Traditional beef chili is getting a flavor upgrade with this easy and healthier Pumpkin Chili Recipe! A few secret spices and seasoning ingredients help to round out the hearty beef. Make a big batch and watch your friends and family gobble it up all Fall and football season long!

A white bowl of pumpkin chili is topped with traditional chili toppings.

The Best Pumpkin Chili Recipe

There are two things that remind me of Fall: a good ole’ fashioned beef chili and then pumpkin spice everything!

Recently, I had the idea to combine my two autumn loves into a cozy chili recipe. (I love giving traditionally sweet ingredients a savory spin. Check out this Pumpkin Curry recipe if you do too!)

I replaced some of the tomatoes with a can of pumpkin purée and added a few secret ingredients to the chili seasoning to really complement the pumpkin (like an extra hint of cinnamon!).

Though I used ground beef, you could just as easily sub in ground turkey, chicken, or even sausage.

The addition of pumpkin to a traditional chili recipe is like something you’ve never tasted. Trust me on this one. It’s a whole new level of awesomeness.

What resulted was one of the BEST re-creations of a classic. This recipe is perfect for the whole family, and game day won’t know what hit it!

Ground beef, pumpkin, jalapeno, onion, broth, and seasonings are the ingredients for this dish.

Ingredients

The ingredients you need to make this easy pumpkin chili recipe include:

  • Pumpkin. Grab a can of pumpkin purée. Note, this is different than pumpkin pie filling! You only want the pumpkin, without extra sugar and additives. If you choose to make your own homemade pumpkin purée, go with a sugar pumpkin, not a carving one, for the best pumpkin flavor.
  • Onion. You don’t want to skip a diced onion, as it layers flavor throughout the cooking process.
  • Jalapeño. This ingredient is entirely optional. Leave it out if you don’t like spice. Or, add extra or sub in a spicier pepper if you really like the heat.
  • Garlic. Minced garlic is another necessity. Chilis are all about creating deep, rich flavor with simple ingredients, and fresh garlic is the way to go.
  • Ground meat. I opted for ground beef. But it would be just as easy to choose ground turkey, ground chicken, or ground sausage. You could also leave it out and include extra beans if you’re avoiding meat.
  • Broth. Chicken broth, beef broth, or vegetable broth will work interchangeably, though with slight flavor differences. 
  • Tomatoes. A 15-ounce can of crushed tomatoes is needed. Look for a better quality brand for the best taste. You’ll also need a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste.
  • Beans. While the recipe was tested with black, you can sub in different kinds of beans if you prefer, like pinto beans or kidney beans. Look for unseasoned, unsalted beans, though.
  • Seasonings. Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, and cinnamon round out the flavor. Cayenne pepper is optional, but adds a nice kick.
  • Toppings. Sprinkle some cilantro or chopped green onions along with shredded cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream on top before serving.

How to Make Pumpkin Chili

Below you’ll find the steps to make this savory pumpkin chili recipe at home:

Sauté the Veggies

Pour the oil into a large pot or Dutch oven. Allow it to warm up over medium heat, then add the diced onion and jalapeño.

Sauté the vegetables for 2 to 3 minutes. The onions should be translucent. Then, stir in the minced garlic and continue cooking for 30 more seconds.

Add the Meat, Beans, and Pumpkin

Push the cooked veggies to the side of the pot into a pile. Then, drop the ground meat in the open space. Cook it for 6 to 7 minutes until it’s no longer pink. Then, use a potato masher to break the meat up into smaller crumbles.

Pour in the broth, crushed tomatoes, pumpkin purée, and beans into the pot. Give everything a good stir until it’s well combined.

Season and Cook

Put the chili seasonings in a medium-sized bow and whisk until they’re well incorporated. (You can also use some of this homemade Chili Seasoning if you have it on hand!) Then, stir the seasonings along with the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, salt, and black pepper into the chili.

Increase the heat to high until the mixture reaches a full, rolling boil. Then, reduce the heat to medium low. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and let it simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.

Serve the Chili

After simmering, the chili is ready to enjoy!

You can enjoy it as is, or go with your favorite chili toppings, like chopped green onions, cilantro, shredded cheese, and sour cream.

(Wanting to shortcut this recipe? Save time with this Instant Pot Pumpkin Chili.)

Two bowls of pumpkin chili are topped with cheese and sour cream.

Meal Prep and Storage

  • How to prep ahead of time: You can mix together the chili seasoning ahead of time and dice the onion the day before.
  • How to store: Place leftover chili in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to 3 to 4 days.
  • How to freeze: You can definitely freeze this recipe. It will keep in a freezer-safe container for up to 4 to 6 months. (Learn more about how to freeze soup – it works for chili, too!)
  • How to reheat: Warm the chili back up on the stove over medium-low heat.

Why put pumpkin in chili?

Pumpkin is a surprisingly delicious addition to chili because it adds a slightly sweet yet creamy base. This perfectly complements the spicy flavors of the other chili ingredients.

Is pumpkin chili good?

Depending on how you make it, pumpkin chili is incredibly delicious. The slightly sweet pumpkin and earthy flavor of the spices are a perfect balance to the spicy chili.

A white bowl of pumpkin chili is topped with traditional chili toppings.

Can I use pumpkin to thicken chili?

Pumpkin is a great way to thicken chili. The rich yet creamy meat of the pumpkin is an excellent way to create an amazing texture. (Here are some other ways to thicken chili.)

Dietary Modifications

The recipe you’ll find below is already dairy-free and low-carb as written. Here are some adjustments and substitutions you can make to help it fit your other dietary requirements:

  • Sugar-free: Sub the brown sugar for maple syrup or agave, or leave it out.
  • Gluten-free: Be sure the Worcestershire sauce is free of gluten.
  • Vegetarian: Leave out the beef and add extra beans for a meatless chili.

Expert Tips and Tricks

  • Read the label. Be sure you get CANNED pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling.
  • Some like it hot. You can add extra jalapeños or leave them out altogether.
  • Make it work. You can include as many veggies as you’d like to increase the nutritional value.
  • Be a prepper. Make a double batch and save some for later.
  • Serve it up. Don’t forget a big slice of cornbread when you enjoy this chili on game day.
An overhead shot of the best pumpkin chili in two white bowls.

What to Serve with Pumpkin Chili

Pumpkin chili is a warm and satisfying meal on its own or with any of these sides in the colder months.

Jalapeño Cornbread and Mini Cornbread Muffins are the perfect accompaniment. Or go with Homemade Tortilla Chips or Homemade Croutons.

You can’t go wrong with Pickled Jalapeños or even Pickled Onions as toppings.

Or, fill up with Instant Pot White Rice or an Air Fryer Baked Potato.

More Chili Recipes

There’s nothing like a big bowl of chili in the Fall. Try one of these recipes next.

If you’re in the mood for a quick dinner, try this Instant Pot Ground Turkey Chili, Instant Pot Beef Chili, or Instant Pot Chicken Pumpkin Chili.

Or, if you like twists on classics, this Sweet Potato Turkey Chili is delicious.

Make your own Chili Seasoning for any recipe!

Tap stars to rate!

4.84 from 6 votes

Best Pumpkin Chili Recipe

Traditional beef chili is getting a flavor upgrade with this easy and healthier Pumpkin Chili Recipe! A few secret spices and seasoning ingredients help to round out the hearty beef. Make a big batch and watch your friends and family gobble it up all Fall and football season long!
Yield 6 servings
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 40 minutes
Total 50 minutes

Ingredients 

Pumpkin Chili:

  • 2 Tbsp. oil avocado or olive
  • 1 small sweet onion diced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers seeds removed, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 1 lb. ground beef 85/15 or 90/10
  • 1 cup chicken or beef broth regular sodium
  • 15 oz. crushed tomatoes canned
  • 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
  • 2-15 oz. cans black beans rinsed and drained
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar or sweetener of choice
  • 2 ½ tsp. salt to taste
  • ½ tsp. black pepper

Chili Seasoning:*

  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. oregano
  • ¼-½ tsp. cayenne pepper optional
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon

To Serve (Optional):

  • Cilantro or green onions finely chopped
  • Cheddar cheese shredded
  • Sour cream

Instructions 

  • Sauté Vegetables: Add the oil to a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat along with the diced onion and jalapeno. Saute for 2-3 minutes, or until the onions turn translucent, and then mix in the minced garlic. Continue sautéing for an additional 30 seconds, or until fragrant.
    2 Tbsp. oil, 1 small sweet onion, 3 cloves garlic, 2 jalapeno peppers
  • Cook the Ground Beef: Push all of the vegetables to the side of the pot and add the ground meat. Cook for 6-7 minutes, or until no longer pink. Use a potato masher to break the meat apart into smaller crumbles.
    1 lb. ground beef
  • Add Pumpkin, Broth, and Beans: Pour in the broth, crushed tomatoes, pumpkin puree and beans. Mix until combined.
    1 cup chicken or beef broth, 15 oz. crushed tomatoes, 15 oz. can pumpkin puree, 2-15 oz. cans black beans
  • Mix in the Chili Seasonings: Add the chili seasoning ingredients to a medium-sized bowl and whisk to combine. Stir this into the chili along with the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, salt, and black pepper.
    2 Tbsp. tomato paste, 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, 1 Tbsp. brown sugar, ½ tsp. black pepper, 2 Tbsp. chili powder, 1 Tbsp. cumin, 1 tsp. paprika, ½ tsp. oregano, ¼-½ tsp. cayenne pepper, ¼ tsp. cinnamon, 2 ½ tsp. salt
  • Cover Pot and Cook: Increase the heat to high. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium low, cover the pot with a lid, and simmer for 25-30 minutes.
  • Serve with Toppings: Serve with a sprinkle of chopped green onions, shredded cheese, and sour cream, if desired. Enjoy!
    Cilantro or green onions, Cheddar cheese, Sour cream

Tap stars to rate!

4.84 from 6 votes

Video

Notes

*You can substitute the chili seasoning ingredients for 4 Tbsp. of a premade chili seasoning mix plus additional salt & black pepper, to taste.

Meal Prep and Storage

  • How to prep ahead of time: You can mix together the chili seasoning ahead of time and dice the onion the day before.
  • How to store: Place leftover chili in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to 3 to 4 days.
  • How to freeze: You can definitely freeze this recipe. It will keep in a freezer-safe container for up to 4 to 6 months.
  • How to reheat: Warm the chili back up on the stove over medium-low heat.
  •  

Nutrition

Calories: 353kcal, Carbohydrates: 25g, Protein: 18g, Fat: 22g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 10g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 54mg, Sodium: 1280mg, Potassium: 905mg, Fiber: 8g, Sugar: 11g, Vitamin A: 13274IU, Vitamin C: 14mg, Calcium: 129mg, Iron: 7mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Made this recipe?Leave a comment below!
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Comments

  1. 4 stars
    Tasty and I would make again, but I have two cautions. If I had used the entire amount of salt (either table salt or kosher salt) it would have been inedible for me and I really like salt! I waited to salt at the end and used only a 1/2 tsp of kosher salt. Broth, bouillon, chili powder and Worcestershire all can vary in their sodium amounts, so I strongly suggest waiting to salt at the end. My other caveat would be the Worcestershire. I enjoy the unami flavor it gives, but I don’t enjoy tasting Worcestershire strongly. I only used 1 T and for me that was perfect! People I shared this with enjoyed it and no one could detect the pumpkin. A great way of adding a bit of variety into your diet!

    1. That’s a good point about different ingredients varying in sodium content. Glad you could make it work. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment and a rating.