Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Beef & Butternut Squash Cocoa Chili

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve made this particular chili this season. I believe it’s at least three, and I usually double the recipe so I have plenty of leftovers. It makes a great cold-weather breakfast if you’re on the non-breakfast-food-for-breakfast train since the cocoa and the cinnamon add sweetness without adding any sugar.

Like most chili recipes, this one is flexible. I routinely throw in an extra bell pepper, and if you’re spice-averse, you can reduce the heat by not using as much chili powder, chipotle chili powder, and spiced paprika. Or you can throw in some avocado to help temper the heat. The original recipe calls for ground bison, which is a great option if you can find it and are willing to spend a little more. It’s also slow-cooker friendly. If you opt for that route, I recommend cooking the onion, garlic, bell pepper, and beef first.

Of my top three least-favorite cooking tasks, peeling and cubing butternut squash falls right behind peeling and deveining shrimp. So when I discovered the 2 lb container of pre-peeled and cubed butternut squash at Costco, I was elated. The chunks are still pretty large, so I halve them for this chili, but they are a huge timesaver.

2014-03-12 09.01.45

Beef and Butternut Squash Cocoa Chili
Yields 4 servings
Adapted from Practical Paleo


  • 1 lb ground beef or bison
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 lb butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp chipotle powder
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp 100% cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 2 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes


Sauté onions and bell pepper in your choice of cooking fat in a large pot or Dutch oven until softened and onions are translucent. Crumble beef into the pot, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, cooking until no longer pink.

Combine spices in a separate bowl and mix. Add garlic, cooking until fragrant, then add the remaining spices. Stir until beef mixture is coated and spices are fragrant before adding the tomatoes.

Add in butternut squash and bring to a boil. Simmer for an hour or until butternut squash is tender.