Drunken Pumpkin Chili

On that first really cold fall weekend, where the chill in the air forces you to finally dig your padded winter slippers out of the back of your closet, there is just something so satisfying about making a big pot of chili.

Letting it simmer on the stove, filling the kitchen with a smoky-spicy-delicious aroma.

No matter what dusting or closet-organizing you have not managed to get around to that weekend, suddenly, you have the domesticity thing down.

You have a hearty, comforting, wonderful-smelling, heart-warming pot of delicious food on the stove.

Clearly, you know how to take care of your family.

Your house is transformed into a home.

I love this particular chili recipe, I call it “Drunken Pumpkin Chili,” for a few reasons:

1.) Meat-and-Potatoes-Guy loves fall-flavored beers, including some pumpkin ales (they seem to be gaining in popularity, at least in New England).  And pumpkin ale adds a lot of delicious flavor to this chili.

2.) There are tons of healthy ingredients in this recipe, including plenty of pumpkin, but you won’t even notice all that when you help yourself to a big bowl.  It’s very hearty and savory and delicious and flavorful.

3.) There are enough fresh, plant-based ingredients in this dish that add so much flavor, so the ground beef in the recipe is completely optional. So this recipe is perfect if you’re looking for a vegan chili too, just skip the ground beef.

Here are all the key ingredients you’ll need to make your chili.

Begin by grabbing a few cloves of garlic.

Place your knife flat over a clove and smash down on the garlic, breaking apart the outer skin.

Peel off the skin and mince up the garlic clove.

Next, chop the end off of an onion and cut it in half lengthwise.

Peel off the skin and place one half flat-side-down on the cutting board for stability.

Then cut quarter-inch slices of onion.

Run your knife back through in the opposite direction, dicing the onion.

Grab a couple of carrots, and chop the ends off of the first one.

Cut the carrot in half lengthwise.

Place one half flat-side-down on the cutting board for stability and cut quarter-inch slices.

Then run your knife in the opposite direction, dicing the carrot.

Hold a yellow bell pepper on a cutting board so the stem faces upward.

Then make four cuts along each side of the stem, creating four quarters of pepper.

I love this method of chopping up a bell pepper because it makes it easy to remove and discard the stem and all the seeds.

Without a mess.

Dice up the pepper.

Toss some 93% lean ground beef in a large stock pot or dutch oven and adjust the heat to medium-high.

Use a wooden spoon to really break up the meat into small bits as it begins to heat up.

For the vegan version, just skip this step.

Immediately add all the veggies you just prepared.

Season with salt and pepper, and stir.

Cook until the meat is no longer pink and the veggies have softened.

Adjust the heat to medium.

Next, add a bay leaf and plenty of spices: cumin, oregano, cinnamon, and allspice.

Also add some tomato paste.

I love this tomato paste in a tube.

Just use what you need and then put the cap back on and store in the fridge – so convenient!

Next up: the pumpkin ale! (Isn’t this label great?)

The flavor of pumpkin ale is quite rich, with a bit of pumpkin and spice, and you’ll definitely taste a hint of it in the final chili.

Add the pumpkin ale to the chili and allow it to simmer for a few minutes, deglazing (using the liquid to remove any of the meat or veggies that stick to the bottom of the pan).

And now for the healthy stuff: add the pumpkin purée.

Pumpkin is a smart addition to chili because it adds creamy thickness, and just the slightest hint of pumpkin flavor to the final dish.

It also includes lots of beta carotene (shown to prevent heart disease, regulate blood sugar, and reduce symptoms of asthma and arthritis). Pumpkin also has tons of fiber, potassium, and antioxidants.

So healthy, I’m going to try to work pumpkin into more of my recipes.

Considering the name of my blog, how have I not done this yet?!

One last thing about the pumpkin: Just be sure you are using 100 percent pure pumpkin puree and not seasoned “pumpkin pie” purée!

Although, who knows, maybe that could also taste great.

If you try it, accidentally or on purpose, let me know your thoughts!

Also add some chopped tomatoes with their juices and stir to combine.

Add a bit of salt and pepper.

And now for the spicy part: the chipotle peppers.

I use chipotle peppers in adobo sauce because I like the rich, smoky flavor they add to the dish.

I use two peppers for a very mildly spicy chili.

I recommend using three or four if you prefer a spicier chili.

Just be sure to remove the seeds: Cut into the pepper and open it flat on the cutting board.

Then use your knife to scrape out all the seeds.  (The seeds contain a ton of heat – too much for this chili).

Mince up the peppers and add to the pot.

Then stir the chili, partially cover the pot, and adjust the heat to low.

Next step: allow the chili to simmer on the stove for at least 45 minutes…

warming the kitchen…

filling the house with a delicious, fall pumkin-y, cinnamon-y, spicy aroma.

The longer the chili simmers, the better the flavor in the end.

But 45 minutes is usually the most I can manage before the delicious smells become too enticing.

Drain and thoroughly rinse a can of black beans, and add them to the pot.

If you’re doing a vegan version of this chili, also add a second type of bean as well, such as cannellini.

Season the chili to your taste with salt and pepper.

At this point, you can add an extra chipotle pepper if you want it hotter, or some additional cumin or cinnamon if you think it needs more spice.

Allow the black beans to cook for about 10-15 minutes, and your chili is ready to serve.

The flavors are rich and delicious.

It’s very savory and a little smoky and spicy from the chipotles in adobo.

And there is just a hint of pumpkin and cinnamon as well.

With the pumpkin and spices and fall beer, this chili would be perfect for a Halloween party.

Plus, it’s convenient because it can be prepared early in the day and the flavors just seem to increase and improve the longer it sits simmering on the stove.

I love to make this chili throughout the fall and winter though.

It’s one of those rare dishes that taste even better warmed up as leftovers the following day, so it’s great to make a big pot on the weekend and then heat up for weekday lunches.

And it’s packed with healthy ingredients, while still tasting so satisfying and flavorful.

The perfect combo.

Here is the complete recipe:

Drunken Pumpkin Chili
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Yield: 6 servings 
1 pound 93% lean ground beef (optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large carrots, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup pumpkin ale
15-ounce container pure pumpkin puree
15-ounce container diced tomatoes
2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeds removed and minced
15-ounce container black beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
15-ounce container cannellini beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper




Add the ground beef to a dutch oven or large stock pot and adjust heat to medium-high. Break up the meat using a wooden spoon, and immediately add the minced garlic, diced onion, diced carrots, and diced bell pepper.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook for about 7 minutes, or until the meat is nicely browned and the veggies are softened. Reduce the heat to medium.  Add the bay leaf, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, allspice, and tomato paste, and stir to combine.  Add the pumpkin ale and stir to deglaze the bottom of the pan.  Allow the pumpkin ale to cook and reduce for about 5 minutes.  Add the pumpkin purée and diced tomato.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the minced chipotle peppers, and stir to combine.  Partially cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and allow the chili to cook for about 45 minutes.  Add the black beans, stir, and allow the chili to cook another 10 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.

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  1. October 24, 2012 / 3:46 pm

    This chilli definitely has all the delicious components 🙂
    So warming!

    Choc Chip Uru

  2. October 24, 2012 / 3:47 pm

    Our favorite chili recipe has pumpkin too! I love how it gives it a nice hearty texture and adds tons of nutrients.

  3. October 24, 2012 / 3:57 pm

    What a great idea for using pumpkin… and any drunken food sounds good to me!

  4. October 24, 2012 / 4:04 pm

    I love making chili with beer! And I love savory pumpkin dishes, so this is right up my alley. I bet it would be good with butternut squash too 🙂

  5. October 24, 2012 / 4:14 pm

    Hi there, I need to be drunk and not the pumpkin *smile … I have sent you an email by the way … did you pork chop the other day, brilliant …post on friday. This is fantastic, can’t get pumpkin puree in Sweden, but somebody told me to use Sweet potatoes instead. This will go on file.

    • October 25, 2012 / 12:00 pm

      Looking forward to your post tomorrow! I’ll make sure I check my email in the next few days.

  6. October 24, 2012 / 4:23 pm

    Excellent post, as always. Lovely instruction pics and an excellent looking end result.

  7. October 24, 2012 / 7:50 pm

    I made a big pot of chili a couple of nights ago, also brought on by the cold weather! I am very intrigued by the pumpkin twist here, and you’ve totally got me craving pumpkin beer. 😉

  8. October 24, 2012 / 8:09 pm

    Chili is always a hit in cooler weather! What a wonderful mix of favors! I’d love a bowl right now!

  9. Eha
    October 24, 2012 / 10:32 pm

    Well, I don’t know that I can access pumpkin ale in semi-rural Australia, but this surely tastes like a wonderfully rich dish on my pretend-palate and will be tried soonest: don’t think today’s 35 degrees C temps are going to last 🙂 !

    • October 25, 2012 / 11:23 am

      Yes, I think that’s too hot for anything but ice cream! I’m sure any beer would work just fine for this chili though 🙂

  10. mjskit
    October 25, 2012 / 12:10 am

    Talk about a perfect soup for cold weather! Love all of the ingredients in this soup, especially the beer! :)) Great recipe! Stay warm!

  11. October 25, 2012 / 8:39 am

    Sounds delicious – will look out for some pumpkin ale!

  12. October 25, 2012 / 11:08 am

    Yummo-rific! We are having an “It’s Chilly Out Chili” party this weekend, so I’ll give it a try.

  13. October 25, 2012 / 1:04 pm

    Bookmarking this. I am not the biggest chili fan but I am a HUGE pumpkin and pumpkin ale fan!

  14. October 25, 2012 / 5:44 pm

    Shipyard is a local brand – it’s brewed in Portland, Maine. It’s sold in a lot of states, so it may be available in parts of Eastern Canada, I’m not sure. I think any pumpkin spiced ale would work well for the chili 🙂

  15. October 25, 2012 / 8:59 pm

    I love chili, but have never made with pumpkin. This looks amazing. I will have to give it a try with the cooler weather here.

  16. October 25, 2012 / 10:46 pm

    Wow, this chili sounds incredible! Booze makes everything better.

  17. October 27, 2012 / 1:11 pm

    I can’t wait to try this. The name, the flavours, the neat ideas throughout – looks wonderfully satisfying and so full of flavour. You should indeed do more pumpkin-focused recipes!

  18. October 27, 2012 / 1:27 pm

    I can’t wait to try this with the pumpkin in it! The flavors in this sound amazing

  19. October 27, 2012 / 9:31 pm

    I am definitely trying this – maybe even this coming week! It’s funny you mention to be sure to use pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie puree because just last week I mistakenly used pumpkin PIE puree in a Pumpkin Corn Chowder I made. Surprisingly, we think in that recipe it was even better than the original!!

  20. October 28, 2012 / 12:11 am

    Viveka mentioned you in her post.. and I thought I should drop by. I love the idea of pumpkin included in this recipe! I’ll have to try it for dinner this week!

  21. October 28, 2012 / 9:02 am

    I like your combination of ingredients…so different but so good sounding.

  22. October 29, 2012 / 12:38 pm

    This looks incredible. Never thought of making pumpkin chili… looks so so delicious. YUM!

  23. October 31, 2012 / 6:48 am

    I just discovered pumpkin chili last year and now we love it! However, I haven’t added pumpkin ale to mine yet. What a great idea – so perfect for fall and I know my husband would be happy!

  24. November 2, 2012 / 3:33 pm

    It mostly tastes like a typical savory, slightly smoky and spicy chili. But it does have a slight hint of sweetness and cinnamon too, which I think makes it even more flavorful 🙂

  25. November 7, 2012 / 7:48 am

    I also have a hubs who loves his seasonal beers – he’s a sucker for the John Adams winter one. Gotta try this – it might convince him to love pumpkin!

  26. November 18, 2012 / 8:01 pm

    This is really amazing! Everyone loved it, even the picky eaters! Posted a link on our blog as well! Thank you!

    • November 19, 2012 / 9:42 am

      That’s great – I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed it! And thank you for sharing the link on your blog! 🙂

  27. Erin L
    October 21, 2013 / 7:59 pm

    I made this for dinner tonight and it tasted so amazing! The combination of flavors is really complex and just perfect. Thank you thank you thank you!!

    • Jen Elizabeth's Journals
      October 22, 2013 / 10:21 am

      Thanks so much for your comment – I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed it! 🙂

  28. April D.J.
    October 22, 2013 / 4:00 pm

    I can’t wait to try this! Also, i just discovered your website and I love the flavors and health-conscious recipies.

  29. Cori Lynn
    November 7, 2013 / 3:00 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this. We just made this chili and its our new favorite in our house. We tripled the recipe and there were no issues scaling up. The result is just enough spice to get you warm, tons of awesome goodness in a bowl, and a new recipe for fall. Thank you again!!!

    • Jen Elizabeth's Journals
      November 8, 2013 / 9:29 am

      That’s great – it’s so nice to hear that the recipe was a hit! Thanks so much for your comment 🙂

  30. April 7, 2014 / 1:41 pm

    This is going on my Pinterest 🙂
    And I wasn’t sure if we have pumpkin ale in Australia but I google it and we do have it!
    I am so looking forward to making this when the weather gets a bit cooler.

    • Jen Elizabeth's Journals
      April 7, 2014 / 2:30 pm

      That’s funny, you are just heading into autumn as we in New England are finally, finally(!) moving into spring after a long winter. Enjoy the chili! 🙂

    • November 2, 2014 / 2:10 pm

      Thanks so much for your comment 🙂 You’ve reminded me to add a note to my recipe mentioning that, because there are so many veggies in this chili, the ground beef is completely optional!

  31. NLeighton
    November 6, 2014 / 3:41 pm

    This is an amazing recipe. Made it for a chili cook-off with two changes – I used ground pork instead of the beef and I toasted and reconstituted hatch chilies in place of the adobe sauce. The spice combination is excellent!

    • November 6, 2014 / 4:20 pm

      So glad this chili worked out for you – – thanks so much for taking the time to write in your review! 🙂

  32. Kayti
    October 24, 2015 / 8:46 am

    This looks amazing and I’m making it tomorrow! Is it possible to make in a crock pot? I love having the aromas cooking all day on Sunday’s.

    • October 24, 2015 / 12:06 pm

      Thanks so much for your note, and yes this is a perfect recipe for the crock pot!

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