Posted by: Brad Nixon | October 29, 2018

National Chili Month: Halloween Butternut Squash Chili

There are days, weeks and months that’ve been declared “National X-Food Day/Week/Month” for nearly every type of food. One of my favorites is National Chili Month, which we strive to celebrate here at Rancho Retro every October.

I’ve left it until late, almost Halloween, so I created Halloween-themed chili. In an Under Western Skies first, I’ve teamed with blogger My Eclectic Cafe, who devised the rest of the menu and designed the presentation. I’ll direct you to My Eclectic Cafe to see the result once we make our chili.

Vegetarian, Always

Like all UWS recipes, this is a vegetarian dish, and I believe it qualifies as vegan, but I am not an expert on the latter subject.

What Makes it “Chili?”

It includes the ingredient that defines chili: chiles of the genus Capsicum. I used the smallish, green serrano pepper (Capsicum anuum), notably hotter than the jalapeño, and widely used in Mexico, often eaten raw. They vary in degree of heat, and you never know exactly how hot they are until you try what you’ve bought. Feel free to substitute your own favorite pepper, but I liked the result I got with the serranos.

What Makes it “Halloween” Chili?

The objective was to create a dish in black-and-orange Halloween colors. Two simple ingredients do it nicely: butternut squash (Cucurbita moschata) and black beans. You could use pumpkin or another orange winter squash if there’s something more commonly available in your part of the world. If you do, I’d be happy to hear about it in a comment.

Halloween Butternut Squash Chili

Halloween chili Brad Nixon 2605 680


One moderate-sized butternut squash (or pumpkin), probably about 2 pounds.

1 – 2 tablespoons olive oil for sauteeing

1/2 medium sized onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

2 small serrano chiles, seeds and pith removed, minced

1 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes, or two large fresh ones, diced

1/2 cup of tomato paste

1 cup of hard apple cider (or a non-alcoholic apple drink or cider, not too much sugar)

1 tablespoon chili powder, or more to taste

1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste

1 14-ounce can of black beans


1. Peel the squash, scoop out the seeds and cut into 3/4-inch chunks. If you’re unfamiliar with this squash, it can be tough to cut through the outer rind. Baking it in a 350-degree oven for five minutes will soften it, but not overcook it.

2. Heat the oil in your heavy bottomed chili pot. Add the onion, garlic and serrano chiles, saute until softened, about 5 minutes.

3. Add all the other ingredients except the black beans and stir together. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower it to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes.

4. Taste the level of spiciness and salt at about 15 minutes and adjust if necessary.

5. Stir in the beans. If you like a soupier chili, add some water. Cover and cook for 15 minutes more.

Makes approximately 4 servings

I invite you to see the finished product on the table and read about how it tasted, along with the rest of the menu by my creative collaborator from My Eclectic Cafe at this link. Thanks, My Eclectic Cafe. Fun and delicious, every dish.

For more Under Western Skies recipes, including a dozen varieties of chili, click on “Food” in the Categories widget.

If you try this recipe, please leave a comment.

© Brad Nixon 2018


  1. I thought the addition of the hard cider was interesting. When I make butternut squash soup, I begin by reducing equal parts apple and onion before adding the squash and spices, so it makes sense that apple would serve well here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for that observation. We found the cider made an interesting element in the play of spice and subtle sweetness.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What an interesting sounding recipe!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah, you can’t get me. No, I’m not going to bite on this one. I’ve been around the block more than a few times — in fact, many long blocks.

    Recipes are always presented as easy, simple, elegant and great tasting. Then you actually start doing the work and discover that you would have been better off using those two or three hours of chopping, mixing, refrigerating, baking, etc., to play chess or shuffleboard.

    I therefore have a solution for those who are intrigued by your recipe but who lack the patience and/or talent (like your truly) to devote to the task at hand. You two Chili Masters shall take orders from your subscribers for your delectable creations and ship same during Chili Month. Free shipping on all orders over $25. There. Thank you.


    • It’ll be a long-distance day, impossible to imagine, when I enter the food service business. I lack any of the character traits for succeeding in that craft.


      • Nonsense! Cheesecake Factory began at a woman’s home. People liked her pies and cakes. Now, it’s nationwide. Think big.


      • I don’t want to cook for a living. I want to cook so I can eat … along with whoever else is present. Sufficient unto the day.


  4. […] My thanks to guest chef, Under Western Skies, for a great National Chili Month collaboration – and for the delicious chili. I encourage my readers to give it a try. You can find the recipe here.  […]


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