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The Best Pumpkin Chili – An Award Winning Recipe

Before you say “I would never make a Pumpkin Chili recipe”, I am here to convince you that you have to give it a try. As much as I love standard Beef Chili that I make in the Instant Pot and White Chicken Chili, this recipe has become a favorite among my family and friends.

In fact, this exact recipe has won several Chili Cook-Off competitions in several states! And to think that when I first made it for my husband, he was more than hesitant to give it a try.

However, after he took a few bites, he couldn’t stop raving about how good it tasted. And now he asks me to make it more often than my favorite Slow Cooker Chili recipe.

But don’t let the addition of pumpkin scare you. This is a traditional looking chili that includes a few extra flavors that makes this recipe so delicious!

bowl of pumpkin chili
Although pumpkin chili looks just like traditional beef chili, it contains a lot more flavor than the classic version.

Pumpkin Chili Recipe

*Because there are a lot of variations that you can use in this recipe, I have provided a detail list of the ingredients and possible substitutions below.

INGREDIENTS

1. Ground Beef

I prefer to use lean ground beef in this recipe. However, if you want to make this chili a little healthier, you can substitute ground turkey, ground chicken, or a plant based substitute.

Although you will most likely need to add a little extra virgin olive oil to the skillet when you cook the meat substitute so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.

2. Bell Pepper

This recipe calls for half of a green bell pepper. Although, you could also use a red, yellow or orange bell pepper instead.

However, because this is a chili already has a slightly sweet flavor to it, I prefer to use a green bell pepper.

3. Onion

You can use white, yellow, red or sweet onion for this pumpkin chili recipe. I use whatever onion that I have hand.

4. Garlic

As always, I prefer to use fresh garlic in my recipes. However, you can use jarred minced garlic as a substitute.

One medium size clove of garlic equals 1 teaspoon of jarred minced garlic.

onion & green pepper
No chili recipe would be complete without onion and peppers.
5. Chipotle Pepper in Adobo Sauce

The addition of a chopped Chipotle Pepper that has been marinated in adobo sauce provides an unexpected depth of flavor to this chili recipe.

You can find a small can of these peppers in the International/Mexican aisle of the grocery store. However, because you are only going to need one pepper for this recipe, you will have some left over.

One of my favorite ways to use the chipotles is to puree them with a little mayonnaise or Greek Yogurt for a delicious sauce that you can use as a dip, spread or wing sauce.

Here are some of my other favorite recipes that use Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce:

6. Pumpkin Puree

Be sure to use pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling in this recipe. The cans at the grocery can easily be confused as they are often stocked right next to each other.

However, if you have a sugar pumpkin, you can always make Homemade Pumpkin Puree. That way there will be no doubt in what you are using.

7. Hard Cider

This time of the year you can easily find hard cider. Just look for the speciality/seasonal beers wherever you can purchase alcohol.

Although there are many types of hard cider on the shelves, it is best to use a standard, unflavored brand for this pumpkin chili recipe.

8. Chili Beans

Use whatever type of chili beans that you prefer. My family likes a little spice in their chili. Therefore, I purchase hot chili beans.

However, mild chili beans will work just fine in this recipe.

pumpkin puree in bowl
Be sure that you use pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling for this chili recipe.
9. Chicken Broth

The broth will be used to help thin out the chili. You could substitute beef broth, vegetable broth or even water in place the the chicken broth.

However, I prefer the taste of the chicken broth over the other options.

10. Chili Powder

No chili would be complete without chili powder. I always have a large container of it in my spice pantry and I use it in a variety of recipes.

Standard, off-brand chili powder is perfect in this recipe. Feel free to add in a little extra if you want a little more heat in your chili.

11. Cumin

Although chili powder already contains cumin, the addition of a little more adds great flavor to this recipe. Be sure to keep cumin on hand at all times as it is a staple ingredient in a lot of my recipes!

12. Cinnamon

You may not have ever thought about putting cinnamon in a chili recipe. However, just a touch of cinnamon pairs perfectly with the pumpkin flavor.

13. Salt & Pepper

Just like any other recipe, salt & pepper is added for not only taste, but to balance out and enhance other ingredients.

14. Bay Leaf

Although I have always added a bay leaf to my homemade Chicken Noodle Soup, I have never thought about adding one to my chili recipes.

However, the earthy aroma of the bay leaf actually lightens up this thick pumpkin chili recipe. Just remember to remove it before serving.

jalapeno pepper
If you want to add a little heat, but not much, be sure to remove the seeds and ribs of the jalapeno pepper. Or you can eliminate the pepper all together.
15. Jalapeno Pepper (optional)

If you like your chili with a little heat, add chopped jalapeno pepper to the mixture. Adjust the heat level by removing the seeds and ribs in the pepper.

Like it hot? Simply dice up the entire pepper and throw it in the pot. However, if you just want a touch of heat, slice the pepper in half and remove the seeds and ribs.

Then add the jalapeno pepper when you add the bell pepper to the mix.

STOVE TOP INSTRUCTIONS

The first step in making this Pumpkin Chili Recipe is to brown the meat. Start by placing a large stock pot over medium heat. Then add the ground beef.

Cook until half of the ground beef is no longer pink. Then add the chopped onion, bell pepper, jalapeno pepper (if using), garlic, and chipotle pepper. Continue to saute until the meat is cooked through.

Then add the pumpkin puree, hard cider, beans with the liquid, and chicken broth into the pot and stir until the pumpkin is fully incorporated.

Add the chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, salt, pepper and bay leaf and stir well.

ground beef onions and peppers
Once the ground beef is half way cooked, add the onions and peppers to the pot and continue to cook until the meat is no longer pink.

Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn down the heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the ingredients from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Depending on how much liquid has evaporated, you may need to add a little water. Add in enough water so that the consistency is perfect for your preference.

Serve the pumpkin chili warm and top with optional garnishes if desired.

INSTANT POT/ELECTRIC PRESSURE COOKER INSTRUCTIONS

If you have an electric pressure cooker, you can make this pumpkin chili recipe with very little hands on interaction.

Start by pressing the Saute button. When the display reads HOT add the ground beef.

Once the meat is half way cooked through, add the diced onions, peppers, minced garlic and chipotle pepper. Continue to cook until the meat is no longer pink.

Once the beef is cooked through press Cancel. Pour in the hard cider and scrape the bottom of the pot to remove any stuck bits.

It is important that the bottom of the pot is deglazed before pressure cooking. Otherwise, you will get the dreaded BURN notice.

pumpkin puree in chili
After you deglaze the bottom of the pot with the cider, add the pumpkin puree and other remaining ingredients.

After the bottom of the pot has been scraped clean, add the pumpkin puree, chicken broth, beans, and seasonings. Stir well.

Then lock the lid in place and move valve to the SEALING position. Pressure Cook/Manual on HIGH pressure for 10 minutes.

Just like with any pressure cooker recipe, additional time is needed so that the pot can come to pressure. It took my 6 quart Instant Pot Duo 12 minutes to come to pressure for this recipe.

Once the cook time is up, allow for the pot to Natural Pressure Release. This will take approximately 15-25 minutes.

Once the pin drops, carefully remove the lid and stir the contents. Remove the bay leaf and discard.

Serve warm with optional garnishes if desired.

scoop of pumpkin chili
Pumpkin chili cooked and ready to be served with your favorite garnishes.

If you enjoy the taste of chili but are on a low-carb or Keto diet, be sure to make my favorite Keto Chili recipe. I make it in my Instant Pot, but it would be easy to make on the stove as well.

Enjoy! Mary

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Yield: 6 servings

The Best Pumpkin Chili Recipe

pumpkin chili recipe

An award winning chili recipe that is full of flavor and that is easy to make.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1/2 bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, diced
  • 15 oz. pumpkin puree
  • 12 oz. Hard Cider
  • 15 oz. can of chili beans
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp. cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf

Instructions

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, add the ground beef. Cook until half of the ground beef is cooked.
  2. Then add the chopped onion, bell pepper, garlic, and chipotle pepper. Continue to saute until the meat is no longer pink.
  3. Add the pumpkin puree, hard cider, beans, and chicken broth into the pot and stir until the pumpkin is incorporated.
  4. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, salt, pepper and bay leaf. Stir well.
  5. Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn down the heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes stirring occasionally.
  6. Serve warm and top with optional garnishes if desired.

Instant Pot Instructions

  1. Press Saute. When the display reads HOT add the ground beef. Once the meat is half way cooked through, add the diced onions, peppers, minced garlic and chipotle pepper. Continue to cook until the meat is no longer pink.
  2. Press Cancel. Pour in the hard cider and scrape the bottom of the pot to remove any stuck bits. Add the pumpkin puree, chicken broth, beans, and seasonings. Stir well.
  3. Lock the lid in place and move valve to the SEALING position. Pressure Cook/Manual on HIGH pressure for 10 minutes. Once the cook time is up allow for the pot to Natural Pressure Release.
  4. Serve warm with optional garnishes if desired.

Notes

Recipe provided by Make Your Meals

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 320Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 68mgSodium: 1071mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 6gSugar: 11gProtein: 27g

Nutritional Information is to be used as a general guideline only . Nutritional calculations will vary from the types and brands of the products used.

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