Cinderella had it right—it’s never a bad idea to bring pumpkin to a party! Arrive with this Pumpkin Chili in tow, and every person who tries it likely would bestow you a glass slipper to profess their love. Made with turkey, fresh vegetables, and a complex array of spices, this healthy chili recipe is pure magic.
I don’t even mean that as a fantasy. This is one of the top chili recipes I’ve ever made (second only to my Blue Ribbon Chili from The Well Plated Cookbook — pick up a copy if you haven’t yet; you need it in your life!).
Don’t take this statement lightly. I have made a lot of chili.
I adore chili because it’s intrinsically comforting and warming. The flavors unfold further with every spoonful. Plus, when it’s made with hearty and healthy ingredients (which is how we cook our chili around here) chili makes for a deeply satisfying, all-in-one meal.
And since the different ingredients and flavor profiles one can give chili are basically endless, I never grow weary of it.
Pick a mood, you can find a chili to match!
- This Green Chili Recipe in unbelievably complex and will make you feel like a master chef.
- Crockpot White Chicken Chili is an ultimately easy, dump-and-go slow cooker meal. Or, my stove top version: White Chicken Chili.
- Classic Healthy Turkey Chili is a positively perfect, everyday chili that never fails to hit the spot.
- Did I mention the Blue Ribbon Chili from The Well Plated Cookbook? It will win you a cookoff.
Each is unique and well worth adding to your recipe repertoire.
At this particular moment though, as the leaves change colors and the air grows more crisp, this turkey pumpkin chili recipe hits the spot in a magical way.
Its warm fall flavors feel like a cozy blanket. Adding pumpkin gives the chili autumnal flair, but it’s not so distinctive that you won’t recognize it as the comforting chili you’re craving.
Secrets to the Best Pumpkin Chili
The secret to phenomenal pumpkin chili is more than just adding pumpkin puree to a simmering pot. Here are a few reasons why you’ll love this recipe:
- Healthy without the Hassle. Using canned pumpkin (which is high in Vitamin A and antioxidants) is a sneaky way to incorporate more vegetables. The vegetable skeptic scouring the chili for chunky evidence won’t find any because the canned pumpkin puree blends right in.
- Rich and Thick. The puree also adds hearty thickness. In our house, we love chili thick enough that our spoon will stand up in it, and this turkey pumpkin chili recipe passes that test with honors.
- The Perfect Combination of Spices. The warmth of cinnamon and nutmeg pair perfectly with the pumpkin. This recipe is the first time I added nutmeg to chili, and I discovered that it gives the dish that special “sumpin’ sumpin’” extra. Chipotle chili powder offers a hint of heat and smokiness that makes a great one-two punch with the pumpkin’s natural sweetness.
- A Well-Rounded Meal. I also added many other veggies in addition to pumpkin, since chili can be a great vehicle for nutritious vegetables without diluting that familiar, prevailing chili flavor. Pumpkin chili with peppers and sweet potatoes tastes hearty and comforting, while being healthier too.
How to Make Pumpkin Chili
- Ground Turkey. A leaner choice that still packs protein and flavor into the chili. You also can make this pumpkin chili with chicken or with lean ground beef.
- Sweet Potato. Its natural sweetness and added nutrition are wonderful additions.
- Pumpkin Puree. Creates a thick texture and brings hidden nutrition to the chili.
- Bell Peppers. Green and red bell peppers add beautiful color and nutrition.
- Spices. With chipotle chili powder, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, and nutmeg, this chili is anything but bland. The spices give it deep, rich, and warming flavors that help make it memorable.
- Pinto Beans. For extra filling protein and scrumptious creamy texture.
- Fire-Roasted Tomatoes. Unlike regular canned tomatoes, fire-roasted tomatoes bring deep, smoky flavor to the chili.
- Toppings. The options are endless! Sliced jalapeno, avocado, cilantro, red onion, and yogurt are all tasty choices.
- Sauté the onion, potato, peppers, and garlic.
- Stir in the turkey, salt, and pepper.
- Add the remaining spices.
- Stir in the beans, pumpkin, tomato sauce, tomatoes, and broth. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Simmer for about 30 minutes.
- Serve with toppings, and ENJOY!
Pumpkin Chili Variations
- Vegetarian Pumpkin Chili. You can swap out the ground turkey for vegetarian meat crumbles or add two additional cans of beans (such as chickpeas, black beans, light or dark red kidney beans, or additional pinto beans). Use vegetable broth or water instead of chicken broth.
- Pumpkin Chili with Chicken or Beef. You can also swap out the ground turkey for lean ground beef or ground chicken.
What to Serve With Pumpkin Chili
- Salad. Serve your chili with a light salad like this simple Arugula Salad.
- Bread. There’s nothing like dunking a hunk of bread into chili, and Cheesy Jalapeno Cornbread or Crock Pot Bread would be delish!
- Veggies. Sneak in more servings of veggies by pairing this soup with a side of Roasted Broccoli or Roasted Brussels Sprouts.
Storage and Reheating Tips
- To Store. Refrigerate chili in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat. You can also reheat this chili in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Freeze chili in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Even More of Our Favorite Chili Recipes
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Dutch Oven. The perfect vessel for preparing pumpkin chili.
- Ladle. Ideal for serving soup, chili, and stew.
- Measuring Spoons. These are great for measuring out the spices for this recipe.
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 1 large sweet potato cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 2 red bell peppers diced
- 1 green bell pepper diced
- 3 cloves minced garlic about 1 tablespoon
- 2 pounds ground turkey
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 15-ounce can reduced sodium pinto beans rinsed and drained
- 1 15-ounce can pumpkin purée
- 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 15-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes in their juices
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth or water
- Sliced jalapeno avocado, chopped cilantro, red onion, and/or non-dairy plain yogurt, for serving
- Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, sweet potato, red and green bell peppers, and garlic. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until soft.
- Add the turkey, salt, and pepper, and cook until browned, 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often to break up the chunks.
- Once the meat is browned, add the chili powder, chipotle chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir and cook until very fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the beans, pumpkin, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes in their juices, and 1 cup chicken broth (or water). Bring to a gentle simmer.
- Let simmer, uncovered, until the chili thickens further, about 30 minutes, stirring every so often so that the chili does not stick to the bottom. If the chili becomes too thick, add additional broth or water to reach your desired consistency.
- Toward the end of the cooking time, taste, and adjust the seasonings as desired. Add more chipotle chili powder for an extra smoky/spicy kick (be careful; a little goes a long way) and more salt and pepper as needed. Serve hot with desired toppings.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate chili in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat. You can also reheat this chili in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze chili in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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