Chris Cooks

Chris Cooks: Pumpkin Chili

October 7, 2018

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It’s October, and pumpkins are lining everyone’s doorstep. The unfortunate thing is many of these pumpkins are thrown away after rotting in the cold, instead of realizing their full culinary potential. This chili doesn’t just use pumpkin because it’s that time of year and we put pumpkin in everything. The pumpkin adds so much creaminess to this chili, and just the right hint of fall flavor.

My harvest pumpkin chili

Also, don’t let the ingredients list scare you. Most of the list is spices, and you can easily swap all of the spices out for two packets of chili seasoning (won’t be the same, but is easier and still good). If you do that, add one packet when you braise, the other for the final cook.

Print Recipe
5 from 8 votes

Pumpkin Chili

This is an amazing, delicious chili that not only uses pumpkin, but is made better by it. The pumpkin adds a smooth, velvety consistency and the combination of seasonings make this the perfect chili for fall. 
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time2 hours 50 minutes
Course: Main Course
Keyword: beef, chili, fall, pumpkin, soup
Servings: 10


For searing the beef

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lbs beef tri-tip cubed
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp black pepper ground

For the braise

  • 1 small yellow onion diced
  • 4 garlic cloves peeled, chopped
  • 1 small pumpkin peeled, scooped out, cubed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1-2 sprigs thyme fresh
  • 3 sprigs oregano fresh
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper ground
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin ground
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon ground
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder optional
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1/8 tsp clove ground
  • 2 tsp allspice ground
  • 3 cups bone broth
  • 1 cup water

For the final cook

  • 1 medium sweet onion diced
  • 1 green bell pepper diced
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 1 14oz can black beans drained, rinsed
  • 1 14oz can pinto beans drained, rinsed
  • 1 14oz can kidney beans drained, rinsed
  • 1 8oz can lima beans drained, rinsed
  • 2 28oz cans fire roasted, diced tomatoes
  • 2 small cans fire roasted, diced green chilis drained
  • 2 cups bone broth
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder optional
  • 2 tsp cumin ground
  • 1/8 tsp clove ground
  • 1 tsp allspice ground
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon ground
  • 3 large pinches salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp black pepper ground

To serve

  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • sour cream
  • fresh cilantro


For searing the beef

  • Preheat the oven to 325. Put a large dutch oven or pot on medium heat on the stove top. Toss the diced beef with the salt and pepper. Add the olive oil to the dutch oven and sear the beef in batches. Once seared, put in a bowl and set aside. 

For the braise

  • Add the onion, garlic, pumpkin, bay leaves, herbs, and seasonings to the pan and sauté for 2-4 minutes. If the pan looks dry, add a couple tbsp of water. 
  • Add the broth, water, and seared beef to the pot and stir to combine evenly. Cover with a lid and put in the preheated oven for 2 hours. 

For the final cook

  • Remove the pot from the oven. Remove the bay leaves and herb sprigs and discard. Using a wood spoon, break up the pumpkin a bit and stir the mix around. 
  • Add the onions, peppers, beans, tomatoes, green chilis, bone broth, and seasonings. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce temp to low, stir, cover and cook for another 30 minutes. 

To serve

  • Put two ladles of chili into each bowl, topped with a little shredded cheddar, a small dollop of sour cream, and cilantro (if desired). 

Equipment used:

Cutting BoardKnifeCast Iron Pot
Wooden SpoonIngredient Cups

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What do you think?

  1. Laura says:

    Question! A family member made this recipe a few weeks ago and it was SOOO good!! I’ve been dying to make it myself. I really want to make this for a work potluck, but since I’ll be at work, I won’t be able to make it fresh the morning of. Do you see any harm or foul in making it the evening before, putting it in the fridge over night, then warming/reheating in my crockpot the next day? Any suggestions?! Thanks so much

  2. Brett says:

    5 stars
    This recipe is great! Such a good combo of spices. I subbed ground turkey for the meat and canned pumpkin for the pie pumpkin – but it still came out lovely. Anyone else who might have budget restrictions might appreciate those subs as well. Thank you for sharing your recipes.

  3. Trisha says:

    5 stars
    I made this yesterday and it was SO GOOD! The smell while it is cooking is amazing! Such good flavor and consistency. Definitely one of the best chili’s I have ever had. So so good. Thank you for sharing the yummy recipe.

  4. Julia Cyr says:

    5 stars
    JUST made this and WOW! My fave chili ever. Love using the tri-tip and a pumpkin. Felt like a fancy chili. I used the ancho chili and still wasn’t too spicy. Love love love this recipe! Thank you!

  5. Lori says:

    Just made this for the second time since you posted. It’s so good that I’m gonna print it out for my binder of favorites!

  6. Ali says:

    5 stars
    I made this for a crowd, so I made 1.5x the recipe. It made PLENTY. I couldn’t find ancho Chile powder so I went without. It was still SO flavorful and delicious. Several of my guests are pretty anti-pumpkin, and they all went back for second helpings!

  7. Kate Ryan says:

    5 stars
    The flavors are so wonderful! I kind of hate chili but decided to give this a shot. Delicious but holy cannoli the heat!! We like hot food but this was a whole new level. Will try again without the ancho chile powder.

  8. Holly says:

    Can you use butternut squash instead of pumpkin? I like that you can buy it cubed already. Would that change the flavor much?

  9. Jessica says:

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! From a food snob who rarely cooks anything from blogs… try it. Seriously it was that good!

  10. T says:

    5 stars
    This was delicious! Spices were spot on. This just barely fit in my pot but it does make a ton. Perfect for crowds! Thanks!!

  11. Deb says:

    I made this tonight for a late supper. I was nervous about ao many spices, but can I just tell you…it’s amazing!!!! The best chili! ????

  12. Lori says:

    Ok, I am making this and the braise is in the oven. I’m really worried, though, because I don’t think all of the ingredients for the final cook will fit in this pot! I’m using a 6 qt Dutch oven. Is that too small?

    • Julia says:

      That’s what we used! Should fit.

      • Lori says:

        Maybe I used a bigger pumpkin even though it was a pie pumpkin, because I had to divide into 2 6 qt pots to get everything to fit for the final cook. It turned out great! Super-filling, and even with all the spices (I didn’t have any ancho chili, so left that out), it had such a warm & mellow flavor that I think even my family who hate spicy food would love it.

        If I halve the recipe next time, any ideas about what to do with the other half of the pumpkin (other than pie)?

      • Chris says:

        It works really well as a thickener for lots of soups and stews, but you can also roast it (just scoop it out and keep the skin on. Lay skin-side down on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper, and roast on 375 for 30-40 minutes) and serve alongside some cinnamon pork tenderloin or pan-roasted chicken leg quarters.

      • Lori says:

        Thanks! I have never heard of putting cinnamon on pork tenderloin, but now I am intrigued! I am enjoying all these recipes, too!

  13. Stephanie says:

    Is it “braised” in a heated oven? At what temp? Or does it just use the heat from searing to sit for 2 hours?
    Excited to try this out next Sunday!

  14. Jessica says:

    Have you tried with canned pumpkin instead? The pumpkins I see at the grocery store are for jack-o-lanterns… not cooking.

    • Chris says:

      You can use canned pumpkin I suppose but it won’t be as good. Any smallish pumpkin would be fine – even those that people think of being for carving are great to eat.

  15. Aimee says:

    5 stars
    This looks amazing! Adding the ingredients to my list!

  16. Patricia says:

    Do you use carving pumpkins (found everywhere right now) or pie pumpkins for cooking (usually in the produce section of grocery stores)? And if I have neither, can I sub a can of pumpkin puree?

    Asking for a friend…

    • Chris says:

      I use probably what you’d call a pie pumpkin, but only because they’re smaller and easier to deal with. You could use a carving pumpkin as well, just try to get a smaller one. The flesh is usually a little more firm on those and works better with this.

  17. Lauren says:

    Thanks for sharing! Hearing about your Halloween party chili and cornbread idea last year, I was inspired to give it a try at our house this year. But now with this recipe… I may have to change my game plan. Am I crazy to do this for a crowd? Maybe.
    Also any tips on hosting a large gathering? I know you’re skipping the shindig this year but thought you might have a few words of wisdom. Do you guys hide the breakables, designate a bathroom for guests, lock the pets up?

    • Chris says:

      You can definitely make this for a crowd – soups are perfect for parties. As for other things, just try to create a relaxed environment, for you and your guests. If you’re going to be worried about breakables, hide them. If you’re worried about your pet getting anxious around so many people, you can bring them to a neighbor or have them outside. Try to funnel people toward one bathroom, but be aware that, the more people you have, the more likely it will be that other bathrooms will need to be in play at some point. Try not to worry about stuff like that and just have fun!

  18. Annette says:

    Looks delicious, can’t wait to make it.

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