Turkey Chili Recipe With Butternut Squash and Quinoa

Warm up your belly with this healthy, delicious turkey chili.

Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili Recipe (Autumn in a Bowl!)

If you grew up on beefy, meaty chili topped with loads of cheese… well, you’re not alone. And there’s nothing wrong with those recipes! Our inherited recipe card is well-worn, spattered with grease, and it ain’t going anywhere. But for evenings when you want something just as warming but a little bit more wholesome and nourishing, it might be high time you took this version for a whirl.

There are no processed meats in this chili, no bacon bits or salty chips or processed “cheese.” Instead, this turkey chili recipe relies on organic ground turkey and seasonal butternut squash for a moreish meal you’re sure to love not the moment you make it, but reheated for lunch the next day (if there’s any left over, that is!)

Trust us: when the weather is gloomy, cold, and rainy outside, this butternut squash and turkey chili recipe is where it’s at – whether you’re watching a football game, cozying up to a movie, or having a big day at the pumpkin patch or apple orchard.

A Protein Powerhouse Chili Recipe Thanks to Turkey

Although often thought of as the centerpiece for Thanksgiving, turkey is a delicious and healthy meat that can be enjoyed in a variety of recipes year round. In fact, quality organic and pasture-raised turkey is a suitable swap for the traditional ground beef or pork in many recipes, such as spaghetti Bolognese, burgers, tacos, and, of course, chili.

Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili Recipe (Autumn in a Bowl!)
Turkey chili with butternut squashCredit: Kate Gavlick
Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili Recipe (Autumn in a Bowl!)
Turkey chili ready to devourCredit: Kate Gavlick

When purchasing ground turkey, always chose the organic option. If possible, look for turkey that has been pasture-raised as well. A panoply of labels purporting to prove the welfare status of animals is widespread in this country, so do your research: To find the best, most humanely-raised bird, consider local farms or talk to your grocer to find out how the turkey was raised. Research1 shows that pasture-raised meat, eggs, and dairy products are tastier and healthier than factory farm-raised alternatives. These meats are not only lower in calories and total fat, but pasture-raised foods2 also boast higher levels of vitamins and a healthier balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats than conventional meat and dairy products.

Nutritionally speaking, turkey3 is low in calories and high in protein, and it packs a variety of micronutrients as well. Turkey is rich in B vitamins, including niacin, which helps to promote healthy blood circulation, metabolism, and aids in the maintenance of cholesterol levels. Turkey also contains vitamin B6, which supports nerve function, as well as selenium, which is necessary for proper nerve function.

Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili Recipe (Autumn in a Bowl!)
Serving out turkey chili topped with creamy avocadoCredit: Kate Gavlick

Butternut Squash Adds Sweetness and Nutrients to this Turkey Chili

Adding butternut squash to chili is a total flavor and nutrient game changer. The squash not only provides a sweet and creamy flavor, but it amps up the vitamin and mineral content as well. 

Butternut squash is a fiber-filled vegetable that promotes healthy digestion, and it keeps eyesight sharp, thanks to ample amounts of vitamin A. It also boosts immune function thanks to its high vitamin C content, though it must be said that much of the vitamin C is lost in the cooking process – as with any cooked produce4.

Other superstar turkey chili recipe ingredients include quinoa for protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and toothsome texture, as well as spicy jalapeño to give your metabolism a kick5, and a variety of warming and flavorful spices, such as cinnamon and cayenne.

With such an impressive nutrient and flavor profile – and thanks in no small part that it takes less than an hour to cook and serves a crowd – this butternut squash and turkey chili recipe is sure to become a staple in your household.

Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili Recipe (Autumn in a Bowl!)
Butternut squash and turkey chili topped with avocado. Time to dig in!Credit: Kate Gavlick
15 min. Prep
45 min. Cook
1 hr Total
6 Servings


To Garnish


  1. Heat the avocado oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium-low heat. Add the diced onions and garlic, and briefly sauté for three to four minutes. Add the ground turkey, and cook for five to ten minutes more, or until the turkey begins to turn white.
  2. Add the cubed squash, bell pepper, and jalapeño to the pot, and cook for ten more minutes, stirring every so often.
  3. Add the remainder of the chili ingredients to the pot, and give everything a good stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring every now and then. The chili is done when quinoa has plumped up, and the squash can be easily pierced with a fork.
  4. Divide the chili into bowls and garnish with avocado and jalapeño, if desired. Enjoy!

1. https://rucore.libraries.rutgers.edu/rutgers-lib/45132/PDF/1/play/
2. http://www.sustainabletable.org/248/sustainable-livestock-husbandry
3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/turkey
4. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/18/ask-well-does-boiling-or-baking-vegetables-destroy-their-vitamins/?_r=0
5. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/jalapeno-health-benefits

Kate Gavlick is a nutritionist with a masters degree in nutrition. Hailing from Portland Oregon, and has a passion... More about Kate Gavlick