Skip the beans and opt for creamy butternut squash in this hearty, nutritious ground turkey chili. Lean ground turkey and an array of chili spices combine with the subtly sweet squash for a delicious, protein-packed meal.

Whole 30 Turkey and Butternut Squash Chili Recipe on GirlCarnivore by Kita Roberts

Turkey and Butternut Squash Chili may seem like a far cry from a bowl full of ground beef simmering away. But whether you are trying to eat healthily or just looking up a new recipe for chili, it’s fun to play around with this classic comfort dish. We love mixing things up with taco chilis or cranking up the heat with classic simmered dishes. One of our favorites is this huge batch slow cooker chili we make every year for game day.

But, we were inspired by some winter squash at our local market, so we decided to make this homemade turkey chili instead. It’s the perfect hearty chili for a cold day, similar to our turkey quinoa chili but with winter squash instead. 

WHAT IS Ground Turkey CHILI?

Chili is a favorite of ours. Hearty big batches get reduced to portions, sealed, and frozen for busy weeknights. We love that we can just heat it and eat it by the spoonful or top potatoes, nachos, or cauliflower rice with it.

Similar to our white chicken chili, this recipe uses leaner meat, like ground turkey, instead of classic beef chili. However, this recipe uses a rich tomato sauce, whereas white chicken chili uses a white sauce.

A heavy cast iron pot of chili. A plate of toppings. And two sweet potatoes on plates that have be absolutely buried in this amazing meaty mess. So good!

Hearty Turkey Chili Recipe Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • Ground turkey: Look for lean ground turkey breast. You could also use ground chicken if you like. 
  • Onion
  • Bell pepper: Use red or green bell pepper for this recipe. 
  • Jalapeno: Adds a kick of heat. 
  • Butternut squash: We used butternut squash, but any hearty winter squash, acorn, buttercup, and butternut would work. Where they will soften when simmered for hours, they don’t become mush and still make chili feel incredibly filling. The only one we won’t use as chili filler is spaghetti squash. Although, it is great for topping with bolognese sauce!
  • Garlic cloves
  • Tomato paste
  • Cumin: Adds a nutty, slightly sweet essence. 
  • Chili powder: Aromatic and savory. 
  • Salt
  • Pure cocoa powder: Trust us on this one. Cocoa powder adds a rich depth of flavor. 
  • Paprika: Adds a smoky, slightly peppery flavor. 
  • Cayenne pepper: Adds a kick of heat. 
  • Mustard: Adds a tangy flavor to the chili. 
  • Chicken broth
  • Bay leaves
  • Balsamic vinegar: Adds a mellow tartness and depth. 
  • Coconut aminos: Don’t worry. This doesn’t taste like coconut. It still adds an umami flavor like soy sauce but doesn’t contain any soy. 
  • Crushed tomatoes
  • Marzano tomatoes
  • Lime juice (for a single lime)
  • Red onion, chives, and minced scallions for topping
Call me crazy, but this turkey squash chili topping a split sweet potato is about the most filling and healthiest way you can get fat and happy.

How to Make This Ground Turkey Chili Recipe

First, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large heavy-duty Dutch oven. Add the turkey meat and let it brown for 5 to 7 minutes. Next, toss in the onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno and sauté until they’re softened, about 3 minutes longer.

Then, stir in the chopped squash and garlic. After that, add the tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, salt, cocoa powder, paprika, cayenne, and mustard, making sure everything gets nicely coated. Now, gradually pour in the broth, scraping up any browned bits.

Next, add the bay leaves, balsamic vinegar, coconut aminos, and tomatoes to the mix. Bring it all to a simmer over low heat, keeping it covered for a good 2 hours.

Off heat, squeeze in the juice of one lime. Finally, serve it up, garnishing with minced red onion, chives, or scallions.

Ground Turkey Chili is a forever favorite that is quick to put together and will curb that comfort food craving every time. 

This massive pot of chili will keep you fed all week! Sprinkle some of those chopped onions on top and grad a fork (yes a fork) to enjoy this one!


  • If you are looking to hurry this dish and don’t have hours to simmer the chili, try roasting the squash first. The caramelization the squash gets from oven roasting adds a robust depth to chili, deepening the flavors.
  • Add a dollop of sour cream or any of your other favorite chili toppings.

What to Serve With This Easy Turkey Chili Recipe

Since this turkey chili has everything you could want and more, you could totally just eat a bowl of it and call it a day. But, if you need a little more to squash (pun intended) those comfort cravings for good, serve with honey cornbread or homemade bread

Leftovers & Reheating

Store leftover turkey chili in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. The best part about this chili is that it makes the perfect freezer meal. Freeze for up to 6 months. 

To reheat, place leftover chili in a small pot on the stove top on medium heat. Reheat from the fridge or freezer.

More Soup and Stew Recipes

Like a warm hug, this ground turkey chili will wrap its soupy arms around you in a blanket of warmth. The lean ground turkey combined with the hearty winter squash produces a savory bowl of chili that will make you ditch basic beef chili forever.

Have you tried this recipe? Do us a favor and rate the recipe card with the  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ and drop a comment to help out the next reader.

Turkey and Butternut Squash Chili

5 from 5 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 2 hours
10 minutes
Total: 2 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 8
This bean-less ground turkey chili recipe features diced butternut squash for a creamy, protein-packed meal loaded with cozy chili flavors.

Recommended Equipment


  • 1 tbsp  olive oil
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1 bell pepper stemmed, seeded and chopped
  • 1 jalapeno stemmed, seeded and minced
  • 6 cups butternut squash chopped into 1/2" cubes, any winter squash works well except spaghetti squash
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp pure cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp  mustard
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp coconut aminos
  • 1 28 oz crushed tomatoes One can
  • 1 15 oz cMarzano tomatoes
  • 1 lime Juice for a single lime
  • 1 red onion chives, and minced scallions for topping


  • In a large heavy duty Dutch Oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add the turkey and brown, 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Add the onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno. Saute until softened, 3 minutes longer.
  • Stir in the chopped squash and garlic.
  • Add the tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, salt, cocoa powder, paprika, cayenne, and mustard to coat.
  • Add in the broth, a bit at a time, scraping up any browned bits.
  • Add in the bay leaves, balsamic vinegar, coconut aminos, and tomatoes.
  • Bring to a simmer over low heat, covered, for 2 hours.
  • Off heat, squeeze in the juice of one lime.
  • Serve with minced red onion, chives, or scallions for garnish.


Calories: 204kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 1211mg | Potassium: 1075mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 12755IU | Vitamin C: 60mg | Calcium: 126mg | Iron: 4mg
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Author: Kita Roberts

Bookmark this recipe now!

Recipe FAQs

Can I make slow cooker turkey chili with this recipe?

Yes! Just brown the turkey before adding the rest of the ingredients. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours. 

Can I add beans to this recipe?

Absolutely! If you just can’t bear the fact that this chili is beanless, don’t worry. You can add black beans, pinto beans, red kidney beans, or white beans to this recipe. 

Can I make this recipe ahead of time?

Yes! Make it 1-2 days before serving and reheat on the stove top on medium heat until ready to serve. 

Categories: , , , , ,

Well, Hey, Y’all.

Kita is a multi-talented individual, boasting numerous accomplishments such as being an award-winning recipe developer, world-traveled professional photographer, and journalist. As the lead creative force behind Girl Carnivore®, she is widely recognized as an authority on all things meat.


Signup and get free recipes sent to your inbox every week!

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
5 from 5 votes (3 ratings without comment)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Best chili I ever made! The cocoa powder and balsamic added the perfect depth to the dish. The beans were never missed as the butternut squash was perfect. Very filling and satisfying.

  2. 5 stars
    Delicious combination of spicy with the sweetness of the butternut squash. It has quickly become a family favorite. I adapted it to the Instapot for 20 minute cook time vs. 2 hrs on the stove. It worked well.