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Butternut Squash and Yam Curry

Butternut squash and yam curry makes a comforting fall and winter meal! Hearty vegetables stewed in coconut milk sauce, this flavor-packed recipe is a household favorite!

Butternut squash and yam curry recipe with brown rice and garbanzo beans in two white bowls on a wood background with a red napkin to the side.

If there is anything in this world that is more comforting than a delicious curry recipe, it is a delicious fall curry recipe that is full to the brim with carbohydrate-dense fall vegetables.

The combination of fresh butternut squash and yams (or sweet potatoes) generates a filling and completely satisfying meal. If you’re a big fan of curry, you will go wild for this butternut squash curry! 

Warm spices like ground cumin, coriander, and turmeric pair magically with rich and creamy coconut milk, fresh and bold onion, garlic, and ginger to create the most decadent sauce for butternut squash and yams to become enveloped in Thai flavors.

Before we get started, I thought I would mention that this is in no way a traditional Thai recipe.

It is simply my own rendition of a Thai-inspired curry made with in season vegetables. Nevertheless, I think you’ll love it!

Butternut Squash and Yam Curry on top of brown rice in a white bowl.

Let’s discuss the ingredients for yam curry.

Ingredients for Butternut Squash and Yam Curry:

Coconut Oil or Avocado Oil: Used to sauté the vegetables, we need a quality high-temperature cooking oil like avocado oil or coconut oil. Olive oil works too.

Butternut Squash and Yams: The two stars of the show here! Fresh butternut squash and yams or sweet potatoes get cooked together in an amazing coconut curry sauce for amazing fall comfort food! 

Use any type of sweet potato or yam, including jewel yams, regular sweet potatoes, white sweet potatoes, purple sweet potatoes, etc. To save time, buy pre-cut butternut squash from the grocery store. 

Yellow Onion, Garlic Cloves, Fresh Ginger: Onion and fresh garlic cloves bring a tremendous amount of flavor to any recipe, and curry is no exception.

Fresh ginger is paramount in Thai curry recipes because it provides that incredibly unique flavor that is otherwise difficult to mimic.

Adjust the amount of ginger up or down according to your personal taste.

Seasonings: Ground cumin, ground coriander, garlic powder, cardamom, cayenne pepper, ground turmeric, and sea salt. This combination of spices is commonly used in both Thai and Indian curry recipes. They are what give curry its unmistakable flavor. 

If you have yellow curry powder on hand (or yellow curry paste, green curry paste, Thai red curry paste, etc.), you can replace all of the spices with 2 to 3 tablespoons of curry powder (according to taste).

Full-Fat Canned Coconut Milk: The coconut curry sauce is made with two cans of full-fat coconut milk.

This ingredient is paramount in producing the flavor and texture we all love in Thai curries.

If you’re looking for a lower fat meal, feel free to use light coconut milk but just know that the flavor won’t be quite as rich and luscious.

Garbanzo Beans (also known as Chickpeas): I add one can of chickpeas to the curry to bring a boost of plant-based protein. The combination of brown rice and beans completes the amino acid profile for a protein-rich meal.

To increase the amount of protein, add another can of beans, or use animal protein like salmon, chicken, pork, or shrimp if you aren’t plant-based.

There are many ways you can customize this healthy dinner recipe! Here are some ideas.

Recipe Adaptations:

  • Add your favorite animal protein if you aren’t vegan – chicken and shrimp are great options!
  • Use tofu or tempeh in addition to the chickpeas for some plant-based protein.
  • Toss in your favorite fall vegetables. All root vegetables work great here! Just not that the cooking times may vary depending on which vegetables you use.
  • Make sweet potato curry by swapping out the yam for a large sweet potato. Any color works!
  • If you have garam masala on hand, feel free to add one teaspoon.
  • Mix in 1 tablespoon of fish sauce if you have it on hand and enjoy the flavor in curries. 
  • Substitute one of the cans of coconut milk for vegetable broth or vegetable stock for a lower fat curry recipe. You can also use lite coconut milk instead of full fat coconut milk. Just note that the curry won’t be as rich.
  • Mix in any of your favorite vegetables like baby spinach or cauliflower. 
  • Looking for a burst of umami flavor? Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of soy sauce (before adding any additional salt).
  • Use 2 to 4 tablespoons of any kind of Thai curry paste instead of the spices listed in the recipe.
  • While I find this creamy butternut squash curry recipe to be sweet enough, you can add 1 to 3 tablespoons of pure maple syrup, coconut sugar, or brown sugar to make it sweeter.
  • Spice it up with more cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes. You can also add any amount of red Thai chilis. 
  • Use an immersion blender to blend all of the ingredients together after they have finished cooking to create curry butternut squash soup.
Skillet with butternut squash and yam curry. Finished and ready to serve.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s make this easy vegan curry recipe!

How to Make Butternut Squash and Yam Curry:

Use a vegetable peeler to peel the thick peels off of the butternut squash and the yam. Use a sharp knife to cut the vegetables into chunks.

I like chopping the butternut squash into smaller chunks than the sweet potatoes because it tends to take slightly longer to cook than sweet potatoes. The small chunks helps even out the cooking times. 

In a large skillet or large thick-bottomed pot (I recommend a 12-inch skillet with a deep lip or a Dutch oven), heat the oil over medium heat.

Add the sliced onion and sauté for about 2 to 5 minutes, or until the onion has softened. 

Onions stir frying in a large skillet

Stir in the chopped butternut squash, chopped yam, and grated ginger. Sauté vegetables for about 3 minutes to allow them to soften up. 

Chopped butternut squash, onion, and yams cooking in a skillet.

Add the garlic and spices to the skillet and sauté another 1-2 minutes before adding the coconut milk and garbanzo beans. Stir well to incorporate everything together.

Butternut squash curry ingredients in a skillet, needing to be stirred.
Butternut squash curry with chickpeas added on top, ready to be mixed in.

Cover the skillet with a lid and bring the butternut squash curry to a full boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue cooking until vegetables are cooked through and fork tender, stirring periodically, about 10 to 15 minutes.

If serving the curry with brown rice or white rice, prepare the rice while the curry is cooking. Red lentils, basmati rice, and jasmine rice are also great options for serving. Include a side salad for even more variety!

Finished butternut squash curry in a skillet.

Serve sweet potato curry with chopped Thai basil, fresh cilantro or chopped chives and a side of naan bread. I like serving the curry with lime wedges to drizzle fresh lime juice over the meal. 

Store leftover curry in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. You can also freeze this easy curry recipe in a large freezer bag for up to 3 months.

Curry recipes are even more flavorful the next day and the 2-3 days following prep! For this reason, don’t be shy about making the recipe ahead of time as a meal prep recipe.

Seasonal fall vegetables stewed in an aromatic coconut milk sauce? I can’t think of anything more comforting to take the edge off busy weeknights!

Butternut Squash and Yam Curry in a white bowl with a wood inlay fork and a red napkin to the side.

This vegan butternut squash curry hits all the bases – it’s fairly quick and easy to prepare, comes with all sorts of carby deliciousness, is packed with flavor, and is perfect as a meal prep recipe or for serving the whole family. 

The next time you’re craving an easy butternut squash curry, whip up this simple recipe for the ultimate comfort food.

If you love hearty plant-based dishes, also try out these reader favorites:

More Plant-Based Dinner Recipes:

Carb-loaded curry for life!

Butternut Squash and Yam Curry in a white bowl with a wood inlay fork and a red napkin to the side.
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5 from 1 vote

Butternut Squash and Yam Curry

A delicious vegan curry recipe with butternut squash, yams, and chickpeas is so cozy and comforting during the fall and winter months! Serve it up with steamed brown rice for a healthy meal!
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Main Dishes, Meatless Main Dishes
Cuisine: American, Thai
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Calories: 630kcal
Author: Julia

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil or avocado oil
  • 1/2 medium-sized yellow onion chopped
  • 1 large jewel yam chopped into ½” cubes (4 cups)
  • 1 small butternut squash peeled and chopped into ½” cubes (4 cups)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger peeled and grated
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper optional
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans full-fat canned coconut milk*
  • 1 (15-oz) can garbanzo beans drained

For Serving:

  • Cooked brown rice
  • 1 bunch chives chopped
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro chopped

Instructions

  • In a large skillet or large thick-bottomed pot (I recommend a 12-inch skillet with a deep lip), heat oil to medium-high heat.
  • Add the onion and sauté about 2 minutes.
  • Add the butternut squash, yam, and grated ginger. Stir and sauté about 3 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and spices, and sauté another 3 minutes before adding the coconut milk and garbanzo beans. Stir well to incorporate everything together.
  • Cover the skillet with a lid and bring the butternut squash curry to a full boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue cooking until vegetables are cooked through, stirring periodically, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • If serving the curry with rice, prepare the rice while the curry is cooking.
  • Serve with chopped Thai basil, or cilantro and chopped chives.

Notes

*Use two cans of coconut milk if you like a lot of sauce in your curries. If you go this route, you may consider adding extra spices, like another tablespoon of curry powder.
You can replace all of the individual spices with a total of 2 to 3 tablespoons of curry powder. Curry powder is a blend of ground cumin, coriander, garlic powder, turmeric, and cayenne pepper and sometimes cardamom, so replacing them with curry powder yields the same result. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1Serving (of 3) | Calories: 630kcal | Carbohydrates: 77g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 26g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 890mg | Fiber: 15g | Sugar: 20g

This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission off items you purchase at no additional cost to you.

I originally shared this butternut squash curry recipe on November 5, 2013. I updated the photographs and added more relevant information to the post but the recipe itself is largely the same.

Recipe Rating




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Patience

Friday 20th of October 2023

This was a very good, simple dish!! I did add chicken to the dish and used the 2 cans of coconut milk. So good! Thank you!!

Julia

Saturday 21st of October 2023

I love this dish with chicken! Happy you enjoyed it :)

Maureen Lamarche

Sunday 15th of October 2023

Delicious and perfect for a Fall meal.

Julia

Monday 16th of October 2023

I'm so happy you enjoy it, Maureen! We just had some again tonight! xo

Gina

Sunday 19th of January 2014

Guess what we are having for dinner tonight? Yes, this curry. Can't wait to try it. My hubby always says my curry is bland bet he won't say that tonight. Will let you know how it goes.

Kari@Loaves n Dishes

Saturday 9th of November 2013

I love that you blended your own spice mix instead of buying a generic jar of "curry". It adds so much more personality to the dish! And I'm 100% with you on the microwave thing, although I do microwave corn on the cob in the husk.

Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli

Saturday 9th of November 2013

So this onion and squash wok into a bar...

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