My favorite food is pumpkin, and I love just about every form of chili out there (see my Homemade Chili recipe for many variations).

In this recipe, I combined my two favorite fall foods. Adding pumpkin to chili is an easy way to add nutrients without altering the classic chili taste.

Taste and texture blend seamlessly into classic chili and even make it feel lighter, so I’m totally digging it!

How Does Pumpkin Chili Taste?

It’s okay if you’re looking at me with a side-eye over the idea of putting pumpkin in your chili. The flavor difference is subtle. It adds some richness without being overpowering.

With the pumpkin, I was able to skip adding brown sugar to my chili, since it adds some earthiness and a slight sweetness.

Since I like to load up my chili with spices (see my homemade chili seasoning), you can’t really taste the pumpkin.

I think this is a good time to mention that you shouldn’t taste your chili until it has simmered for a while.

As soon as you add everything to the pot, you might be tempted to taste it, but it won’t taste good.

Taking time to let the spices bloom and the flavors to combine is key to a successful chili. Give the chili time, then taste it.

Make it Vegan or Vegetarian

Your pumpkin chili can be made vegetarian or vegan easily by substituting ground beans, cooked lentils, crumbled tempeh, or your favorite ground beef substitute for the ground beef.

As the majority of the flavor in this chili comes from the chili seasoning, tomatoes, and other vegetables, you can safely substitute the beef without affecting the flavor too greatly.

Try a Different Meat

You can also replace the ground beef with another kind of ground meat, such as ground turkey, since it has a lighter flavor, which is in keeping with the pumpkin’s light flavor.

However, I think Mexican chorizo would also be excellent. The smoky spices would go perfectly with the pumpkin flavors.

Does Pumpkin Chili have a spicy kick?

This recipe is only spicy as the chili powder you use, as it is written below. The chili powder in most grocery stores tends to be quite mild, but some brands can be quite spicy. If you’re sensitive to heat, be sure to buy a mild chili powder. McCormick brand chili powder is one of my favorite brands.

If you would like to add more heat to your pumpkin chili, feel free to sauté a jalapeno with the onion and garlic at the beginning of the cooking process.

Alternatively, you may add some chipotle powder to the chili seasoning or throw in a chipotle pepper in adobo sauce. Many options are available to you!

Overhead view of a pot of pumpkin chili

By the way, you should definitely make cornbread with your pumpkin chili. You can try my classic homemade cornbread, jalapeno cheddar cornbread, or sweet potato cornbread!

Easy Pumpkin Chili Recipe

Pumpkin chili is hearty, but it is also light, and it is packed with fiber and other nutrients as well. This warm and cozy bowl of fall flavors is the perfect way to start your day.

Author: Beth

Prep Time: 10 mins / Cook Time: 40 mins / Total Time: 50 mins

Servings: 6 (1.25 cups each)



  • 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
  • 1 yellow onion ($0.28)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.32)
  • 1 lb. ground beef ($5.35)
  • 1 15oz. can kidney beans, drained ($0.59)
  • 1 15oz. can black beans, drained ($0.55)
  • 1 15oz. can petite diced tomatoes ($0.69)
  • 1 15oz. can pumpkin purée ($1.05)
  • 1/2 6oz. can tomato paste (5 Tbsp) ($0.25)
  • 2 cups water ($0.00)

Chili Seasoning*

  • 1 Tbsp chili powder ($0.30)
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika ($0.05)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin ($0.05)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder ($0.02)
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder ($0.03)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper ($0.02)
  • 1 tsp salt ($0.02)


  • Mince the garlic and dice the onion. Add the garlic, onion, and olive oil to a large pot. Sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat until the onions are tender (about 5 minutes).
  • Add the ground beef and continue to cook until the beef is browned and cooked through.
  • Add the kidney beans (drained), black beans (drained), diced tomatoes (with juices), puréed pumpkin, tomato paste, water, chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, and salt to the pot. Stir to combine.
  • Place a lid on top of the pot and allow the chili to come up to a simmer, stirring occastionally. Allow the chili to simmer for 30 minutes.
  • After simmering for 30 minutes, give the chili a taste and add salt if needed. Serve hot with your favorite toppings (sour cream, cheese, green onion, corn chips, etc.)


*You can use your own store-bought chili seasoning or your favorite mix of chili herbs and spices.


Serving: 1.25 cup ・ Calories: 431 kcal ・ Carbohydrates: 39 g ・ Protein: 24 g ・ Fat: 21 g ・ Sodium: 1131 mg ・ Fiber: 14 g

The nutritional values shown here are only estimates. Please see our nutrition disclaimer.


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A spoon lifting a bite of pumpkin chili with melted cheese stretching from the bowl

Step-by-step Photos of How to Make Pumpkin Chili

diced onion and minced garlic in a pot with olive oil

Prepare two cloves of garlic and one yellow onion by dicing them and mincing them. In a large pot, combine the garlic and onion with 1 Tbsp olive oil and sauté until the onions are soft (about 5 minutes).

browned ground beef in the pot with onion and garlic

Add one pound of ground beef and continue sauté until the meat is cooked through.

remaining chili ingredients added to the pot, unstirred.

Add the remaining ingredients to the pot: 1 15oz. can kidney beans (drained), 1 15oz. can black beans (drained), 1 15oz. can petite diced tomatoes (with juices), ½ of a 6oz. can tomato paste, 1 15oz. can pumpkin purée, ½ tsp smoked paprika, 2 cups water, 1 Tbsp chili powder, 1 tsp ground cumin, ½ tsp onion powder, ¼ tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper. Make sure everything is well combined by stirring well.

simmered chili in a pot with a spoon

Put a lid on the pot and allow the chili to simmer. During the 30 minutes of simmering, stir the chili occasionally. When the chili has simmered for 30 minutes, taste it and adjust the salt if necessary (I did not add more salt).

Overhead view of a bowl of pumpkin chili with cheese and tortilla chips

Enjoy hot with your favorite toppings! It’s especially good when there’s something creamy on the bowl, like sour cream, cheese, avocado, etc.

Overhead view of a pot of pumpkin chili with toppings on the sides