Cozy up to this Pumpkin Chili recipe that’s rich, hearty, warm and comforting and can be made on the stove or in the crockpot!
This Pumpkin Chili recipe is rich and hearty, earthy, with a subtle sweetness all balanced by smoky heat that your family and friends will go nuts for! It’s make-ahead friendly (tastes even better!), can be cooked on the stovetop or in the slow cooker, is freezer friendly and great for crowds. In other words, it’s the perfect fall comfort food! This Pumpkin Chili is made with a combination of lean ground beef, hot Italian sausage (or use turkey), kidney beans, black beans, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic and robust seasonings and of course – pumpkin! It’s a sauté, dump and simmer recipe that comes together in less than an hour that will warm you from the inside out. Serve it alongside sweet cornbread and apple salad for the perfect meal!
We are pretty much obsessed with satisfying chili recipes around here. If you love chili like us, don’t miss Crockpot Chili, Turkey Chili, Creamy White Chicken Chili, Crockpot White Chicken Chili, Buffalo Chicken Chili, Cincinnati Chili and Mango Black Bean Chili (one of the first recipes I ever posted – SO GOOD, but excuse the pics ;)).
HOW TO MAKE Pumpkin Chili VIDEo
Why you’ll love This Pumpkin Chili Recipe
Pumpkin Chili is rich and hearty with a ton of body for a satisfying, dreamy mouthfeel. The pumpkin puree, along with the sweet potatoes, adds a slightly sweet and earthy flavor which is beautifully complimented by the spicy Italian sausage, chipotle pepper, cinnamon and ginger, without tasting overly pumpkin-y.
It’s seasoned with a complex of array of spices that is pure magic. In addition to homemade chili seasoning, the Pumpkin Chili boasts beef bouillon, plenty of aromatic fresh onions and garlic and the real stars, cinnamon and chipotle chili powder. The cinnamon infuses the chili with a subtle cozy warmth and the chipotle chili powder lends a smoky heat that offsets the natural sweetness of the pumpkin.
Make it on the stove or in the crockpot. Making the chili ahead of time on the stove or low and slow in the crockpot enhances the flavors of the chili and allows them to build and meld together to a seamless explosion of YUM. The slow cooking creates buttery tender meat, soft beans (not mushy) and delicate veggies.
Pumpkin Chili makes AMAZING leftovers! This recipe makes a large batch so it can be served throughout the week for several meals in multiple ways such as on potatoes, hot dogs, nachos, etc. (see section on leftovers) – winning!
It’s also freezer friendly! Whatever Pumpkin Chili you don’t consume, you can freeze for later, or make it intentionally to freeze because it freezes exceptionally well.
This Pumpkin Chili recipe makes enough to satisfy a crowd so it’s perfect for entertaining – and perfect for YOU because it can be made ahead of time, is mostly hand’s off, and everyone can serve themselves along with a chili bar of all their favorite toppings.
pumpkin chili ingredients
The ingredient list for this Pumpkin Chili recipe is a little lengthy, but keep in mind, most of the ingredients are just cans or seasonings that get dumped directly into the pot. Let’s take a closer look at what you’ll need (full measurements in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):
HOW TO MAKE pumpkin CHILI on the stove
This Pumpkin Chili recipe is very simple to make in just a few easy steps. After sautéing the meat and veggies, the chili is simmered to meld the flavors – no extra time or skills required than that! I’ve outlined the steps below (or skip to the printable recipe card with measurements at the bottom of the post).
STEP 1: BROWN The MEAT
- Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add beef and sausage and cook until browned.
- Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
STEP 2: SAUTÉ VEGGIES
- Add the onions, sweet potato and bell peppers and cook until softened.
- Add the garlic and seasonings and cook for about 1 minute to bloom the flavors.
- Add all remaining Chili Ingredients and give them a stir.
STEP 3: Add chili ingredients
- Stir in all the remaining chili ingredients (you can start with less broth if it doesn’t fit).
STEP 4: simmer
- Bring the chili to a boil, then reduce to heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, and replacing the lid, until the flavors meld and the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.
STEP 5: Serve
- Serve with topping such as cheese, sour cream, avocado and cilantro if desired.
HOW TO MAKE pumpkin CHILI in the crockpot
1. Follow the recipe through step 2.
2. Transfer the beef, sausage and sautéed vegetables/spices to the slow cooker.
3. Add all remaining Chili Ingredients to the slow cooker and give them a stir.
4. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours (recommended) or on HIGH for 3-4 hours. 5. Taste and add salt/pepper/cayenne pepper to taste. Serve with desired toppings.
possible recipe variations
This Pumpkin Chili is extremely versatile. Here are just a few ways to make it your own:
WHAT Toppings for Pumpkin CHILI?
Pumpkin Chili is scrumptious without any toppings, but exponentially more delicious with cheese, sour cream and green onions! A topping bar is a great way for everyone to customize their chili. Here’s the rundown:
WHAT Sides for Pumpkin CHILI?
We love this Pumpkin Chili recipe with my favorite cornbread and a big green salad. Some people also love their chili over rice or pasta for some added texture. Here are some tasty ideas:
Ways To USE LEFTOVER HOMEMADE CHILI
Pumpkin Chili doesn’t have to be served in a bowl! Here are some fun ways to serve it or reinvent leftovers:
Although this Pumpkin Chili recipe is fairly quick to prep, it still requires some chopping and stove time which can be done 100% in advance:
Veggies: chop the vegetables and aromatics up to 24 hours in advance and refrigerate.
Meat: brown the beef and sausage up to 48 hours ahead of time, cool then, refrigerate in an airtight container.
Combine: Follow the recipe up to combining the ingredients, cover, and store in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours before cooking. Plan on adding additional cooking time when ready to simmer.
HOW Long is PUmpkin Chili good for?
Homemade Pumpkin Chili can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. If you don’t think you’re going to finish your chili within that time, be sure to freeze the leftovers.
HOW TO Freeze
Pumpkin Chili freezes exceptionally well because it does not contain any dairy products or pasta which sometimes can become a funny texture once frozen. To freeze, let chili cool completely, divide into freezer friendly plastic containers or freezer bags. Squeeze out any air, lay flat, and freeze for up to 3 months. Let frozen chili thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating per below directions.
HOW TO REHEAT
Reheat bowls of chili in the microwave for 60 seconds then at 15 second bursts until warmed through, gently on the stovetop or reheat in the crockpot over low for 1-2 hours depending on leftover volume.
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- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound hot Italian sausage (see notes for turkey)
- 1 pound lean ground beef (see notes for turkey)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 small sweet potato, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1/2-1 ½ teaspoons chipotle chili powder (start with less and add more to taste)
- 1 tsp EACH smoked paprika, ground coriander, ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp EACH salt, ground ginger
- 2 15 oz. cans fire-roasted tomatoes, not drained
- 2 15 oz. cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 15 oz. can 100% pure pumpkin puree
- 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
- 1 4 oz. can can mild diced green chiles
- 1 1/2 cups low-sodium beef broth, plus more as needed
- 1 tablespoon granulated beef bouillon, bouillon base or crushed cubes
- 2 bay leaves
For serving (Pick your favs)
- shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- sour cream
- green onions
- roasted pumpkin seeds
- tortilla chips or Fritos
- In a 6 quart, or larger, Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and beef; cook while crumbling until browned and cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
- Stir in the remaining chili ingredients. The chili will be very thick but will thin as it simmers. Cover and bring to boil, then reduce to heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally and replacing the lid, until the flavors meld and the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.
- Season the chili with salt and chipotle pepper to taste (this will make the chili come alive!). Thin as desired with additional beef broth. Serve with desired toppings.
- Follow the recipe through step 2. Transfer the beef, sausage and sautéed vegetables/spices to the slow cooker.
- Add all remaining Chili Ingredients to the slow cooker and give them a stir.
- Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours (recommended) or on HIGH for 3-4 hours.
Season the chili with salt and chipotle pepper to taste. Serve with desired toppings.
Tips and Tricks
- Turkey Pumpkin Chili: Substitute the beef/sausage with ground turkey. Increase beef bouillon to 1 ½ tablespoons and salt to taste. You’ll may want a little more heat in place of not using the hot Italian sausage.
- Vegetarian Pumpkin Chili: Swap the meat for extra beans (including chickpeas), vegetarian meat crumbles, tofu, cooked lentils, crumbled tempeh, or any of your favorite ground beef substitutes. Use vegetable broth or water instead of the beef broth and omit the beef bouillon. You’ll may want a little more heat in place of not using the hot Italian sausage and additional salt in place of the bouillon.
- Halve the recipe. This recipe makes a lot of chili! If you don’t have a large pot or don’t want leftovers to freeze, halve the recipe by using the arrows next to the serving size in the recipe card.
- Wait to thin the chili until after it’s finished cooking. The Pumpkin Chili will be very thick when first combined but will thin as it cooks and the vegetables release moisture. After it’s finished cooking, you can thin by stirring in additional beef broth until it reaches desired consistency.
- Season to taste. If it feels like your chili is missing something, it is likely salt and/or heat. Don’t be afraid to add additional salt, chipotle powder or cayenne pepper.
- Refrigerate overnight: I always like to cook my chili the day before I serve it and then refrigerate it overnight. This doesn’t mean I don’t love a bowl (or two or three) the day I make it, but it is even more intoxicating if allowed to sit overnight for the flavors to meld and build. This also makes for a stress-free meal any night of the week.
- Leftovers: See post for all sorts of leftover ideas!
- Storage: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days or freeze for up to 3 months.
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