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Recipe for slow cooker turkey, black bean and squash chili {gluten-free}

Slow cooker turkey, black bean and squash chili, from The Perfect Pantry.

Even though I work at home, or maybe because I do, I love the kind of hybrid slow cooker cooking that involves long periods of don't-bother-it gentle heating interspersed with an occasional lifting of the lid, a stir, an addition here and a taste there. Slow cooker manufacturers emphasize in their instruction manuals that lifting the lid even for a moment can extend the cooking time or jeopardize the safety of the cooking process, but it's simply not true. (I'm saying this for Judy, a long-time reader of The Perfect Pantry, who recently purchased her very first slow cooker.) As with all cooking, a stir once every couple of hours helps to even the cooking and distribute seasonings throughout the dish. To make this slow cooker turkey, black bean and squash chili, start the turkey and squash and let them cook undisturbed for several hours. Then, lift that lid, add the beans, stir, and go away. A couple of hours later, add the rice, stir again, and the dish is done. If you're out all day, you can add the beans at the outset and let them cook with the turkey, but if you're home, don't hesitate to lift, add and stir. In fact, I insist on it!

Make this turkey, squash and black bean chili in the slow cooker. So easy!

Slow cooker turkey, black bean and squash chili

From the pantry, you'll need: ground turkey, olive oil, onion, garlic, Ro*Tel, canned green chiles, ground cumin, chili powder, canned chopped tomato, chipotle pepper in adobo, canned black beans, brown rice.

Serves 6, generously.


2 tsp olive oil (or vegetable oil)
1.25 lb ground turkey (I use 93% fat-free)
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 10-oz can Ro*Tel
4-oz can chopped green chiles
8 oz butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp chili powder (I like Penzeys Chili 3000)
1 chipotle pepper in adobo, chopped
1 cup canned chopped tomato
29-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups cooked brown rice
Optional toppings: sliced avocado, grated Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, fresh cilantro leaves


In a large frying pan, heat the oil. Add the turkey, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, and cook until the meat is no longer pink. Transfer the turkey to a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker.

Add the onion, garlic, Ro*Tel, green chiles, squash, cumin, chili powder, chipotle pepper and chopped tomato. Mix well. Cover, and cook on LOW for 3 hours.

Stir in the black beans, and cook for 1-3/4 hours.

Then, stir in the cooked rice, and cook for 15 minutes more.

Serve hot, garnished with your choice of avocado, grated cheese or cilantro (or all three). Or, let cool completely and freeze in air-tight containers.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More turkey chili variations:
Turkey mole chili, from The Perfect Pantry
Smoky turkey chili with chipotle peppers, and black and white beans, from Cookin' Canuck
Pumpkin turkey chili, from Love and Olive Oil
Chipotle turkey chili with butternut squash and Swiss chard, from We are not Martha

Slow cooker turkey, black bean and squash chili: so easy to make ahead and freeze.

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I love the addition of butternut squash in this recipe - it's a really nice contrast to the beans and spices. I tend to be an obsessive "pot watcher" so the manufacturer's advice to let it be is actually good for me to stop fussing and leave the crock alone!

Yes, I stir and taste my slow cooker dishes quite compulsively! This sounds like a great combination of flavors.

TW, the squash adds a lovely sweetness to this chili. It's okay if you don't stir!

Kalyn, I've made this chili many times this winter. Love the squash, which really mellows the heat in this dish.

This is a wonderful recipe. I can't do brown rice but I think I'll swap it out and try this. Love how healthy and yummy it is. Plus it's gorgeous which never hurts.

I lift the lid and stir, too!
I thought I was just being a renegade, good to know I'm in good company.
I've got a single butternut squash left in the Strategic Winter Squash reserve, but 3 pie pumpkins so I may sub those in.

Thanks, Lydia!

Kim, you could use white rice, or noodles, or just put lots of toppings on and eat it as is, or wrap in a lettuce leaf or tortilla....

Kirsten, those pie pumpkins will make a delicious substitute!

Lydia, I am so honored! And p.s. - you were right - I am very happy with my slow cooker, slow adopter that I am...

I love the idea of "hybrid" cooking - it changes the concept of "slow cooker cooking," where everything is sealed off and unalterable, to "slow cooking," where you can taste and season as you go along, which is the way I prefer to cook in general.

This recipe is going to the top of my "slow cooker recipes to try" list!

Judy, I'm so glad to hear that you and your new slow cooker are becoming friends. I have so many more recipes for you to try!

Considering we have another storm on the way, it is time to make some chili and I have some turkey that needs to be used. Thx!

I'm glad you made the point about lifting the lid, i have always stirred every now and then to make sure that the food is cooked evenly just for my piece of mind without any problems

"lift, add and stir" could be the name your next cookbook!!

great recipe!

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