As the leaves start to turn and the air gets crisper, it’s clear that pumpkin season and chili season are upon us. What better way to embrace these fall flavors than with a savory pumpkin chili?
This isn’t just your traditional chili; it’s a delightful twist with the addition of pumpkin, bringing an earthy flavor and creamy texture that’ll have the whole family asking for seconds.
Whether you’re a fan of pumpkin or just looking for a new chili recipe, our Slow Simmer Pumpkin Chili is the perfect recipe to try. You can use any variety of beans like black, kidney, and pinto, and your choice of ground meat – be it turkey, chicken, or beef – this chili is as hearty as it gets.
Plus, with options for both the Instant Pot and slow cooker, you can choose to savor the flavors quickly or let them develop over time in a Dutch oven or crock pot.
From the rich pumpkin purée and warm spices to the versatile additions like sweet potato or green bell pepper, this chili takes your meal prep to a whole new level. So grab your large pot or plug in your Instant Pot, because this pumpkin chili recipe is about to become your favorite fall go-to.
Don’t forget to top it off with your favorite chili toppings – think sour cream, fresh cilantro, green onions, or even a bit of olive oil for an extra layer of flavor. Get ready to make pumpkin chili taste like a cozy autumn hug in a bowl!
Easy Pumpkin Chili Ingredients:
- 1 to 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef (substitute with ground turkey if you prefer a turkey pumpkin chili)
- 1/2 tablespoon neutral oil (such as vegetable or canola)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced (substitute with 2 deseeded jalapeños for more spice, if desired)
- 2 to 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
- 1 small piece of semi sweet or milk chocolate (optional for depth of flavor)
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 (15 ounce) can pure pumpkin puree
- 2 (14.5 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 to 1 ½ cups low sodium broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable) or water
- Greek yogurt or sour cream
- Chopped cilantro
- Green onions
- Shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese
- Fritos or tortilla strips
Easy Pumpkin Chili Instructions:
Prepare the Base: Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add ground meat, crumbling it as it cooks until fully browned (about 4-5 minutes). Drain excess grease.
Add onions, bell peppers (or jalapeños for more heat), and garlic. Sauté for 4-7 minutes until onions are translucent.
This is your base for any of three cooking methods!
Stovetop Cooking: Add all the remaining chili ingredients (including the optional chocolate) to the pot. Bring to a simmer, then cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 1 hour. Check and add additional liquid if needed.
Simmer until vegetables are softened.
Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Instant Pot Method: Transfer the browned meat mixture to an Instant Pot. Add the remaining ingredients for the chili. Stir well.
Secure the lid and cook on high pressure for 20 minutes, followed by a natural release for 10 minutes.
Slow Cooker Method: Transfer the browned meat mixture to a slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients for the chili. Stir, cover, and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours.
Serve and Enjoy: Ladle the chili into bowls. Top with Greek yogurt or sour cream, cilantro, green onions, and cheese. Add a crunch with Fritos or tortilla strips. Enjoy!
This Pumpkin Chili recipe is a great way to embrace the flavors of the season, offering a comforting and hearty meal for the colder months. The addition of pumpkin not only brings a unique twist but also adds a lovely creamy texture to the traditional chili. Perfect for a cozy night in!
What Is The Best Way To Store Chili?
Storing chili properly is essential to maintain its flavor and ensure it stays safe to eat. Here are steps to follow for the best results:
- Cool Down: Before storing chili, allow it to cool to room temperature. However, don’t leave it out for more than two hours to prevent bacterial growth.
- Use Airtight Containers: Transfer the chili to airtight containers. This helps preserve the flavor and prevent the chili from absorbing odors from other foods in your fridge or freezer.
- Refrigerate or Freeze:
- Refrigerator: Chili stored in the refrigerator should last about 3-4 days.
- Freezer: For longer storage, chili can be frozen. It typically keeps well for up to 2-3 months. Be sure to leave some room at the top of the container for expansion as it freezes!
- Thawing (if frozen): When you’re ready to eat the frozen chili, thaw it in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
- Reheating: Reheat chili on the stove over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through. If using a microwave, cover the chili and stir it periodically to ensure even heating.
Why Add Chocolate to Chili?
Adding chocolate to chili might sound unusual at first, but it’s a culinary trick that can significantly enhance the dish’s flavor profile. Here’s why chocolate is a great addition to chili:
- Depth of Flavor: Chocolate, especially dark or unsweetened chocolate, adds a rich, complex depth to chili. It complements the spices commonly used in chili, such as cumin and chili powder, by adding a subtle, earthy note.
- Balances Heat: The slight bitterness and richness of the chocolate can balance the heat from the chili peppers, creating a more rounded and harmonious flavor.
When using chocolate in chili, it’s important to choose the right type. I like to use a semi sweet because it provides flavor and balance without adding too much sugar. Just a small amount is enough to make a significant impact on the overall taste of the chili.
What Are The Best Beans for Chili?
Choosing the best beans for chili often depends on personal preference and the specific chili recipe you’re using. However, certain types of beans are traditionally favored for their texture and ability to absorb flavors. Here are some of the most popular choices:
- Kidney Beans: These are the classic choice for chili. They have a firm texture and hold up well during long cooking times, absorbing flavors beautifully.
- Pinto Beans: Another popular choice, pinto beans offer a creamy texture and a nutty flavor, making them a staple in many chili recipes.
- Black Beans: Known for their earthy flavor, black beans are a great choice if you’re looking for a bean that adds a bit more character to your chili.
- Navy Beans: Smaller than other beans, navy beans are known for their mild flavor and tender texture. They work well in a more subtly flavored chili.
- Great Northern Beans: These beans are larger than navy beans but smaller than kidney beans. They have a mild, nutty flavor and firm flesh, and they hold up well in chili.
- Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans): Not a traditional choice, but they can be used for a different twist on the classic chili. They have a firmer texture and a nutty taste.
- Red Beans: Similar to kidney beans but smaller, red beans hold their shape well and absorb flavors nicely, making them a good alternative.
- Cannellini Beans: These white beans are larger and have a nuttier, earthier flavor compared to navy beans. They add a nice contrast to the usual bean varieties used in chili.
When choosing beans for your chili, consider the cooking method and time. Some beans, like kidney or pinto beans, are sturdier and can withstand longer cooking times, which is great for slow-cooked chilis.
If you’re short on time or using a method like the Instant Pot, beans that cook quicker, like black or navy beans, might be more suitable.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to mix and match! Using a combination of beans can add depth and variety to the texture and flavor of your chili.
What Are The Best Sides With Chili?
Serving chili with the right accompaniments can turn it into a hearty and satisfying meal. We love setting up a chili bar for crisp fall gatherings.
I always serve it with Mac and Cheese and lots of toppings! Here are some great options to serve alongside your favorite chili:
- Cornbread: A classic pairing, cornbread adds a sweet, buttery flavor that complements the savory and spicy notes of chili.
- Rice: Serve chili over a bed of white or brown rice for a filling and comforting meal.
- Tortilla Chips: Perfect for dipping, tortilla chips add a crunchy texture contrast.
- Baked Potatoes: Stuff baked potatoes with chili for a hearty and complete meal.
- Salad: A simple green salad with a tangy vinaigrette can lighten up the meal.
- Jalapeños: Fresh or pickled jalapeños add a spicy kick for those who enjoy heat.
- Fritos or Corn Chips: Add these on top for extra crunch and flavor.
- Lime Wedges: A squeeze of lime adds a burst of citrus and can brighten up the flavors.
- Pasta: Serve chili over mac and cheese for a delicious comforting dinner!
- Grilled Cheese Sandwich: Dip pieces of a grilled cheese sandwich into the chili for a comforting meal.
How to Customize Chili
Customizing chili is a great way to experiment with flavors and textures, and it can turn a basic recipe into something unique and tailored to your taste! Here are some ideas on how to customize your chili:
- Different Proteins: Try using ground turkey, chicken, pork, or even a vegetarian protein like tofu or tempeh.
- Varied Beans: Mix and match different types of beans like kidney beans, pinto beans, or white beans.
- Additional Vegetables: Incorporate other vegetables such as diced sweet potatoes, poblano peppers, corn, or mushrooms for added flavor, texture, and nutrients!
- Heat Level: Adjust the spiciness by adding more chili powder, cayenne pepper, jalapeños, or chipotle peppers in adobo. Or tone it down with a little brown sugar or more chocolate!
- Acidic Touch: A splash of vinegar or a squeeze of lime at the end of cooking can brighten up the flavors.
- Creamy Element: Stir in some cream, sour cream, greek yogurt, or coconut milk for a richer, creamier chili.
Chili is a forgiving dish, making it perfect for experimentation!
Don’t forget to share your chili masterpieces with us. Whether it’s a photo of your steaming pot of chili, a snapshot of your unique ingredient lineup, or just a comment about your chili-making experience, we’d love to hear from you!