The BEST EVER Pumpkin Chili – Pumpkin isn’t just for dessert! This pumpkin chili is a savory, filling meal you’ll make over and over. (Gluten free, dairy free)
Recipe, post, and photos updated Sept. 2017. Originally posted Sept. 2013.
I remember once going through the checkout with a few cans of pumpkin in my cart and the cashier holding it up, bewildered. “What do you make with this? I’ve only ever tried pumpkin bread.”
My heart broke for her.
I LOVE pumpkin things. Always have. Our family has been making these pumpkin muffins since I was in junior high, which sort of opened the door for All The Pumpkin Things ever since.
WHY I LOVE THIS PUMPKIN CHILI
IT’S GOOD FOR YOU! Pumpkin is SO full of nutrients. It’s an amazing source of vitamins, fiber, and all sorts of other goodies that keep us young and healthy. It’s another reason we try mixing it in whenever we can.
IT HAS AN AMAZING TEXTURE. In savory applications like this one, you actually don’t even really know the pumpkin is there. Instead, you just get an extra layer of vegetable-y goodness, silky texture, pretty color, and delicious flavor. It’s a trick you can use with any chili recipe, really. Just stir in a can of pumpkin to your favorite chili recipe and enjoy all the benefits!
IT’S PERFECT FOR COOL WEATHER. Pumpkin chili makes a spectacular Halloween pre-trick-or-treating meal. Hearty, festive, and…well…not candy-ish. It’s a favorite all through the colder months (and throughout the year because #teamforeverpumpkin). Add a side of pumpkin cornbread muffins and you’re in business!
IT GETS BETTER WITH TIME. I often like to make this pumpkin chili ahead of time (the day before or morning of) so the flavors can develop even more. It just gets better with time!
FAQ + TIPS ON THIS PUMPKIN CHILI
PALEO? VEGAN? TRY THIS! This is pumpkin chili recipe is a SUPER adaptable recipe and can fit almost any dietary restrictions.
- For a paleo version, skip the beans and add an extra bell pepper and another 1/2 lb. ground beef or turkey.
- For a vegan version, skip the meat and add another can of your favorite beans (kidney beans or another can of black beans are my two favorite choices).
CAN I FREEZE PUMPKIN CHILI? Yes! My favorite way for easy thawing is to put it into a freezer-safe bag, squeeze out any extra air and lay it flat on a plate or in a pan while it freezes. That way, you don’t end up with any surprise spills in your freezer and it freeze flat which makes for faster thawing.
CAN I MAKE PUMPKIN CHILI IN A SLOW COOKER? YES! That’s another reason it’s so great. You can choose to brown your beef and drain the fat before adding it to the crock (no need to cook any other ingredients), or if you’re using lean meat, you can toss it in raw. Just give everything a good stir and set to cook 2-3 hours on HIGH or 4-5 hours on low. I love this slow cooker because it has an automatic warming function (switches to warm when it’s done cooking) and is so easy to program.
ANY TIPS FOR TOPPINGS? Absolutely. While the traditional cheese and sour cream might be your faves, I love using diced avocado or a dollop of this avocado ranch (paleo or vegan!) on top of my pumpkin chili for a great dairy-free version.
LOVE THIS PUMPKIN CHILI? YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE…
- Gluten Free (or Not!) Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins
- Maple Cornbread
- Creamy Avocado Ranch (a great paleo/vegan sub for sour cream)
- Pumpkin Taco Soup (another awesome savory pumpkin dish!)
- Chili Mac (A great way to use leftovers!)
HELPFUL FOR THIS RECIPE: