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Easy Healthy Pumpkin Chili Recipe: Fall Comfort Food at Its Best

This healthy pumpkin chili is a delicious and nutritious meal that is perfect for fall or winter! It’s packed with vitamins, minerals, and protein, and it’s low in fat and calories. Whether you serve it up in mini pumpkin bowls for a dinner party, bring it to a tailgate, or enjoy it at home, this will be a recipe you’ll make again and again!

As temperatures begin to drop, my mind always turns to making a big pot of chili.

There’s something about chili that makes it the perfect dish for fall and winter, isn’t there?

I love experimenting with different flavors and ingredients like this All Meat Chili recipe, this White Chicken Chili recipe, and this Nashville Hot Chicken Chili recipe.

For fall, I decided to play around with adding some pumpkin to my classic chili recipe, and this might be my new favorite!

Homemade turkey pumpkin chili in a cast iron Dutch oven.

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Why Use Pumpkin in Your Chili?

I know it might sound a little strange to add pumpkin to chili, but I promise it’s delicious!

The pumpkin’s flavor is very mild. I noticed more pumpkin flavor when I first tasted the chili, but after it simmered for a while on my stove, the pumpkininess became very subtle.

In fact, the pumpkin seemed to enhance the other flavors in the chili like the smokiness of the chipotles.

I chose to play up the pumpkin flavor just a bit by adding some cinnamon to the chili.

If you’ve ever had Cincinnati-style chili, then you know that a bit of cinnamon and chocolate really tastes amazing!

Pumpkin also adds some fantastic nutrition to your chili thanks to it being rich in beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, folate, potassium, and iron.

Studies have shown that pumpkin can boost your immune system, reduce your risk of cancer, naturally lower your blood pressure, lower your risk of stroke, improve your bone density, and reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.

There’s even evidence suggesting that the nutrients in pumpkins are good for your skin and can reduce signs of aging!

Since pumpkins are naturally high in fiber, adding pumpkin to your diet can help you to feel full while actually consuming fewer calories.

Talk about a superfood, am I right?

I’m thinking I need to add a lot more pumpkin to my diet…

How to Control the Spiciness of Your Chili

Have you ever cooked with chipotles before?

They’re red jalapeno peppers that are smoked and then dried.

I love to buy them canned in adobo sauce to add some amazing flavor and a little heat to all kinds of recipes.

However, be forewarned: they’re pretty spicy!

You can reduce the spiciness a bit by cutting the peppers open and scooping out the seeds.

I typically only add about a Tablespoon of the adobo sauce to my recipes.

If you enjoy spicier foods, you can add more of the adobo sauce, or skip removing the seeds.

If you’re sensitive to spice or don’t enjoy the heat of a jalapeno, you can omit the chipotles altogether. Simply use mild green chiles instead plus a teaspoon or two of liquid smoke. The liquid smoke lets you still get that smokey flavor in your healthy pumpkin chili.

What Makes This Pumpkin Chili Recipe Healthy?

Flat lay of all the ingredients used to make healthy low fat pumpkin chili.

In addition to all the health benefits you’ll get from adding pumpkin, check out these other nutritious ingredients.

Tomatoes: Antioxidants like lycopene in tomatoes have been shown to protect brain health and reduce heart-related diseases.

Bone Broth: This superfood is loaded with collagen which can support your joints, The glutamine (an amino acid) has been shown to be good for gut health. In addition, bone broth is higher in protein than other broths.

Bell Peppers: Rich in vitamin C and antioxidants.

Beans: Rich in potassium and magnesium plus high in fiber.

I’ve been following the Trim Healthy Mama way of eating since 2016. Since this recipe includes ingredients with healthy carbohydrates like pumpkin and beans, I was careful to keep the amount of fat to a minimum.

I used 98% lean ground turkey breast for the meat and added an even more smoky flavor with Italian chicken sausages.

There’s no other fat added to this recipe, so you can even enjoy a little shredded cheese on top and still keep the total fat below the recommended 5 grams for a THM E meal.

My Secret to Quickly Chop Ingredients

Peppers and onions inside the bottom of a 4-in-1 food chopper.

For years, I’ve been chopping veggies by hand.

I’m not a chef, so chopping takes me a little time!

Typically, it would take me about 10 minutes to chop several bell peppers and a large onion.

Recently, I gifted myself this 4-in-1 chopper, and it’s quickly become my favorite kitchen tool!

I was able to chop all the veggies for this chili recipe in less than two minutes.

Now I use it for chopping almost everything from cucumbers and mushrooms, to tomatoes and cheese.

It’s super easy to clean and dishwasher-safe.

If you chop lots of veggies, treat yourself to one of these choppers!

Why Should You Rinse and Drain Canned Beans Before Using Them?

Water spraying over black beans and dark red kidney beans in a mesh colander in a kitchen sink.

Beans are canned in a briney liquid.

It’s important to rinse that salty, starchy liquid off the beans before using them in your recipes.

Not only does that liquid affect the flavor of your recipe, but it also adds a lot of sodium to the dish.

To drain and rinse canned beans, first dump the contents of the can into a mesh colander like this one. Then rinse the beans for a few minutes until the water runs clear.

Let the beans sit for another few minutes to allow the excess water to drain out.

Tips for Making Pumpkin Chili

I’ve always used a stainless steel Dutch oven or stock pot when I make chili, but cleaning the cooked-on mess from the pot afterward was such a pain.

Recently, I discovered how to make stainless steel virtually nonstick! Cold stainless steel is porous, so the key is to properly heat the pot before using it to cook.

First, preheat the pan over medium-high heat until water droplets bead up and dance across the surface. Don’t add cooking spray or oil until the pan is preheated.

After the pot is preheated, spray the bottom and sides lightly with avocado oil cooking spray.

You’ll find the turkey doesn’t stick to the pan, and if a little bit does, it easily scrapes away. Best part? Even when the tomato part of the chili starts to thicken on the edges of the pot, that wipes away easily with a sponge.

Chop up the browned ground turkey with a food chopper like this one. Next, add the sliced chicken sausage.

Stir it occasionally and let the sausage caramelize on the edges.

Next, add the chopped bell peppers, onions, and minced garlic.

Stir them into the browned meat, and let them cook a bit until the onions begin to soften.

Then, add the canned tomatoes, beans, and chopped chipotles.

The key to a great chili is in the seasonings!

I added some unique spices to this pumpkin chili in addition to the typical chili seasonings of chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper.

The pumpkin really lends itself to smoky flavors, so I used smoked paprika to enhance the smokiness of the chipotles.

Next, I included some coriander. Its bright, almost citrusy flavor with a touch of pepperiness adds a little something special to chili.

Finally, I leaned into the fact that there’s pumpkin in this low fat chili recipe and included a little ground cinnamon. It adds a little more warmth to the flavors and really takes this pumpkin chili to a whole new level.

Is Chili Better If It Cooks Longer?

Homemade THM Pumpkin Chili simmering in a stainless steel Dutch oven.

While this easy pumpkin chili recipe is ready to eat after simmering for 30 minutes, it will taste even better if you let it simmer longer.

The longer it cooks, the more the flavors blend together and the richer it will taste.

In fact, not cooking chili long enough is listed as one of the biggest mistakes for homemade chili by Southern Living Magazine!

Have you ever noticed how day-old chili and soup that’s been sitting in the fridge overnight often tastes better than it did the day you made it?

It’s because the flavors meld during that extra time.

For the best flavor, I recommend letting it simmer for an hour or two over low heat.

Can You Make This Recipe in a Slow Cooker or Instant Pot?

While I’ve shown this chili being made on my stovetop, you can also use a slow cooker or pressure cooker to make this simple healthy chili recipe.

If you decide to make it in your slow cooker, I recommend browning the meat beforehand for the best flavor.

After you’ve browned the meat, simply transfer it to your slow cooker, then add the rest of the ingredients and cook it low and slow for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-6 hours.

To make it in a pressure cooker, start by using the saute function to brown the meat and veggies.

Then, switch to manual mode and add the remaining ingredients, stir everything together. Set the cooking timer to 15 minutes.

Chili cooked in a pressure cooker will taste like it’s been cooking for hours in a fraction of the time.

Variations and Substitutions

You have lots of flexibility with this recipe!

Some alternatives to the pumpkin are butternut squash or sweet potatoes. You could even do a combination of all three.

To make this recipe vegan, try substituting additional beans, textured vegetable protein burger crumbles, bulgur, tofu, or chopped portabello mushrooms.

If you prefer milder chili, omit the chipotles and use mild green chiles plus some liquid smoke to maintain that smoky flavor.

How to Store Leftover Chili

Store any leftover chili in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5-7 days.

You can also store leftovers in the freezer.

Frozen chili will last for 3-6 months in an airtight container in the freezer.

I love freezing soups and chilis in a large silicone muffin pan like this one so I can easily thaw individual portions.

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Collage of products used to prepare pumpkin chili on the stovetop or slow cooker.

Printable Recipe: Healthy Pumpkin Chili

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Pumpkin chili served in mini pumpkin bowls topped with shredded cheese and green onions.

Hearty and Healthy Pumpkin Chili

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

This healthy pumpkin chili is a delicious and nutritious meal that is perfect for fall or winter! It's packed with vitamins, minerals, and protein, and it's low in fat and calories. Whether you serve it up in mini pumpkin bowls for a dinner party, bring it to a tailgate, or enjoy it at home, this will be a recipe you'll make again and again!


  • 1 lb 98% lean ground turkey
  • 1 lb Italian chicken sausage, halved and sliced
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 3-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 7 oz. can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (see note)
  • 29 oz. canned pumpkin purée (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 15-oz cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 15 oz can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken bone broth (see notes)
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt (to taste)


  1. Preheat a 7-quart Dutch oven on medium high heat then spray it lightly with avocado oil cooking spray.
  2. Add the lean ground turkey and brown it, stirring often to break it into small pieces.
  3. Once the ground turkey is browned, add the chicken sausages and continue sauteeing until the edges of the sausages begin to brown and caramelize.
  4. Add the chopped onion, garlic, and bell peppers and sautee until the onions begin to look translucent.
  5. Mix in the beans, tomatoes, and chipotles (see note!).
  6. Add the seasonings and then salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Stir in chicken broth. For thicker chili, just use one cup. For soupier chili, add up to three cups.
  8. Reduce heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes.
  9. Serve with shredded cheese, sliced green onions, chopped cilantro, and nonfat Greek yogurt if desired.
  10. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


About Chipotle Peppers

Chipotle peppers are roasted red jalapeno peppers, and they can be really spicy! You can reduce the heat they add to the chili by scooping out the seeds before chopping the peppers and adding them to the chili. The adobo sauce adds a wonderful smokiness to the chili, but it also adds a lot of heat. Add the adobo sauce to the chili just a little at a time until you're happy with the spiciness. If you are sensitive to spicy food or prefer less heat, omit the chipotle peppers and use a can of diced green chiles plus 2 teaspoons of liquid smoke instead.

How Much Chicken Broth Should You Use

If you prefer soupier chili you can use more chicken broth when you make this recipe. If you plan to serve the chili in baked mini pumpkin bowls, be sure the bottoms of the bowls don't have any holes if your chili is made with more broth.

Slow Cooker Preparation

This chili can also be prepared in a slow cooker. For best results, brown the meat prior to adding it to the slow cooker. Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

Nutrition Information
Yield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 313Total Fat 3.2gSaturated Fat .4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat .2gCholesterol 71mgSodium 1070mgCarbohydrates 40gNet Carbohydrates 25.5gFiber 14.5gSugar 11gProtein 31g

Please note that we are not medical or nutritional professionals. We include nutrition information for our recipes as a courtesy to our readers. However, due to wide variations in brands, nutrition data is subject to change for every user. Nutrition data is calculated using My Fitness Pal Pro. All sugar alcohols are subtracted from the final carb count. Please refer to our complete Nutritional Disclosure for more details.

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