Drunken Pumpkin Chili

This pumpkin chili recipe is full of spicy, smoky, rich, savory, fall-inspired flavors! Healthy too (includes both ground beef and vegan options).


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’s just something so satisfying about making a big pot of pumpkin chili.

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

Sure, maybe you’ve got some vacuuming and dusting and closet-organizing you haven’t managed to get around to this weekend.

But who cares?

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

Clearly, you have the domesticity thing down.

There’s nothing like pumpkin chili on a cool autumn day to transform a house into a home.

Chris and I have been gobbling up this particular pumpkin chili recipe, which I call “Drunken Pumpkin Chili,” all autumn long.

Let’s discuss some of the secrets to maximum deliciousness in this chili recipe, shall we?

Pumpkin ale adds a lot of delicious flavor to this pumpkin chili.

Chris loves fall-flavored beers, so I thought it might be the perfect addition to my pumpkin chili.

And it really works. 

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.

There are tons of healthy ingredients in this chili, 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.

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

For that necessary spicy-smoky chili flavor, be sure to add chipotles in adobo!

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.

This pumpkin chili is perfect if you’re looking for a vegan recipe!

Just skip the ground beef in the recipe and add a second type of bean as well, such as cannellini.

There are enough fresh, plant-based ingredients in this dish that add so much flavor, the ground beef in the recipe is completely optional. 

The flavors in this pumpkin chili 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 is perfect for a Halloween party.

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’s the Complete Recipe for Drunken Pumpkin Chili:

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Drunken Pumpkin Chili

  • Author: Jen Elizabeth's Journals
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Soups and Stews


This pumpkin chili recipe is full of spicy, smoky, rich, savory fall-inspired flavors! Healthy too (includes both ground beef and vegan options).


  • 1 pound 93% lean pastured, organic ground beef (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 small onion, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 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 (for mild heat – add more for additional heat)
  • 15-ounce container black beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
  • 15-ounce container cannellini beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed (optional)
  • Sea salt


  1. Add the ground beef to a dutch oven or large stock pot and adjust heat to medium-high.
  2. 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.
  3. Cook for about 7 minutes, or until the meat is nicely browned and the veggies are softened.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium.  Add the bay leaves, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, allspice, tomato paste, vinegar, and maple syrup. Stir to combine.
  5. 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.
  6. Add the pumpkin purée and diced tomato.  Season with salt.  Add the minced chipotle peppers, and stir to combine.
  7. Partially cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and allow the chili to cook for about 45 minutes.
  8. Add the beans, stir, and allow the chili to cook another 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt, and serve.


  1. For a vegan pumpkin chili, leave out the ground beef and add both black beans and cannellini beans to bulk up the chili.
  2. If you’d like to use ground beef in this chili, you can skip the cannellini beans.
  3. This pumpkin chili is the perfect slow cooker recipe! Add all ingredients – aside from the beans – to the slow cooker set to Low heat. Cook for about 5 hours -stirring occasionally – until all veggies are softened. Add the beans, remove the slow cooker cover, and cook another 1-2 hours. (Removing the cover will allow extra liquid to evaportate.) Be sure to season thoroughly with salt, as this recipe makes A LOT of chili!

Keywords: pumpkin chili, winter, fall, autumn, pumpkin, healthy, vegan, vegetarian


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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!

  33. lisa pakiela
    October 19, 2019 / 11:28 am

    can you do this in the crockpot/slow cooker??

    • Jen Elizabeth's Journals
      October 19, 2019 / 2:01 pm

      Hi Lisa, Yes, I think this pumpkin chili is perfect for the slow cooker. I’d recommending putting all of the ingredients – aside from the beans – into the slow cooker set on low. Season very thoroughly with salt – this recipe makes a big batch of chili – and stir occasionally. Cook for about 5 hours, or until veggies are softened. Next, add the beans and remove the slow cooker lid. Removing the cover will allow all of the excess liquid to evaporate. Cook for about 1-2 hours more, season with salt, and enjoy!😄

  34. Lisa H
    October 26, 2019 / 11:58 am

    Can I cook the meat and just toss everything in the crockpot for a few hours?

    • Jen Elizabeth's Journals
      October 26, 2019 / 12:19 pm

      Hi Lisa, Yes, this pumpkin chili is perfect for the slow cooker. I’d recommending putting all of the ingredients – even including the meat (but do leave out the beans at first because they can become mushy when overcooked) – into the slow cooker set on low. Season very thoroughly with salt – this recipe makes a big batch of chili – and stir occasionally. Cook for about 5 hours, or until veggies are softened. Next, add the beans, season with salt, and remove the slow cooker lid. Removing the cover will allow any excess liquid to evaporate. Cook for about 1-2 hours more, season with salt to taste, and enjoy! If you’d like to cook the chili faster, go ahead and set the heat to High and that should remove about 2 hours of cooking time…

    • Lisa H
      October 26, 2019 / 7:34 pm

      Just made it in my crockpot and it’s delish! I forgot to cook the onions so they were a little crunchy. I’ll change that next time. Also forgot to delay adding beans but I’m ok with mushy beans. Used jalapeño peppers cause that’s what I had on hand, and added double the amount of pumpkin ale and it was still super thick. Cooked 5 hrs on low. Definitely making again.

      • Jen Elizabeth's Journals
        October 27, 2019 / 10:25 am

        I love to receive feedback on recipes, thanks so much for your note!😄💕💕 For anyone skipping the chipotles in adobo in the recipe, try adding a bit of chili powder and smoked paprika instead to get that smoky flavor into the chili – it’s another delicious layer of flavor!

  35. Chris
    October 22, 2023 / 8:22 am

    I have made this chili every year towards the end of October for the past ten years! I look forward to it all year!

    I make a few small changes to the recipes. I substitute sweet potato for carrot, use the whole can of chills in adobo, and use fire roasted tomatoes.

    • Jen Elizabeth's Journals
      October 22, 2023 / 9:55 am

      Love that this has become a looked-forward-to tradition. Thanks so much for sharing!

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