Do you ever get tired of food?
Okay, silly question.
What I mean is, do you ever need a break from super heavy meals, especially in the colder months?
As much as I love a hot bowl of risotto or a creamy casserole, sometimes I just want an easy, veggie-filled dinner that won’t make me need a nap after eating it.
Budget-friendly and filled with nutrients, this slow cooker white bean chili with butternut squash fits the bill perfectly. It’s a fun variation from your traditional vegetarian chili flavors.
While beans are already a budget-friendly protein, dried beans give you the biggest bang for your buck, and are much lower in sodium than canned.
As for convenience, they really don’t take more time to prepare, just some planning ahead.
Before going to bed, give them a quick rinse and place them in a bowl, covered with water. By the time you wake up, the beans will be ready to go.
You may be wondering: why great northern beans specifically?
Sure, all types of beans are an excellent source of heart-healthy fiber and lean protein. I love incorporating them as much as I can into all my stew recipes, like lentil turmeric stew and vegan dal.
But… great northern white beans are particularly high in minerals important for bone health, specifically calcium and magnesium.
They’re also a great source of iron, potassium, copper, and manganese.
While there are four main types of white beans, the two you’re most likely to come across are great northern and cannellini.
Cannellinis are larger than great northerns, and shaped more similarly to kidney beans. They have a nutty, more earthy flavor and hold their shape well. They’re often used in salads, soups, chilis, and stews.
Great northern beans, on the other hand, have a more mild, nutty flavor and are slightly firmer. They tend to do a better job at taking on the flavors of the foods they’re cooked with, which is why I love using them to make slow cooker recipes.
Especially if you’re going to be cooking for kids, not everyone wants a strong bean flavor to their food. The ones in this chili are simmered for 4 hours with sweet butternut squash, spicy green chili peppers, and savory cumin.
As a result, you end up with a fiber-filled meal that brings just the right amount of spicy and savory, with a touch of sweetness.
And speaking of butternut squash, I recommend keeping the cubes on the larger side, as bite-sized pieces tend to get mushy in the slow cooker. Larger cubes will keep their shape better, but they will still be soft enough to break into smaller pieces with a spoon when you’re ready to eat.
While my household is all about bites filled with heat that slowly builds in the back of your throat, if even the slightest amount of spice has you running to the fridge for a glass of milk, make sure to throw out the jalapeno seeds when you’re dicing them up.
If you want, you could even omit the spicy green peppers entirely. Just swap in some green bell pepper instead.
Get ready to come home to this sweet and spicy vegetarian chili bubbling away in your slow cooker. All that’s left is a sprinkle of cheese on top, and some crackers for dipping.Print
Slow Cooker Vegetarian White Bean Chili with Butternut Squash
- Total Time: 12 hours, 10 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
This slow cooker white bean chili with butternut squash brings just the right amount of spicy and savory, with a touch of sweetness.
- 1 pound dry great northern beans, rinsed
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
- 1 4-ounce can green chilies, drained
- 2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- 3 cups homemade or packaged vegetable broth
- 4 cups water
- Place beans in a large bowl and cover with 2 inches of water. Cover and let sit at room temperature overnight.
- Drain and rinse soaked beans and place in your slow cooker.
- Add remaining ingredients to slow cooker. Stir.
- Cover and cook on high for 4 hours, or on low for 8 hours.
- Serve immediately. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 7 days, or in the freezer for 3-4 months.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 4 hours
- Category: Chili
- Method: Slow Cooked
- Cuisine: Slow Cooker
Keywords: chili, vegetarian, white beans, butternut squash
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Rinse and Soak Dry
Rinse the dry beans in a colander under cold running water.
Place the rinsed beans in a large bowl and cover them with 2 inches of water. Cover and let sit on your kitchen counter overnight, or for about 8 hours.
In the morning, drain and rinse the beans. Set them aside.
Note: if you’re short on time, you can use canned beans instead. Substitute 3 15-ounce cans of beans, making sure to drain and rinse them before adding them to the slow cooker.
Step 2 – Dice Vegetables and Measure Ingredients
Mince the garlic, peel and cube the butternut squash, and dice the jalapeno and bell pepper. Drain the green chilies.
Measure all of the remaining ingredients.
Note: Chicken broth can be used if you are not vegetarian or vegan.
Step 3 – Add to Slow Cooker
Add all of the ingredients to your slow cooker.
I like to add the liquid last, to avoid splashing when the other ingredients are added.
Give everything a quick stir to combine the ingredients.
Step 4 – Cover and Cook
Cover the slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 hours, or on low for 8 hours.
Strapped for time, but still craving all the hearty flavors and aromas from a slow-cooked meal like this one? Learn how to make chili in the electric pressure cooker!
Step 5 – Serve or Store
When the chili is cooked, season to taste with salt if you like. Serve immediately, with the toppings of your choice.
Leftovers can be stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 7 days, or in the freezer for up to 4 months.
If you plan to freeze this chili, I recommend storing leftovers in individual portions to make thawing easier later on.
Keep Your Squash Game Going Strong
High in fiber, beta-carotene, and vitamin C, winter squash is a nutritious option to add a nutty, sweet flavor to your breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, and even desserts.
It also doesn’t hurt that they’re a food and a decoration all in one. Leave them out on your fall table for a few days until you’re ready to use them for instant fall harvest decor!
Check out some of our favorite ways to incorporate more squash into your cooking all season long:
- Exceptional Kabocha Squash Custard
- Stuffed Acorn Squash with Apples, Nuts, and Cranberries
- Roasted Butternut Squash and Black Rice with Hemp-Miso Dressing
- Spaghetti Squash Marinara with Chili Oil Tomato Garlic Bread
Share your favorite squash recipes below, and don’t forget to give this meal a five-star rating if you loved it!
Photos by Kelli McGrane, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on December 30, 2012. Last updated: December 30, 2021 at 16:56 pm.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
The written contents of this article have been reviewed and verified by a registered dietitian for informational purposes only. This article should not be construed as personalized or professional medical advice. Foodal and Ask the Experts, LLC assume no liability for the use or misuse of the material presented above. Always consult with a medical professional before changing your diet, or using supplements or manufactured or natural medications.
About Kelli McGrane, MS, RD
Kelli McGrane is a Denver-based registered dietitian with a lifelong love of food. She holds undergraduate and master’s degrees in nutrition science from Boston University. As a registered dietitian, she believes in the importance of food to nourish not only your body, but your soul as well. Nutrition is very personal, and you won’t find any food rules here, other than to simply enjoy what you eat.