This hearty, healthy Butternut Squash Chicken Stew with Quinoa is perfect comfort food for cold weather days! It can be made in the Slow Cooker, Instant Pot, or on the Stovetop.
Original post was published in March 2014. This is an updated and improved version.
This is one of the recipes that made me fall in love with slow cooker meals. Yes, despite receiving a beautiful slow cooker and accompanying recipe book for our wedding, I didn't get the whole magic of slow cooking until some 3 years later.
In our first year of marriage I used it maybe twice. Then we decided to travel and had a garage sale where I practically gave away our first slow cooker.
Funny enough, I started reading food blogs while traveling abroad - probably because I was missing comfort food from home. And that was also when Pinterest first became popular.
Suddenly I was seeing mouthwatering slow cooker recipes everywhere. I couldn't wait to give all of them a try.
Luckily, when we returned my mother-in-law got herself a new fancy slow cooker which allowed you to brown meats before slow cooking them.
So we got her previous one and I started using it at least once a week (!) right away. We had crazy busy working schedules at the time, so it was amazing to come home to ready-cooked meals.
This wonderful Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Chicken Quinoa Stew (what a mouthful - I know) came into being one day when I really felt like combining some butternut squash with quinoa.
This sounds so cliché but I literally threw a bunch of ingredients into the slow cooker without much of a clue what to expect in the end. Well, we absolutely loved the result - a flavorful, slightly spicy and hearty stew.
Perfect for cold Canadian winter days that don't seem to want to end. We loved it so much that I made it again the following week. That time I actually paid attention and wrote down what I 'threw' together.
Now, almost 4 years later I revisited the recipe. There are over 60 comments on the recipe - mostly glowing reviews - but I wanted to test a few things in order to be able to address all questions.
I ended up making a few tweaks to the recipe. Mainly, I reduced the amount of chicken breast, butternut squash and broth while leaving everything else pretty much the same.
This should solve the issue a couple of commenters had, where they weren't able to fit everything into their crockpot. At the same time it also eliminates any possibility of blandness (1 comment).
Secondly, I also wanted to test out alternative cooking methods. While this was originally a chicken and butternut squash slow cooker recipe, I wanted to see if it can also be converted to a Instant Pot and stovetop recipe.
Spoiler alert: Yes, it can! Find the full instructions for each method in the recipe box below.
How to use the Instant Pot as Slow Cooker
Also, I got to try out my Instant Pot's slow cook function for the first time. Can you believe, that after the all my gloating about slow cookers above, I don't actually have one anymore?
Multifunctionality is what sold me on the Instant Pot in the first place, but then I never ended up using the slow cook mode until now.
Luckily, everything went well and smooth on the first try. Thanks to the wealth of wisdom that can be found in Pressure Cooker Facebook groups.
Through those I learnt that slow cooker LOW equals NORMAL (not LESS!) in the Instant Pot's slow cook mode. And HIGH equals MORE.
Can you freeze this Chicken Butternut Squash Slow Cooker Stew?
No matter which way you cook this Chicken and Butternut Squash stew (Instant Pot, slow cooker or stovetop), any leftovers can certainly be frozen for a later time.
Use airtight containers but preferably no glass. I actually like 1-quart yogurt containers best for freezing any kind of soup or stew.
Just keep in mind that the butternut squash is already really soft. So after freezing, defrosting and stirring everything up, the cubes will probably break down into much smaller pieces.
Kitchen Gadgets Used:
For the Pressure Cooker version I used my 6-quart Instant Pot DUO60.
These days I don't have a separate slow cooker anymore. So for the slow cooked version I used my Instant Pot as well!! Keep in mind that a normal slow cooker's LOW and HIGH settings equal NORMAL and MORE with the Instant Pot.
When made on the stovetop nothings beats a Dutch oven for making stew! I used my beloved Marquette Castings pot.
In the video you see me stirring up the ingredients with a gorgeous olive wood utensil. I have this set.
VIDEO: How to Make Butternut Squash Chicken Stew
Butternut Squash Chicken Stew - Slow Cooker, Instant Pot, or Stovetop
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1.5 lbs chicken breasts, boneless, skinless diced (unless making in slow cooker)
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley or stir in ¼ cup fresh parsley after cooking
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 medium-small butternut squash peeled and cubed (about 4 cups)
- ⅔ cup quinoa
- 14 ounces (1 ¾ cups) diced tomatoes
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 bay leaf
Slow Cooker Instructions:
- In a small pan heat the olive oil, then saute chopped onion and garlic until lightly browned (can be done in slow cooker if it has a browning function).
- Place the chicken breasts in the bottom of the slow cooker. Add all other ingredients on top of chicken and cook on high for 3 hours or 6 hours on low.
- When using the Instant Pot for slow cooking, the 'More' setting equals high and 'Normal' equals low.
- When finished cooking, discard bay leaf. Take out chicken breasts and shred with 2 forks etc. Return shredded chicken to slow cooker together with fresh parsley (if using) and stir to combine everything evenly.
- Serve with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
- Select 'Saute' to heat the Instant Pot. Once 'Hot' displays add the oil, then stir in onion, garlic, diced chicken and all spices. Saute until the onion has softened.
- Add butternut squash cubes, quinoa, diced tomatoes, and broth. Then stir to combine and add the bay leaf on top.
- Close the lid and turn the pressure valve to 'Sealing' position. Cook on 'Manual' mode on high pressure for 5 minutes. (Mine takes about 15 minutes to come up to pressure before the timer starts counting down).
- When the cooking time is up, let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes before turning the pressure valve to release any remaining pressure.
- Stir in fresh parsley and serve with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
- Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pot (I used my Dutch Oven) on medium. Add the oil and stir in onion, garlic, and diced chicken. Add all the spices and saute until the is onion softened.
- Add butternut squash, diced tomatoes, and chicken broth. Stir to combine.
- Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Then close the lid and turn down to a simmer.
- After 15 minutes open the lid and stir in quinoa. Close lid again and simmer for another 15 minutes.
- Stir in fresh parsley and serve with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
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YUMMO♥️❗️Thanks FOR Sharing ❗️❗️♥️It Looks Like AN AWESOME Recipe G-d♥️Bless
Jennifer @ Leelalicious
Thanks so much, Cheri!
Can I use frozen butternut squash in this recipe? Thank you! It looks like a yummy one!
Regina | Leelalicious
I think frozen butternut squash cubes should work just fine here
Made this today, my first ever insta pot recipe. Omitted the sautee part, used all dried spices, home made chicken bone broth and raw brown jasmine rice, absolutely delicious. Everything was done perfect, even the rice. Thanks for sharing this simple recipe.
Regina | Leelalicious
Awesome. So glad to hear it worked with brown rice as well. That version sounds delicious
Is the quinoa precooked or raw when out in to the crockpot?
Regina | Leelalicious
Raw quinoa. It cooks while the stew is cooking
WOW!!!! Thank you so much for this recipe. It is amazing. I love curry and the balance was perfect. We love spicy so I did one teaspoon of vindaloo curry and one teaspoon traditional curry. Followed the rest of the recipe to the letter. Thank you so much. I will definitely make this again.
Thanks so much for your awesome feedback. I am so glad you enjoyed the recipe
This squash recipe is looking healthy. Actually, I don' t like olive oil. Are there any substitutes? BTW, Thanks for putting them together.
Sure, you can use any other cooking oil that you prefer instead. Avocado oil would be my next best choice
Would this work with a basmati quinoa mix? I have some in a bag and would like to use what I have on hand 🙂 thanks
Yes I think that should work perfectly! Others have reported substituting rice for the quinoa worked well for them
Wow! Delicious! I skipped the sauteing step in my instant pot even. This is absolutely divine. Thanks for your talent!
I am so glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe and that it worked even without the pre-browning for you
My husband appreciated the complexity of this dish. I will make it again for sure. Can it be safely frozen or is it best just eaten within a few days? Thanks for posting!
Yes, leftover can totally be frozen. Just keep in mind that the butternut squash is already really soft. So after freezing, defrosting and stirring everything up, the cubes will probably break down into much smaller pieces.
Made this last night. My husband (who needs gluten free) went back for seconds. I did cut it in half. I should have left the spice as is. It was a little bland. And I did put 2 chicken breast. That is what I had thawed..But put in the 1 cup quinoa.. it filled my 6 qt crock pot.
Hi Barbara, I just retested the recipe (after almost 4 years) and made some adjustments that I think will help. I reduced the amount of chicken, squash and broth a little while leaving all the seasoning the same. So I think this way you may fit a full recipe without any blandness
I made this for my lunches this week and it is SO GOOOD! My crockpot cooks hot so I took the chicken out early and shredded it in my kitchen aid with the wide beater attachment and then added it in after the squash was as soft as I wanted it. I am definetly looking forward to eating this all week!! Thanks for the recipe 🙂
Ohh having a whole week of this stew sounds amazing 😉
Love this recipe and so healthy. I can never have enough crockpot recipes. LOL
Thanks so much Anna! Yes especially with upcoming cooler fall/winter weather, slow cooker recipes are a must have!
Made this tonight for the 'cold' weather we're having in south FL...... hubs loved it! My mom wasn't keen on the curry but we're fans. Would prob throw in some kale next time for some green. Thanks for sharing! Will post on fb too.
Thanks for the great feedback! Kale sounds like a great addition. And I totally get you on the curry. We love it but I can never use it when cooking for my parents.
Can you replace chicken with Turkey sausage?
Oh yes, most slow cooker recipe like this one can be easily adjusted with what you like or have on hand
AWESOME dish! I am making it right now as I write this ... I added a peeled and cubed granny smith apple just for a pop of sweetness to go with the squash. I'll keep ya posted on how it turned out. Meanwhile, the aroma is fantastic!
Wonderful! The apple addition sound great. Apple + squash are a wonderful seasonal combo!
Can you use rice instead of quinoa?
Hi Alissa, yes I think rice would taste really good in this too.
Was it the curry powder? Seems odd eh, but I love it with this stew combination 🙂
I really didn't know what to think about the flavor combination of spices at first, but it turned out to be one of the more delicious crock pot meals that I've made!