Fall Harvest Chili with Squash and Sweet Potato

This harvest chili recipe is pure wholesome goodness in a bowl. It’s the perfect cozy dinner for fall. Made with ground turkey, squash, sweet potato, and autumn spices like cinnamon and cloves, every spoonful promises to wrap you in a blanket of warmth, satisfaction, and pure comfort.

Fall harvest chili in a white Dutch oven with a serving spoon.

Favorite Fall Dinner

Growing up, my mom’s traditional chili recipe was a cozy hug in a bowl, thanks to the addition of aromatic fall spices like cinnamon and cloves.

So, when creating this harvest-style chili recipe, I knew I had to bring those warm spice notes that cozy up so beautifully with fall and winter stars like sweet potatoes and squash. And now, after thorough testing and tweaking, this recipe has become one of my new fall favorites.

Why this chili will be your new favorite fall dinner recipe:


  • Fall Flavors: The aromatic spices and warming flavors promise a comforting, heartwarming experience, great for chasing away the autumn chill.
  • Versatility: Whether you’re a meat-lover or vegetarian, this chili recipe can easily accommodate diverse tastes and dietary preferences. I recently made a vegetarian version for a girls’ weekend getaway and it was a hit!
  • Healthier Choices: With the abundance of wholesome ingredients like corn, black beans, sweet potatoes, and winter squash, its a meal that promotes nutritious eating without sacrificing flavor.
  • Stress-Free Prep: This easy chili recipe is a one-pot wonder that simplifies meal planning, and it’s freezer-friendly for quick, home-cooked meals for later. Perfect for Halloween parties too!

For another cozy fall dinner idea, check out our one pot Chicken and Potatoes in Cider Cream Sauce recipe. And don’t miss this festive fall focaccia recipe with “maple leaf” bell peppers, our simple take on the latest focaccia art trend.

Bowls of fall harvest stye chili with sour cream, avocado, and tortilla chips.

What is Harvest Chili?

Harvest chili is a type of chili that’s typically made during the autumn season, using ingredients that are abundant and in-season during the fall harvest. It often features a combination of ingredients like seasonal vegetables, spices, and proteins that capture the essence of the season.

For this harvest chili recipe, we’re combining ground turkey, winter squash, and sweet potatoes with warming spices like cinnamon and cloves. This creates the perfect dish for a cozy, comforting meal during the cooler months of the year.

Seasonal Produce Spotlight

Winter Squash: Although called “winter squash”, these beauties truly come into their own during the fall season in the Pacific Northwest. Varieties like butternut, acorn, delicata, and kabocha are at their peak, boasting sweet, nutty flavors and a tender texture. Finding local varieties to experiment with at the farmer’s market is always a fun experience.

These squash are harvested from late summer through fall, making them perfect additions to harvest chili. Their rich, vibrant colors and sweet, earthy taste lend a warm, comforting character to the dish.

Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes are another delightful, seasonal gem during the fall. They’re cultivated throughout the summer and harvested in late summer and early fall.

These sweet and creamy tubers offer a natural sweetness that pairs beautifully with the warming spices in the chili. They’re not only delicious but also packed with nutrients, making them a wonderful addition to autumn-inspired dishes.

Fall harvest chili ingredients displayed on a counter top.

Ingredient Notes

Ground Turkey: Lean ground turkey not only adds a healthy protein to the dish but also soaks up the chili’s flavors wonderfully. Feel free to opt for ground chicken or beef if you prefer.

Chili Seasonings – Chili Powder, Cumin, Coriander: This trio forms the heart of your chili’s flavor profile. Chili powder provides heat, cumin adds a warm earthiness, and ground coriander contributes a citrusy, herbal note.

Onion, Bell Pepper, and Garlic: are the flavor foundation of many great dishes. They’ll sweeten and soften as they cook, adding a delightful savory undertone to your chili.

Winter Squash: Any winter squash variety works beautifully. They become tender and subtly sweet when cooked, offering a comforting texture and flavor that’s perfect for fall. Butternut, acorn, delicata, and kabocha are fantastic options.

Sweet Potatoes: These nutrient-packed, naturally sweet potatoes are a highlight of the dish, offering a creamy texture and a hint of sweetness that pairs wonderfully with the spices.

Fall Spices – Ground Cinnamon and Cloves: These warm, cozy spices capture the essence of autumn, infusing your chili with that unmistakable fall character.

Chili with sweet potato and squash in a white bowl with a spoon, surrounded by tortilla chips.

Brown Sugar: A touch of brown sugar enhances the sweetness of the sweet potatoes and winter squash while complementing the fall spices. It’s the secret ingredient to achieving a harmonious flavor balance.

Black Beans: Black beans bring a rich, hearty texture and earthy flavor, making them an ideal match for the other ingredients.

Corn: The plump, juicy kernels add a delightful pop of color and sweetness, balancing the savory elements of your chili.

Diced Tomatoes: Canned diced tomatoes bring a tangy, bright element to the dish, offering a bit of acidity that balances the sweetness of the sweet potatoes and squash.

Vegetable Broth or Chicken Broth: Your choice of broth gives you the flexibility to cater to different dietary preferences. Both options deliver the perfect liquid base to marry all these fantastic ingredients.

Be sure to scroll down to check out the full recipe and ingredient list below.

Recipe Roadmap with Images

  1. Heat avocado oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add ground turkey, chili powder, cumin, and coriander. Cook while breaking up the turkey, ensuring it browns evenly. Once browned, remove the turkey from the pot and set it aside.
  2. In the same pot used for browning the meat, add a tablespoon of oil. Toss in the diced onions and bell peppers. Sauté until they soften, approximately 4 minutes. Then, add the minced garlic, cooking for 30 seconds or so until fragrant. Reintroduce the cooked turkey to the pot, combining the ingredients for a flavorful base.
Four photo collage of pots of fall chili with process steps one through four.
  1. Incorporate the winter squash, sweet potatoes, brown sugar, coriander, ground cinnamon, cloves, and salt into the mixture. Stir and continue cooking for about 3 more minutes. This step enhances the flavors and textures of your chili, infusing it with the essence of autumn.
  2. Now, introduce the vegetable or chicken broth, diced tomatoes, sweet corn kernels, and black beans. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer. Once simmering, lower the heat, cover the Dutch oven with a lid, and let it cook for 25 to 30 minutes. This cooking time ensures the sweet potatoes and squash become tender and that the flavors meld.

Variations

Make It Vegetarian/Vegan: You can easily make this recipe without the turkey. Just add a couple more cans of beans as a substitute for the turkey or add more veggies to make it a vegan chili.

Bean Medley: Instead of only black beans, mix it up with other beans like red kidney beans, pinto beans, white beans, or even garbanzo beans to add extra texture and flavor diversity.

Spicy Kick: If you love heat, consider adding some chopped jalapeños, red pepper flakes, or a dash of hot sauce to give your chili a spicy twist. This adds an exciting kick to contrast with the sweet and savory flavors.

Roasted Veggies: Roast the sweet potatoes and squash before adding them to the chili for an intensified depth of flavor.

Grilled Corn: Instead of using canned or frozen corn, consider grilling fresh corn on the cob and then cutting off the kernels to add a smoky sweetness to your dish.

Harvest chili with fall spices in a white pot with a wooden spoon.

Pro Recipe Tips

  • Use a wooden spoon or spatula to break up the turkey into smaller pieces as it cooks. This ensures it browns evenly and crumbles nicely, adding a pleasant texture to your chili.
  • Keep an eye on the garlic – it can burn quickly, so be ready to move on to the next step as soon as it becomes fragrant.
  • Ensure that the sweet potatoes and squash are cut into evenly sized pieces. This way, they’ll cook uniformly, and you won’t end up with some undercooked while others are perfectly tender.
  • Once you’ve added the broth, tomatoes, corn, and black beans, bring the mixture to a gentle simmer. Avoid boiling vigorously, as this may cause the ingredients to break apart.
  • Be patient during the simmering stage. It allows the flavors to meld, and the sweet potatoes and squash to become tender. Keep the lid on to trap the steam and help the cooking process.
  • A squeeze of lime added at the end can be a fantastic finishing touch to your chili. The bright, citrusy acidity of the lime can provide a delightful contrast to the rich, savory flavors of the harvest chili.
  • This recipe is great for leftovers as the flavors will only get better the next day making it a good make ahead option. It also freezes really well.
  • Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator and it should last for 3 to 4 days. It can be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • I like to portion a bowl of chili into individual size containers and place them in the freezer so I have a quick and easy lunch or dinner option when I don’t have time to cook.
Fall harvest chili with avocado and sour cream garnish in a white bowl with a spoon dipping in.

What to Serve with Fall Chili

Toppings Galore: Offer an array of toppings like shredded cheddar cheese, diced avocado, sour cream, chopped green onions, or pickled jalapeños. This let’s your guests customize their bowls and add extra layers of flavor.

Crunchy Elements: Serve the chili with tortilla chips or corn chips for a satisfying crunch. It creates the perfect combination of flavors and textures, and they can be used for scooping and dipping.

Lime Wedges: Provide lime wedges for a bright, citrusy kick that pairs beautifully with the rich flavors of the chili.

Cornbread: A side of freshly baked cornbread is a classic and comforting accompaniment to chili. Its sweetness and texture complement the savory chili. Or try our fall focaccia recipe with bell pepper “maple leaves”.

Fresh Salad: A crisp, green salad with vinaigrette dressing can provide a refreshing contrast to the hearty chili.

Harvest chili with fall spices in a white pot with a wooden spoon.

Fall Harvest Chili with Squash and Sweet Potato

This easy harvest chili recipe is pure wholesome goodness in a bowl. Made with ground turkey, squash, sweet potato, and inviting autumn spices like cinnamon and cloves, every spoonful promises to wrap you in a blanket of warmth, satisfaction, and pure comfort. It's the perfect cozy dinner for fall.
By: AllieAllie Cleveland
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Mexican
Servings 6
Calories 322 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon avocado oil or olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cups winter squash (butternut, acorn, delicata, kabocha, etc.) peeled and chopped (any kind of winter squash will work)
  • 1 large sweet potato peeled and chopped, about 2 cups
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 15 oz. can black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup corn kernels fresh, canned or frozen
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • fresh squeezed lime juice to taste (optional)
  • chili toppings tortilla chips, diced avocado, lime wedges, sour cream, shredded cheese, etc.

Instructions
 

  • Wash, prep, and chop the veggies.
  • Heat avocado oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add ground turkey, chili powder, cumin, and coriander. Cook while breaking up the turkey, ensuring it browns evenly. Once browned, remove the turkey from the pot and set it aside.
  • In the same pot used for browning the meat, add a tablespoon of oil. Toss in the diced onions and bell peppers. Sauté until they soften, approximately 4 minutes. Then, add the minced garlic, cooking for 30 seconds or so until fragrant. Reintroduce the cooked turkey to the pot, combining the ingredients for a flavorful base.
  • Incorporate the winter squash, sweet potatoes, brown sugar, ground cinnamon, cloves, and salt into the mixture. Stir and continue cooking for about 3 more minutes.
  • Now, introduce the broth, diced tomatoes, sweet corn kernels, and black beans. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer. Once simmering, turn the heat down to low, cover the Dutch oven with a lid, and let it simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. This cooking time ensures the sweet potatoes and squash become tender and that the flavors meld.
  • At the end of cooking, taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Stir in some fresh squeezed lime juice to taste (optional).
  • Serve with toppings on the side like tortilla chips, diced avocado, sour cream, and shredded cheese.

Recipe Notes

*Scroll up through the post for variation and serving suggestions.
Pro Tips
  • Use a wooden spoon or spatula to break up the turkey into smaller pieces as it cooks. This ensures it browns evenly and crumbles nicely, adding a pleasant texture to your chili.
  • Keep an eye on the garlic – it can burn quickly, so be ready to move on to the next step as soon as it becomes fragrant.
  • Ensure that the sweet potatoes and squash are cut into evenly sized pieces. This way, they’ll cook uniformly, and you won’t end up with some undercooked while others are perfectly tender.
  • Once you’ve added the broth, tomatoes, corn, and black beans, bring the mixture to a gentle simmer. Avoid boiling vigorously, as this may cause the ingredients to break apart.
  • Be patient during the simmering stage. It allows the flavors to meld, and the sweet potatoes and squash to become tender. Keep the lid on to trap the steam and help the cooking process.
  • A squeeze of lime added at the end can be a fantastic finishing touch to your chili. The bright, citrusy acidity of the lime can provide a delightful contrast to the rich, savory flavors of the harvest chili.
 
Storage Tips
  • This recipe is great for leftovers as the flavors will only get better the next day making it a good make ahead option. It also freezes really well.
  • Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator and it should last for 3 to 4 days. It can be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Store leftovers in individual size containers and place them in the freezer so you have a quick and easy lunch or dinner option when you don’t have time to cook!

Nutrition

Calories: 322kcal | Carbohydrates: 30.5g | Protein: 18.3g | Fat: 9.9g | Saturated Fat: 2.1g | Cholesterol: 60mg | Sodium: 413mg | Potassium: 820mg | Fiber: 5.9g | Sugar: 9.2g | Calcium: 75mg | Iron: 4mg

*Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Maplevine Kitchen makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.

Keyword dinner, fall recipes, make ahead, one pan, one pot
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FAQs about Fall Harvest Chili

Yes, chili typically improves as it simmers because the extended cooking time allows the flavors to meld and develop more fully and the overall taste to become richer and more complex.

Warming spices are a group of spices that add heat and depth to dishes. They often have a comforting, earthy quality and are commonly used in colder weather to create a sense of warmth and coziness. Some common warming spices include cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger. Sold as a mix commercially, these spices are known as pumpkin spice.

While it might seem unusual, the sweet and aromatic notes of cinnamon can harmonize with the other spices and ingredients in chili, creating a more well-rounded and interesting flavor. It’s a matter of personal preference, but for many, a touch of cinnamon can take a chili recipe to the next level, especially in fall-inspired versions like a “harvest chili.”

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a rating in the comments below and let us know how it turned out. Your feedback is important to us. Thank you for visiting Maplevine Kitchen!

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