Photo: Oxmoor House
6 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups chili, 2 tablespoons cheese, and 1 lime wedge)

The spiciness of this light yet satisfying chili is complemented by the subtle sweetness of corn and winter squash. Queso fresco is a crumbly, slightly salty Mexican cheese that's available in many large supermarkets. If you can't find it, substitute crumbled feta or farmer cheese. For a heartier chili, add one cup thawed frozen meatless crumbles. For a vegan version, use shredded soy cheddar or mozzarella cheese.

How to Make It

Step 1

Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic; cover and cook 5 minutes or until tender. Add chili powder and cumin; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Step 2

Place onion mixture in a 5-quart electric slow cooker. Add butternut squash and next 6 ingredients (through chiles). Cover and cook on low 8 hours or until vegetables are tender and chili is thick. Sprinkle with cheese; serve with lime wedges.

Chef's Notes

This recipe has been retested for Cooking Light Slow Cooker Tonight, 2012

Ratings & Reviews


October 13, 2016
This chili is so delicious I may not go back to traditional chili!  I followed the recipe, but did not add the can of green chilis.  I added a 1/2 can of beer, 1 T of sugar, and a pinch each of cinnamon and nutmeg.  I cooked it in the slow cooker and scooped out a small bowl.  My first bite I said "Mmmm!".  My second bite I said "Mmmm!".  It is really a tasty recipe.  It was a little more difficult to make because I used dried pinto beans, so those had to cook first.  I also used a non-GMO fresh butternut squash, so that had to be peeled and cut up.  Definitely a keeper recipe!! 

colleen6870's Review

March 25, 2013
I have 2 teenage boys, and a husband with a huge appetite. They are all huge meat eaters so I wasn't so sure about how hardy this would be. This is by far absolutely outstanding. I actually added 4 cups of beef broth. And instead of cooking in a crock pot for 8 hours, I ended up cooking it all in a huge pot on the stove on high until the beans were ready. And OMG fantastic. Top with cheese and sour cream.

WynneK's Review

November 07, 2012
I've been looking for a good vegetarian chili for a long time. Some vegetarian chilis are all high notes--sweet and tart and bright but with no depth. This chili is better than those. My meat-loving family liked it. I agree that the squash flavor is hard to pick out, but it added richness and vitamins, so I was still pleased.

EllenDeller's Review

October 29, 2012
Yes, a good solid recipe that needs a bit of flavor enhancement. I used a slightly hot red pepper from our farmer's market (sorry, don't know the name) instead of a regular bell, a chipotle chili, and about a TB of chipotle hot sauce--skipped the canned green chilis. I also used chicken stock instead of flavorless water and added 2 oz. ground beef (browned, of course) left from another recipe. I dislike crushed tomatoes and substitute diced canned ones. Cooked on the stovetop, slowly. With cilantro and a squirt of lime, along with the queso fresco, this was quite good. Served with simple corn tortilla & cheese quesedillas and an apple-red cabbage slaw. Made this a second time with fresh pumpkin, and that was good too!

Lalena82's Review

October 09, 2012
Pretty good... The flavor of the squash was overpowered by the spices.

LisaB1's Review

March 12, 2009
Good recipe. A good Sunday meal because it can sit in the crockpot all day. The really added flavor - I also added cilantro and plain yogurt (in place of sour cream) - which also made this delicious.