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The BEST EVER Pumpkin Chili (Gluten & Dairy Free)

The BEST EVER Pumpkin Chili – Pumpkin isn’t just for dessert! This healthy pumpkin chili recipe is a savory, filling meal you’ll make over and over (Gluten-free, dairy-free)

BEST EVER Pumpkin Chili from One Lovely Life

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.

As much as I love sweet applications–blender pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin cake, pumpkin oatmeal, etc. I really REALLY love savory pumpkin recipes, too.

Sometimes that’s pumpkin corrnbread muffins, or a pumpkin curry, or pumpkin taco soup, but this healthy Pumpkin Chili Recipe has been the most popular pumpkin recipe on my site since 2013. It’s won more than a dozen chili cook-offs for readers over the years!

It’s AMAZING, if I do say so myself, and here’s why I think you’ll love it too.

The BEST EVER Pumpkin Chili from One Lovely Life

5 Reasons You’ll Love This Pumpkin Chili Recipe:

  1. 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.
  2. IT HAS AN AMAZING TEXTURE. In savory pumpkin recipes 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!
  3. IT WORKS WITH ANY GROUND MEAT. You can make our pumpkin chili with ground beef, ground chicken, ground pork, or ground turkey. Many folks have also made it with ground meat alternatives (like Impossible) over the last few years. It all works!
  4. IT’S PERFECT FOR COOL WEATHER. Our healthy pumpkin chili makes a spectacular Halloween pre-trick-or-treating meal. Hearty, festive, and, well, not candy. This savory pumpkin recipe is a family favorite all through the colder months (and throughout the year because #teamforeverpumpkin). Add a side of pumpkin cornbread muffins and you’re in business!
  5. IT GETS BETTER WITH TIME. I often like to make this chili ahead of time (the day before or morning of) so the flavors can develop even more. It just gets better with time!
The BEST EVER Pumpkin Chili

How To Make Pumpkin Chili – Ingredients & Method

Did I convince you to give our healthy pumpkin chili recipe a try? Great! Here’s what you’ll need to make the chili, plus how to make pumpkin chili, step-by-step.

Ingredients For Pumpkin Chili:

  • Ground Beef (Or Chicken, Turkey, or Pork). You’ll start your pumpkin chili with ground meat. Pick your favorite or choose from whatever’s on sale this week!
  • Onion & Bell Pepper. Our flavor base starts with onion & bell pepper. They start the classic savory flavor I’m going for.
  • Our Chili Spices. For our pumpkin chili seasoning, I use a blend of chili powder, cumin, garlic & onion powder, and salt. For a bit more kick, feel free to add some chipotle chili powder or smoked paprika.
  • Pumpkin Puree. Here’s how we turn this into pumpkin chili! A can of unsweetened pumpkin puree adds thickness without making this taste like pumpkin. (It won’t be like pumpkin spice!)
  • Two Kinds Of Beans. Next up is two kinds of beans. I like pinto beans and black beans for my pumpkin chili, though you can certainly use other options, like kidney beans or great northern beans.
  • Diced Tomatoes. I love fire-roasted tomatoes, especially Muir Glen brand. They have a nice char and feel less acidic than other brands.
  • Goods On Top! I usually finish my chili with some fresh cilantro (the pop of green is so pretty!), but don’t miss the FAQ below for more of our favorite toppings.

Method: How To Make Pumpkin Chili, Step-By-Step

  1. Brown The Meat. In a large soup pot, brown ground beef with pepper, onion, and a drizzle of olive oil.
  2. Add Chili Seasonings. As the meat and veggies are cooking, sprinkle over chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion, powder, smoked paprika an/or chipotle chili powder (if using), and salt. 
  3. Add Pumpkin, Beans & Tomatoes. When the meat is cooked through and the veggies are tender (10-15 minutes), add pumpkin puree, undrained beans, and the tomatoes with their juice to the pan.
  4. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes, or until ready to eat.
  5. Garnish. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro, sour cream, diced avocado, cheese or dairy-free cheese, as desired!
The BEST EVER Pumpkin Chili from One Lovely Life

FAQ + TIPS AND TRICKS FOR THE BEST PUMPKIN CHILI

WHAT DOES PUMPKIN CHILI TASTE LIKE? Honestly, you won’t taste the pumpkin, and it won’t taste like the sweetness of pumpkin spice. It tastes like traditional chili, but with a thicker, more velvety texture.

PALEO? TRY THIS! This is healthy pumpkin chili recipe is a SUPER adaptable recipe and can fit almost any dietary restrictions. If you’d like to adapt it to be a whole30 or paleo pumpkin chili recipe, just skip the beans and add an extra bell pepper and another 1/2 lb. ground beef or turkey.

CAN I MAKE THIS AS VEGAN PUMPKIN CHILI? You bet! I’ve got a Vegetarian Pumpkin Chili Recipe here. It’s delicious and meatless.

CAN YOU FREEZE PUMPKIN CHILI? Yes! My favorite way to freeze pumpkin chili 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 helps it thaw faster later!

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 in a skillet 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 option. Try serving it with gluten-free corn bread or our baked tortilla chips!

The BEST EVER Pumpkin Chili

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HELPFUL TOOLS & INGREDIENTS FOR THIS PUMPKIN CHILI RECIPE: 

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The BEST EVER Pumpkin Chili from One Lovely Life

BEST EVER Pumpkin Chili (Gluten & Dairy Free)


  • Author: One Lovely Life
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: About 10 cups 1x

Description

I love making chili the day before I need it. It gets better with time! Don’t miss the notes section for tips on adapting this for vegan or paleo diets. (It’s SO EASY!)


Ingredients

Scale

For The Pumpkin Chili:

  • 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil.
  • 1 lb. ground beef*
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Optional, for more heat: 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika, 1/4-1/2 tsp. chipotle chili powder
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree (NOT pie filling)
  • 1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, not drained
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, not drained
  • 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes, not drained (I like fire-roasted)

For Garnish:

  • chopped cilantro, sliced green onions or snipped chives, sliced jalapeno, diced avocado, sour cream, yogurt, cheddar cheese, or dairy-free cheese, as desired.

Instructions

  1. Brown The Meat. In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, brown ground beef over medium heat with pepper, onion, and a drizzle of olive oil.
  2. Add Chili Seasonings. As the meat and veggies are cooking, sprinkle over chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion, powder, smoked paprika an/or chipotle chili powder (if using), and salt. 
  3. Add Pumpkin, Beans & Tomatoes. When the meat is cooked through and the veggies are tender (10-15 minutes), add pumpkin puree, undrained beans, and the tomatoes with their juice to the pan.
  4. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes, or until ready to eat.
  5. Garnish. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro, sour cream, diced avocado, cheese or dairy-free cheese, as desired!
  6. Store. Keep leftovers covered in the refrigerator 5-7 days, or in the freezer up to 2 months. 

Notes

FOR A PALEO VERSION, skip the beans and add an extra bell pepper and another 1/2 lb. ground beef or turkey.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Category: Main Dish, Soup, Chili
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Pumpkin Chili, gluten free pumpkin chili, best pumpkin chili, dairy free pumpkin chili, pumpkin chili recipe

81 Comments

  1. It truly was the best chili ever! Was it the best pumpkin chili I’ve ever had? Yes! But it was also the best chili I’ve had in general. It was perfect. Simple, yet flavorful. I used turkey instead of beef and added some shredded havarti cheese on top. Delicious!

      1. And thank you so much for the recipe! My mom tried it and loved it as well. She had never tried chili before because she was uncertain if she would like it and she loves it now. ☺️

  2. I made this recipe last night and it was a huge hit! It was so easy and quick to make. We loved it and will definitely make it again! It went really well with corn muffins. Next time I may try adding fresh corn in the chili! 💗

  3. Just made this, it was pretty good but it was a bit bland. Might not be the recipe, maybe my chili powder is weak. Next time I think I’ll double the seasoning and maybe add some chipotle or smoked paprika.

  4. This was killer! Loved the flavors and added some chili pinto beans and red and yellow peppers. Will surely repeat! Thanks.

  5. I served this for my bunco group. So quick and easy to make the day before. I used Impossible burger instead of meat as we have a couple of vegetarians in our group. The spices are perfect, not too much heat and lots of flavor. Everyone LOVED it. I followed the recipe exactly except Instead of a 30oz can of diced tomatoes I used one 15oz can of fire roasted diced tomatoes and 1 15oz can regular. Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe.

    1. Carolyn – Thank you SO much for taking the time to leave a review! I’m so glad to know it works with the Impossible Burger–thank you for sharing!

  6. My 6 year granddaughter is allergic to gluten & dairy. So prefect meal for her. We doubled the recipe as we are having a Halloween dinner here this evening. As to much for my crock pot I am having to eat some now, lol. The only thing I found was that it is really bland. I doubled the recipe & spices. So went back & doubled the spices again & that did the trick. Hoping once the chili cooks few hours the tomatoes will blend in better. We will for sure fix this again.

  7. Outstanding per the hubby and little granddaughters.
    I added a dash of cinnamon, 1 tbs chipotle chili powder & 1/4 chocolate chips.
    5 stars!

  8. I was hoping I wouldn’t concur with the reviews that said it was bland, but I did. I’m probably used to spicier chili. But it is a good base recipe to add to! I doubled the chili powder, added fresh minced garlic, more salt and pepper and cayenne, and it was pretty good. Think I’ll give the cinnamon a go on my next try.

  9. This was so delicious!! I replaced the beef with ground pork and it was just as good. I also served the chili inside a pumpkin for fun. I will definitley be making this recipe every fall.

  10. Waaaay to thick. Had to add 1.5 cups of beef broth get the consistency I like. Another suggestion would be going with one small can of diced tomatoes and one small can of crushed tomatoes. Your recipe was way too thick for my liking.

  11. Love this! So delicious, nutritious. It’s become our “Halloween Eve” tradition with a whole-wheat jack o’ lantern crust. I’m sharing your recipe on my blog colormyfood.com 😊

  12. Wonderful recipe! I made it with beef and fresh pumpkin purée. I use all recommended spices, including smoke paprika,chipotie.

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