Articles & Recipes

Butternut Chili

November 10, 2018

'I love this chili. The combination of beef, butternut squash, ancho chiles and cilantro is a real winner in terms of taste, as well as nutrients. Don’t be afraid to make extra — it’s great reheated.' -Judith Finlayson, author of The Healthy Slow Cooker

Ingredients Makes 6 servings

2 cups cooked kidney beans (see Tips) 500 mL
1 tbsp olive oil 15 mL
1 lb lean ground beef 500 g
2 onions, finely chopped 2
4 cloves garlic, minced 4
1 piece (2 inches/5 cm) cinnamon stick 1
1 tbsp ground cumin 15 mL
2 tsp dried oregano 10 mL
1 tsp sea salt (see Tips) 5 mL
1⁄2 tsp cracked black peppercorns 2 mL
1 can (28 oz/796 mL) no-salt added diced tomatoes including juice 1
3 cups cubed (1 inch/2.5 cm) butternut squash 750 mL
2 dried New Mexico, ancho or guajillo chiles 2
2 cups boiling water 500 mL
1⁄2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves 125 mL


  • Medium to large (31⁄2 to 5 quart) slow cooker
  • Blender
  1. In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add beef and onions and cook, stirring and breaking meat up with a spoon, until beef is no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, cinnamon stick, cumin, oregano, salt and peppercorns and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add tomatoes with juice and bring to a boil.
  2. Transfer to slow cooker stoneware. Add squash and beans and stir well. Cover and cook on Low for 6 hours or on High for 3 hours, until squash is tender.
  3. About an hour before recipe has finished cooking, in a heatproof bowl, soak dried chiles in boiling water for 30 minutes, weighing down chiles with a cup to ensure they remain submerged. Drain, reserving 1⁄2 cup (125 mL) of the soaking liquid. Discard stems and coarsely chop chiles. Transfer to a blender and add cilantro and reserved soaking liquid. Purée.
  4. Add chile mixture to stoneware and stir well. Cover and cook on High for 30 minutes, until mixture is hot and bubbly and flavors meld. Discard cinnamon stick.
Use 1 cup (250 mL) dried kidney beans, soaked, cooked and drained or 1 can no‑salt added (14 to 19 oz/ 398 to 540 mL) canned beans, drained and rinsed. If you prefer, soak and purée the chiles while the chili cooks; refrigerate until you’re ready to use. Most of the sodium in a serving of this recipe comes from the added salt (382 mg). If you are watching your sodium intake, omit the salt or reduce the quantity.


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