Kabocha squash chili made in the slow cooker is a hearty vegetarian chili that’s filling, flavorful and great in the colder months when you can find kabocha squash in season. The Japanese squash brings a nutty, subtly sweet flavor to the chili while bulking it up without the need for meat.
When it comes to chili and squash, all you typically hear about is butternut but I’m here today to convince you that butternut, acorn and spaghetti squash (aka the “normal” ones) really have nothing on kabocha, delicata and honey nut squash – my three new favorites.
After those, I seem to have taken a break from blogging any other kabocha squash recipes but that doesn’t mean I stopped eating it.
From November until April, you can pretty much always find a kabocha squash sitting on my counter.
One of the reasons for that is what I’d argue is the best part about kabocha squash (along with delicata) – you can eat the skin!
A no peel squash is basically the best thing ever especially considering how often I eat it in the colder months.
You might think because the skin is edible that the squash itself is delicate and would break down too easily in a hearty recipe like chili but that’s not the case at all.
Kabocha squash has a sturdy structure with a nice subtly sweet and nutty flavor and holds up perfectly in recipes like stews and chili.
WHAT’S IN KABOCHA SQUASH CHILI?
Instead of meat, this vegetarian chili uses kabocha squash as the main ingredient.
Along with two different kinds of white beans and lots of flavorful spices, it’s a hearty main dish like all chili should be. It just so happens to be plant based too.
WHAT SPICES ARE USED?
This kabocha squash chili recipe uses typical chili spices like:
- smoked paprika
- chipotle powder
- cayenne pepper
But it also uses a few sweet ones such as:
- ground cloves
The sweet spices go well with the kabocha squash and help balance all the spice and savory tones of the other chili spices.
HOW DO I MAKE SLOW COOKER KABOCHA SQUASH CHILI?
This slow cooker chili recipe is a dump, set and forget it kind of recipe.
All the ingredients except one can of beans are added to a slow cooker and set to low cook for 8-9 hours/overnight.
Once the chili is done cooking, the remaining can of beans is gently stirred in. The reason for this is the beans that cook for the 8+ hours sort of break down a little bit and help thicken the chili whereas the beans added at the end hold their structure for a bit of added texture to the final chili.
There’s an option to add chorizo to the recipe (see the recipe card below). If doing so, simply brown the chorizo in a skillet on the stove-top then add it to the slow cooker to cook with all the other ingredients.
The chorizo is completely optional and just adds a bit more spiciness to the dish and bulks it up even more. It also helps placate any meat eaters who don’t consider it a “real” chili without some meat.
CAN I MAKE THIS WHITE BEAN SQUASH CHILI ON THE STOVE-TOP?
Yes, you could make this just like any other chili on the stove-top.
If doing so, add some oil of your choosing to the bottom of a Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot over medium heat.
Sauté the onions, garlic and red pepper until softened. If using the chorizo, add it to the pot and brown.
Next, add the tomato paste and all the spices. Stir and cook an additional 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
Add all remaining ingredients (including both cans of beans) and stir gently. Bring the mixture to a boil then lower to a simmer, cover and cook for about 30 minutes stirring occasionally.
Remove the lid, stir again and cook for another 5-10 minutes uncovered.
Adjust seasonings to taste and serve.
CAN I USE DIFFERENT BEANS?
I like the pairing of white beans with the kabocha squash in this chili recipe but feel free to use any beans you like.
Cannellini beans would be a fine substitute for Great Northern Beans. Light kidney beans would also be ok in place of pinto beans.
Chickpeas could also work but I prefer the soft consistency of other beans to chickpeas in chili. Save your chickpeas and make roasted chickpeas (great for topping salads) or this easy turmeric chicken with chickpeas skillet dinner instead!
They leave you full and happy and this kabocha squash chili will do exactly that in a flavor packed nutritious bowl!
Try these other chili recipes too:
- 4 cups chopped kabocha squash (skin on, chopped into 1" cubes)
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 15 ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 15 ounce can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 6 ounces chorizo (*optional)
- Place all ingredients except 1 can of the beans in the slow cooker (*if using chorizo see note below).
- Gently stir until combined.
- Place lid on the slow cooker and set to low cook for 8-9 hours.
- Remove lid, add remaining can of beans, stir to combine. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with fresh cilantro, sliced jalapeño or other desired toppings.
*If adding chorizo to the recipe, brown the meat in a small skillet on the stove-top over medium-high heat, breaking up into small pieces as it cooks. Add to the slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients before cooking.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 362 Total Fat: 12g Saturated Fat: 4g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 7g Cholesterol: 25mg Sodium: 1141mg Carbohydrates: 45g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 9g Sugar: 7g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 20g