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Appetizers/ Entrees/ Recipes/ Sides/ Vegetarian Recipes

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?!

Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Chili with Porter

Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Porter Chili

Break out the slow cooker for this hearty fall chili with black beans and nutty butternut squash. It benefits from a generous pour of porter, which adds rich chocolate and coffee notes to the mix. Cozy!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes


  • 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


  • 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!
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  • Reply
    September 29, 2014 at 10:14 am

    You amaze me with your food ideas! This one looks delicious and perfect for coming fall. And, yes, the slow cooker is pretty much my bestie.

  • Reply
    Adriana L
    September 29, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Is there something else you can use in the place of beer if you didn’t want to use it or didn’t have it on hand?

    • Reply
      Kare Raye
      September 30, 2014 at 10:20 am

      Veggie broth would work. It will definitely change the flavor profile but it should still be good!

    • Reply
      Kare Raye
      September 30, 2014 at 10:20 am

      Oh, or coffee! Though I’d probably go 1/2 cup brewed coffee and 1/2 cup broth.

  • Reply
    Liz @ The Lemon Bowl
    September 29, 2014 at 11:51 am

    The slow cooker and I are BFFs too!! Three cheers for butternut squash season!

  • Reply
    September 29, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    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!

  • Reply
    Katie Trant
    September 29, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    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!

    • Reply
      Kare Raye
      September 30, 2014 at 10:14 am

      Hee. 🙂 It’s pretty handy! LOVE beer in pizza crust especially. Beer is just kind of awesome all around.

  • Reply
    marquis @realrawkitchen
    September 29, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    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 🙂

  • Reply
    September 29, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    Yummmm….butternut squash. I don’t often cook with beer but this recipe makes me want to try it out! I’d imagine using a porter would be super flavorful too.

  • Reply
    Nicole @ Foodie Loves Fitness
    September 29, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    I’ve never made chili with butternut squash… sounds like a great, fall-ish meal idea! My slow cooker conked out on me awhile back and I need to replace it, especially since we’re getting into soup season. 😉

    • Reply
      Kare Raye
      September 30, 2014 at 10:12 am

      You’ll never regret snagging a new one! I can’t imagine life without my slow cooker, but as you can tell, I am obsessed. 🙂

  • Reply
    Thalia @ butter and brioche
    September 30, 2014 at 6:34 am

    This recipe is just so perfect for days when I am not in the mood to cook! Thanks for the inspiration and great recipe. You can definitely consider that i will be recreating it.

  • Reply
    September 30, 2014 at 7:34 am

    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?

    • Reply
      Kare Raye
      September 30, 2014 at 10:11 am

      Hi Claire, I’d think kidney or pinto beans would work nicely!

  • Reply
    September 30, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    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!

    • Reply
      Kare Raye
      October 13, 2014 at 8:26 am

      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!

  • Reply
    October 1, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    Run DMT
    October 6, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    This is brilliant! It’s so hard to find tasty meatless slow cooker recipes.

  • Reply
    October 30, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    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

    • Reply
      Kare Raye
      October 30, 2014 at 2:22 pm

      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!

  • Reply
    December 10, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    February 9, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    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!

  • Reply
    September 25, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    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?

  • Reply
    October 17, 2015 at 11:01 pm

    I don’t have a slow cooker… What do you recommend for cook time at what temperature?

  • Reply
    October 28, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    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!

  • Reply
    October 28, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    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! 🙂

  • Reply
    January 25, 2016 at 8:57 am

    What’s the corn bread recipe you used to take the picture yummm looks so tasty!

  • Reply
    April 3, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    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!

  • Reply
    November 5, 2017 at 8:10 pm

    If we make this again, we will definitely do less time in the slow cooker. It was way too mushy.

    • Reply
      Katie Trant
      November 6, 2017 at 4:20 am

      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.

  • Reply
    Katy Phillips
    January 7, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    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 🙂

    • Reply
      Katie Trant
      January 17, 2018 at 8:30 am

      Hi Katy, we haven’t calculated the nutrition yet, but we’re migrating over to a new recipe plugin that provides nutrition information soon!

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