Pumpkin chicken chili, ideal for cool fall evenings. (Toni L. Sandys/THE WASHINGTON POST)

Full of seasonal pumpkin, this is the perfect chili for cool fall evenings. It’s slightly spicy, yet smooth and savory. The puree and orange peppers add beautiful color and are a great way to sneak in more vegetables.

Why add pumpkin to your chili?

Pumpkins are more than just for Halloween decorations. They are also edible, delicious and nutritious. When fresh pumpkin is not available, canned pumpkin can be a convenient alternative, saving lots of preparation time. When you see canned pumpkin puree in the grocery store, think beyond the traditional pie and explore more ways of adding this healthful gourd into your diet.

Pumpkin adds a velvety creaminess to chili. Plus, this bright orange gourd happens to be packed with disease-fighting nutrients:

●Calcium, which promotes bone health.

●Potassium, a mineral balancer and fluid regulator that also helps maintain normal blood pressure and might reduce your risk for bone loss.

●Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that helps block some of the damage caused by free radicals.

●Vitamin A from the carotenoids alpha- and beta-carotene, which could reduce your risk for certain cancers and heart disease. Vitamin A also fights off infections, protects against some of the degenerative aspects of aging and benefits your lungs, skin and eye health. Conveniently, canned pumpkin does keep most of its Vitamin A.

This hearty chili also contains extra heart-healthy fiber from the pumpkin, which aids in digestion and helps keep you feeling fuller longer, making it great for weight management.

Pumpkin really is a nutrition powerhouse — something to remember when Halloween has come and gone.

Pumpkin Chicken Chili

8 to 10 servings

This is ideal for cool fall evenings. It’s slightly spicy, yet smooth and savory from the pumpkin puree. The pumpkin and orange bell pepper add beautiful color to the dish and are a great way to sneak in more vegetables. And it can be made as a vegetarian dish; see NOTE.

Why add pumpkin to chili? In addition to lending a wonderful creaminess, pumpkin is a nutrition powerhouse. It’s high in potassium, it contains fiber and calcium, and it’s a good source of vitamins A and C. Adapted from Elaine Gordon, creator of the healthful-eating site Eating by Elaine.


2 tablespoons canola oil

1 large Vidalia onion, chopped (11/4 cups)

1 large red onion, chopped (11/4 cups)

2 poblano chili peppers, diced (3/4 cup)

1 medium orange bell pepper, diced (1 cup)

16 ounces ground white chicken meat, preferably organic

1 cup pumpkin puree

28 ounces canned diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato paste

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 bay leaf

One 15-ounce can white beans, such as navy beans

2 cloves garlic, minced (2 teaspoons)

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon chili powder

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika

Dash cinnamon

Dash allspice

Fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish

Scallions, cut crosswise into thin slices, for garnish

Avocado, diced, for garnish


Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onions, chili peppers and bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until it has browned, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the pumpkin puree, tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken broth, bay leaf and beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and add the garlic, cumin, chili powder, black pepper, paprika, cinnamon and allspice. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

To serve, divide the chili into individual bowls and garnish each portion with cilantro, scallions and/or avocado, as desired.

NOTE: To make this vegetarian, replace the chicken with additional beans and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

NUTRITION | Per serving (based on 10): 210 calories, 15 g protein, 23 g carbohydrates, 8 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 40 mg cholesterol, 80 mg sodium, 5 g dietary fiber, 6 g sugar.

Recipe tested by Toni Sandys; e-mail questions to food@washpost.com

Gordon, a master of public health professional and a master certified health education specialist, is creator of the healthy recipe site Eating by Elaine