When pumpkin spice time rolls around, I’m not actually on board (sign me up later for those gingerbread lattes, please). But I can get on board with pumpkin this, that, and the other. Pumpkin is a great mixer ingredient. And if you are or have a veggie hater in your life, this chili offers a great way to sneak in a really healthy one!Jump to Recipe
Did you know pumpkins are a variety of winter squash, and that they are actually fruits? It’s considered a fruit because of the seeds, like tomatoes. And like tomatoes, we treat pumpkin like a vegetable. It’s loaded with nutritional value, so what are you waiting for? Pumpkin is meant for more than Jack-o-lanterns, Thanksgiving pies and the inspiration for a fall spice craze.
Procrastination Pays Off
When my husband Paul and I were dating, one of our date nights we carved pumpkins. After we were married for a couple of years I ran across the pictures we took.
We remembered how much fun it was and decided to carve some pumpkins for Halloween again. We bought pumpkins, but we never got around to carving them … so we decided to cook the pumpkins instead. Oh my, did we have a lot of pumpkin on our hands!
I made pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pie, diced pumpkin sprinkled with cinnamon as a side, and a few other things I don’t remember. When I puréed the pumpkin to save space in the refrigerator, it occurred to me that this would be an excellent veggie to add to a different kind of dish. It was October, well into chili weather here in northeast Tennessee. Why not try it? Pumpkin chili was born.
You don’t have to go through the lengthy process of cleaning, cutting, cooking and puréeing a pumpkin. Just buy plain, canned unseasoned pumpkin purée—NOT pumpkin pie filling—and you’re done. The pumpkin adds a creamy texture to the chili that is quite satisfying to the mouth.
Unless you prepare pumpkin purée from fresh pumpkin, this chili is quick to prepare and pops into a slow-cooker for a win-win. If I stay home, it smells so good all the while it’s cooking. If I go out, it’s cooking while I’m gone, and the house smells delicious when I return. Either way, I can cook and do something else at the same time. What’s not to like about that?
Fix it Fast, Cook it Slow, Make it Hot
I’ve got loads of slow-cooker experience … starting in college. A few years ago I lost several burners on the range Thanksgiving morning and improvised a full Thanksgiving meal using one burner, an oven and several crock pots I own. That was an adventure! This chili is a lot more laid back crock pot affair.
We like our chili with a kick. You can make this as spicy or mild as you want by adjusting the amount or type of chilis you use in it. Switch to sweet peppers if others are too hot for your taste.
If you eliminate meat in the magic mix, this is a vegetarian meal. Chili on meatless Monday? Yes, please.
“The jack-o-lantern follows me with tapered, glowing eyes.
His yellow teeth grin evily. His cackle I despise.
But I shall have the final laugh when Halloween is through.
This pumpkin king I’ll split in half to make a pie for two.”— Richelle E. Goodrich
- Slow Cooker
- 1 ½ C Mexichili Magic Mix
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp dried sweet basil
- 1 TBSP chili powder
- 1 TBSP cayenne this makes for a hot chili, adjust to taste
- 1 TBSP any style hot pepper sauce or powder optional, adds some alarms to the chili
- 8 oz cans chopped green chilies substitute 8 oz. green sauce for hotter, or 8 oz. sweet peppers for milder
- 8 oz diced tomato fresh or can, but ensure juices go into the mix
- 6 oz tomato paste
- 8 oz pumpkin purée if you use canned ensure it’s plain purée
- 1 lb white corn kernels frozen or canned-be sure to drain if using canned
- 1 C pinto beans optional
- ¾ C water
- Optional Toppings
- ½ C chopped green onion
- ½ C shredded cheese e.g., cheddar, Colby jack
- ½ C sour cream
- ½ C guacamole
- Add ingredients to a medium to large crockpot, and stir.
- Best cooked on low setting for about 4 hours but will tolerate faster cooking on high for shorter cook. (Can also be cooked on stovetop on low setting with occasional stirring.)
- Remove from slow cooker or reduce to warm setting.