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.
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.
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.
In savory applications like this one, you actually don’t even really know it’s 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!
This 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!
PS – Pro tip: make it ahead of time (the day before or morning of) so the flavors can develop even more. It just gets better with time!
Notes on the Recipe
Paleo? Vegan? Try this! – This 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 this? 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 this 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.
Want to Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree? My friend Melissa has this easy method for making you own!
Any tips for toppings? Absolutely. While the traditional cheese and sour cream might be your faves, I love using a dollop of this avocado ranch (paleo or vegan!) on top for a great dairy-free version.
You Might Also Like…
- Gluten Free (or Not!) Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins
- Creamy Avocado Ranch (a great paleo/vegan sub for sour cream)
- Pumpkin Taco Soup (another awesome savory pumpkin dish!)
- How to Make Pumpkin Puree from a Pumpkin
- 1lb ground beef*
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 (15oz) can pumpkin puree (NOT pie filling)
- 1 (15oz) can pinto beans, not drained
- 1 (15oz) can black beans, not drained
- 1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes, not drained
- salt and pepper, to taste
- olive oil
- In a large soup pot, brown ground beef with pepper, onion, and a drizzle of olive oil. As the meat and veggies are cooking, sprinkle over chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion, powder, and a healthy pinch of salt and pepper. When the meat is cooked through, and the veggies are tender, add pumpkin puree, undrained beans, and the tomatoes with their juice to the pan. Cover and simmer until ready to eat.
For a paleo version, skip the beans and add an extra bell pepper and another ½ 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).