butternut squash chili with chicken

Paleo Butternut Squash Chili

Did this title raise your eyebrows? When I thought about putting butternut squash in chili, the idea was a bit odd at first. However, I can assure you that the glory of pumpkins and their related squash cousins should not be limited to desserts. Pumpkins and squashes are so versatile they can fit into every course…if you’re willing to bend the rules a little.

butternut squash with pumpkins

Butternut squash is lighter and sweeter than the tomato base that traditional chili has so I knew I needed something like cream to complement it’s flavor. I wanted to stay Paleo so instead I added some full fat coconut milk. Ok, at this point, if you’re against saturated fat, you may be questioning my choices for full fat coconut milk, but I say the proof is in the milk and I have been steadily losing weight while consuming healthy amounts of organic, full fat coconut milk. I guess our caveman ancestors were onto something. Anyway, I don’t want to advocate any particular kind of diet because I believe everyone is different and must find what works best for them.

Back to the chili…this chili has the traditional chili spices: cumin, chili powder, salt, etc., but it also adds a bit of apple cider vinegar to bring out the tang in the chicken and a generous helping of poblano peppers that I rescued from my garden just before the freeze sent them to an early grave,

butternut squash

There is something divine about butternut squash. The color, the texture, maybe it’s that sweet flavor when it’s roasted in the oven for a while. It is the icon of fall for me. I roasted this jewel in the oven for 45 minutes or so until a fork easily penetrated it.

cooked butternut squash

Then I just peeled out the flesh with a spoon, threw it into the food processor (my trusty Ninja), added some chicken broth and blended it for a couple minutes until smooth. I still added tomatoes into the chili, just not as many as you normally would.

butternut squash chili from top

You could use a lot of different peppers in this chili. I chose poblanos because they were right outside my window. Bell peppers, jalapenos and anything mild to medium would work well. This chili has a flavor that is the perfect blend of that savory comforting traditional flavor with a splash of sweetness from the butternut squash.

PREP TIME: 15 minutes       COOK TIME: 70 minutes      SERVINGS: 7-8


  • 1 butternut squash, cut in half and seeds removed
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 3 poblano peppers, chopped with seeds removed
  • 15 oz. crushed tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1.5 tbsp. cumin
  • 2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 lb. chicken breasts, cut in chunks
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp. sea salt
  • 15 oz. full fat coconut milk
  • ground red pepper
  • chopped cilantro


  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place squash in oven and cook for about 45 minutes or until a fork easily goes into the thickest part of it. Remove from oven and spoon out the flesh of the squash. Place in blender/food processor, add chicken broth and blend until smooth.
  2. Heat coconut oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and cook for about 10 minutes until they start to brown. Add poblanos and cook for another 5-6 minutes. Add tomatoes, cumin and chili powder and cook for a few minutes until blended.
  3. If you want to create a non-vegetarian option for the chili, heat some oil in a separate pan. Add chicken and cider vinegar and cook on medium high heat until chicken is done. This can be added separately to the final chili.
  4. In Dutch oven, add squash puree, salt and stir. Turn heat down to medium low and add coconut milk. Add cooked chicken and simmer for 15 minutes. Top with red pepper and cilantro and serve.






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