Black Bean Pumpkin Chili

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Pumpkin Black Bean Chili

a bean by any other name…

Black Bean Pumpkin Chili sounds better than Whatever Kind of Bean You Have Pumpkin Chili. So I went with black bean. I typically use black bean, it’s my favorite. But, I have also used pinto, red beans, and kidney beans because variety is the spice of life! Ryan doesn’t really like kidney beans (why? I don’t know…I kind of like having the texture of a larger bean myself…) so, I have stopped using those.

Beans ready to go into the Instant Pot for Black Bean Chili

a bowl of soul

I recently made this chili to take on a camping trip and I’m so glad I did! Camping in Yosemite in November is cold! Surprise, surprise. This hearty chili thawed us from the inside out more than once on that trip.

soup with benefits

I’d like to say I added the pumpkin to my chili because I know how nutrient dense this winter squash is – it’s high in vitamins A & C, antioxidants, potassium, and fiber! But truthfully, I added the pumpkin because I had bought a large quantity of pumpkin puree for my bran muffin recipe and Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread and I still had some puree leftover in my fridge. I needed to use it up and I was curious how it would manifest itself in the chili. It melted into the background like a dream. Adding a thick, velvety texture, the addition of pumpkin made the chili extra filling. It’s luxury chili! Plus, with the addition of zucchini you got yourself a veritable cornucopia of nutrition! You can feel good about your healthy choices while you add on toppings like cheese and sour cream and Fritos.

Black Bean chili on a cold afternoon in Yosemite Valley.

Black Bean Pumpkin Chili


  • 1 – 1.5 lbs ground beef or ground turkey
  • 3 -4 medium zucchini shredded
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 4 oz diced green chilies fire roasted
  • 1 – 3 cloves garlic crushed/minced
  • 1 tbs chipotle in adobo
  • 28 oz can fire roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 15 oz can pumpkin purée
  • 3 – 4 cans beans black, pinto, chili, kidney, pinquito….
  • 2 bell peppers green, red, orange, yellow….
  • ¼ tsp all spice
  • ½ tsp granulated garlic
  • ½ – 1 tsp oregano
  • ½ – 1 tsp cumin
  • ¼ – ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • chili powder to taste


  • Add a drizzle of oil to a hot pan and brown the beef. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Shred the zucchini with a cheese grater.
  • Once the beef has been browned, remove from pan and place a large soup pot
  • Over medium heat, saute the zucchini in the beef drippings.
  • Add the onion, garlic, green chilis, and chipotle with adobo sauce. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Cook the zuchinni until it becomes soft and translucent and most of the moisture has evaporated.
  • Add the zucchini mixture, along with all the spices, to the beef in the pot
  • If using canned beans, drain and rinse.
  • Add the canned pumpkin, tomatoes, and beans. Let simmer for 25 minutes to an hour.
  • Serve with what ever you like with your chili! Cheese, chives, sour cream, lime, pickled red onion, Fritos, corn bread! Share and enjoy!

notes from my kitchen

Like a lot of my recipes (guidelines) this recipe is flexible and adaptable – here are some of my thoughts in that vein.

  • Beans – my recipe measures beans is units of cans of beans – but if you are like me and are discovering the joy of using dried beans I believe the equivalent measurement would be about 2 – 3 cups dried beans. Cook the dried beans before making the chili.
  • Spice – it’s all to taste. I’ve put in some measurements, but my advice is taste your chili and adjust the seasoning as you see fit.
  • Chipotle If you aren’t a fan of the super spicy just add some of the adobo sauce that the chipotles are packed in. If you like to bring the heat, chop up the chipotle peppers and add as much as you like.
  • More veggies! – I have been known to puree spinach with a bit of water and add it to my chili. It turns the chili a somewhat odd shade of brown-green not typical of chili (yikes), but (wait, don’t go!) it gives it a silky smooth texture and adds yet another avenue for including vegetables in your diet.
  • Sausage! – adding a link of Italian sausage (pork or chicken) adds another layer of flavor. Add the sausage at the same time as the ground beef or turkey.

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