This pumpkin chili is so rich and flavorful! You can't taste the pumpkin as a distinct flavor, but it adds great texture and thickens the dish.
The leftovers are even better than the freshly made dish, so go ahead and double the recipe if you wish.
It's warm, well-seasoned, and comforting. I like to make a big pot and enjoy the leftovers over several days - they get better as they sit in the fridge.
The idea of pumpkin chili may sound suspicious, but it's delicious! It's my favorite chili recipe, and I make it year-round.
Here's an overview of the ingredients you'll need to make this recipe. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below.
- For the seasoning mix: Kosher salt, chili powder, ground cumin, paprika, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper.
- Olive oil: I like to use extra-virgin olive oil. It's wonderfully flavorful.
- Extra-lean ground beef: Or use lean ground beef if you prefer.
- Veggies: Onions, garlic, and bell peppers.
- Petite-diced tomatoes: If using regular diced tomatoes, give them a quick extra chop.
- Canned pumpkin puree: Make sure it's not sweetened.
- You can use ground pork or ground chicken thighs instead of ground beef. But please don't use ground chicken breast - it's too dry.
- Sometimes I use beef broth instead of water.
- You can use smoked paprika instead of sweet paprika. I love the subtly smoky flavor it adds.
- Sometimes I add a teaspoon of dried oregano or dried thyme.
Pumpkin Chili Instructions
Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps for making this recipe:
- Mix together the spices for the seasoning mix and set them aside.
- Cook the beef, onion, and bell peppers in olive oil. (Photo 1).
- Add the garlic and seasoning mix. (Photo 2).
- Add the tomatoes and pumpkin. (Photos 3-4).
- Add water if needed. Depending on how much liquid the tomatoes contain, you might need to add 1 cup of water.
- Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. (Photo 5).
- Serve with cornbread! (Photo 6).
It’s best to use petite-diced tomatoes in this recipe for an even texture. If all you can get is regular diced tomatoes, give them a quick extra chop before you use them.
Let me reassure you... it is not sweet! It does not taste like pumpkin pie, and you actually can't even taste the pumpkin as a distinct flavor. Adding it simply results in a lovely, thick, very flavorful stew.
I made this recipe for the first time almost exactly five years ago. Cooking pumpkin recipes this time of year is a beloved tradition of mine, and I know I'm not alone in this. 🙂
The first time I made it, I expected it to be a purely seasonal (not to mention experimental!) recipe. But this chili turned out so well that it is now my favorite chili recipe I make throughout the winter (actually, throughout the year!).
I even prefer it to my excellent no-bean chili. I think it's richer and more flavorful.
I like to use extra-lean ground beef because it doesn’t release the large amount of liquid fat that lean ground beef releases. I dislike the rendered fat and tend to drain it. Using extra-lean ground beef saves me from this extra step of draining the fat.
However, this is a personal preference of mine. If you prefer, you can absolutely use lean ground beef (85/15).
Add water depending on how much liquid is in the tomatoes. As seen in the video, my canned tomatoes usually have almost no added liquid, so I usually add 1 cup of water. If your tomatoes have more water, ½ cup or ¾ cup will be enough.
This flavorful chili is good by itself, simply served in bowls and topped with flavorful toppings such as shredded cheese or sour cream.
If you'd like to serve this chili with something on the side, here are a few good options:
As with all chilis, the leftovers are excellent, and it tastes even better the next day.
You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for 3-4 days. I reheat them covered in the microwave at 50% power.
You can also freeze the leftovers. I prefer to freeze them in individual portions because it's easy to reheat them (covered) in the microwave.
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- 1 tablespoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt (or 2 teaspoons fine salt)
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 lbs. extra-lean ground beef (93/7)
- 1 medium onion finely chopped (1 cup)
- 2 medium bell peppers any color, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
- 2 (14 oz) cans petite-diced tomatoes undrained
- 1 (15 oz) can pure pumpkin puree
- 1 cup water if needed
- Prepare the seasoning mix: In a small bowl, mix together the kosher salt, chili powder, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, and cayenne. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a very large, deep saucepan (I use a deep 12-inch stainless steel skillet) over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes.
- Add the beef, onion, and bell peppers. Cook, stirring often, breaking up the beef into smaller chunks, until the beef is no longer raw (but still pink), about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and seasoning mix. Cook, stirring until well incorporated into the beef mixture, 1 minute.
- Add the tomatoes, pumpkin, and up to 1 cup of water if needed. Stir to combine.
- Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to low and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.