This is THE BEST pumpkin chili recipe! Using real pumpkin instead of canned, this vegan chili features chunks of roasted pumpkin, beans and veggies in a thick pumpkin and tomato broth.
’Tis the season for everything pumpkin. More than just pies, pumpkin is one versatile ingredient! From vegan enchiladas to pumpkin tahini soup to pumpkin gnocchi, pumpkin is great in both sweet and savoury recipes.
I accidentally grew giant pumpkins in my garden this year (they were supposed to be butternut) and have been brainstorming new and interesting ways to use them up once I cut into them.
Chili is always a great option because you can make a bit pot and freeze the leftovers.
But while checking out other pumpkin chili recipes for inspiration, I was disappointed by the fact that they all use canned pumpkin and don’t have any chunks of real pumpkin in them!
So I’ve come up with this recipe for pumpkin-lovers who want to take advantage of this seasonal fruit while it’s fresh and cheap with a chunky and hearty vegan chili recipe!
What kind of pumpkin for this recipe?
Not all pumpkins are created equal. In this pumpkin chili recipe we are going to start by roasting the pumpkin.
For roasting you will want to choose one with a smooth and dense flesh such as a sugar pumpkin or pie pumpkin.
You could also use a squash. In fact I used a red kuri squash (also called golden or orange Hubbard squash).
You could also substitute a kabocha, acorn or butternut squash.
My pumpkin/squash weighed 3 pounds (1.4 kg) before seeding and I ended up with 2.5 pounds (1.1 kg) of pumpkin chunks.
You don’t need to use the exact same amount of pumpkin, the recipe is forgiving if you have a little more or a little less.
Because pumpkin and squash skin is edible, I did not peel it. It’s also a pain in the ass to peel a pumpkin, amirite?
If you are using a green skinned squash, you might want to peel it first or else your puree will turn an off-putting yellow-brownish colour.
How to make pumpkin chili
If you’ve got a whole pumpkin instead of pre-cut chunks you’ll need to clean and seed it. Scrub any dirt off the outside and slice it in half. Scoop out the seeds (and save them for roasting later).
Chop the pumpkin into cubes, drizzle with a bit of olive oil and salt and pop them in a moderate oven to roast.
Meanwhile, chop and fry your veggies. This recipe calls for onion, celery, garlic and red pepper. Feel free to add in carrots, corn or your favourite chili veggies if you’re so inclined.
Next add your spices: cumin, a touch of cinnamon and oregano. For heat and smokiness we are going to be adding a couple chipotle peppers later so I didn’t add chili powder or smoked paprika here.
If you don’t have chipotle peppers, you can use chili powder and smoked paprika or any of your other favourite chili seasonings.
Now add a can of crushed tomato, vegetable stock and beans.
I used a combination of kidney and pinto beans but feel free to use black beans or whatever your favourite bean is.
By now your pumpkin should be just about tender and roasted.
Take half the roasted pumpkin and put it into a food processor along with a couple chipotle peppers in adobo. Blend it up into a puree and add it to your chili.
This pumpkin puree is not only for flavour but it also acts as a thickener.
Add in the other half of the pumpkin chunks, season with salt and give it a couple minutes on the heat for the whole pot heat through.
Storage and reheating tips
Store any leftover pumpkin chili in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 - 4 days.
It can be frozen in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
To reheat, return the chili to a pot and gently warm through. You can also heat it in a microwave-safe dish for a couple of minutes.
What to serve with pumpkin chili
You can garnish your vegan chili with avocado, cilantro, green onions, a slice of lime, vegan cheese, vegan sour cream or plain unsweetened vegan yogurt.
We like it with nachos or crusty bread for dipping but if you want to go all-out you can rustle up a delicious vegan cornbread or garlic bread.
If you want to stretch this recipe out, serve it over rice or a baked potato.
- 1 small pumpkin or squash about 3 lbs (1.3 kg) before seeding, 2.5 lbs (1.1 kg) of pumpkin chunks*
- 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt divided
- ½ large onion diced
- 2 stalks of celery chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 1 large red pepper diced (about 2 cups / 260 grams)
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 (14 oz / 400 gram) can crushed tomatoes
- 3 cups (710 ml) vegetable stock
- 2 (15 oz / 425 gram) cans of beans, drained and rinsed (I used kidney and pinto beans. Use your favourite beans)
- 2 - 3 chipotle peppers in adobo adjust to taste
- Your choice of toppings: avocado, green onion, vegan sour cream, vegan cheese, cilantro, etc.
- Scrub clean the outside of your pumpkin, remove the seeds and cut it into chunks about 1 inch (2.5 cm). Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Toss to coat. Roast at 400 F (200 C) until tender - about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and fry, stirring occasionally, until tender. Add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds to a minute more until fragrant. Add the red pepper and fry until tender.
- Add the cumin, cinnamon and oregano and fry, stirring continuously, for 30 seconds to a minute to release the aromas.
- Add the crushed tomato, vegetable stock and beans.
- When the pumpkin is roasted, add half the cubes to a food processor along with the chipotle peppers and blend into a puree.
- Add the puree, the remaining pumpkin chunks and 1 teaspoon of salt to the chili and bring to a simmer for a couple of minutes until everything is heated through. If you think it’s too thick, you can add another splash of vegetable stock or water.
- Serve with your choice of garnishes.