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This pumpkin chili recipe is hearty and cozy: the ideal crowd-pleasing meal! Pumpkin adds a creamy body this easy dinner.

Pumpkin Chili

Here’s a chili recipe that’s jumped to the top of our favorites list: Pumpkin Chili! Perhaps you already knew this secret, but adding pumpkin puree to chili adds an intensely creamy, flavorful body to this classic dish. (We’re not sure how we went so long without it!) This one is hearty and healthy, packed with spices, sweet potato and beans. Load it up with all your favorite chili toppings, and it’s a satisfying fall dinner recipe that’s ideal for weeknights or dinner parties. Everyone in our family raved over this one. You gotta try it!

Ingredients in this pumpkin chili recipe

Adding pumpkin puree to chili is genius, because it adds a hearty, creamy texture to the broth. This trick works in either meaty or vegetarian chili recipes. This recipe is vegetarian, but it’s easy to transform into a meaty chili by adding ground beef (notes on that are below). It’s so tasty, it might become your new go-to. Here’s what you’ll need for this chili recipe:

  • Butter or olive oil*
  • Yellow onion
  • Garlic
  • Green pepper
  • Sweet potato
  • Pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Tomato sauce
  • Kidney beans and pinto beans
  • Chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cinnamon and salt
  • Brown sugar, maple syrup or honey (optional)

The method for this pumpkin chili recipe is simple: sauté the vegetables, add the tomatoes, pumpkin, beans and spices, and simmer until the sweet potato is tender. It’s quick and simple, and takes about 40 minutes to put together.

Pumpkin Chili recipe

Variation: add ground beef (or plant-based)

Cooking for meat lovers? Or want to add plant-based crumbles to this pumpkin chili recipe? It’s easy to add in: you’ll need to add just 5 minutes to the cook time. Here’s what to do:

  • Use 1 pound ground beef or plant-based meat crumbles. (Our favorite plant-based brands are Impossible or Beyond.)
  • After sauteing the vegetables, add the ground beef and sauté until the meat is browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. The proceed with the remainder of the recipe!

Toppings for pumpkin chili

This pumpkin chili recipe is delicious on its own, but of course it’s even better with toppings! Here’s what we’d recommend for this chili, and a few more ideas for getting creative:

  • Sour cream and shredded cheese: A must! For vegan, omit the cheese and use Cashew Cream or Vegan Queso.
  • Green onion: Thinly sliced green onion is the best fresh accessory.
  • Pickled red onion: Having a batch of pickled red onions on hand for chili is ideal: the tangy flavor and pop of color are fantastic.
  • Crushed tortilla chips: We’ve taken to adding crushed chips to our chili and it adds just the right crunch.
  • Cilantro: Cilantro adds a fresh, inviting flavor.
  • Hot sauce: Use a Mexican-style hot sauce like Cholula.
  • Pumpkin seeds (pepitas): Crunchy salted pepitas are perfect to fit the pumpkin theme.
Pumpkin Chili

Diet swaps

On it’s own, this pumpkin chili is vegetarian and gluten-free. Want to make it vegan? Use olive oil instead of butter. For the toppings, use Cashew Cream or Vegan Queso. Then serve with Vegan Cornbread!

Leftover storage

This pumpkin chili recipe stores well and works great as leftovers! Here are a few notes on how to store leftover chili:

  • Refrigerate for up to 3 days. It can become very thick, so you may need to add a splash of water when reheating or broth when reheating.
  • Freeze for up to 3 months. This recipe stores well in a freezer-safe container.
Pumpkin Chili recipe

Sides for pumpkin chili

Want to make it into a hearty meal? Here are a few tasty side dishes we’d serve with this pumpkin chili. Let us know in the comments below if you have other ideas!

This pumpkin chili recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free. For dairy-free and vegan, see the “diet swaps” section above.

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Pumpkin Chili

Best Pumpkin Chili


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x

Description

This pumpkin chili recipe is hearty and cozy: the ideal crowd-pleasing meal! Pumpkin adds a creamy body this easy dinner. Want to add meat? See the notes below. 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil*
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 green pepper, small diced
  • 1 small sweet potato, small diced
  • 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • ½ tablespoon garlic powder
  • ½ tablespoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, maple syrup or honey (optional**)
  • For serving: shredded cheese, sour cream, green onions, pickled red onion, crushed tortilla chips, etc

Instructions

  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, green pepper and sweet potato and cook for 6 to 8 minutes until the onion is translucent and the sweet potatoes are almost tender.*
  2. Add the pumpkin puree, diced tomatoes and their juices, tomato sauce, drained and rinsed beans, water, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cinnamon, kosher salt, and sugar. 
  3. Bring to a simmer, then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the sweet potato is tender. If the chili seems very thick, add another ¼ cup water (and a bit more if necessary to come to the desired consistency). 
  4. Taste and add a few pinches kosher salt if desired. Serve warm, garnished with your favorite chili toppings.  

Notes

*Meat variation: After Step 1, add 1 pound ground beef or plant-based beef crumbles. Saute until the meat is browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Then proceed to Step 2.

**You can omit this if desired, but the sugar balances the acid of the tomatoes. If you’d like, you can add to taste at the end of simmering. 

  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Pumpkin chili

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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4 Comments

  1. I made this last year for my birthday and loved it. My mom is hosting my 52 birthday coming up and I offered to bring this for the veggies in the group. However, is there a way to modify this for a slow cooker? It would definitely travel easier like that – and stay warm easier on the table.

    1. We don’t have tons of experience, but some research says you’d cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours until the sweet potatoes are tender. If you do it, I’d saute the onion, garlic, and green pepper before mixing everything together.

  2. One of the best chilis I’ve made! I used rotel tomatoes and added some corn for extra color. This recipe is a keeper!

  3. well, didn’t see this coming, pumpkin chili, works for me as a chili love of all varieties, I just really like the basic chili ingredients like the spices and beans and other ingredients here, and pumpkin puree is definitely welcome too, thank you