Dutch Oven Pumpkin Chili is the epitome of fall with the classic chili ingredients but the addition of nutritious pumpkin and warming spices.
It’s fall and that’s the time for all things pumpkin.
Sure pumpkin pie and pumpkin spice lattes seem to dominate the pumpkin race. But pumpkin chili just might solidly come in third place for the best pumpkin recipe.
What is Dutch oven pumpkin chili?
Delicious, that’s what. But seriously, it basically uses your same chili ingredients but has canned pumpkin (not pie filling) and pumpkin pie spice blend added. And it’s made in a Dutch oven.
What does pumpkin chili taste like?
It doesn’t taste much different than regular chili. Because of the pumpkin pie spice it does have a warmer (not spicy) flavor.
Does pumpkin chili taste like pumpkin pie?
No, it doesn’t. In fact, I cannot actually taste the pumpkin.
Pumpkin doesn’t lend itself to a particular flavor in this recipe. The pumpkin, in my opinion, acts as a flavor enhancer, deepening the flavor like tomato, soy sauce, salt, etc do to food.
There is a slight sweet taste from the brown sugar, but not an overly sweet flavor. You can always omit the brown sugar too without ruining the recipe.
What spices are in pumpkin pie spice blend?
- Ground Cinnamon
- Ground Ginger
- Ground Nutmeg
- Ground Allspice
- Ground Clove
These are the basic ingredients, but of course, each blend has different ratios and sometimes other things can be tossed in.
How to make pumpkin chili
This is one of those lovely recipes that truly can be done in 30 minutes. However, if you have the time, allow it to simmer for the full hour.
That hour gives all the spices time to meld and the flavor to blossom. To be honest, this is even better the next day.
Crumble the ground sausage into the heated Dutch Oven. I used one of those oval logs of regular ground sausage.
However, you can use links, simply remove the casings. Sometimes sausage links in casings have much deeper flavor.
Cook the sausage for a few minutes, stirring it often to make sure it all gets broken up.
Once the sausage is halfway cooked, stir in the onions and bell peppers.
Continue to cook until the veggies begin to soften and the sausage is mostly done. It will finish cooking during the simmering process.
If the sausage has rendered a lot of fat, drain that off, but leave just a little to help the spices bloom in the next step.
Sprinkle in all the seasonings and the chili mix packet. Stir really well, making sure they are fully mixed in and haven’t clumped. Nothing nastier than a bite of clumped spices.
What does it mean to bloom spices?
Blooming spices is one the best ways to truly bring out their flavors.
Typically, this is done by toasting whole seeds like cumin or coriander in a dry warm pan until you can really smell them. Grind them, return to the pan and adding some oil will allow the spices to be distributed better.
This can be done with ground spices too, but they will burn much more quickly.
Many recipes have us add the seasonings once the liquid has been added, however adding them before will really bring out their flavor.
Constructing the Dutch oven pumpkin chili
While incorporating the spices into the meat and vegetables isn’t the most authentic way to bloom spices, the bit of renderings and heat will really bring their flavor out.
Once they’re all mixed in, your kitchen will be incredibly fragrant. At this point, I remove from heat.
The only reason I do this is the spluttering. Something about tomato sauce hitting a hot pan and a missile-fast pellet coming right back at you to have you alter your cooking ways just a bit.
Stir in the tomato sauce along with the cans for diced tomatoes (with green chilies) and the can of diced green chilies.
Don’t drain them, we want that liquid gold to enhance the overall dish.
Now at this point, you could return the Dutch oven to the heat. Or you could stir in both the brown sugar and pumpkin.
This is what I did, I waited…basically I didn’t want to take any spluttering chances.
Once it’s all completely mix together, return to a medium-high heat and get a low simmer going. Give it a quick taste test and see if you need to add any more salt or pepper.
Stir in the cilantro.
Do I have to use cilantro?
No, if you are allergic or hate it, omit it.
However, if you love, like, or even just tolerate cilantro, use it. It really brightens up the overall taste of the dish.
Gently stir in the UNDRAINED cans of black and white beans.
Allow the pumpkin chili to come up to a high simmer. Let is bubble away for a few minutes.
Reduce the heat, cover, and let it do its thing for the next hour. Give it the occasional stir.
Tips and Adaptations to making Dutch oven pumpkin chili.
- Use lean ground beef or ground turkey instead of sausage to keep this a lower fat meal.
- Omit meat altogether for a vegetarian/vegan dish.
- Pinto beans could be used in place of either the black or white beans. They could also be be added with them for more beans.
- Swap out a bell pepper for jalapeños or habaneros for more intense heat.
- Add chili powder (cayenne or chipotle) for a spicier chili.
- See recipe notes for making in a slow cooker.
- Pressed for time? Allow it to be on a full simmer for 3-5 minutes, then serve.
Dutch Oven Pumpkin Chili
- 5 qt. Dutch oven or larger
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 lbs ground sausage
- 1 cup onion diced
- 3 bell peppers diced (green yellow, and red)
- 1¼ oz chili mix packet
- ½ tsp salt +/-, to taste
- ½ tsp pepper +/-, to taste
- 1 tsp granulated garlic (3 tsp fresh)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
- 28 oz tomato sauce
- 10 oz diced tomatoes with green chilies do not drain
- 4 oz diced green chilies do not drain
- 1 tbsp brown sugar +/-, to taste
- 29 oz pumpkin puree not pie filling
- ¼ cup cilantro chopped
- 15 oz black beans do not drain
- 15 oz white beans do not drain
Optional Ingredients for garnishing
- cheddar cheese
- sour cream
- Heat the Dutch oven over medium hight heat.
- Once hot, add the oil and crumble in the sausage, cook 3 minutes, stirring.
- Add the onions and bell peppers, cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Drain any excess renderings.
- Sprinkle in the chili mix, salt, pepper, garlic, cumin, and pumpkin pie spice, stir well to completely combine.
- Remove from the heat and pour in the tomato sauce, stir.
- Stir in the diced tomatoes, green chilies, brown sugar, and pumpkin; stir to combine.
- Return to heat.
- Bring to a simmer, taste for seasoning.
- Add the cilantro and beans, stir gently.
- Bring to a high simmer, stirring frequently.
- Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally.
- Serve with the optional garnishes and enjoy.
Slow Cooker Directions:Brown the meat in a skillet on the stove top. You can add the vegetables and seasonings as well. Or they can be added to the slow cooker separately. Add the cooked meat to the slow cooker, add all the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT the beans. Stir well. Cover. Cook on HIGH for 4 hours or on LOW for 6-8 hours. The last half-hour of cooking, stir in the beans and finish cooking.
Dutch Oven Daddy is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.
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- Hearty Ground Pork Chili from Fearless Dining
- Dutch Oven White Chicken Chili
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- 3-Bean Chili con Carne from The Complete Savorist
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