This butternut squash and bulgur vegan chili is rich, complex, and oh-so-satisfying. A combination of poblano chiles, jalapeños, cocoa powder, and warming spices give this hearty stew a mole-inspired flavor profile that warms you up from the inside out. Grains of bulgur wheat soak up all the delectable seasonings to create a meaty texture that’s made even more substantial with the addition of nutrient-dense pinto beans. Top each bowl with a crunchy garnish of roasted pepitas, cilantro, and scallions for the ultimate bowl of comfort food.

By Nancy Macklin, RDN,

Last Updated:


  • 4 lb. roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped onions
  • 4 fresh poblano peppers, halved, stemmed, and seeded
  • 1 fresh jalapeño chile, halved, stemmed, and seeded
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 4 cups cubed butternut squash (½-inch cubes)
  • 2 15-oz. cans no-salt-added pinto beans, rinsed and drained (3 cups)
  • ¾ cup uncooked whole grain bulgur
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup roasted pepitas
  • Sliced scallions
  • Chopped fresh cilantro


  • Preheat oven to 450°F. Line two large shallow baking pans with parchment paper or foil. Spread tomatoes, onions, poblano halves, jalapeño halves, and garlic on prepared pans. Sprinkle with vinegar. Roast, uncovered, 30 minutes or until poblanos and onions are slightly charred. Cool slightly.
  • Meanwhile, in a 6-quart pot combine the next eight ingredients (through cumin). Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 25 minutes or until squash is tender, stirring occasionally.
  • Transfer roasted vegetables, in batches, to a blender. Cover and blend until smooth. Transfer to pot. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Season with salt and black pepper. Serve chili topped with pepitas, scallions, and cilantro.

Comments (18)

(5 from 6 votes)

Recipe Rating

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Make this chili!!!!! It's the best WFPB chili I've ever made...and I've tried a lot of recipes. This one can be enjoyed by even the most ardent flesh eater. I added a cup of black beans because I had some that needed to be used soon. Also in addition to the suggested toppings, I topped with diced avocado and garnished the bowl with a lime wedge. A little lime juice negates the need for salt.

Carol R.

I loved this chili. The extra work involved is well worth it. I think a lot of people would not miss the meat. Adding the bulgar was a great addition to this chili. I tend to enjoy recipes by Nancy M., mostly for the simplicity and vegan/vegetarian food. I usually have a hard time, because I prefer no oil, no sugar, and no salt (health reasons). Thanks for this lovely chili recipe!


What type bulgur - medium, coarse, whole grain?

Rachael Sharrocks

Do we have no. Of calories per serving please?

Courtney Davison

Hi Emarie, We recommend whole grain bulgur. We've updated the recipe to specify this. Thanks for your comment! Warmly, Courtney Editor, Forks Over Knives

Paula Markham

What might be a good gluten free substitute for the bulgur? Buckwheat? Quinoa?

Rachael Sharrocks

I did it with buckwheat and it's lovely

Courtney Davison

Hi Paula, Quinoa and buckwheat are both good options. Thank you, Courtney, editor with Forks Over Knives


I don't know much about hot peppers. On a heat level of 1-10 ( 10 being the hottest), how hot is this recipe?)

Liz Gould-Leger

I can’t find the number of cups or servings recipe yields. Thanks for providing this! Recipe sounds great, and I will try it!


16 cups (right before the introduction paragraph, next to the print/save icons)


This is really delicious just as written.


Unbelievable complex and delicious.


Yummmm!!!! This is going into the fall rotation for sure! So many great flavors!! I left the veggies and tomatoes a little more chunky, and it was a great bite!! Definitely add pepitas on top!

Nick Denbow

Sorry guys, no metric conversion really alienates me.

Maudie Reed

I like the chili recipe

Lori Boren

There are conversion tools all over the internet.

Mary Hill

Not too hard to find out. Same as I do if a recipe is written in metrics. Those are usually recipes coming from Europe. I don’t begrudge the writer. Just look for a conversion chart on line. Easy peasy.

About the Author

Headshot of Nancy Macklin

About the Author

Nancy Macklin, RDN

Nancy Macklin has a bachelor of science in dietetics from Iowa State University and a Master of Science in health services administration from the University of Saint Francis. Macklin worked as a hospital-based clinical dietitian, providing counseling for diabetes, heart disease, and weight loss and as a food service director in health care dining sites. She now serves as a test kitchen dietitian, developing 500+ recipes per year. She is a member of the Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics and International Association of Culinary Professionals. Find her on LinkedIn.
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