Pumpkin Chili

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Chili is a Halloween tradition for my family. When we were kids, one of my parents made a big pot of beef chili on Halloween. They would serve it with an assortment of toppings like shredded cheese, sour cream, and always Fritos. Then we would warm and fill our bellies with it before we left to go trick-or-treating.

Vegetarian pumpkin chili topped with sour cream and tortilla chips
Chili with sour cream and jalapeños
Colorful pumpkins in front of a dark background with pumpkin chili blurred in the foreground.

Now I make chili myself on or around Halloween. I still really enjoy a comforting and familiar pot of beef chili, but I often mix it up too, depending on my cravings, and this year I thought pumpkin chili would be an appropriate change. This recipe is meatless, but with good beans, and a hefty amount of pumpkin, it is still very filling.

For this recipe I start with dried beans. I recommend sticking with that as a flavorful bean broth does a lot for this dish. You don’t have to presoak your beans, but it does cut down on the cooking time. I like to soak mine overnight, and then get the chili going early in the day. It can be reheated easily for dinner, or stowed away for later meals. Read my bean cooking tips here.

I kept this recipe mild for my daughter. If you’d like to make it more spicy, dice up some chilies and add them when you add the onions and garlic, or add some chili flake. I have mine with fresh jalapeños and hot sauce to get the kick I like.

Meat free, gluten free pumpkin Chili. Easy to make.
Halloween scene of comforting pumpkin chili, fall leaves, skeleton. Vegetarian pumpkin chili

Pumpkin Chili (Serves 10-12)

  • 1 lb dried beans (I used Rancho Gordo Ayocate Morados for this batch.)
  • 1/4 cup dried Mexican Oregano (4 T)
  • 5 oz olive oil, divided
  • 2.5-3lb pumpkin (Will yield about 5 cups)
  • 1/4 cup chili powder (See note.)
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 T tomato paste
  • Toppings and accompaniments of choice: tortilla chips, Fritos or corn bread, sour cream, jalapenos, diced onion, shredded cheese, and hot sauce are a few suggestions
  1. Cover beans with cold water by about 2 inches. Either presoak them or start cooking right away. When you are ready to cook add 3 oz of olive oil and 1/4 cup dried Mexican oregano to the pot. Bring to a boil and boil for about 10-15 minutes, then turn down to a low simmer and cook until tender. The cooking time will depend on the type of bean you are using and if you did a presoak or not, but I generally give it one to two hours for soaked beans. Plan on it taking longer if you don’t soak them.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425F. Split your pumpkin in half and remove the guts and seeds. Put the pumpkin flesh side up in either a large skillet or a roasting pan. Put 1 T on each half of the pumpkin, and season with salt. Roast for about 40 minutes, until it pierces easily with a fork.
  3. Allow the pumpkin to cool for a bit. When cool enough to handle, put each half flesh side down on a cutting board, and carefully remove the skin with your fingers. Cut the pumpkin into large bite sized pieces.
  4. Preheat a large pot. Add 1 oz (2T) of oil to the pan. Add the diced onions and sliced garlic, and lower the heat to sweat the vegetables. Add the tomato paste and stir. When the beans are tender add them and their cooking liquid to the pot, along with the chili powder. Stir combine. Add the squash and season with salt and pepper. The chili should be somewhat soupy so add more water if desired. I usually end up adding about 2 cups to mine. Bring all of the ingredients to a simmer. Everything is cooked at this point, so you’re just giving it time for flavors to meld, about fifteen to twenty minutes.

Vegetarian pumpkin chili. Halloween dinner
Spoonful of pumpkin chili


For this recipe I used a chili powder that has other spices in it already. You can also add in a blend of chili powder, cumin, and coriander.

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