Spicy Ground Beef and Butternut Squash


Spicy Ground Beef and Butternut Squash - a delicious and warming weeknight meal by Ashley of MyHeartBeets.com

Want to hear the most exciting thing that happened to me this weekend? Finding pre-cut organic butternut squash while doing my grocery shopping. It was so exciting, that I instagrammed it.

Is that totally pathetic? Or would you be just as excited as me?

I think I’m at this awkward age/stage in life where I have no idea what I’m “supposed” to be excited about. Butternut Squash? Partying all night? Both? Neither?

Is it wrong that these days squash makes me happier than wine?

That last question was rhetorical. Yes, it’s wrong. But if loving squash over wine is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Um. While I contemplate my daily life choices, you should contemplate making this spicy ground beef and butternut squash dish. It’s an easy-to-make weeknight dish that’s perfect for this season. It’s kind of like a “dry chili” or a “dry curry” – if you know what I mean. If you don’t know what I mean, then make this and you’ll understand. Promise.

“This was surprisingly delicious! It’s not a combination I would have tried, but your recipes have never disappointed me and I had some squash ends to use up, so I gave it a try. So glad I did! We will definitely eat this again.”


I really love the flavor and heat that freshly ground black pepper adds to a dish, but if you’re not a fan of spicy food, then just halve the amount of black pepper that the recipe calls for. You can also leave out the serrano pepper, or just remove the rib when mincing it. Or just send your serrano peppers to me. We love them here – I always have a minimum of 5 serrano peppers in my fridge. When I get low, it’s time to head to the store.

Once this dish it’s fully cooked, add plenty of freshly minced sage on top – to give it extra fall feel. Yes, fall feel is a thing.

If you’re not a fan of butternut squash (whaat?), you can use a different type of squash or even sweet potatoes instead. I actually have a Sweet Potato and Ground Beef Curry on the blog if you want to go that route.

But personally, I think you should enjoy all things butternut squash while we’re in the prime of squash/pumpkin season.

Spicy Ground Beef and Butternut Squash - a delicious and warming weeknight meal by Ashley of MyHeartBeets.com

Spicy Ground Beef and Butternut Squash

Spicy Ground Beef and Butternut Squash

5 from 57 reviews
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  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 Serrano pepper minced
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Big pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound peeled cubes of butternut squash* see notes
  • Small handful of fresh sage minced


  • Heat oil in a saute pan over medium heat.
  • Add the onion and Serrano pepper and cook for 6-7 minutes, or until the onions begin to brown.
  • Add garlic, spices and ground beef and mix well.
  • Once the beef begins to brown, add the butternut squash and mix well.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover with a lid for 10 minutes, or until the butternut squash is cooked through.
  • Remove the lid, add fresh sage and mix well.
  • Serve.


*I bought pre-cut organic butternut squash (at costco) and then cut it into even smaller cubes. You can do this with a regular butternut squash but it’ll add to your prep time.
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Spicy Ground Beef and Butternut Squash - a delicious and warming weeknight meal by Ashley of MyHeartBeets.com

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Find out more about my cookbooks Indian Food Under Pressure and South Asian Persuasion.

About Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley. Thanks for being here! I truly believe that food brings us closer together. Gather around a table with good food and good people, and you’ll have the ingredients you need to create some happy memories. My hope is that you find recipes here that you can’t wait to share with family and friends.


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  1. Cyndi says

    5 stars
    This was surprisingly delicious! It’s not a combination I would have tried, but your recipes have never disappointed me and I had some squash ends to use up, so I gave it a try. So glad I did! We will definitely eat this again.

  2. Steve says

    Very tasty recipe. Now a regular meal with us. Cannot buy Serrano pepper in my UK village so use any red chilli pepper I get on click and collect. ….sometimes too hot for my wife. Also use dried sage which is fine.

  3. Kasey says

    5 stars
    So delicious! Have made this tons of times and the whole family enjoys 🙂 I usually leave out the nutmeg and serrano pepper so not too spicy, don’t always have fresh sage, and have subbed in other types of squash- always delicious. Thanks Ashley!

  4. Ladyjorns says

    5 stars
    Flavorful, caramelized bits of spicy ground beef and a sweet, starchy veggie. Really, what more do you need?

  5. Mari H says

    5 stars
    Made this tonight in my instant pot- the squash basically dissolved so it was more of a stew. I also added extra minced garlic along with some pomegranate molasses to give it more of a middle eastern flavor. It was amazing! Husband inhaled it. Will keep this recipe for future use.

  6. Rose Martine says

    5 stars
    Thank you so much for wonderful recipes! What I love about your website most of all is that you post not only great recipes and descriptions but also stunning photos of food! Have a nice day!

  7. Maddy Chatterjee says

    5 stars
    This was an instant family favorite! I followed the recipe exactly as written but needed more cooking time because my butternut squash pieces were not very small.

    Will repeat with adding more vegetables- maybe bell peppers- and mushrooms.


  8. Alli says

    5 stars
    This recipe is amazing. I had signed up for Misfit Markets and got several butternut squashes, and didn’t know what to do with them. My husband and I are not generally fans of squash, but we both (and my son) love this recipe. They have asked that I add some cheese, which I will do next time, so well see how that works. 🙂

  9. Shelly says

    5 stars
    This was absolutely yummy!! I didn’t put the peppers in…but I did put crushed red pepper flakes. Also sprinkled nutritional yeast on top. My husband loaded butter on it. Even my super picky son cleaned his plate!
    Definitely a keeper!

  10. Deb says

    5 stars
    Delicious! I didn’t have a hot pepper on hand so I substituted siracha sauce. We ate ours on a bed of fresh spinach. So good!

  11. Tawnia says

    5 stars
    Delicious and quick to prepare, even cutting up my own squash from the garden. Definitely a keeper. Thank you for sharing.

  12. Robin says

    5 stars
    This was delicious! My husband and I don’t like hot spice, so I left out the serrano pepper. I didn’t have fresh sage and had to use dried, otherwise I followed the recipe and we loved it! We will definitely be having this again. Thank you.

  13. Theda says

    5 stars
    This was so amazing!!!! I can’t have meat at the moment, so I used the vegan meatless Smart Ground. We we’re super impressed.
    Spicy, but kept you going for the next bite.

  14. Joyce says

    5 stars
    I’ve never heard of a Serrano pepper. Avocado oil not really available in this rural small town I used green pepper, red pepper, olive oil. 4 cloves of garlic seemed like too much. Husband doesn’t like butternut squash.
    I kept thinking this needs something I got a little shredded cheddar cheese. That made a big difference. Husband ate it, Next time put the extra garlic in he liked it.
    The parts of this I didn’t like were things I did wrong. It didn’t take long to make I didn’t buy squash I picked one out of my garden. So I had a little extra prep time.

  15. Jen says

    5 stars
    My husband and I LOVE this recipe so much! We are having a baby in August so I’m desperately trying to freeze meals, I’m wondering if you’ve tried freezing and reheating this? Maybe not cooking it fully, then defrosting and heating up in a covered pan? Would love to be able to add it to the stash! Thanks for the delicious recipe!

    • My Heart Beets says

      Jen, that’s so great to hear! Congrats!! I haven’t tried freezing this recipe but I think it’d be good! You could also leave the butternut squash out and then just add it or another veggie in once you thaw it – that way there’s no chance of the squash getting mushy.

  16. Melody Severud says

    This was so yummy! This was so easy to make. I loved it the way it was but had to add some volume. I added a can of organic diced tomatoes, a red pepper. Both were great.

  17. Sarah says

    This recipe is so crazy good! I roasted the squash while doing the rest of the prep because I was hungry and impatient. Used the whole Serrano and a pinch of hot paprika in addition to the sweet. I can’t wait for lunch tomorrow! Thank you! This is going on my regular rotation. PS – don’t skip the sage!

    • My Heart Beets says

      Bobbie, I haven’t tested it this way but my guess is that the butternut might get too soft. You can try browning the beef then pressure cooking for just a minute to cook the squash? Let me know if you try it!

  18. Trish says

    I have made this several times and absolutely love it!! Very easy to make. The last few times I made it, I added spinach during the last minute and let it wilt. Just trying to get in some extra veggies 😉. Adding the spinach did not take away from the delicious flavors. Thank you for this great recipe!

    • My Heart Beets says

      Trish, I’m so happy to hear that! Thank you so much for letting me know how it turned out for you 🙂 And great tip about the spinach! I’ll definitely try that next time I make this!

  19. Ally says

    5 stars
    This was so easy and delicious! Came together quickly for an awesome mid-week meal. I used ground turkey instead of ground beef and also added 1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper to the spices. I anticipated this serving my partner & I for dinner & each having leftovers for lunch, but he went back for THIRDS! Can’t wait to try another recipe of yours!

  20. Christie says

    5 stars
    I made this tonight since it came up in my real meal planner and we loved it! My 4 year old ate it all! I did leave out the hot pepper but that was the only change. I knew she would complain about that lol. This didn’t use a lot of kitchen utensils to prep either. Overall it was a pleasure to make and eat!

    • My Heart Beets says

      Christie, I’m so glad you all liked it so much! Especially your 4-year-old! Thanks for letting me know how it turned out for you 🙂 Just curious – is this a meal plan program? Sounds neat 🙂

  21. Kim says

    I’m wondering if you could use this with brown rice lasagna pasta? I also would use ground turkey. Serve with a salad. Call it a complete meal? Gotta try this!

  22. Michelle says

    5 stars
    Loved this dish! Made it with ground turkey in my cast iron skillet, it was a perfect Fall dish~
    Thank you for the recipe!

  23. Tani says

    So, I’m assuming you eat this as is because its delicious and a great recipe (thanks for sharing). Yet, I come from a background that usually serves meals with a ton of side dishes and such. What are some other things that would go well with this dish? Is that a weird question? I don’t know.

    It is really good though and I plan to make more this season!

  24. Sue says

    5 stars
    Butternut squash and spicy beef was delicious!!!! I had to substitute all spice for the cloves and nutmeg ( didn’t know i was out) and i used a farm fresh squash so i added about a 1/4 cup of water to help steam. I will be making this again!!!

  25. Daniel R. S. says

    5 stars
    Great recipe. Made it for my wife and it was a hit! Going to pair the leftovers with a fried egg on top for brunch tomorrow.

    Thanks for sharing!

  26. Kat says

    Okay. Going to try this tonight. My husband can’t have onions, black pepper or garlic. So will sub onions and garlic for leeks ( yes he can have that 😊 ) and Cayanne pepper for the black pepper, pretty standard for this house by he can’t have a lot if things.
    Always on the hunt for something full of flavor, so I’m excited to try this. Thank you for the recipe.

  27. Rosanna says

    I have never made anything with butternut squash before. Are you supposed to cook the squash in anyway before you add it or does it cook with the beef?

  28. Kristy says

    Ooh, this sounds great! I’ve had a butternut squash lying around for a while – now I know what I’m doing with it! (Unfortunately I’ll have to prep it since it’s not all pre-peeled and cut like yours).

  29. Tracey says

    I’m a BIG fan of easy, delicious meals, so I’m looking forward to trying this tonight. One question I have is, do you have a suggestion to get rid of the grease from the ground beef before combining it with all the other ingredients? I don’t want the butternut squash sitting in all that grease.

  30. Natalie says

    My family loves this dish! I made it tonight while my husband is away, and he was so bummed to have missed it. Even my 3-year-old daughter loves it! And it is so easy and quick! Such a wonderful recipe! Thank you!

  31. Carolyn says

    5 stars
    Mmmm…..So glad I found this recipe! I love butternut squash but wanted to make something other than soup and roasted. This was delicious and I will be making it again for sure. I didn’t have any serrano peppers or sage on hand so I substituted chili powder and omitted sage and it worked out deliciously.

  32. Zoevina says

    I was planning to make this for dinner tonight but do not have nutmeg. Will it turn out with out the nutmeg and can I substitute fresh sage for fresh basil?

  33. Kathy Murphy says

    I want to make this a day ahead and reheat it in the oven on thanksgiving morning to serve with dinner,
    So my question is at what temperature and for how long do I reheat this dish in the oven to get it hot all throughout again????
    Please help!!!!

    • My Heart Beets says

      Hi Colleen, I don’t list serving sizes often because I’m not very good at judging how many people recipes will feed… it’s a pound of beef and a pound of butternut squash. I think it should make four meals? Sorry this isn’t more helpful…

  34. Stephanie says

    5 stars
    Ok so I made this for dinner tonight. The only tweaks I made were using smoked paprika and adding half a teaspoon of cayenne. (I add it literally wherever I think I can get away with it)…. This was seriously amazing. AMAZING. We also bought the pre-cut butternut squash from Costco. That’s how I even found this recipe. Hoping this becomes a staple here. Sooooo good! I need your opinion though. Do you think making it (doubling the recipe) would keep and reheat in a crockpot the next day? My work is having a potluck and I super want to make this.

    • My Heart Beets says

      Stephanie, I’m so glad you liked it!! 🙂 Yes, you can double it and keep it on your slow cooker’s warm mode. If you keep it on “low”, I would just be careful not to cook it for too long so the squash doesn’t become soft/mushy! Let me know how this turns out/what your coworkers think of the recipe!!

  35. Bonnie says

    5 stars
    I just made this for a house full of people including babies. Everyone loved it, though Im not sure they loved it as much as I did. For the babies sake I left out the peppers and added some turmeric for my tummies sake. I also cooked some jasmine rice with the same spices and it was SO yummy! You are my new favorite person. Next ill try your tandoori salmon.

  36. Jen says

    5 stars
    I came searching for an eggplant recipe, and ended up making this. This is a simple amazing recipe packed with flavor! I don’t mind the ground beef like this at all. Wondering, will removing the peppers change the flavor a lot? I’d like to make it more child friendly.

    • My Heart Beets says

      hey Jen! I’m glad you found my website 🙂 You can definitely remove the serrano pepper – just add a pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes to your bowl if you prefer it spicy. Hope that helps!

  37. Nicole says

    5 stars
    Made this tonight and it turned out really well! Do you have any recommendations of vegetables/legumes we could add to pack in a little more nutrition without messing with the flavor?
    I can’t wait to try more of your recipes!

    • Theresa says

      I added riced cauliflower. I didn’t have the Serrano pepper I literally found your recipe trying to figure out what to do with butternut and ground beef, and I’m so glad I found it. This was really good . Thank you so much

        • kathi says

          I was just looking for something to do with ground beef and butternut squash and I’m so happy I found this.
          It is beyond delicious. I didn’t have the pepper either so I substituted some Chipotle and I was lucky enough to have some fresh paprika and cumin from Morocco that my daughter just brought me. Thank you for such an easy, fantastic dish. Serving mine with salad and rice.

        • Cristin says

          5 stars
          Diddo, I usually have a lot on hand of everything but don’t like to make the same thing twice. My husband has been on Keto for a year now and I love to surprise him with NEW every night but
          This is now my second time trying this and going to try in the instant pot tonight wish me luck.

    • Lisa Pope says

      5 stars
      I added a bunch of kale! I strip the stems and cut them up too, cooking them with onions to soften, then adding the leaves at the end. Instead of just fresh sage, I browned it in butter before adding, yum… plus sprinkled with parm! Amazing! and my bf that won’t usually eat squash and kale, loved it too!

  38. Beth says

    This is amazing! I can’t have nightshades so I left out the paprika and Serrano peppers, but even then the flavor was incredible. I knew I had a busy evening, so cooked the meat and onion/garlic on the stove, then added it along with everything else to the slow cooker and cooked on high for a couple hours. We got home and the house smelled warm and inviting. This is another one of your recipes going in my recipe book. I will probably try sees potatoes next time because I always have them on hand. Thanks for making the healthy life sooo much tastier!

  39. Kat says

    I’ve tried a bunch of your recipes now and I am so glad to have found your site. Made this for dinner tonight and absolutely loved it. The hubby who claims to hate all forms of squash, utterly devoured it too. I didn’t have the Serrano pepper so I subbed cayenne powder in a pinch and seemed to blend with the dish beautifully. Can’t wait to try it again with the Serrano. Thanks Ashley! 😀

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