Pumpkin Chili

Pumpkin is our ingredient of the season. If you like this pumpkin chili, you might want to check out our stew and curry too!

Pumpkin Chili! In our house, chili was one of the first dinners that we learned to make. Our mom had a really simple, kid-friendly recipe (ground beef, canned beans and tomatoes, chili spice packet). Side note : can’t wait to teach Alex to make that one; look for that as a Cooking with Kids post in a couple of years. I was always really psyched to for chili night, but as I’ve grown, so have my tastes. Now I love a chili packed with fresh veggies, and fortunately for me, this chili has not one, but two types of pumpkin. Victory!


I used two types of pumpkin because they each do something different for the dish. The fresh pumpkin holds its texture well when cooked, making it another vegetable that easy to identify in this chunky chili, while the pureed pumpkin adds a creamy texture to the chili liquid.


In addition to the pumpkin(s), I put fresh onion, green pepper, and carrots in this dish, but you can go in any direction with the vegetables. Frozen or fresh corn is a great addition. So are sweet potatoes. You get it. When it comes to the beans, there are no rules! Are there? This time I used black and pinto. Sometimes I use all kidney. I commonly use dried and cook them in the pressure cooker before adding them to the chili. Before we had a pressure cooker, I would simmer the dried beans in their own pot of water until they were mostly cooked and then add them to the chili.



I don’t have a specific formula for seasoning. As I mentioned, growing up we always used the chili spice packets. A couple of years ago Calder’s step brother gave us a bottle of Special Shit. I love it and sprinkle it liberally into chili and other Tex Mex dishes. It’s a combination of salt, pepper, garlic, chili powder, and paprika. When I don’t have this available, I’ll often just use salt, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder. A touch of ground cumin and cinnamon are nice additions too.

Pumpkin Chili

Pumpkin Chili


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 can diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 cups cooked beans
  • 1/2 can pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups diced fresh pumpkin
  • 2 cups water
  • chili seasoning


  1. Sauté the onion, green pepper, and carrots in the olive oil over medium heat until soft and the onions are translucent.
  2. Add the ground beef and cook, stirring it periodically and breaking it up with a fork.
  3. When the beef has finished cooking, add the tomatoes, fresh pumpkin, beans, pumpkin puree, water, and chili seasoning to taste.
  4. Continue simmering the chili over medium to low heat until it has thickened and the pumpkin has cooked completely.

I served this chili with avocado and a dollop of greek yogurt. I love substituting greek yogurt for sour cream, because it packs a protein punch with a bit of tangy flavor. It was a busy day, but if I had more time, I would have loved some roasted pumpkin seeds sprinkled on top. So delicious, healthy, and easy to make for a mid-week dinner. It’s also great for feeding a group, so if you’re having a Halloween party this weekend, make a pot of chili!


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