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Pumpkin Turkey Chili

Pumpkin Turkey Chili

It’s fall. And while I am sad that the fresh heirloom tomato sandwiches of summer are gone, the rich and hearty fall foods are a nice change of pace. It is always interesting to me how much of our food is seasonal, and not just recipes that reflect the ingredients in season at the time, but also that reflect the overall ‘feeling’ in the air. Fall comes around, temperatures drop, and all of a sudden all you want is a hearty bowl of warm, satisfying chili. I would have been nuts to crave such a thing in July. And yes, I’ll probably be sick of the stuff by March (when all I can think about is when will the fresh produce come back); but for now, this is all I need to feel warm from the inside out.

This chili was especially satisfying, because it was just as delicious as any version made with less desirable foodstuffs. With ground turkey instead of beef, and packed with plenty of colorful vegetables (they say orange things are good, right? then this chili must be really good for you!) The pumpkin puree adds just a hint of sweetness, while our addition of a sweet potato (hey, we have this lonely sweet potato sitting around, why not throw it in?) gave it another level of texture and flavor.

While the original recipe didn’t call for any liquid (other than the juice of the tomatoes) we felt it was too thick, and added a cup of chicken broth for a more stew-like consistency (or, do as Erin suggests and try adding a bottle of beer, sure Taylor would have loved that variation!). It’s your call and your preference as to how thick you’d like the final product to be. Thick or thin, we’ll definitely be making this one again very soon.

Pumpkin Turkey Chili

Makes 6 servings. Adapted from Serious Eats via Erin's Food Files.


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium sweet potato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 pound ground turkey
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 ounce) can red kidney beans
2 cups (1 14.5 ounce can) pumpkin puree
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 tablespoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cayenne pepper to taste (at least 3 good shakes)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup shredded Fontina or cheddar cheese (optional)


Heat oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.

Saute the onion, bell pepper, sweet potato, and garlic until tender, about 10 minutes. Make room in the center of the skillet, add turkey, and brown, about 10 minutes. Add cherry tomatoes and stir until just softened, 2-3 minutes. Stir in canned tomatoes, beans, pumpkin, and broth. Season with chili powder, cumin, pepper, salt, and cayenne.

Reduce heat and simmer at least 20 minutes. You can add more broth if necessary for a thinner, more stew-like consistency. Stir in fresh cilantro and serve topped with cheese and/or sour cream.

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14 CommentsLeave a Comment →

  1. 1
    Posted On November 6, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    Looks delicious. I did a version of this last year. You’re missing something though: Pumpkin Cornbread!! It’s delicious with the Pumpkin Chili :)


  2. 2
    Posted On November 6, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    Oh my… that looks delicious! Will definitely have to make that very soon!


  3. 3
    Posted On November 7, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Will be a perfect meal in my new crock pot, when I get it. Like the idea of pumpkin cornbread with it too.


  4. 4
    Posted On November 7, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    My boyfriend and I make chili once every couple of months once the weather gets chilly (ha! pardon the pun….) using whatever pops into our heads/whatever we have around. Never thought of incorporating something sweet like pumpkin, though, we’ll have to try that next time.


  5. 5
    Posted On November 8, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Yay! Glad to see you liked it! I just made it again and I must say… we really like the beer addition! hehehe


  6. 6
    Posted On November 9, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    Unfortunately, my dinner’s already in the oven, but I’ll be bookmarking this one.


  7. 7
    Posted On November 11, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Wow – Pumpkin in Chili! I’m actually making Turkey Chili tonight but I don’t think my husband would let me get away with putting pumpkin in it. He flipped out when I added baby spinach! It looks soo good!


  8. 8
    Posted On November 14, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Sounds and looks fabulous! I am making turkey chili today, and was googling for recipe ideas. I have his lonely pumpkin that’s been sitting on my counter for too long – perhaps I will try putting chunks of pumpkin in instead of sweet potato. I also like the idea of the purees. I have a 10 month old at home who quickly changes his mind about which purees he wants to eat, so I am often throwing them into other recipes – will put some in my chili for sure! Thanks!


  9. 9
    Joy Winner-or-Whiner
    Posted On November 16, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    My kids would love that chili! I am loving all of the pumpkin recipes I am seeing over the net!


  10. 10
    shannon tsujita
    Posted On November 19, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    This is very good for dinner particularly on a cold day. Ground chicken works just as well as turkey. I served it over rice. Freezes well too. I thawed the frozen one
    and had it for lunch with crusty bread.


  11. 11
    Posted On October 23, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    I just tried this recipe tonight…O My GOSH!!! It’s SOOOOO Good!
    I am SO doing this recipe all winter long! THIS right here, has JUST become a staple in my home. THANK YOU!!! :)


  12. 12
    Posted On April 6, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    this chili is delicious!! even following a warm day in sunny los angeles, this totally hit the spot. the way i see it, when you need comfort food, you need comfort food!! thanks for this – it was amazing, as was your sweet potato gnocchi i tried the other evening! [thanks for being my go-to e-cookbook for when i’m feeling bored with my usual rotation :)]


  13. 13
    Posted On October 30, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    Thanks for this hearty fall recipe! I’ve never been a chili fan, but this dish really won me over! I only had to cook the chili for 15 minutes, perhaps because I used 99% lean turkey, which cooked pretty quickly.


  14. 14
    Posted On January 12, 2013 at 9:54 am

    This recipe is wonderful! I love that it’s healthy and it didn’t take long to make. My usually picky eaters at this one right up!


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