Smoky Squash Chili with Quinoa, Pinto & Black Beans

Created by Laura Wright
4.89 from 17 votes

Smoky squash chili with quinoa, pinto and black beans is a hearty, healthy, and protein-rich recipe that is perfect for brisk days.

An overhead shot of a deep red squash chili with beans and quinoa. The chili is garnished with a vegan sour cream and cilantro.
An overhead shot of ingredients for a vegan chili.
An overhead shot of chopped squash, onions and poblano pepper.
A spoon is stirring quinoa into a mix of squash and adobo sauce in a pot.

We’ve had so many cloudy and drizzly days here. That’s nonstop soup and cozy carbs weather if you ask me. Our dogs happily lay by the fire or snuggle next to us pretty much all day now and the kettle is perpetually on. The leaves have fallen to that point where they look quite pretty, but there’s no urgent need to get them raked up just yet. Also basketball season starts this week! Like every other food or lifestyle blogger in a four season climate, I just love every little thing about Fall. I don’t even mind the dark early mornings! I find them cozy and ripe for quiet contemplation and a big cup of tea.

Chili is a thing that I crave on the first rainy and cold day of October, and then I basically don’t think about it again until the Superbowl. Once I satisfy the craving I’m good for a while (unless we’re talking
Buffalo Chickpea Chili–I’ll eat that any time, any day). I do love making and eating it, but when I do, the chili has to have some unusual extras, quite a bit of spice, lots of toppings, and possibly/definitely a corn muffin on the side. Guess I’m just particular?

It is my professional opinion that this chili recipe really
brings it. It’s got some mellow squash cubes (I used honey nut), fire-roasted tomatoes, a little bit of quinoa for body, TWO types of beans (hecka protein!), cocoa for depth, poblano peppers, lots of cilantro on top, and it features my new favourite ingredient: straight up smoky adobo sauce from chipotle chilies. I noticed jars of this sauce on grocery shelves on one of my recent trips to the US and had to snag one.

I’m always buying cans of chipotles, but usually wind up favouring the thick sauce that surrounds the actual chilies. It’s amazing in dressings, sauces, braises, stews, pasta sauce, honestly anything that needs heat or a little something extra in terms of depth. At its heart, adobo is simply a marinade used for raw foods and has been widely adopted throughout Latin cuisine. Typical ingredients include paprika, vinegar, garlic, and oregano. Having a jar of this smoky goodness will definitely help transform some of your weekday staples. It mingles beautifully with the sweet and creamy squash in this chili.

I topped ours with some basic vegan sour cream, and made a mini batch of the corn muffins from
Love & Lemons for this cozy dinner, and it was all just so cozy and great. Hope you all give this chili a try as part of your Fall festivities. Stay warm out there!

An overhead shot of a deep red smoky squash chili with beans and quinoa.
An up close, overhead shot of a deep red smoky squash chili with beans and quinoa.

Smoky Squash Chili with Quinoa, Pinto & Black Beans

Smoky squash chili with quinoa, pinto and black beans is a hearty, healthy, and protein-rich recipe that is perfect for brisk days.
4.89 from 17 votes
An up close, overhead shot of smoky squash chili with pinto and black beans. The chili is photographed in a white Dutch oven and is deep red in colour. The chili is garnished with bright green chopped cilantro.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings 6


  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups small-diced butternut/honey nut squash (about one 1-lb squash)
  • ¼ cup quinoa
  • 3 tablespoons adobo sauce
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 28- oz can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cups cooked pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 ½ cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large poblano pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • chopped cilantro, for garnish
  • vegan sour cream, for serving


  • Sweet potatoes would be great in place of the squash and would take about the same amount of time to cook.
  • If you can’t find poblano peppers, go for a bell pepper in whatever colour you like.
  • If you’re opening a can of chipotles to get the adobo sauce and you enjoy some extra spice, chop one of the actual chipotles up and add them to the chili along with the adobo sauce.
  • I served the chili with Love & Lemons’ corn muffins (RECIPE HERE).


  • Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions to the pot and sauté until translucent and softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, chili powder, coriander, and cocoa to the pot and stir. Once the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds, add the squash, quinoa, and some salt and pepper. Stir to coat everything in the cocoa and spices.
  • Once everything is starting to dry up/stick, add the adobo sauce and vegetable stock to the pot and stir, scraping the bottom of the pot to get any golden brown bits. Add the crushed tomatoes, pinto beans, black beans, poblano pepper, and a bit more salt and pepper to the pot. Stir to combine. Bring the smoky squash chili to a boil.
  • Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and place a lid on top of the pot. Let the chili simmer until the squash is soft all the way through, about 25-28 minutes. Check the smoky squash chili for seasoning one more time and adjust if necessary. Serve the chili hot with chopped cilantro on top.
An overhead shot of a deep red squash chili with beans and quinoa. The chili is garnished with a vegan sour cream and cilantro.
17/10/2018 (Last Updated 17/11/2023)
Posted in: autumn, cashews, earthy, gluten free, main course, nut free, quick, refined sugar-free, salty, smoky, soup, spicy, tomatoes, umami, vegan, winter


Recipe Rating

  • Donna

    4 stars
    No mention of type and quantity of oil at start of recipe for onion. I used 2T of EVO.

    • Laura Wright

      Hi Donna,
      It does say 1 tablespoon of avocado oil at the top of the recipe. Your substitution is also great though! Ultimately this ingredient doesn’t make a huge difference with the overall dish :)

  • Jenny K

    4 stars
    If you like chili, you’ll like this vegan version. I particularly enjoyed how satiating it is, with all of the beans. I had it for dinner with no sides, so it will be 3 dinners for me instead of 6 servings.

  • dean

    5 stars
    This is so tasty!

  • Belén

    5 stars

  • Paige Strasbaugh

    5 stars
    Really enjoyed this dish tonight, and I’m looking forward to leftovers tomorrow! Thinking about trying this as a freezer meal. Any thoughts on the best way to do that?

    • Laura

      Hi Paige,

      I think this chili would freeze nicely in tightly sealed containers. The quinoa will probably expand/absorb more liquid after thawing, but otherwise, it will be great! Save the cilantro garnish for when you thaw and re-heat.


  • Rita R. Kneisley

    How do you cook your beans, is there a way to incorporate cooking time?

  • Olivia

    This looks freaking amazing and delicious! I’m going to have to make it this weekend, thanks for making my life a little easier Also, your new(to me) website is kickass! Love your fonts.

  • Alice

    Just made it today, it was amazing !! We finished by eating on the pot with the spoon !

  • Larissa

    I made this for dinner last night using your sweet potato sub. It was so delicious, I love the way the spices created a darker and richer base for the veg and beans! Definitely a nice way to make chili a little more sophisticated.

    Thank you for the always delicious recipes!


  • Alison

    This recipe looks delicious but it’s stuff to get crushed fire roasted tomatoes in the UK. Would it be possible to use regular tinned tomatoes instead?

    • Laura

      Yes, regular crushed tomatoes would also be great!

  • Em

    This was delicious. I didn’t have the poblano, and had to sub white beans for the pintos, but I had good spices, and with sweet corn muffins (from a mix) crumbled in the bottom of our bowls and avocado slices on top, we went back for thirds. Thank you!

  • Ariane

    Made this tonight for a Halloween dinner. Amazing! We really liked it. The depth of the flavors abd the richness really brought this chilly to another level. My only comment is to taste the Adobo sauce before adding it in. I was cooking for a large group including kids and this turned out a bit too spicy for the little ones. If you are spice sensitive or cooking for others, the spiciness can vary from brand to brand and tasting along the way would be wize. Thank you for another great recipe!!

  • Kim H.

    The not-so-great news: I made this as stated and I just didn’t love it. The flavor was lacking despite the delicious ingredients. The GREAT news: while reading this post, I clicked on the link for Buffalo Chickpea Chili, which led me to the link for the Buffalo Cauliflower Salad with Tahini Ranch. I just made the salad for dinner — MIND-BLOWING. Laura, I so appreciate the efforts you put in to create these recipes and I adore your real commentary, so I hope I didn’t dent your feelings about the squash chili. Your website is my #1 (as is your cookbook). Thank you for a delicious dinner!

  • Anne

    This is my new favorite chili! I just loved this! I found out too late that I was out of adobo sauce, so I added a teaspoon of smoked paprika to compensate. I think it would have been even better with the adobo, but it was delicious even with my variation. Will make this again many times!

  • Audrey

    This was amazing! Easy to make, super tasty, and perfect for the weather. Thank you!

  • dana

    I wanna dive face first into that pot. Bravo, friend!

  • McKenzie

    Yum! Making this asap, and want to pair it with a fall-y dessert. I can’t find the brownie recipe, though. Am I missing it??

  • Cassie Thuvan Tran

    Chili is one of my favorite fall and winter dishes! I seriously love packing mine with heaps and heaps of beans. This is giving me some serious recipe inspiration–it’s packed with nutrient-dense ingredients like beans, squash, and quinoa. I love it!

  • Katie

    Looking forward to making this…all my favorite flavors in one pot. Perfect chili to fight the chilly fall nights. ;) Is the recipe for those perfect looking corn muffins featured in the picture available?

    • Laura

      The corn muffins are from the Love & Lemons site and I’ve linked to them in the blog post and the recipe notes.

  • valere

    Looks delicious. Can I use canned beans?

    • Laura

      Hi Valere,
      Yes you definitely can! You’ll need one 15-ounce can each of pinto and black beans. Just drain and rinse them before you start the recipe.

  • Natalie Lynn Fladager

    This looks marvelous! Any chance I could make it in a slow cooker?

    • Laura

      Hi Natalie,
      I think you could. I would put all of the ingredients in at once, give everything a stir, and then you can either cook the chili on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours.

      • Natalie Lynn Fladager

        Thank you so much Laura!

  • Sarah | Well and Full

    I love the sound of all the flavors that you used here. I have to admit that I’ve been too timid to try cacao in my chili yet but I realize I need to rectify this immediately!! ;)

  • Stephanie

    Do you have a recipe for the cornbread too?

    • Laura

      Hi Stephanie,
      I used the recipe from the Love & Lemons blog, which I link to in the post.

  • Ariel

    Beautiful! Squash, quinoa and pinto beans are staples around here so I am def giving this one a go.

  • Andrea Montpetit

    When you say “add the Quinoa”, do we cook the Quinoa first or just add the quinoa uncooked? :) Can’t wait to make this!

    • Laura

      Hi Andrea!
      You add the quinoa in its raw state. It cooks as the chili cooks :)

  • Marta

    Oh my I needed this recipe <3