Paleo Pumpkin Chili

Jan 20th
Pumpkin Chili

The first time I heard about pumpkin chili it was from a vegetarian friend who made quinoa, black bean, and pumpkin chili. It sounded delicious! And then I went paleo.

I grew up on chili. It’s the one thing my dad could make (other than cereal) and almost every party we ever hosted was fueled by Dad’s famous chili. Then there was The Hard Times Cafe. I think I had my family birthday meal there at least a few times, I’ll take a Cincinnati Chili Mac Three Way! And then there was the DC101 Chili Cook Offs, I only ever made it to one and didn’t even get to taste the chili (lame friends and lame me going with the crowd.)

Clearly, chili made a huge impact in my life. I mean, how can you get better than a bowl full of spicy meat, beans, and tomatoes? Especially, if you make that into a Frito Pie and top it with tons of cheese and sour cream!

Pumpkin Chili

I used to think that chili was one of those unhealthy, sometimes meals. Then I learned that if I just made a few adjustments it could be just the opposite. Start with the spaghetti or Fritos that the chili is often served on, nix that. Then take out the beans, ’cause they mess with my tummy. Then go easy on the cheese and sour cream better yet change it to a raw cheddar and plain Greek yogurt. Turns out you can still make a smack awesome chili without loosing any of the flavor and it can be a healthy meal for your family.

This pumpkin chili is packed with sneaky veggies, and full of flavor. My family likes it medium-spicy (The Hubs always adds more hot sauce), but you can always adjust spices up or down depending on your tastes.

I know pumpkin sounds like a weird ingredient in chili, but it really is wonderful. It adds a subtle sweetness to the dish as well as acting as a thickener to the sauce, making it rich and silky. And it’s one more way to get in those veggies!

This recipe makes enough for our family (of two adults and two little kids) to eat for about two meals. If you are going to make this for a Superbowl Party, you could double or triple the recipe pretty simply, so long as you have a big enough pot!

Pumpkin chili is a great freezer meal, just cook a double batch and freeze the extras. Or for a batch cook day, cook the meat until browned, then stir in the other ingredients and put it all into freezer bags and freeze. When you want to make it just thaw the bags and put it all into your pot or slow cooker to finish cooking. You can also make this in the crock pot or slow-cooker. I don’t have a pressure cooker, so I have no clue about making it in there.

Paleo Pumpkin Chili

Paleo Pumpkin Chili


  • 1 sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon fat (lard, bacon grease, avocado oil, etc...)
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 lb. pork sausage (I always use Jimmy Dean regular breakfast sausage)
  • 1 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree
  • 1 14.5 oz can of fire-roasted, diced tomatoes
  • 1 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 6 oz. can of tomato paste
  • 1 4.5 oz. can chopped green chilies
  • 1 medium zucchini finely shredded
  • 1 medium carrot finely shredded
  • 2-3 cubes Sneaky Veggie Mixt. (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cup diced bell peppers (I used a mix of red, yellow, orange and green)
  • 3/4 cup bone broth (chicken or beef broth)
  • 2-3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1/2-1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 shakes ground cinnamon
  • 3-6 shakes hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon juice from a can of pickled jalapeños
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 shake Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste


In the bottom of a large pot, cook the onions in the fat over medium heat until translucent and soft. Add the meat and cook until brown, breaking it up as it cooks.

When the meat is browned add the rest of the ingredients (go easy on the spices, you can always add more later) and stir well. Cover and cook until the everything is hot, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust spices to your liking.

The longer the chili cooks the more melding the spices and flavors will be able to do and the better the flavor. A few hours is really best.

Serve hot with desired toppings.

Pumpkin Chili

Healthy Chili Toppings:

  • Plain Greek Full-Fat Yogurt (or sour cream)
  • Raw Cheddar Cheese
  • Guacamole or Chopped Avocado
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Chopped Jalapeños
  • Chopped Onions or Scallions
  • Chopped Bell Peppers
  • Chopped Fresh Tomatoes
  • Chopped Black Olives
  • Fresh Limes for Squeezing
  • Hot Sauce
  • Paleo Tortilla Chips
  • Paleo Corn Bread
  • Cooked Applegate Hot Dogs (for a make-your-own chili dog situation)

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