Pumpkin Chili Recipe

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Hearty Pumpkin Chili is a delicious, vegetarian dish made in the slow cooker! A cold weather dinner that warms you from head to toe, my family didn’t even miss the meat in this one!

Love comfort food? We love this chicken tetrazzini and my mom’s best meatloaf recipe when we’re craving hearty dishes.

Pumpkin chili in a stoneware crock topped with sour cream and cheese.

Just add Pumpkin

What sounds better on a chilly night than a bowl of Pumpkin Chili? 

You know how so many recipes call for only a cup of canned pumpkin? I hate the thought of wasting that leftover pumpkin, so instead of sticking it in the fridge and hoping I remember to use it, I try to make a plan for what recipes I can add it to.

I always save the little bit from the can and often use the leftover in Pumpkin Smoothies (so good!). When the weather’s on the cooler side, though, I’m not always in the mood for a chilled smoothie.

A few weeks ago I was making a vegetarian chili and thought, why not add the leftover pumpkin to the dish?

Thick pumpkin chili in a brown stoneware soup bowl with sour cream and shredded cheese topping.

Why this recipe works

Truth be told, my husband hates pumpkin, so I added enough to make the chili thicker, but not enough to give it a pumpkin flavor. I love adding veggies in a sneaky way to get those extra vitamins in everyone.

Pumpkin is super rich in vitamin A and also adds a nice amount of color to a dish. When balanced with all the spices in a chili, the flavor is so mild it’s barely noticeable.

If I hadn’t told the husband that this was a pumpkin chili, I doubt he wouldn’t have noticed. He didn’t even miss the meat in this vegetarian dinner.

But I, with the secret knowledge of my special extra ingredient, noted the subtle flavor difference the pumpkin made–in a good way! It also added a thickness to the chili that reminded me of my favorite stick-to-your ribs kind of stews.

I’ll note too that as filling as this chili is, it’s definitely not heavy. It’s that perfect balance of totally satisfying and hearty without weighing you down!

Ingredient Notes

It’s hard to imagine an easier meal than a crock pot chili! Just toss everything in your slow cooker, turn it on and go about your day while your meal cooks itself.

I use a very basic list of ingredients for my vegetarian pumpkin chili:

  • Chili Beans– I use mild chili beans, but kidney beans, or cannellini work too
  • Tomatoes– fresh tomatoes are amazing, but in a pinch use crushed or stewed tomatoes
  • Onion 
  • Green Pepper
  • Canned Pumpkin Puree – don’t use pumpkin pie filling!
  • Chili Powder
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)

The most time consuming part of this recipe is dicing the onion and peppers and peeling the tomatoes. And even that takes about 5 minutes max.

Then, you just layer all the ingredients in your slow cooker and let it cook on low for at least six hours. I served bowls of this chili topped with plain Greek yogurt, shredded cheese and a handful of more diced onions!

Topping ideas

Along with the Greek yogurt and cheese, check out these great ideas for topping  your bowl of homemade vegetarian pumpkin chili:

  • Diced peppers
  • Sour cream
  • Diced avocado or guacamole
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Pico de Gallo
  • Lime juice (serve a wedge of lime on the side and squeeze over top just before eating!)
  • Pineapple Salsa
  • Tortilla chips or corn chips
Hearty Pumpkin Chili is a delicious, vegetarian dish made in the slow cooker! My family didn't even miss the meat in this one! #vegetarian #dinner #slowcooker #crockpot

This is a full meal all on its own but it’s also wonderful with a side of Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread.

My husband lucked out with this dinner: a delicious bowl of chili that he didn’t have to cook AND a super easy clean up! I hope next time it’s his turn to cook, he remembers this pumpkin chili and returns the favor.

More Chili Recipes:

Soups and Stews

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Pumpkin Chili

4.84 from 12 votes
By: Aimee
Hearty Pumpkin Chili is a delicious, vegetarian dish made in the slow cooker! My family didn’t even miss the meat in this one!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 4 servings


  • 3 cans mild chili beans 15 oz each
  • 5 large tomatoes peeled
  • ½ medium onion diced
  • 1 green pepper diced
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree from a can, not pumpkin pie filling
  • 5 Tablespoons chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
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  • Add everything to your slow cooker. Stir, then cover and turn on low for 6 hours. Before serving, use a fork to break apart the tomatoes if needed. Usually, they will have already done so on their own, but just in case your family doesn’t like big chunks you can break them up more!
  • When ready to serve, enjoy with sour cream (or greek yogurt), shredded cheese, and diced onions. ENJOY!


  • Add cooked ground beef if you want some meat in your chili.
  • Before serving, check to see if the tomatoes have broken apart on their own. If they haven’t, use a strong fork to complete the process. They should be in bite sized chunks; they won’t be completely even and that’s okay. Chili is allowed to be “rustic”!
  • Double check to make sure you’re using pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie mix!
  • Like a little extra heat in your chili? Some members of my family put a little hot sauce on theirs. You can also add a dash of cayenne pepper!
  • See blog post for more recipe tips and tricks.


Calories: 123kcal, Carbohydrates: 24g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 708mg, Fiber: 8g, Sugar: 9g
Course: Soups and Stews
Cuisine: American
Did you make this recipe?Mention @shugarysweets or tag #shugarysweets!

What are you waiting for? Make easy slow cooker pumpkin chili for dinner tonight!

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About Aimee

Aimee is a dessert lover (specifically rice krispie treats), workout enthusiast, self-taught foodie, and recipe creator.

Learn more about Aimee.

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Posted on September 16, 2020

Comments & Reviews

  1. I don’t think I would miss the meat either, sounds absolutely delish, of course with a big ol dollop of sour cream too 🙂

4.84 from 12 votes (11 ratings without comment)

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