Chili Stuffed Acorn Squash ~ fall is finally in the air and I’m celebrating with the perfect meal for a chilly (pun intended) night. I’m using acorn squash as healthy little edible bowls for my meaty chili recipe!
This is such a fun way to serve chili, and makes the dinner a lot healthier, too, because acorn squash is bursting with vitamins and fiber ~ and this will no doubt be the prettiest chili you’ve ever served!
Any chili recipe will do here, I’ve given you my basic formula, but you might want to try my EASY MEAT LOVERS CHILI, or my FILET MIGNON CHILI instead. If you’re a chili head, you’ll want my HATCH PEPPER CHILE, and, of course, a vegetarian chili would be great, too. I’m working on a bean lovers chili, so stay tuned.
I bake the acorn squash halves for about 45 minutes, or until tender when I prick the flesh with the tip of a sharp knife. they’re soft enough so that when you eat, you can easily scoop bit of squash along with your chili. The combination is really delicious.
I’ll fill them with a big ladleful of hot chili, and then top with cheese before putting them back in the oven just long enough to melt the cheese and heat through. Note that you want a fairly thick chili for this dish.
4 ways to thicken chili ~
- You can add masa harina (a finely ground corn dough) or fine cornmeal at the end of the cooking time. Sprinkle it directly into the chili and stir well. Masa harina is my preferred method, and the one I use in this recipe. I think it adds an authentic flavor to the chili.
- Mix 1/4 cup water with 2 Tbsp flour and stir into the chili. You can also use cornstarch or arrowroot.
- Mash up some of the beans, this will have a natural thickening effect. I like to add extra beans if I do this, since I love the texture of the whole beans.
- Let the chili cook longer with the lid off to evaporate some of the liquid.
I top my chili stuffed acorn squash with minced red onion, black olives, sliced green onion, and some fresh cilantro.
Some other acorn squash recipes to check out ~
- 4 acorn squash, halved and seeds scooped out
- 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pound ground beef of your choice
- 1 medium onion
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 ounces beer (or beef stock)
- 15 ounces crushed tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp chili powder (more to taste)
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 15 ounce can of pinto or white beans, drained and rinsed
- 4 ounce can of diced green chilis
- 1-2 Tbsp red wine vinegar or Worcestershire sauce (for a umami boost)
- 2-3 Tbsp masa harina (optional, for thickening the chili)
- 1/2 cup shredded cheese (use more if you like it extra cheesy)
- sliced olives
- cilantro leaves
- sliced green onion
- minced red onion
- Set oven to 350F
- Brush the squash halves with one tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place face down on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, or until tender.
- Brown the ground beef in a large heavy bottomed pot, and then remove to a plate.
- Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and saute the onions and garlic until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the beer to the pot and bring to a boil. Boil for a minute or two to reduce it down a bit, and then add the meat, tomatoes, and spices. Give everything a good stir and bring up to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the beans and chilies and heat through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Sprinkle the masa harina into the chili and stir well. Continue to simmer for a few minutes until thickened. Check the seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Ladle some chili into each acorn squash half and top with cheese. Put under the broiler until the cheese is melted. Top with garnishes and serve.
Make it your own ~
- Stuff other smaller squash for this recipe, including delicata, spaghetti, or small pumpkins.
- Another option is to add roasted cubed winter squash to the chili, instead of doing the stuffed bowls. That way you’ll still get that lovely combination of flavors and textures.
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