Slow Cooker Winter Squash Chili Recipe

Reader Contribution by Carole Coates
1 / 3
2 / 3
3 / 3

When the harvest nets this much winter squash, you need more in your recipe repertoire than pumpkin pie. Photo by Pexels/mathiasp.r.

Do you still have winter squash or sweet potatoes from last fall’s harvest patiently waiting in your root cellar? I do and I want to be sure to use them before they start to go bad. Now is the perfect time to pull out one of my favorite cold weather recipes for those stalwarts: slow cooker winter squash chili.

It’s so easy and gets such amazing results — just a few minutes of chopping, then dump all the ingredients in the pot, turn it on and leave it for an afternoon or a full day. What could be easier? You can use sweet potatoes, butternut squash, or pumpkin (or any other edible winter squash) to make this recipe. I’ve done it with all three and each batch is just as delicious as the one before.

This recipe makes a generous six-eight servings. If you don’t need that much, you could certainly pare it down, but why not go ahead and make the whole thing. Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge for three or four days. For longer storage, freeze for an even easier meal in the future.

The recipe that follows is a mashup of two recipes I found online (Kitchen Treaty and Two Peas and Their Pod) with a few of my own adaptations.

I recommend going easy on the chili, chipotle, and cayenne in the beginning. Together, they can pack a wallop. You can always add more once the recipe is fully cooked.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Prep time: 15-20 minutes; Cooking Time: 4-6 hours


Note: You don’t have to fret about precise measurements for the vegetables. A little more or less of any one item will be just fine, so if you don’t have quite enough or need to use up one veggie or another, feel free. Likewise, you can play around with the seasonings to suit your own taste buds.

  • 3 cups cooked black or kidney beans, preferably that you’ve soaked from dried and fully cooked* or about 2 15-ounce cans, drained.
  • 2 cups vegetable broth, homemade or purchased
  • 1 quart home canned or 2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium or 1 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced (for added color, use one green and one yellow)
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 medium-sized butternut squash or 2 medium sweet potatoes, or 3-4 cups of uncooked pumpkin, peeled, (seeded), and cut into 1/2 to 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder or 1/2 tablespoon Trader Joe’s Chili-Lime seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seed or ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon salt (if using canned salted beans, omit salt now and adjust to taste at end of cooking period.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon powdered chipotle
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

OPTIONAL: 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed well in cool water (The addition of quinoa adds even more protein and heartiness—you may find you need to add a little more liquid if you add quinoa. To be on the safe side, check on your chili during the last couple hours of cooking. If more liquid is needed, you can either add water, another can of diced tomatoes, or tomato juice.)

Tip: cook up a whole bag of dried beans and freeze what you don’t need for this recipe. Then you’re ready for an even quicker meal that calls for beans next time.

Soup Instructions

Place all ingredients in slow cooker. Give them a quick stir. Cover. Set time and temperature (four hours on high; up to six hours on low). Now, go and enjoy the rest of your day!

Photo by Carole Coates

Before serving, test taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Serve in individual bowls. My award-winning cornbread is the perfect accompaniment for this dish.

Topping Ideas: cilantro, plain yogurt or sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped chives or scallions, tortilla chips, avocado

Photo by Carole Coates


 Carole Coatesis a gardener and food preservationist, family archivist, essayist, poet, photographer, modern homesteader. You can follow her Mother Earth News blog postshereYou can also find Carole atLiving On the Diagonalwhere she shares her take on life, including modern homesteading, food preparation and preservation, and travel as well random thoughts and reflections, personal essays, poetry, and photography.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Need Help? Call 1-800-234-3368