Instant Pot Beef & Butternut Squash Chili

Instant Pot Beef & Butternut Squash Chili

The plan was to do up a pot of the slow cooker chili I’d been making for years. It was chili weather, after all, and San Francisco was colder than usual for a February day. As I set my crock pot on the counter, I realized it was too late in the day for slow cooking. The recipe required hours of gentle heat and I only had minutes to get dinner done. Enter Instant Pot Beef & Butternut Squash Chili.

Chili Tailored to the Instant Pot

I gathered my ingredients and adjusted the recipe so it would be better suited to a pressure cooker. I made a few ingredient swaps, using beef instead of turkey, simplified things a bit (always a plus), and set it to cook for a mere 14 minutes rather than the standard six hours.

Instant Pot Beef & Butternut Squash Chili

The results were a win and I’ve made it two times since, using a combination of ground lamb and beef on one occasion and adding a whole mess of leafy greens to the finished chili on another.

Nourishing Boost from Butternut Squash

The butternut squash adds a pleasing hit of sweetness to this smoky chili, not to mention heaps of vitamin A and fiber. If you’re not crazy about cutting winter squash, here are a few  options:

  • Before cutting a whole squash, pierce it in several places with a knife and microwave on high for a few minutes. It will make it easier to peel and cut.
  • Look for pre-cut  squash, which is sold in the produce section of many markets.
  • Buy frozen squash, defrost, and cut to the appropriate size.

For more tips on cutting a butternut squash, check out this tutorial on The Kitchn.

Don’t Forget the Chili Toppings

Once you’ve got your chili from pot to bowl, don’t skimp on the toppings. A spoonful of sour cream or Greek yogurt, a pile of diced avocado, chopped cilantro or scallions, and extra salsa are all fair game. And while I may lean on my slow cooker for this from time to time, I plan to default to the Instant Pot for this one.

If you like Instant Pot Chili with Beef & Butternut Squash, check out:

Slow Cooker Turkey and Butternut Squash Chili

Turkey Chili Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Slow Cooker Black-Eyed Pea and Pork Chili

Instant Pot Beef & Butternut Squash Chili
4 from 3 votes

Instant Pot Beef & Butternut Squash Chili

The Instant Pot makes quick work of a dish that is traditionally cooked low and slow. The results won't disappoint. The beef and butternut squash make a winning pair and using taco seasoning mix just means fewer ingredients to worry about. If making this when winter squash is out of season, use 1 cup zucchini and 1 cup red bell peppers and cut the cooking time to 10 minutes. 

Course Dinner
Cuisine Tex Mex
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 14 minutes
Total Time 34 minutes
Servings 7 cups (4 to 5 servings)
Calories 307 kcal
Author Katie Morford


  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 pound ground beef (or turkey, lamb, venison, or a combination)
  • One 1 1/4-ounce packet taco seasoning mix
  • 2 cups uncooked, cubed (1/2 inch) butternut squash
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans (one 15-ounce can, drained)
  • One 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you like it spicy)
  • Favorite chili garnishes, such as sour cream, avocado, cilantro, scallions, cheese, and salsa


  1. Set the Instant Pot to "Saute" and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion and saute until it begins to soften, 2 minutes. Add the ground beef and sprinkle the taco seasoning mix over the top. Saute the beef and the taco seasoning, stirring regularly to break up the meat, until cooked through, 5 minutes. 

  2. Add the squash, beans, tomatoes, and water to the pot. Secure the lid, close the vent, and set the Instant Pot to High Pressure for 14 minutes. 

  3. After 14 minutes, release the steam from the pot (being careful to avoid your hand) and open the lid. Add the salt and cayenne and stir well. The chili may appear thin, but will quickly thicken as it cools.

  4. Ladle into bowls and top with favorite garnishes


02.13.2019 at11:42 AM #

Lisa Burke

Have you found a good taco seasoning packet. I usually make my own but sometimes you want quick but not all that sodium and additives!!

02.13.2019 at11:42 AM #

Katie Morford

Hi Lisa,

Great question. I like Bearitos and Simply Organic. I also think the McCormick blend is an option. I’ll include those in the recipe!


10.22.2019 at11:28 AM #


This was great! Thank you. I only had about 1 cup of squash so I added in some pumpkin puree at the end.

10.22.2019 at11:28 AM #

Katie Morford

Yay! And smart move on the pumpkin. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

02.17.2021 at7:13 AM #


Gonna make this today! Thanks for the recipe…I have some Kabocha squash on hand. Never thought to use taco seasoning in chili, but that makes sense. Thanks for making this recipe available!

01.06.2022 at9:24 PM #


This was delicious! Subbed a little red wine for water, and added beberé seasoning instead of cayenne. Thanks so much!

01.06.2022 at9:24 PM #

Katie Morford

Love your swaps! This is one of my favorites.

11.13.2022 at7:56 PM #


I love this recipe because it’s delicious and so easy to make. The last time I made it, I didn’t have much butternut squash, so added a couple carrots, like in stew. Also made it another time with ground pork.

11.13.2022 at7:56 PM #

Katie Morford

I love hearing how you made the recipe work for what you had on hand. Love both your swaps. Thanks for sharing.

10.09.2023 at2:07 PM #


This was terrible. Even my husband who usually eats anything without complaint said it was bad. I had to make a spice mix and then sautée the cooked chili some more for flavor.

10.09.2023 at2:07 PM #

Katie Morford

I’m so sorry to hear that. When I saw your comment, I actually decided to make the chili for dinner to see if something was off with the recipe, and I found it plenty flavorful. I’m curious what taco seasoning mix you used and if you added the whole packet. My only thought is maybe the seasoning packet wasn’t as fresh as it should be. Other than that, I’m just sorry you used good ingredients on a recipe you didn’t care for.

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