Here’s a delicious recipe for pumpkin chili that is guaranteed to be a hit with your family and friends. Made with hearty ingredients like pumpkin puree, ground turkey, and a blend of savory spices, this chili offers a unique twist on a classic favorite.
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This cozy pumpkin chili recipe is the perfect way to enjoy fall flavors. It combines turkey, beans, tomatoes, pumpkin puree, and a bold blend of sweet and savory spices. You can easily switch up the ingredients to customize each bowl. If you prefer a beef version, try the best homemade chili.
I’ll show you my key shortcuts for making a quick yet flavorful chili. I use a combination of canned products and homemade chili seasoning for a rich stew. Pumpkin puree is naturally starchy with a hint of sweetness and creates a thick consistency. For a delicious appetizer or entree, serve with cornbread or your favorite side dish.
- Turkey: I use 93% lean ground turkey, but if you want a little more fat and flavor, use 85% lean. Ground chicken is an excellent swap.
- Pumpkin: For convenience, use 15 ounces of canned pumpkin puree. Alternatively, roast some sugar pumpkins to make homemade pumpkin puree; it’s delicious! I like to roast the pumpkin seeds for a healthy snack. You’ll need 1 ½ cups of puree.
- Seasonings: Use my homemade chili seasoning blend for the recipe. It mixes chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and chipotle chili powder. You’ll need ¼ cup. Add pumpkin pie spice or ground cinnamon to enhance the subtle sweet taste.
- Vegetables: Diced onions and minced garlic adds dimension. The sulfurous notes are tamed, and the natural sweetness concentrates in the alliums as they cook. Bell peppers add a vibrant color and crispness. Fresh jalapeno adds an extra kick of heat.
- Tomatoes: I use a combination of canned products, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, and fire-roasted diced tomatoes. They help to thicken the chili and add a nice charred flavor.
- Beans: Use 15 ounces of each: canned red kidney beans, black beans, and pinto beans. They give a variety of sizes and textures.
- Liquids: Chicken broth or stock enhances the taste of ground turkey. Worcestershire sauce adds a tangy and savory flavor to balance the sweet spices and pumpkin.
Cook the aromatics and turkey
Grab a large, high-sided pan or Dutch oven. To enhance the sweetness of the onions, cook them first in hot olive oil. Briefly sauteeing the garlic tames the raw flavor.
Add the ground turkey, quickly breaking it into small chunks. It’s hard to make the pieces smaller once the protein starts to cook and pack tightly together. The poultry cooks quickly, in about 5 minutes.
Add the seasoning and vegetables
With the olive oil and rendered fat from the turkey in the pan, it’s time to add any dried spices. Sprinkle in the chili seasoning and pumpkin pie spice. You’ll immediately smell the fragrant chilis, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cloves as you stir.
The fat-soluble flavor compounds are released, intensifying the taste of the chili. Don’t worry. The warm spices won’t make the dish taste sweet! They add dimension and a more enticing aroma. Add the tomato paste, bell pepper, and jalapenos, briefly cooking to soften.
Add the beans, pumpkin, and tomatoes
Once all of the fresh vegetables and spices are sauteed, add the hearty ingredients. Stir in the three types of canned beans, the pumpkin puree, crushed tomatoes, fire-roasted tomatoes, chicken stock, and Worcestershire sauce. Adding the pumpkin will instantly thicken the mixture.
Cook the chili
All the ingredients need time to simmer, melding the flavors together in the stew. Bring it to a boil, then reduce to medium heat for gentle cooking. Make sure to stir occasionally, as there will be heat pockets in the bottom of the pan under the thick chili. The acids in the tomatoes and vinegar will help to break down and soften the ground turkey.
The process takes about 25 to 30 minutes. The chili will taste even better the next day. Add more stock or water to warm it so it’s not too thick. My favorite toppings are sour cream, cheddar cheese, green onions, and pepitas for crunch.
There are endless ways to switch up the flavor of this pumpkin chili. Try these options:
- Protein: Instead of turkey, try ground chicken, beef, pork, or sausage. Make a vegetarian pumpkin chili with tofu, seitan, tempeh, quinoa, and vegetable broth.
- Chilies: Bump up the spiciness with cayenne or more chipotle chili powder. Add your favorite type of peppers like hot serrano, habanero, or canned chipotle in adobo sauce. Add hot sauce or Sriracha to your bowl.
- Vegetables: Add diced sweet potato, butternut squash, kabocha, carrots, celery, corn, mushrooms, zucchini, or kale.
- Liquid: Add coffee or beer for bitterness. Soy sauce will enhance the umami taste.
- Sweetness: Add a hint of brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup for extra sweetness.
- Toppings: Add pepitas, walnuts, tortilla chips, goldfish crackers, sour cream, Greek yogurt, diced chilies, cilantro, grated cheddar, parmesan, smoked gouda, or pepper jack.
- Honey cornbread muffins
- Jalapeno cornbread
- Buttermilk biscuits
- Creamy macaroni and cheese
- Baked potatoes
Frequently asked questions
Replace the amount of turkey with either tofu, tempeh, seitan, quinoa, sauteed mushrooms, diced sweet potatoes, or butternut squash. Use vegetable stock or broth instead of chicken.
For a thinner consistency, add water, stock, or broth. Adjust the seasoning level, as the salt will get diluted. Reduce the stew on the stovetop for a thicker chili, or stir in masa harina, cornmeal, or crushed tortilla chips.
The beans can be replaced with other sturdy vegetables that hold their shape, like corn, carrots, sweet potatoes, or butternut squash. Make sure to simmer until they are tender.
Using fresh pumpkin instead of canned for pumpkin chili
The pumpkin chili gets its thickness from the natural starches in the pumpkin and pureed flesh. If you’d like to use fresh pumpkins, I recommend roasting small sugar pumpkins for the sweetest taste. Once the flesh is tender, puree in the food processor or blender until smooth. Chunks of pumpkin won’t taste as good if simmered in the chili. The flavor is better pureed because the texture will be creamy. You’ll need 1 ½ cups of homemade pumpkin puree.
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- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup diced yellow onion, ¼" dice
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 pound ground turkey, 85 to 93% lean
- ¼ cup chili seasoning
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, or cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup diced red bell pepper, ¼" dice
- 2 tablespoons minced jalapeno
- 15 ounces canned red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 15 ounces canned black beans, rinsed and drained
- 15 ounces canned pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- 15 ounces pumpkin puree
- 15 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
- 14.5 ounces canned fire-roasted tomatoes, plus juice
- 2 cups unsalted chicken stock, or broth
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- Cook Aromatics – Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add olive oil, then once hot, add the onions and saute for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Cook the Turkey – Add the ground turkey and cook until no longer pink, breaking the meat into smaller chunks, 4 to 6 minutes.
- Add Seasonings and Vegetables – Add the chili seasoning and pumpkin pie spice. Stir to combine and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste, stir, and cook for 1 minute. Add bell peppers and minced jalapenos, and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the Beans, Pumpkin, and Tomatoes – Add the kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, pumpkin, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, chicken stock, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine.
- Cook the Chili – Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer over medium heat. Stir occasionally, cooking until the liquid reduces slightly, about 25 to 30 minutes. Reduce the heat if bubbling too rapidly. Add more stock or water for a thinner consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- To Serve – Serve with desired toppings like sour cream, cheddar cheese, pepitas, and sliced green onions.
- Recipe Yield: About 10 cups
- Serving Size: 1 cup
- Storing: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Freeze for up to 3 months.
- Increasing the Spiciness: Add cayenne or chipotle chili powder ¼ teaspoon at a time until the desired heat level is reached.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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