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)
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. Especially this time of year! 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.
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 the perfect recipe for pumpkin season, and it’s one that’ll please the whole family.
It’s AMAZING, if I do say so myself, and here’s why I think you’ll love it too.
5 Reasons You’ll Love This Chili Recipe:
- IT’S GOOD FOR YOU! Pumpkin (even canned 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 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 to take almost any homemade chili recipe to whole new level. Just stir in a can of pumpkin to your favorite chili recipe and enjoy all the benefits!
- 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!
- 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!
- 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!
WHAT DOES PUMPKIN CHILI TASTE LIKE? Honestly, you won’t taste the pumpkin flavor, and it won’t taste like the sweetness of pumpkin spice or pumpkin pie spice. It tastes like traditional chili, but with a thicker, more velvety texture.
Simple Ingredients For Pumpkin Chili:
- Lean 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 colorful veggies–yellow onion & green 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. These warm spices add so much flavor!
- Pumpkin Puree. Here’s how we turn this into pumpkin chili! The addition of 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 types 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 chili toppings.
Method: How To Make Pumpkin Chili, Step-By-Step
- Brown The Meat. In a large pot, brown ground beef with pepper, onion, and a drizzle of olive oil.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes, or until ready to eat.
- Garnish. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro, sour cream, diced avocado, cheese or dairy-free cheese, as desired!
- Store leftover chili in an airtight container in the fridge up to 3-4 days, or freeze up to 2 months. (I love to make this chili in advance–it tastes even better the next day!)
FAQ + Tips And Tricks For The Best Pumpkin Chili Recipe:
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, using an extra can of beans, vegetable broth and a few other tricks to make it as a meatless chili.
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!
⭐ Don’t forget to leave a star review and comment below when you make our easy Pumpkin Chili recipe. I can’t wait to hear how it goes!Print