Pumpkin Chili

Game Day1-PotMake-ahead

Pumpkin Chili! Made with chunks of pumpkin, ground pork, black beans, a bottle of beer, and plenty of spices. Ready in under an hour. Even better the next day.

Photography Credit: Aaron Hutcherson

Pumpkin and chili: two things we all crave every fall. This recipe combines them into one dish. It’s the best of both worlds!

The pumpkin provides some natural sweetness, which plays well with the different spices. If you aren’t able to find fresh pumpkin, then butternut squash, acorn squash, or any other hard squash would be good substitutes.

Video! How to Make Pumpkin Chili

Pumpkin Chili’s Secret Ingredient

I love using beer in my chili recipes because it adds a rich, earthy flavor and just enough bitterness to balance the richness of the finished dish. Since this is a pumpkin chili, I thought it only fitting to use a pumpkin beer in this recipe. There usually isn’t any real squash in pumpkin beer, but it has a mellow malty flavor and a spiciness that underscores the flavors in this chili really nicely.

However, you can really use whatever beer you have on hand; I recommend sticking with an amber beer or lager since those usually have a good balance of malty flavors with a light bitterness. (Avoid overly-bitter, hoppy beers for this recipe.) 

Pumpkin Chili With Chunks of Pumpkin

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What to Serve with Pumpkin Chili

Top this chili with a spoonful of sour cream and some shredded cheddar cheese, and add a wedge of cornbread alongside. Don't forget the beer!

Swaps & Substitutions

  • Swap the pumpkin for any other hard winter squash, like butternut, acorn, or kabocha.
  • Swap the black beans for your favorite bean. Pintos are especially nice!
  • Swap the ground pork for sausage links or ground beef.

Storing & Freezing Pumpkin Chili

Like most chilis, this one tastes even better the day after it's made. Store it in the fridge for up to a week, and reheat leftovers gently in the microwave or on the stovetop.

You can also freeze this chili for up to three months. We like this method for freezing soup and saving on freezer space!

More Favorite Chili Recipes

Updated October 21, 2020 : We spiffed up this post to make it sparkle! No changes to the recipe.

Pumpkin Chili Recipe

  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings (makes about 8 cups)


  • Small 1-pound sugar or pie pumpkin, or other hard winter squash
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 jalapeños, seeds and ribs removed and finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 (15.5-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle pumpkin beer (or amber ale or lager)

Suggested toppings (to serve):

  • Tortilla chips
  • Sour cream
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Shredded cheddar cheese


1 Prepare the pumpkin: Peel the skin from the pumpkin with a vegetable peeler. Cut it in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut away the stem, then cut the pumpkin into small bite-sized pieces. (See this guide to How to Peel A Butternut Squash; the steps are similar.)

2 Begin making the soup: Heat the oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add the cut pumpkin, onion, jalapeños, garlic, chili powder, cumin, black pepper, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook until the vegetables start to soften, 5 to 7 minutes. (The pumpkin should be slightly soft around the edges, but probably won't be cooked through yet.)

Add the ground pork, breaking it up with a stiff spatula, and continue to cook until no longer raw, 3 to 5 minutes more. Add the black beans, diced tomatoes, beer, and 1 teaspoon of salt to the pot.

Ingredients for pumpkin chili set in glass bowls. Beer poured into a pot of easy chili.

3 Simmer the soup: Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pumpkin has cooked through and the flavors have had time to mingle, about 30 minutes.

Taste and add more salt or spices if needed. (If the chili tastes a little bland, add more spices; if the chili tastes a little bitter, add more salt.)

4 Serve: Divide among bowls and serve with your favorite chili toppings. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for about a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

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Aaron Hutcherson

Aaron or “Hutch” is the blogger behind The Hungry Hutch, which features a delicious variety of savory and sweet recipes. He grew up in the Midwest, but has called New York City home for nearly a decade.

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27 Comments / Reviews

No ImagePumpkin Chili

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Kristine

    I was definitely pleasantly surprised with this recipe. I used a small pumpkin. Took forever to peel. Even with heating it in the microwave. This made the house smell
    AMAZING!!! Topped with avocado, sour cream and cheese. Will Definitely do this recipe again.


  2. Brian

    I have to say, I am impressed. I was skeptical in the first stage of cooking, because it was looking really dry, but the tomatoes and beer did the trick. I used an Acorn Squash, caution add 20 minutes if use an Acorn Squash, it takes a lonnngggggg time to peel, but it was worth it.

    Super Yummy!!

    Show Replies (1)
  3. Jan

    This is amazing! Something I would expect to have at a brewpub this time of year. I made the recipe as written with a bit extra ground pork and adjusted the seasonings at the end after tasting. It was sweet and flavorful and just needed extra chili powder and cumin. No extra salt. Thanks for a new family recipe!


  4. Sandi

    I made this to take on our motor home trip this week. Of course I tested a small bowl ahead of time. It is delicious! Last time I used butternut squash and loved that too!


  5. Jane

    Love this recipe, I have made it several times and it is so hearty and delicious! Used 2 tsp of salt instead of 3, otherwise made it as written.


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