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: the Instant Pot.

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 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.

Side note: If you don’t happen to own an Instant Pot and want to do this in a slow cooker, you’ll find that recipe here. 

Instant Pot Beef & Butternut Squash Chili
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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 katiemorford

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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