegetarian butternut squash chili with avocado recipe is a game-changer! The flavors are rich and comforting, and the combination of butternut squash and avocado is simply divine. It's a hearty and satisfying dish that's perfect for a cozy night in. I highly recommend trying it out!

Addy Ostrander

Cooking Techniques for Vegetarian Butternut Squash Chili

How to prepare the vegetables: The vegetables need to be chopped into uniform pieces to ensure even cooking and a consistent texture in the chili.

How to make crispy tortilla strips: The tortillas should be sliced into thin strips and then fried in oil until crispy and golden brown. This will add a crunchy texture to the chili.

How to adjust the seasoning: Taste the chili halfway through cooking and adjust the amount of chipotle peppers and salt according to your preference. This step ensures that the flavors are well-balanced.

How To Make Vegetarian Butternut Squash Chili with Avocado

This black bean & butternut squash chili is hearty, spicy, & slightly sweet. Topped with avocado, it’s a dish that’ll please both vegetarians & meat-eaters.

Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 20 minutes



  • 2tbspolive oil
  • 1medium red onion,chopped
  • 2red bell peppers,chopped
  • small butternut squash,(1½ lbs or less), peeled and chopped into ½-inch cubes
  • 4clovesgarlic,pressed or minced
  • 1tbspchili powder
  • ½tbspchipotle pepper in adobo,chopped, (start with ½ tbsp and add more to taste)
  • 1tspground cumin
  • ¼tspground cinnamon
  • 1bay leaf
  • 15ozblack beans,(or 3 cups cooked black beans)
  • 14ozsmall tomatoes,(1 can), diced including the liquid
  • 2cupsvegetable broth,(or one ¼ oz can)
  • salt,to taste
  • 2avocados,diced
  • 3corn tortillas,for crispy tortilla strips, or substitute crumbled tortilla chips
  • fresh cilantro,chopped, optional
  • red pepper flakes,optional


  1. In a 4- to 6-quart Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat, warm the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion, bell pepper and butternut squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are turning translucent.

  2. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the garlic, chili powder, ½ tablespoon chopped chipotle peppers, cumin and cinnamon. Cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly, until fragrant.

  3. Add the bay leaf, black beans, tomatoes and their juices and broth. Stir to combine and cover for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Taste about halfway through cooking and add more chopped chipotle peppers if desired.

  4. The chili is done when the butternut squash is nice and tender and the liquid has reduced a bit. Remove the bay leaf and add salt to taste.

Crispy Tortilla Strips:

  1. Stack the corn tortillas and slice them into thin little strips, about 2 inches long by ¼-inch wide. Warm a drizzle of olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat until shimmering.

  2. Toss in the tortilla slices and sprinkle with salt and stir. Cook for about 4 to 7 minutes until the strips are crispy and turning golden, stirring occasionally.

  3. Remove tortilla strips from skillet and drain on a plate covered with a piece of paper towel.

  4. Serve the chili in individual bowls, topped with crispy tortilla strips and plenty of diced avocado.


  • Calories: 735.92kcal
  • Fat: 24.53g
  • Saturated Fat: 3.69g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 15.26g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 3.81g
  • Carbohydrates: 109.00g
  • Fiber: 30.69g
  • Sugar: 12.17g
  • Protein: 29.64g
  • Sodium: 1528.28mg
  • Calcium: 261.40mg
  • Potassium: 2998.07mg
  • Iron: 8.50mg
  • Vitamin A: 803.30µg
  • Vitamin C: 129.15mg

Technique Tip for Enhancing Flavors in Butternut Squash Chili

When preparing the butternut squash, make sure to peel it thoroughly and cut it into even pieces. This will ensure that it cooks evenly and becomes tender throughout. Additionally, when adding the spices, make sure to stir them well to evenly distribute the flavors throughout the chili. Lastly, don't rush the cooking process. Allowing the chili to simmer will help the flavors to meld together and the butternut squash to become perfectly tender.

Time-Saving Tips for Making This Chili Recipe

Prep ahead: Chop and store the onions, bell peppers, and butternut squash in advance to save time during the cooking process.

Use canned beans: Opt for canned black beans instead of dried beans to cut down on cooking time and preparation.

Slow cooker option: Consider using a slow cooker for this recipe to allow the flavors to meld together while freeing up your time for other tasks.

Frozen butternut squash: Utilize pre-cut frozen butternut squash to skip the peeling and chopping, reducing prep time significantly.

Store-bought tortilla strips: Save time by using pre-made tortilla strips from the store instead of making them from scratch.

Multi-task: While the chili is simmering, use that time to prepare the avocado topping and any other garnishes to streamline the process.

Leftover utilization: Repurpose any leftover chili as a topping for baked potatoes or as a filling for enchiladas to save time on future meals.

Substitute Ingredients For Vegetarian Butternut Squash Chili with Avocado Recipe

  • olive oil - Substitute with avocado oil: Avocado oil has a similar mild flavor and high smoke point, making it a suitable replacement for olive oil in this recipe.

  • red onion - Substitute with yellow onion: Yellow onions have a slightly milder flavor compared to red onions and will work well in this chili recipe.

  • red bell peppers - Substitute with green bell peppers: Green bell peppers can be used as a substitute for red bell peppers, providing a slightly different flavor profile but still adding a nice crunch and color to the chili.

  • butternut squash - Substitute with acorn squash: Acorn squash can be used as a substitute for butternut squash, offering a similar sweet and nutty flavor that complements the chili.

  • garlic - Substitute with garlic powder: If fresh garlic is not available, garlic powder can be used as a substitute, adding a concentrated garlic flavor to the chili.

  • chili powder - Substitute with paprika and cayenne mix: A combination of paprika and cayenne can be used as a substitute for chili powder, providing a similar level of heat and smokiness.

  • chipotle pepper in adobo - Substitute with smoked paprika: Smoked paprika can add a smoky flavor similar to chipotle peppers in adobo, without the heat, making it a suitable substitute.

  • cumin - Substitute with coriander: Coriander can be used as a substitute for cumin, providing a warm and citrusy flavor that complements the other spices in the chili.

  • cinnamon - Substitute with allspice: Allspice can be used as a substitute for cinnamon, offering a warm and slightly sweet flavor to the chili.

  • bay leaf - Substitute with thyme: Thyme can be used as a substitute for bay leaf, adding a subtle earthy and floral note to the chili.

  • black beans - Substitute with kidney beans: Kidney beans can be used as a substitute for black beans, providing a similar texture and hearty addition to the chili.

  • small tomatoes - Substitute with canned diced tomatoes: If fresh small tomatoes are not available, canned diced tomatoes can be used as a substitute, providing the necessary acidity and texture to the chili.

  • vegetable broth - Substitute with mushroom broth: Mushroom broth can be used as a substitute for vegetable broth, adding a rich and savory flavor to the chili.

  • avocados - Substitute with guacamole: If avocados are not available, prepared guacamole can be used as a topping for the chili, providing a similar creamy and flavorful element.

  • corn tortillas - Substitute with tortilla chips: Tortilla chips can be used as a substitute for corn tortillas, adding a crunchy texture to the chili when served as a topping.

  • fresh cilantro - Substitute with fresh parsley: Fresh parsley can be used as a substitute for cilantro, providing a similar bright and herbaceous flavor to the chili.

  • red pepper flakes - Substitute with cayenne pepper: Cayenne pepper can be used as a substitute for red pepper flakes, adding heat and spice to the chili.

Presentation Tips for Butternut Squash Chili with Avocado

  1. Elevate the plating: When presenting the vegetarian butternut squash chili, focus on creating a visually appealing plate. Use a wide, shallow bowl to showcase the vibrant colors and textures of the dish. The contrast of the deep orange squash, black beans, and bright avocado against the white bowl will make the dish visually striking.

  2. Garnish with crispy tortilla strips: Add a touch of texture and flavor by delicately placing the crispy tortilla strips on top of the chili. The strips not only provide a satisfying crunch but also add an artistic element to the presentation.

  3. Artfully arrange the avocado: Slice the avocado into precise, uniform pieces and carefully place them on top of the chili. The creamy green avocado will provide a beautiful contrast to the rich, warm tones of the chili.

  4. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro: Add a pop of color and freshness by sprinkling the dish with vibrant, aromatic cilantro leaves. The bright green color will enhance the visual appeal and add a burst of flavor to the dish.

  5. Dust with red pepper flakes: For a final touch, delicately dust the chili with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. This not only adds a hint of heat but also creates a visually captivating contrast against the other ingredients.

Essential Kitchen Tools for Making Vegetarian Chili

  • Dutch oven: A heavy-duty pot with a tight-fitting lid, perfect for slow-cooking stews and chilis.
  • Stockpot: A large pot used for making stocks, soups, and boiling pasta.
  • Chef's knife: A versatile kitchen knife used for chopping, slicing, and dicing vegetables and fruits.
  • Cutting board: A flat surface for cutting and preparing ingredients.
  • Garlic press: A tool used to crush and mince garlic cloves.
  • Can opener: For opening canned tomatoes and beans.
  • Vegetable peeler: Used to peel the butternut squash and other vegetables.
  • Measuring spoons: For accurately measuring small amounts of spices and seasonings.
  • Wooden spoon: Ideal for stirring and mixing the chili while it simmers.
  • Ladle: For serving the chili into individual bowls.
  • Skillet: For crisping the tortilla strips.
  • Paper towels: To drain the crispy tortilla strips after frying.

Storing and Freezing Vegetarian Butternut Squash Chili

  • Let the chili cool completely before storing or freezing.
  • To store in the refrigerator, transfer the cooled chili to an airtight container. It will keep well for up to 5 days in the fridge.
  • For longer storage, freeze the chili in individual portions or in a large freezer-safe container. Here's how:
    • Portion the chili into freezer-safe containers or resealable bags, leaving some space at the top for expansion during freezing.
    • Label the containers or bags with the date and contents.
    • Place the containers or bags in the freezer, laying them flat for easier storage.
    • Frozen vegetarian chili will keep well for up to 3 months.
  • To reheat the chili, first thaw it in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Transfer the thawed chili to a pot and reheat it gently over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until it's heated through.
  • If the chili seems too thick after reheating, add a splash of vegetable broth or water to thin it out to your desired consistency.
  • Prepare fresh toppings like crispy tortilla strips, diced avocado, and chopped cilantro to serve with the reheated chili for the best flavor and texture.

How To Reheat Leftover Butternut Squash Chili

  • The best way to reheat leftover vegetarian butternut squash chili is to use a saucepan or pot on the stovetop. Simply transfer the desired amount of chili into the pan and heat it over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until it's warmed through. This method allows you to control the temperature and ensure that the chili is evenly heated without burning or drying out.

  • Another option is to use the microwave. Place the chili in a microwave-safe bowl and cover it with a damp paper towel or a microwave-safe lid. Heat the chili in 30-second intervals, stirring between each interval, until it's heated through. Be careful not to overheat the chili, as it can cause the butternut squash to become mushy.

  • If you want to reheat a large batch of chili, you can use a slow cooker or crockpot. Transfer the chili to the slow cooker and heat it on low for 1-2 hours, or until it's warmed through. This method is great for keeping the chili warm for an extended period, making it perfect for potlucks or gatherings.

  • Regardless of the reheating method you choose, be sure to taste the chili and adjust the seasoning as needed. You may find that the flavors have intensified or mellowed over time, so adding a splash of vegetable broth, a squeeze of lime juice, or a pinch of salt can help to brighten up the flavors.

  • When reheating the chili, you can also take the opportunity to add some fresh toppings. Dice up some fresh avocado, chop some cilantro, or sprinkle some shredded cheese on top of the chili to give it a fresh and vibrant taste.

  • If you find that the chili has thickened up too much in the fridge, you can thin it out with a little bit of vegetable broth or water. Add the liquid gradually, stirring constantly, until the chili reaches your desired consistency.

  • Finally, when reheating the tortilla strips, it's best to do so in the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and spread the tortilla strips out on a baking sheet. Bake them for 5-10 minutes, or until they're crispy and warm. This will help to maintain their texture and prevent them from becoming soggy.

Interesting Fact About Butternut Squash Chili

Butternut squash is a great source of fiber, potassium, and several other key nutrients. It's also rich in antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation and promote overall health.

Is Making Vegetarian Chili at Home Cost-Effective?

This vegetarian butternut squash chili with avocado recipe is highly cost-effective for a household. The ingredients, such as butternut squash, black beans, and avocado, are affordable and nutritious. The use of seasonal produce and pantry staples makes it budget-friendly. The approximate cost for a household of 4 people is around $15. This hearty and flavorful dish offers a satisfying meal at a reasonable price. Overall Verdict: 9.

Is This Vegetarian Chili Recipe Healthy?

This vegetarian butternut squash chili recipe is a nutritious and well-balanced meal. The combination of vegetables, legumes, and spices provides a good source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The butternut squash is rich in vitamin A, while the black beans offer protein and fiber. The avocado topping adds healthy monounsaturated fats, which are beneficial for heart health. The use of olive oil for cooking is also a healthier choice compared to other oils.

However, there are a few areas where the recipe could be improved to make it even healthier:

  • Reduce the amount of olive oil used for cooking the vegetables and crispy tortilla strips to lower the overall calorie and fat content
  • Use low-sodium vegetable broth to control the salt intake
  • Increase the variety of vegetables by adding ingredients such as carrots, celery, or zucchini to boost the nutrient profile
  • Opt for whole grain tortillas instead of corn tortillas for added fiber and complex carbohydrates
  • Serve the chili with a side salad or steamed greens to increase the daily vegetable intake and provide additional vitamins and minerals

By incorporating these suggestions, you can elevate the nutritional value of this already healthy vegetarian chili recipe. The modifications will help reduce the calorie and sodium content while increasing the fiber, vitamins, and minerals, making it an even more well-rounded and nourishing meal.

Editor's Opinion on This Vegetarian Butternut Squash Chili

The vegetarian butternut squash chili with avocado recipe is a delightful blend of flavors and textures. The combination of butternut squash, black beans, and spices creates a hearty and satisfying chili, while the addition of avocado adds a creamy and fresh element. The crispy tortilla strips provide a delightful crunch, and the overall dish is beautifully balanced. This recipe is a wonderful option for a cozy and flavorful meal, perfect for a chilly evening or a gathering with friends.

Enhance Your Vegetarian Butternut Squash Chili with Avocado Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Garlic Parmesan Roasted Broccoli: Roast broccoli florets with garlic, parmesan, and a hint of lemon for a flavorful and healthy side dish.
Honey Glazed Carrots with Thyme: Sautéed carrots with a honey glaze and fresh thyme for a sweet and savory side dish that pairs perfectly with the butternut squash chili.
Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Glaze: Crispy roasted Brussels sprouts drizzled with a tangy balsamic glaze for a delicious and elegant side dish option.

Alternative Recipes Similar to This Vegetarian Chili

Spicy Lentil Soup: This hearty and flavorful soup is packed with protein and vegetables, making it a satisfying and nutritious meal.
Mango Salsa Chicken: Tender and juicy chicken breasts topped with a sweet and tangy mango salsa, perfect for a refreshing and tropical dinner.
Apple Crisp: A warm and comforting dessert featuring tender apples and a crispy oat topping, best served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Appetizer and Dessert Pairings for Vegetarian Butternut Squash Chili

Stuffed Mushrooms: Create a savory and indulgent appetizer by stuffing large mushrooms with a flavorful mixture of herbs, cheese, and breadcrumbs. Bake until golden and crispy on top for a delicious start to any meal.
Spinach and Artichoke Dip: Whip up a creamy and cheesy dip featuring spinach and artichokes, perfect for scooping up with crunchy tortilla chips or warm bread. This crowd-pleasing appetizer is sure to disappear in no time!
Decadent Chocolate Mousse: Indulge in a rich and creamy chocolate mousse, topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder. The smooth texture and intense chocolate flavor will satisfy any sweet tooth.
Velvety Lemon Cheesecake: Treat yourself to a luscious lemon cheesecake with a buttery graham cracker crust. The tangy lemon flavor pairs perfectly with the creamy, velvety texture of the cheesecake, creating a delightful and refreshing dessert.

Why trust this Vegetarian Butternut Squash Chili with Avocado Recipe:

This recipe is a must-try for anyone seeking a hearty and flavorful vegetarian chili. The combination of butternut squash, black beans, and a blend of spices creates a rich and satisfying dish. The addition of avocado and crispy tortilla strips adds a delightful texture and freshness. With a balance of sweet and smoky flavors, this chili is a perfect choice for a cozy night in or a gathering with friends. Trust the expertise behind this recipe to elevate your vegetarian cooking experience.

Want to share your own twist on this Vegetarian Butternut Squash Chili with Avocado Recipe? Head over to the Recipe Sharing section of our forum and join the conversation!
Can I use canned butternut squash instead of fresh?
Yes, you can use canned butternut squash if you prefer. Just make sure to drain and rinse the squash before adding it to the chili.
Can I substitute the black beans with another type of bean?
Absolutely! You can use kidney beans, pinto beans, or any other type of beans you prefer in place of the black beans.
How can I make this chili spicier?
If you prefer a spicier chili, you can add more chipotle peppers in adobo or a pinch of red pepper flakes to increase the heat to your liking.
Can I make this chili ahead of time?
Yes, this chili actually tastes even better the next day as the flavors have more time to meld together. Simply store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator and reheat it when you're ready to enjoy.
What can I serve with this chili besides avocado and tortilla strips?
This chili goes well with a variety of toppings such as sour cream, shredded cheese, or a squeeze of lime juice. You can also serve it with a side of rice, quinoa, or a crusty bread for a complete meal.

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