Butternut squash turkey lentil chili combines the sweetness of butternut squash with the nutritious power of lentils and high-protein turkey to boot!
If you’re looking for a delicious and nutritious meal that will warm you up from the inside out, look no further than butternut squash turkey lentil chili. This hearty and flavorful dish is a twist on red tomato chili, one of my favorite classics. The turkey lentil chili comprises butternut squash-infused broth, ground turkey (with a little kick), tender lentils, and chunks of freshly roasted butternut squash throughout. It’s the perfect comfort food for a cozy meal on a chilly day.
Why You’ll Love This Butternut Squash Turkey Lentil Chili
Hearty – This chili has it all: squash, turkey, lentils, and beans. One bowl will leave you feeling full for hours, although you will try to power through a second because it is delicious.
Nourishing – Nutrient-rich foods set the groundwork for this amazing chili recipe. You have complex carbs, protein, and healthy fat; the main ingredients are great sources of several vitamins and minerals. What more can you ask for?
Well-developed flavors – This is mainly due to roasting, which has a transformative effect on food, especially butternut squash. The cooking method enhances sweetness and the caramelization that occurs while cooking brings depth and complexity. There’s also a pleasant nuttiness going on. The onions in the soup are also roasted, adding savory sweetness.
Easy to make – Making chili is often an hours-long process, but that’s not the case with this turkey lentil chili. You’ll have a delicious, satisfying meal in less than 2 hours.
Butternut Squash Turkey Lentil Chili Ingredients Notes
To make turkey lentil chili, you will need the following:
- Butternut squash: Select dark beige squash with no green spots, as the marks indicate the squash is underripe. Another good sign is a squash that feels heavy for its size.
- Ground turkey: Use your favorite lean ground turkey. It isn’t necessary to use turkey with a higher fat content to add flavor since the turkey will soak up all the yummy flavors of the broth.
- Lentils: The recipe calls for canned lentils since they’re super convenient, but feel free to make them fresh if you have the time. Red lentils are popular for chilis since they become quite soft once left to simmer and contribute to the chili’s thickness.
- Chicken broth: Chicken broth adds more flavor than water, although that is an option. Consider using reduced-sodium chicken broth so you have more control over the salt level.
- Pumpkin seeds: The subtly nutty, earthy-tasting seeds add a nice textural element to each bowl of chili. Lightly roast and season your own, or use your favorite toasted pumpkin seed snacks from the grocery store.
- Chili oil: Yes, it is optional, but if you like spicy chili, do not skip this ingredient! The little red drips on the bowl’s surface are also super pretty.
You’ll find the complete ingredients list with amounts in the recipe card below!
How to Make Butternut Squash Turkey Lentil Chili
- Roast: Roast the quartered squash and a quartered onion in a 400-degree oven until caramelized on the exterior and tender.
- Puree: Puree the butternut squash in a food processor or blender, then process with the roasted onion, some garlic, and half of the chicken broth until very smooth. This is the start of creating the rich butternut squash broth I mentioned.
- Sauté: Sauté a diced onion in coconut oil before the ground turkey goes in.
- Brown the turkey: Cook the turkey seasoned with some chili oil (if using) until evenly browned. Break the ground turkey apart with a wooden spoon as it cooks.
- Simmer: Pour the butternut squash puree in with the turkey, followed by the lentils and other chili ingredients, and leave to simmer to give everything a chance to meld.
- Serve: Taste, adjust seasonings if needed, and top each serving with pumpkin seeds before you dig in.
Variations, Substitutions, and Cooking Tips
Add additional aromatics – Consider adding carrots, shallots, bell pepper, or even celery to change up the flavor of the chili and its aromatic base.
Make it plant-based – To make this recipe vegan, use vegetable broth instead of chicken and, most importantly, replace the turkey with tofu, your favorite plant-based meat, or add more lentils or beans to make up for it.
Add diced turkey– If you have a roasted turkey breast lying around, you can dice it up and use it in this recipe instead of ground turkey. This swap will shorten the total cook time.
What to Serve with Butternut Squash Turkey Lentil Chili
A bowl of this turkey lentil chili is so hearty that you don’t need to serve anything with it. However, it’s only right to have something available to sop up whatever remains at the bottom of the bowl. Cornbread is great for this, as is a piece of crusty bread. Since this is chili, you can’t go wrong with tortilla or corn chips.
- 2 butternut squash, quartered and de-seeded
- 1 can chickpeas
- 1 can kidney beans
- 1 cup lentils (rinsed)
- 2 onions (1 quartered and 1 diced)
- 64 oz. chicken broth
- 1 tbs. coconut oil
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 14 oz. ground turkey
- 1 tbs. chili oil (optional)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- ¼ cup Pumpkin Seeds (I used Trader Joe's seasoned)
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
- Place the quartered butternut squash along with the quartered onion onto 2 parchment-lined baking sheets and place in the oven to roast for about 30-40 minutes (I seasoned mine with salt and pepper and brushed on a bit of coconut oil to aid in the roasting process).
- Once the squash is roasted, allow to cool for about 20 minutes before scraping the meat of 6 of the butternut squash quarters (reserving the last two for later) into a food processor (feel free to do this in 2 batches if your food processor isn't big enough).
- Add the roasted onion, 3 cloves of garlic, and half of the chicken broth.
- Blend until very smooth.
- In a large pot, add the diced onion and 1 tbs of coconut oil and cook over a medium heat until the onion is translucent.
- Add the ground turkey along with the chili oil and using a wooden spoon, separate the chunks of turkey to ensure even browning.
- Once the turkey is browned add the butternut squash puree along with the chicken broth, the remaining butternut squash (cubed ) chickpeas, kidney beans and lentils.
- Allow to simmer for about 30 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper according to taste and serve with a drizzle of chili oil and pumpkin seeds as a garnish.
Try these recipes next: