This Thai inspired butternut squash curry with chickpeas and spinach is creamy, comforting and easy to prepare in 45 minutes.
About this Recipe
This creamy butternut squash curry is easy to make but delivers outstanding flavour making it ideal for everything from no-fuss weeknight meals to entertaining.
The recipe is brimming with the flavour thanks to roasted butternut squash, coconut milk, tomato, spices and lime. Roasting the squash enhances out its natural flavours adding a subtle earthy sweetness to the dish.
While the butternut squash is roasting, you’ll cook up aromatics like shallot, garlic and ginger and then add curry powder and red curry paste to continue building the flavour.
Tomato, coconut milk and broth add a creamy base and chickpeas and spinach are added for nutrition and texture.
Lime, sugar and cilantro pull everything together at the end for an addictive balance of spicy, sweet, tangy and umami flavours.
The curry is perfect for weeknight dinners as it’s easy to make with pantry ingredients. You’ll love warming up with a bowl of this curry on a cold winter day!
Vegan and gluten-free.
Easy to make with simple ingredients.
Ready in 45 minutes.
Serve with rice for a complete meal.
Customize with different veggies.
Please note the complete ingredient list with amounts if found in the recipe card at the end of the post. This section covers notes on each ingredient and possible substitutions.
Butternut Squash: You’ll need one medium-sized butternut squash or about 4-5 cups diced. Sweet potato or another variety of squash would work well as a substitute. The amount doesn’t have to be exact so don’t worry too much about the size of the squash.
Oil: You can use any kind of cooking oil you like for roasting the squash. I used olive oil.
Coconut Oil: Coconut oil works well for sautéing the aromatics and veggies and toasting the spices. You can substitute another oil like avocado oil or olive oil if you prefer.
Shallot: Shallot works great here but you can substitute another variety of onion if that’s what you have.
Garlic & Ginger: For the best flavour, you’ll need fresh garlic and ginger for this recipe.
Curry Powder: Use a mild yellow curry powder.
Red Curry Paste: Use Thai red curry paste or substitute yellow curry paste.
Crushed Tomato: Use canned crushed tomatoes or substitute canned diced tomatoes. Crushed tomato will make the curry base a bit smoother but diced tomato also works well.
Coconut Milk: You can use light or regular canned coconut milk. Full-fat/regular coconut milk is suggested.
Stock: Any vegetable broth or stock works. If you don’t have any on hand, you can use water.
Soy Sauce or Tamari: Use any soy sauce, I prefer sodium-reduced soy sauce, or substitute gluten-free tamari if needed.
Coconut Sugar: Just a little sugar to balance the flavours. You can substitute white or brown sugar or even maple syrup.
Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans): Canned chickpeas work fine or you can cook your own from scratch.
Spinach: I think baby spinach is the best green to use here though baby kale would also work.
Cilantro: Use cilantro or try Thai basil.
Lime: Lime adds a little acidity at the end to brighten and balance the flavour.
Roast the Squash
The first step is to roast the butternut squash. This step caramelizes the natural sugars in the squash, intensifying the flavour for extra deliciousness!
Begin by preparing the squash.
Cut the ends off, peel it and cut in half in crosswise so you have the top half and the bottom half in two sections.
Cut each of those in half length-wise, then use a spoon to scoop the seeds out. Dice it all up into approximately 3/4-inch cubes.
Drizzle the squash with the oil, 1 tsp of the curry powder and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Roast the squash the squash on a baking sheet on the middle rack in the oven for 24-28 minutes, giving it a stir half way through roasting.
Start the Curry
While the squash is roasting, you can get started on the curry.
Heat the coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat then add the shallots and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring them often until they’re tender and fragrant.
Add the garlic, ginger, remaining curry powder and the Thai red curry paste. Cook the mixture for another minute or two while stirring to toast the spices.
Add the crushed tomato, coconut milk, chickpeas and 1 cup of broth or water, scraping the bottom of the pot to loosen any brown bits.
Season the mixture with a pinch of salt and pepper and bring it to a simmer over medium-high heat. Once it’s simmering, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook it for about 12-15 minutes until it reduces a bit (thickens).
Finish the Curry
To finish your curry, spinach, soy sauce or tamari and coconut sugar and mix for a couple of minutes until the spinach wilts and mixes in.
Stir in the roasted butternut squash, lime juice and fresh cilantro.
Quick Note: For an extra creamy finish, try blending a scoop of the roasted butternut squash with 2 cups of the curry liquid (before adding the spinach), then pouring the blended portion back into the pot and stirring to combine.
You could also pulse an immersion blender in the pot a few times after adding the squash but before adding the spinach.
Serve the Curry
Serve your curry right away, over basmati rice and topped with more cilantro and lime and chopped peanuts or cashews, if desired. Some fresh naan, roti or pita is also delicious for dipping!
You can use anywhere from 1-5 cups of broth depending on how thick you’d like your curry or if you’re making soup. Note that it will thicken substantially storing so I find about 2 cups works best.
Variations & Additions
Butternut Squash Curry Soup: This make this into curried squash soup, increase the broth to 4-5 cups.
Additional vegetables that work well are red or green bell pepper, green beans, zucchini, cauliflower or carrot. You can add up to 2 cups additional vegetables, adding them when you add the garlic and ginger. I’d suggest keeping it simple and only adding 1-2 extras.
For peanut curry, add 1-2 tbsp peanut butter when you add the coconut sugar and soy sauce.
For a lower-sodium recipe, use reduced sodium soy sauce and broth, use water instead of broth.
For spicy curry, add 1-2 Thai red chilis with the garlic and ginger. Be careful as they’re quite hot! You could also use 1-2 tsp sambal oelek or up to 1 tsp of red pepper flakes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have to roast the butternut squash?
No. You don’t have to but I like the flavour and texture the roasting adds. To make this recipe in one pot without roasting the squash. Add the squash when you add the chickpeas and simmer until the squash is tender.
Fridge: Let the curry cool then store in an airtight container for 4-5 days.
Freezer: Let the curry cool completely then store in a heavy-duty freezer bag or freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge before reheating.
Reheat the curry in a pan on the stovetop over medium heat until simmering or in the microwave in 30-second increments until heated through.
1 540 mL (19 oz) can chickpeas or 2 cups cooked chickpeas
4 cups baby spinach (85 g)
¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
½ lime, juice
Prepare the Squash: Preheat the oven 400 F. Cut both ends off the squash, peel it, then cut in half crosswise so you have the top and bottom as two pieces. Slice each piece in half down the center vertically, so that you now have 4 pieces of squash. Use a spoon to scoop out and discard the seeds and pulp.Cut the squash into ¾-inch pieces.
Roast Squash: Transfer squash to a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tsp oil, then season with 1 tsp of the curry powder and a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Roast on the middle rack of the oven for 24-28 min, stirring halfway, until tender and golden-brown. Roasting the squash caramelizes the natural sugars, intensifying the flavour.
Saute Shallot: While the squash roasts, in a large pot, heat 1 tbsp coconut oil over medium heat. When the pot is hot, add the shallots. Cook for 3-5 min, stirring often, until tender.
Add Ginger, Garlic & Spices: Add garlic, ginger, 1 tsp curry powder and curry paste. Cook for another 1-2 mins, stirring constantly, to toast the spices.
Add Liquids & Chickpeas: Add tomatoes, chickpeas, coconut milk and 1 cup of the broth, scraping bottom of the pot to loosen all the brown bits. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Once simmering, reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 12-15 mins, until slightly reduced.
Optional – Blend Curry: If you’d like the curry to be thicker, scoop about 2 cups of the curry into a blender and add about 1 cup of the roasted butternut squash. Blend until smooth then pour back into the pot. You can also pulse an immersion blender in the pot a few times after adding the squash but before adding the spinach. This step is optional.
Finish Curry: Add the spinach, soy sauce and coconut sugar. Cook for another 2-4 min, stirring occasionally, until spinach wilts and flavours are combined. Add the butternut squash, lime juice and chopped cilantro. Adjust the consistency with additional broth, if desired.
Serve Curry: Divide curry between bowls alongside rice of choice. Top with remaining more cilantro, lime and peanuts, if desired.
To serve as a butternut squash curry soup, increase the broth to 4 cups. For varying thickness, you can use anywhere between 1-5 cups of broth. It’s suggested to start with 1 cup of broth and slowly increase to reach your desired consistency. Note that the curry will thicken substantially after storing, so I usually use 2-3 cups broth.
Store leftover curry in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave. To freeze, cool completely and store in a heavy duty freezer bag or container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge before reheating.