Pumpkin Chili Recipe

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Step aside, Pumpkin Spice Latte...the recipe you've been waiting for, has finally arrived and it's far from basic. This recipe was born during the Patriots Super Bowl-winning 2014-2015 season, superstitious or not, I’m going to consider this a good thing. 

Zak and I were hosting family and friends for a game so we decided to make some chili for the occasion. I mean, what’s better to serve for football than a hearty, delicious bowl of chili...right?  But I wanted to change it up, so we brainstormed a way to make it less-traditional. My first thought was fall flavors, like sweet potato, and maple, but we felt like that wouldn’t pair well with the usual tomato-y base of chili so we kept thinking. The next day, while I was at work, it came to me, maybe I could swap the tomato for pumpkin! Zak agreed that it would be worth trying so we went to the grocery store and bought all the things we thought might be good in a “pumpkiny” chili including pumpkin, of course. The result was hearty. spicy, and sweet, first batch was a hit with everyone, and the rest... is history.

A couple weeks ago I reviewed our original recipe, and then worked on perfecting it, so I could share it with you, and here it is!

pumpkin chili

Pumpkin Chili

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes

Cook Time: 4-8 hours (slow cooker)


1 Can Pureed Pumpkin

3 Medium Sweet Potatoes (or Yams)

1 Medium Butternut Squash (or 2 Honeynut Squash)

1 Can Black Beans

1 Can Aduki Beans

1 Can Pinto Beans

1 Can Kidney Beans

3 Bell Peppers

1-2 Jalapeños (optional)

1 Fresh Cayenne Pepper (optional)

1 Large Yellow Onion

6 Cloves Garlic

2-3 Ears of Corn (or 1.5 Cups Canned/Frozen)

2-4 Cups Vegetable Broth

1/4 Cup Pure Maple Syrup

1 Tbs Smoked Paprika

2 tsp Cayenne

 1 Tbs Cinnamon

2 tsp Nutmeg

 2 tsp Allspice

Salt & Pepper

A Pinch Baking Soda


  1. Set your slow cooker to "high."
  2. Dice onion, and mince garlic,  then toss into slow cooker.
  3. Dice all of the peppers (bell, jalapeños, and cayenne pepper), then add them to the slow cooker.  Note: you can do whatever color bell peppers you'd like I prefer sweeter, so I usually do red/yellow, I've also used sweet Italian peppers. Note 2: remove seed and pith of the hot peppers to keep the heat intensity lower.
  4. Add 1.5 cups vegetable broth to slow cooker, and stir. 
  5. Peel, and dice sweet potatoes then place in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave until semi-soft - 4-5 minutes, covered, with mixing in between.
  6. Peel, and dice squash (carefully), place in microwave-safe bowl and microwave until semi-soft - 3-4 minutes.
  7. Add potatoes and squash to slow cooker and stir.
  8. Drain, and rinse all of the beans, then add them to the slow cooker. Note: You can use whatever beans you prefer I just like to have a variety, but it wouldn't ruin anything if you just went with one or two varieties.
  9. Add the can of pumpkin to the slow cooker, and stir.
  10.  Cut corn off of the cob, and put into slow cooker (raw), if you're doing frozen or canned corn instead just toss it in.
  11. Add maple syrup, spices, s&p, and another cup of vegetable broth, then stir well. It should be very thick, once it heats up it will get "juicier." After that, if it needs more liquid to suit your consistency preferences you can always add a bit more veggie broth.
  12. Sprinkle a pinch of baking soda over the top, and stir. This will cut the acidity from the peppers, and broth (Seriously, just a tiny pinch). 
  13. You can leave the slow cooker on "high" for 3-4 hours, or you can drop it to "low" and let it go for up to 8 hours.
  14. Enjoy!

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As you'll see in the direction notes, you can really make this your own. Like most of my recipes, chili especially, is easy to tailor to your individual needs so feel free to let your creativity flow. Examples: 

MEAT: I don't eat meat, but Zak sometimes does, so I have made this with both ground turkey, and ground beef, to do this I cooked the meat in a frying pan with butter, cinnamon, paprika, cayenne, salt, and a little touch of maple, and I just mix it into his portions. You could also just add it to your slow cooker, in the final hour if you'd would prefer the whole batch have meat, I would drop one can of beans in this case to make room. 

SUPPORT LOCAL: Right now is a perfect time to find a ton of these ingredients at your local farm stand, or market - I was able to find everything but the beans, broth, and pureed pumpkin at mine.

PUMPKIN: If you're feeling extra motivated you could even roast and then puree your own pumpkin, I'm sure it would take this whole recipe to the next level. I would probably only do this if I had prepared pumpkin puree ahead of time, but not just for this recipe... that'd be a lot of work.

BEER: If you're feeling a little extra festive, you can swap 1.5 cups of vegetable broth for a bottle of your favorite pumpkin beer. This will change the flavor profile a little bit, but definitely not in a bad way.

Now get to cooking! Reminder: if the thought of cutting up all this stuff sounds like misery, make sure to check out my blog about kitchen tools that will make your life easier here.

If you make this, be sure to let me know in the comments!

Live, love, 

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