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.

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.
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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.

Update* – I recently found a newer hybrid squash called koginut squash. It’s a mix between kabocha and butternut and oh my, is it delicious! Make sure to check it out!

My love of kabocha squash started a few years back when I made this kabocha squash soup and this stuffed kabocha squash with lamb, mushrooms and couscous.

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. If you can’t find it, acorn or carnival squash are good substitutes.

Hearty vegetarian chili with kabocha squash made in the slow cooker.


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.


This kabocha squash chili recipe uses typical chili spices like:

  • cumin
  • smoked paprika
  • chipotle powder
  • cayenne pepper

But it also uses a few sweet ones such as:

  • cinnamon
  • 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.

Kabocha squash chili with pinto and white beans is a filling and flavorful meal for the colder months.


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.

Looking for a crunchy seasonal topping to this kabocha chili? Try some roasted squash seeds or use this recipe for garlic herb roasted delicata squash seeds but with kabocha seeds instead.

Vegetarian white bean chili with kabocha squash is the perfect warm and filling winter meal.


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.

This kabocha squash chili recipe uses an easy slow cooker method so dinner is ready for you at the end of the day.


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!

Kabocha squash chili with white beans is an easy vegetarian slow cooker recipe that's hearty, comforting and packed with big flavors. #kabochasquash #kabochasquashchili #slowcookerchili

Besides soups and stews, chili recipes like turkey hummus chili, short rib chili and even turkey chili pie (which is a really fun recipe!) are one of my top go-to types of meals in the colder months.

And this recipe is really the best pumpkin chili I’ve found. Love that it can be made with or without meat too!

Nothing beats their warmth and coziness and they’re a great excuse to enjoy a nice pumpkin corn muffin, a piece of vegan cornbread, a savory parmesan pumpkin scone or, a brown bread muffin alongside.

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:

Vegetable Barley Chili
Chicken Apple Cheddar Chili
Chocolate Chili Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
Turkey Quinoa Chili
Ground Pork Chinese Chili

4.88 from 8 votes

Kabocha Squash Chili

Servings: 6 servings
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 8 hours
Total: 8 hours 10 minutes
kabocha squash chili
Kabocha squash chili made in the slow cooker is a hearty vegetarian chili that's filling, flavorful and great in the colder months when squash is in season.


  • 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.


Serving: 1SERVINGCalories: 362kcalCarbohydrates: 45gProtein: 20gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 25mgSodium: 1141mgFiber: 9gSugar: 7g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Soups + Stews
Cuisine: American
Founder and Writer at Running to the Kitchen | About

Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

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Recipe Rating


  1. A tip for toning down the heat: add sun butter (or nut butter of your choice)! Evens out the heat profile and provides a nutty flavor & creamy texture. Yum! I love this recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    I love kabocha squash & wanted to make a chili, so I found my way to this recipe. And I’m so glad I did! I used plant-based chorizo which really is a nice addition. The heat in this recipe turned out to be a bit more than my crowd likes, tho, so I added some Sunbutter to even it out, and that mostly did the trick. Also made it nice and creamy. So good! This may become a repeat favorite for chili season. Thank you!

  3. A big 5*. Absolutely loved this recipe! As others have mentioned, it was very easy to put together! I enjoyed this recipe so much that I’ve recommended to my farm CSA owner which has now been shared with other members. Thank you!

  4. Very tasty and easy and smelled up the house. Great cold night meal. First time using this squash and liked not having to cut off the skin, & easy to clean out. I didn’t exactly follow the recipe though. used canned Lima and pinto beans (good rinse) as more convenient. I totally forgot the tomato paste. I cooked 4 hours on high and everything was cooked nicely. I’ll definitely make again.

  5. 5 stars
    I never quite knew what to do with kabocha squash. Using it in chili is so smart and delicious. I made this on the stovetop and doubled up on the Great Northern beans since I didn’t have pinto. I’ll definitely make again. Thank you!

  6. Yum! This is so delicious and tasty! My husband and I love this recipe! I think I know what I’m making for dinner tonight!