This Instant Pot chicken stew with butternut squash is perfect fall comfort food. It is full of flavor and nutrition and is gluten free and dairy free. This creamy stew is full of chicken, squash, carrots and spinach with a spicy curry flavor.
I love to make hearty stews during the fall. There is something about a rich stew that is satisfying comfort food. And using the Instant Pot means I can make recipes like Instant Pot Pork Stew or Instant Pot Lamb Stew quickly, for an easy weeknight dinner.
The first time I made this stew I was trying to decide whether to make chicken stew or butternut squash soup for dinner. Then it dawned on me that the obvious solution to my dilemma was to combine the two and make this Instant Pot chicken stew with butternut squash.
The resulting dish was so tasty that I’ve made it a few times since. It is an easy dinner and the flavors are perfect for cold fall weather. The orange color of the finished stew flecked with green from the spinach is very pretty and adds to the seasonal appeal of the dish.
Can I Make this Stew with a Different Squash?
This stew would also be delicious if made with pumpkin or kabocha squash. I have made it with butternut squash and kabocha squash and both are very tasty.
In fact some of the pictures in this recipe show a sunshine squash, a type of kabocha, and some show a butternut squash. But I had to pick one for the recipe title and butternut squash is easier to find in stores, so I picked that!
I haven’t actually made this with pumpkin, but it should taste just as good. Pumpkin has a slightly stringier texture than either butternut squash or kabocha so the stew might not be quite as smooth and creamy.
This recipe is also perfect for using pre-chopped butternut squash. Cutting a butternut squash can be difficult because of the tough skin. Using precut squash saves you at least 5 minutes of chopping and peeling!
Using Up Leftovers
I usually make this stew with leftover, cooked chicken. You can also make it with uncooked chicken and I include directions for both ways of making the dish in the recipe card. Using uncooked chicken doesn’t really add any time to the recipe.
I have a feeling this stew would also taste delicious if made with leftover turkey. I am going to try it after Thanksgiving this year, since I am serving both turkey and butternut squash!
Curried Chicken Stew
This Instant Pot chicken stew is flavored with curry powder, ginger and jalapenos. This give it a rich, deep flavor with just a little bit of spiciness.
How to Make Instant Pot Chicken Stew with Squash
1. Saute the Onion
Turn the Instant Pot on Saute and add olive oil. Saute the onion in the oil for 5 minutes to soften it.
2. Add More Vegetables and Seasoning
Once the onions have cooked and start to brown turn the pressure cooker off. Then add the salt, pepper, garlic and ginger, jalapeno pepper, carrots, curry powder and cubed squash. Stir to mix.
3. Deglaze the Instant Pot
Since you only sauteed onions in the Instant Pot it might not need to be deglazed. But if any small bits of onion are stuck to the bottom of the inner pot it can cause a Burn error.
So, just to be sure, pour in the chicken broth and then scrape the bottom of the Pot with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits.
4. Add Uncooked Chicken
If you are using uncooked chicken put it in the Instant Pot now. If you are using leftover cooked chicken set it aside until after pressure cooking.
I only use dark meat chicken in my Instant Pot because I don’t like the texture of chicken breast after pressure cooking. For this recipe I use two chicken thighs.
Now that is not a lot of meat for four people. I like to make my soups and stews heavy on the vegetables and light on the meat. It makes them more nutritious and more frugal. But you could certainly add 4 chicken thighs if you prefer a heartier chicken stew.
5. Pressure Cook the Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash
Put the lid on the Instant Pot, making sure to close the pressure valve. Set the Instant Pot to Manual, high pressure for 5 minutes. Once the pressure cooker is done cooking let pressure naturally release for 5 minutes.
6. Mash the Chicken Stew to Thicken
After 5 minutes manually release the rest of the pressure in the Instant Pot. Take the lid off and use a hand held potato masher to gently mash half of the stew.
The carrots and squash will be soft, so you don’t need to use an immersion blender. I just gently mash it right in the Instant Pot, visually dividing it in half.
The pureed squash and carrots will thicken the stew to make it creamier and give it a pretty orange color.
7. Add Coconut Milk and Spinach
Once you have mashed enough, stir in the coconut milk and spinach. If you are using cooked chicken stir it in now too.
Put the lid back on the Instant Pot and let it rest for five minutes. That is long enough wilt the spinach a little bit, heat up the chicken and let the flavors merge together.
Can I Freeze This Instant Pot Chicken Stew
Like most stews this recipe freezes well. Vegetables in stew tend to get softer when frozen, but the vegetables in this stew are already pretty soft, so it probably won’t be noticeable.
This can be frozen in containers or in zipper freezer bags and will keep well for about 3 months. It will be best if you thaw it before reheating and gently stir it as it reheats.
What to Serve With Chicken Stew with Butternut Squash
This easy pressure cooker chicken stew is a complete meal. You could serve it with a green salad or a quick bread like savory scones.
The soup is gluten free, dairy free and low in calories. This rustic chicken stew is also packed with flavor and lots of nutrients like Vitamin A and potassium from the squash. It makes a delicious fall dinner! And if you love cooking with winter squash try this pumpkin chili recipe!
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tablespoon ginger, minced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 2 cups carrots, sliced
- 6 cups butternut squash, cubed
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 2 chicken thighs, diced, cooked or uncooked
- 1 can coconut milk
- 2 cups spinach, chopped
- Turn the Instant Pot on Saute and add olive oil. Add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes.
- Turn the Instant Pot off. Add the garlic, ginger, jalapeno pepper, salt, pepper, curry powder, carrots and butternut squash.
- Add the chicken broth and stir everything to deglaze the Instant Pot. Scrape the bottom of the Instant Pot to make sure there are no browned onion bits stuck to the bottom.
- If you are using uncooked chicken add it to the Instant Pot now. If you are using leftover cooked chicken wait until after pressure cooking to add the chicken.
- Put the lid on the Instant Pot and make sure it is sealed. Set it on Manual, high pressure, for 5 minutes. It will take about 10 minutes to reach pressure. Once it has finished let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, then release the remaining pressure.
- Take the lid off and use a hand held potato masher to gently mash about half the stew. This will thicken the stew.
- Add the coconut milk, chopped spinach and chicken if you are using already cooked chicken. Stir, then put the lid back on the Instant Pot and let it rest for 5 minutes.
I like to make stews with lots of vegetables and less meat. Increase the amount of chicken to 3 or 4 chicken thighs if you want more chicken in your stew.
I don't like the texture of chicken breast after pressure cooking, but you could substitute it for thighs if you prefer white meat.
This can also be made with kabocha squash or pumpkin for a very similar taste.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 574Total Fat: 35gSaturated Fat: 22gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 85mgSodium: 1125mgCarbohydrates: 53gFiber: 16gSugar: 12gProtein: 25g
Nutrition facts are estimates.