Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Chili with Porter

The slow cooker and I are best buds. I find myself waxing Crock-Pot poetic on an almost daily basis. Hmm—maybe it’s more of an addiction than a friendship. No matter, I’ll just keep deluding myself.

Take this recipe for Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Chili with Porter, for instance. It’s a perfect example of why slow cookers rock my world. Chili—and all its endless variations—is quite possibly my favorite vegetarian meal, and my beloved slow cooker makes it that much better. The flavors continue to develop the longer it simmers and sits—perfect Crock-Pot fare.

Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Chili with Porter
This version takes a cozy cue from fall, with butternut squash, black beans and a jolt of straight-up beer. I chose porter because of its chocolate and coffee notes, both welcome flavors in dark, hearty chili. If you can’t find a good porter, its cousin the stout should work nicely instead.

Did you know the slow cooker is perfect for make-ahead freezer meals too? Oftentimes, when I make slow cooker chili, I buy the ingredients for two batches so that I can freeze one. But here’s the catch: I don’t freeze it after I cook it, I freeze it before. Alongside my Crock-Pot, I set up a large bowl lined with a freezer bag. And as I chop onions, scoop spices and open cans, I fill the bag with an entire separate batch. I label it and freeze it, and then, the night before what I know will be a particularly busy day, I’ll pull it out of the freezer and set it in the fridge. By morning, the contents will have thawed enough to add them to the slow cooker, where it will simmer all day long for a practically instant meal that night.

Slow cookers, man. Is there anything they can’t do?!

Print this recipe
Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Porter Chili

Prep Time

10 minutes

Cook Time

8 hours

Total Time

8 hours 10 minutes


Serves 4-6


  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced*
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 cup porter beer
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups cooked black beans, rinsed and drained (or about 2 cans)
  • 1 small butternut squash (1 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

Optional toppings:

  • Shredded cheddar
  • Cilantro leaves
  • Chopped avocado
  • Chopped sweet onions
  • Chopped scallions
  • Sour cream
  • Greek yogurt


  1. Add all ingredients (except toppings) to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if desired. Serve with assorted optional toppings. That’s it!


*Jalapeño peppers can vary greatly in heat level. What I usually do is cut into one and taste the flesh. If it’s on the sweeter side (almost bell pepper-like), I’ll add the whole thing, seeds and all. If it’s tongue-burning hot, I’ll just chop up half and omit the seeds altogether. Go with what you’re comfortable with, heat-wise!


I’m not a beer drinker at all, but I’m learning that I love it in my food. Porter is my favorite, and I’ll bet it’s perfect with the sweetness of butternut squash. This sounds awesome!

Um, that slow cooker freezer tip is totally genius. That just blew my mind! I love making soups and stews with beer in them, it adds so much flavour. I just used up some old beer in a pizza crust and that was fab too. Maybe beer bread to go with the chili? Yum!

This sounds so delicious. I love veggie chili and I am definitely excited to throw in some squash, I feel like the flavors really compliment each other. Oh and the freeze-method you have is a great idea. Sometimes I really would love some chili or stew but by the time I want it I’ve missed the slow-cooking opportunity! Thanks for sharing 🙂

This looks fabulous – we have some issues getting black beans over here, do you think something else (cannellini beans, kidney beans or chickpeas maybe?) would work as well texturally?

Sounds so yummy….and with so many stores now having cut up butternut squash available, it would be super easy! One question though: I think there is avocado on top? There is no mention of it in the ingredients, or toppings….just wanted to make sure…I think it would be wonderful though!

Hi Rebecca! You’re right! We photographed the recipe with avocado but forgot to list it in the optional toppings. I’ve added that suggestion to the recipe. It’s not required, but it is a delicious addition!

um, your double chili idea is GENIUS. I can’t wait to make this! It’s going to be so good at distracting me from some football game that I won’t want to watch but will be forced into.

Is the 1 cup of beer the only liquid in this recipe. I am using dried beans (soaked overnight) and am wondering if I need to add some water so it’s not too dry.
Thanks! can’t wait to taste it

Yes, the beer and the liquid from the diced tomatoes are the only liquid. However, you should start with cooked beans. If you start with uncooked beans, you will definitely have a liquid problem!

Since it seems no one has commented on this recipe AFTER making it yet, I thought I’d share my feedback.

To start, I didn’t make it to recipe exactly. I used 3 different beans (black, kidney and black eyed peas) instead of all black beans. I also added garlic, and since I didn’t have any porter I used a stout (Guinness). It was tasty. I didn’t taste the coffeeish flavor, probably because I used a stout instead of porter. But the mix of spices was great. My only complaint was that the butternut squash was a bit too mushy after the 8 hours were up. Next time I will add more jalapeno, or keep the seeds. The slow cooking seems to have reduced some of the heat in the pepper.

But I have to say this: what made this recipe go from pretty good to awesomely delicious was the addition of scallions (at least one whole chopped scallion per bowl), cilantro, sour cream and avocado. BAM! So good. That made the recipe, for me.

Thanks for the recipe! Will make again.

I was thinking about doing a chili with sweet potato but this is a great idea! I just love it, and I love your relationship with you slow cooker, I’m completely in the same boat. Thanks for the recipe!

Hi! I love this idea for a chili! I think I’m going to add the ingredients I’m missing to my shopping list tomorrow!
Quick thing, though: My husband won’t consider this a meal unless there’s meat in it. So for these flavors, would some chicken, ground turkey, or stew meat be best?

Hi! This looks delicious! Do you think you could add the beans from dry if you do an overnight soak and add extra liquid? I think two cans of cooked beans would be about half a pound of dried. So I’d guess you should add an extra 3-4 cups of water?

I’m curious if anyone has tried this!

Hi! This looks delicious! Do you think you could add the beans from dry if you do an overnight soak and add extra liquid? I think two cans of cooked beans would be about half a pound of dried. So I’d guess you should add an extra 3-4 cups of water?

I’m curious if anyone has tried this! 🙂

I made this and it was delish 🙂 I have to say I’m not much of a chili person, but like Ania above the avocado and cheese made it for me! I used a whole avocado (it was small) because it was that good. I also found the squash a bit soggy but I didn’t mind. This was my first attempt at slow-cooking and I have another half-recipe in the freezer for another day.

Thanks Kare!

Sorry your chili turned out mushy, Vanessa! All slow cookers are a little different, so the one you have may have worked more efficiently than this one. We’ll note to adjust the time.

Just finished making this, no slow cooker here so we used a cast iron pot in the oven and the results are excellent!! Just wondering if anyone has worked out the nutritional info? T’other half is doing biggest loser at work so trying to log calories etc. Thought I’d ask before we make a guestimate 🙂

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