This vegan pumpkin chili is the perfect seasonal one-pot nutritious meal! It is spicy, slightly sweet, full of flavor and has the most incredible texture – you would never know it is entirely plant-based. It is loaded with vegetables and plant-based protein to keep you satisfied. The pumpkin adds creaminess and body to the chili that makes it extra amazing. This dairy-free, gluten-free and grain-free dish is the ultimate comforting and healthy meal for Halloween dinner.
With three young kids, Halloween night is always a bit hectic. By the time we finish up the work day and get everyone in costume, it is time to hit the streets for trick-or-treating (leaving very little time for cooking and eating). That is why I love a quick and easy one-pot meal that everyone can enjoy, especially one that is seasonal, healthy and even better if prepared the day before. Enter: vegan pumpkin chili.
For many, chili on Halloween night is a special tradition whether you are trick-or-treating or handing out candy. If you are staying in it is the perfect cozy meal to have simmering on the stove in between doorbell rings. I provide a less spicy alternative in the recipe below so the kiddos can enjoy it too. One-pot (+ chili bowls and spoons) means easy clean-up after a long night of trick-or-treating.
Pumpkin chili is also a great meal to serve at a Halloween party. Since this one is vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free and refined sugar-free it is great for serving to crowds with varying diets. I leave it covered, simmering on the stove so friends and family can grab a bowl whenever they want. A hearty, steamy bowl of pumpkin chili is something nobody can turn down this chillier time of year.
What you need to make this vegan pumpkin chili:
All my chili recipes start with onion, garlic and spices sautéed in olive oil. Everything that comes next is what makes this one different and amazing. The vegetables I use are pumpkin, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and peppers. Depending on how spicy you want it you can use bell peppers, poblano peppers and/or jalapeno peppers. For texture and plant-based protein I added red lentils, black beans and walnuts. The red lentils basically disappear into the chili and thicken it up nicely. You don’t even know they are there really. The black beans help make it nice and chunky and the walnuts add a nuttiness and chewy texture that makes this vegan chili unbelievable. The combination of the red lentils, black beans and walnuts makes this a super hearty vegan chili. Meat-lovers will be impressed with this one too.
Other than that I just used vegetable broth, a touch of maple syrup to help bring out the sweetness of the pumpkin and some tomato paste to enhance the tomato flavor.
How is that for nutritious and clean? It is mostly basic pantry ingredients you likely have on hand so all you will need to grab at the supermarket are the veggies and the below toppings.
For toppings, I like to use red onions, cilantro, lime, green onions and avocado – pretty classic and absolutely delicious with the pumpkin chili.
As far as equipment, all you will need is a good quality dutch oven to allow the chili to simmer on your stovetop and really thicken up. This vegan pumpkin chili is another low-maintenance one-pot recipe that everyone seems to just love.
Why add pumpkin to chili?
Pumpkin. We all crave it. We all love it. It is everyone’s favorite fall vegetable. I love it in this chili because it thickens up the chili and adds a creamy smoothness that takes the chili to the next level. I may keep adding it to chili year-round! It adds just a touch of sweetness to the chili that balances out the spices nicely. It is also a great way to sneak in more vegetables, and it switches up a classic chili recipe to make it more seasonal.
I definitely recommend using homemade pumpkin puree over canned pumpkin in this recipe. It is so much creamier, thicker and sweeter. The canned version can be more watery and bitter in my opinion, but of course it will work in a pinch. For the most authentic pumpkin flavor, go for the homemade version. It is easier than you would think with my hands-off pressure cooker method.
What are the health benefits of pumpkin?
I’m always looking to add pumpkin into my recipes this time of year. Not only are they seasonal and taste sweet and creamy, but they also offer so many disease-fighting nutrients and overall health benefits. They are packed with antioxidants known as carotenoids that can protect cells from free radical damage. And, pumpkin offers fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, copper, folate, potassium and vitamins A, C, E and K.
Want more vegan and gluten-free pumpkin recipes in your life?
Now is the season to try all the pumpkin recipes! Here are some of my favorites (both savory and sweet):
- Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Muffins
- Creamy Pumpkin Garlic Pasta
- Garlic Pumpkin Hummus
- Easy Blender Pumpkin Soup
- Pumpkin Risotto
- No-Bake Mini Pumpkin Pies
- Pumpkin Pie Protein Shake
- Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats
- Baked Pumpkin Oat Pancakes (created for The Washington Post by me)
Now, let’s make some vegan pumpkin chili!
I do not say this next sentence lightly. This is my favorite chili recipe ever. I think my dad (aka the chili cooking-expert) would have been really proud of this vegan creation. The flavors only get better as it sits in the refrigerator overnight so this is the kind of meal you can definitely make ahead of time and enjoy throughout the week. I made a big batch already and am freezing the rest for Halloween dinner!
This vegan pumpkin chili is loaded with plant-based protein, fiber and healthy fats. Every steamy spoonful is mega creamy yet chunky and offers the perfect amount of spiciness balanced out with a bit of fall sweetness from the pumpkin.
If you want to serve it with my crispy thin socca to scoop it up you will not be sorry. At all. (Just skip the avocado mash… or not).
I cannot wait for you to give this vegan pumpkin chili a try. Let’s get cooking!