Nothing like a good bowl of chili on cool autumn nights and this gluten-free Vegan Pumpkin Chili recipe will not disappoint. A healthy, one pot meal loaded with creamy pumpkin puree, black beans, chickpeas, fresh veggies and earthy spices. Full of nutrients, fiber and flavor! It’s budget-friendly using pantry staples, perfect for any night of the week or game day!
It’s that time of year when pumpkin is added to just about everything sweet and I must say there’s something special about a savory pumpkin recipe too.
The puree adds just enough pumpkin flavor and makes this meatless chili rich and velvety without taking time to seed and cook fresh pumpkin. It’s also excellent in this vegan Thai Squash & Pumpkin Curry!
Key Ingredients & Substitutions
One of my favorite things about colder months is lining up cozy, comfort food recipes and their aroma filling the house. This pot of chili is certainly on the list and uses ingredients that are probably already in your fridge, pantry and spice rack.
- Pumpkin – While canned pumpkin may be the main ingredient, you could easily substitute cooked butternut squash or sweet potatoes blended in a food processor or mixer. It will add to your cooking time but you’ll still have a delicious chili. Do Not use pumpkin pie filling! It’s packed with sugar and meant for desserts.
- Beans – Different types of beans will work in this recipe in addition to black beans and chickpeas. Pinto beans, kidney beans and even red lentils are all good options.
- Vegetables – Yellow or red onions, bell peppers and garlic are typical chili staples. You can also change things up with poblano peppers like I did here, along with jalapeños or chipotle peppers.
- Tomatoes – I like the heartiness of chunky, diced tomatoes and the concentrated flavor of tomato paste, but you could also use tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes for a smoother texture.
- Broth – Use homemade or store-bought vegetable broth to keep this a vegetarian chili. I used some dry white wine to deglaze the bottom of the pot but adding broth in that step is totally fine too.
- Spices – A couple tablespoons of chili powder, pinch of cayenne along with smoky paprika and cumin add just the right amount of spice. If your gang likes spicy food, jack up the cayenne or add hot sauce. You can always add a bit of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves for a little pumpkin spice flare.
Cooking Steps & Tips
Once your ingredients are gathered and prepped, it’s time to fire up the stove!
- Start with the veggies: Onion and peppers kick things off in a large pot with olive oil heated over medium-high heat and cooked until they’re softened.
- Add garlic and spices: Lower burner to medium heat. Stir frequently for about a minute or two until the garlic begins to caramelize and the spices are toasted and aromatic. This step adds lots of flavor to the chili!
- Deglaze: Pour in wine to deglaze the pot and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned flavorings on the bottom. Cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 2 minutes.
- Stir in remaining ingredients: Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, pumpkin, chickpeas, black beans, corn and broth and drop in bay leaf.
- Simmer: Give the chili a good stir and simmer over low heat for 10-15 minutes until heated through. Prep toppings while it simmers. So easy!
Can I make this recipe in an Instant Pot or Crock Pot?
Yes to both! Simply stir all ingredients together in your Instant Pot, lock the lid and set for 5 minutes. Let pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, then carefully do a quick release to relieve the rest. Alternatively, place all ingredients in your slow cooker and cook on low 4-6 hours. These instructions are also included in the recipe card below.
Regardless of the cooking method used, you now have a delicious chili ready for toppings! I’ve included a few dairy options that are obviously optional if you want to stay vegan.😉
- Avocado – Have it sliced, diced or cubed, or go creamy with your favorite guac.
- Green Onions – Thinly slice for a little bite and pop of color.
- Jalapeño – If you didn’t add them directly into the chili, here’s another chance to kick up the heat!
- Fresh Herbs – Cilantro is our herb of choice when it comes chili and anything Mexican. Parsley and oregano are good substitutes.
- Lime Wedges – The acidity from lime juice brings all the flavors together.
- Pumpkin Seeds – Aka, pepitas, add a bit of healthy crunch.
- Cheese – Crumbled Mexican queso fresco and grated cojita are perfect with chili. Cheddar, parmesan and jack cheeses are great options too. Or go with your favorite vegan cheese!
- Mexican Crema or Sour Cream – A splash or dollop of either softens the spice and adds even more richness.
- Tortilla chips – Crumble on top or serve on the side if not worried about gluten.
Sides to Serve
Here are complementary side dish ideas to round out this hearty chili into one great meal.
Bread – Get dipping with warm tortillas, naan or cornbread!
More Vegan & Gluten-Free Soups & Stews!
- Red Wine Braised Lentils with Spinach
- Creamy Curried Carrot Soup
- Moroccan Butternut Squash Stew
- Roasted Purple Cauliflower Potato & Beet Soup
- Creamy Turmeric Cauliflower Soup
Remember to PIN to save the recipe for later!
You can store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 1 week. To freeze, ladle chili into resealable freezer bags, and freeze them flat so they take up less real estate for up to 3 months. To reheat chili, thaw overnight in the fridge if frozen, and reheat in a saucepan on the stove over medium-heat or microwave.
It is real pumpkin but not the typical sugar pumpkin we immediately think of. We all know of Libby’s as it dominates 85% of the canned pumpkin market. The household name produces its own proprietary variety that’s a blend of different winter squash. Regular pumpkins are stringy and watery compared to other winter squash that make a much richer, sweeter puree.
The blend chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika and cayenne weighs in heavily in giving chili its flavor. You can add more heat with ancho chili powder and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. And feel free to try bold flavors with espresso, unsweetened cocoa, molasses, peanut butter, turmeric or garam masala.
Other Easy & Delicious Chili Recipes to Try!
📋 Recipe Card
BEST Vegan Pumpkin Chili
Vegan Pumpkin Chili
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion , chopped
- 1 poblano pepper , chopped
- 4 garlic cloves , minced
- 1½ tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 2 14.5- ounce cans diced tomatoes in juice , not drained
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 1 15- ounce can pumpkin puree (do not use pumpkin pie filling)
- 1 15- ounce can chickpeas , drained and rinsed
- 1 15- ounce can black beans , drained and rinsed
- 1 cup fresh corn or frozen kernels , thawed
- 1 ½ cups vegetable broth
- 1 bay leaf
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro , chopped, plus extra for garnish
- 1 lime , zest and juice, plus extra wedges for serving
- Salt and pepper , to taste
- Sliced avocado or guacamole
- Sliced green onions
- Sliced jalapeños
- Queso fresco or cojita cheese
- Mexican crema or sour cream
- Tortilla chips
- Heat olive oil in large Dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat.
- Add onion and poblano pepper. Season with salt and pepper, and sauté stirring occasionally until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in garlic, chili powder, cumin and cayenne and cook 1 minute, stirring frequently.
- Pour in wine to deglaze the bottom of the pot. Cook until reduced by half, about 2 minutes.
- Stir in diced tomatoes, tomato paste, pumpkin, chickpeas, black beans, corn and broth. Add bay leaf.
- Simmer chili 10-15 minutes until heated through.
- Remove from heat and stir in cilantro, lime zest and juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve hot with suggested toppings, as desired. Enjoy!
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