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Instant Pot Butternut Squash Cincinnati Chili

This chili has something for everyone. Butternut squash and sweet potato for the fall fanatics. Homemade Skyline Chili for the Ohioans and Deadspin writers. Pumpkin spice for the basics. Mushrooms for the sustainability advocates. Maple syrup for the Vermonsters. Fire roasted tomatoes for the lycopene lovers. Roasted garlic for the people who like roasted garlic. I've run out of ingredients and applicable demographics, so here's the actual recipe.

Butternut Squash Cincinnati Chili

Serves: A whole damn lot.


  • 2 medium butternut squashes (or an XL, GMO-laden squash from the Farmers Market), peeled, de-seeded and chopped into bite-sized pieces

  • 1 large sweet potato, prepared the same way as the squashes. See above.

  • 1.5 lb of 80/20 ground beef

  • 1 onion, diced

  • 2 14.5 oz cans of fire-roasted tomatoes

  • 3-4 cloves roasted garlic, minced

  • 1 tub of mushrooms, chopped

  • 2 tsp pumpkin spice

  • 1.5 T cocoa powder

  • 1/4 cup chili powder

  • 2 tsp garlic powder

  • 2 tsp cumin

  • 1.5 tsp smoked paprika

  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

  • 2T maple syrup

  • Sriracha

  • 1 quart chicken stock

  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste

  • Salt & Pepper

  • Neutral oil of choice


  1. Set Instant Pot to Saute mode on the hottest level. Add a few drops of oil to IP. Brown beef until no longer pink. Transfer ground beef with slotted spoon to a plate and drain most of the fat.

  2. Add all spices in a bowl, along with some pinches of salt and pepper. Mix well.

  3. Add a few more glugs of oil to the Instant Pot. Saute onions until translucent then add garlic and diced mushrooms. Add butternut squash and sweet potato pieces to the pot and cook for a few minutes, stirring often or every now and then. No one will judge if you take a few minutes off of stirring duty to document your chili-making process with an Instagram story.

  4. Add back the ground beef, mix, and sprinkle a few tablespoons of the spice mixture until you ask yourself what you will do with the rest. You won't have a great answer so go ahead and dump in the rest. Mix well.

  5. Add both cans of tomatoes and as much or as little chicken stock as you want to make it soupy or chili-y. Offer up a few squirts of Sriracha to the flavor deities along with the maple syrup.

  6. You forgot about the tomato paste, didn't you? Add in all six ounces, along with a few generous pinches of s&p.

  7. Cover Instant Pot, and set to manual mode for 30 minutes. Do a quick release and give it a few stirs. Enjoy.

Bone Apple Tea, as the kids say.