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Turkey Pumpkin Chili

Delicious and filling, our favorite autumn squash adds richness and body to healthy turkey pumpkin chili.

Turkey Pumpkin Chili in a soup mug

It’s pumpkin season (and pumpkin spice overload season, lol), but I’ve done surprisingly little baking. Zero baking, actually, unless you count the icky packaged cornbread mix I used to serve with today’s turkey pumpkin chili. (Tip: don’t bother with a mix – not to be all DIY-y or anything, but homemade cornbread is easy enough to make; you don’t need a gross mix. But I digress.)

I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so I just haven’t been feelin’ the baking vibes, but I *have* been feeling all the cozy fall pumpkin feels.

And then three times in one day, pumpkin chili recipes landed in my social media feeds.

Freshly cooked Turkey Pumpkin Chili in a white Dutch oven.

Pumpkin chili? Whaaa?

I had to try it!

I went with a recipe from, and tweaked the ingredients and cooking technique to maximize all the spicy flavors for my turkey pumpkin chili. I was sort of side-eye skeptical about the pureed pumpkin, right up until I added it to the pot.

Why pumpkin works in chili

And then it all came together and made complete sense. The pumpkin adds amazing texture — something that’s often missing in turkey chili — plus just a touch of sweetness that’s not at all cloying. Chili masters often add sugar to their chili creations — the pumpkin takes care of that very nicely!

I used canned pumpkin puree, but you can absolutely roast a pie pumpkin yourself and scrape out the flesh (and we might have to, if Libby’s projected shortage comes to pass). I also think that most any roasted winter squash — butternut, kabocha, acorn — will substitute just fine.

Two soup mugs filled with Turkey Pumpkin Chili

This healthy and flavorful turkey pumpkin chili will be in regular rotation this fall and winter — the spice palate and texture is wonderful, and it’s exactly the kind of comforting meal you want to hover over when the weather turns chilly.

Editing this post here in 2018 to add that this is one of the recipes from this blog that is, indeed, constantly on the menu at Casa We love this chili, and leftovers make the perfect winter lunch!

Karen xo


Turkey Pumpkin Chili in a soup mug
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Turkey Pumpkin Chili

Lean turkey and pumpkin make a fantastic, comforting - and healthy - chili. A great prepare-ahead meal, turkey pumpkin chili tastes even better the next day.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 15 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 312kcal
Author: Karen Gibson


  • 2 tablespoons olive coconut, or avocado oil
  • 1 small white or yellow onion diced
  • 1 red or orange bell pepper diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 4 links chicken or turkey breakfast sausage sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika pimenton
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 6 ounces pumpkin beer
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 14 ounce can pumpkin puree not pie filling
  • 1 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15 ounce can great northern or cannellini beans
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano or marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon your favorite barbecue sauce
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

suggested toppings

  • sour cream
  • grated cheddar cheese
  • sliced green onions
  • tortilla strips


  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a 4 or 5 quart stock pot or dutch oven over medium until shimmering. Add the onions and peppers and saute until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl or plate.
  • Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the pot and let heat for a few seconds. Add the ground turkey and sausage and cook until the turkey is browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain off most of the liquid, leaving about 1 tablespoon in the pot. Return the vegetables to the pot.
  • Scootch the meat and vegetables to one side, and let the liquid pool on the cleared side (or, add a glug of oil to the cleared side). Pour the chili powder, paprika, and cumin onto the liquid/oil, and stir to create a paste. When fragrant, mix into the meat and vegetables.
  • Increase heat to medium-high, add the pumpkin beer, and saute until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  • Add the chicken stock, pumpkin puree, tomatoes, beans, oregano/marjoram, sugar, and barbecue sauce. Stir well to combine and let the mixture come to a gentle bubbling.
  • Reduce heat to maintain a simmer - bubbles should break on the surface without sputtering - cover partially, and let cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  • Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.
  • To serve, ladle into roomy bowls and top with sour cream, cheese, green onions, and tortilla strips.


Calories: 312kcal
Nutritional information, if shown, is provided as a courtesy only, and is not to be taken as medical information or advice. The nutritional values of your preparation of this recipe are impacted by several factors, including, but not limited to, the ingredient brands you use, any substitutions or measurement changes you make, and measuring accuracy.
Recipe Rating


Wednesday 21st of October 2020

I've been making this recipe for years - finally remembered to leave a comment about it. ;) It's the family's favorite chili. Sometimes we make it hot with lots of chili peppers, and sometimes we just let the awesome flavors shine through. We love it topped with sour cream, green onions, and tortilla strips!

Jill L.

Monday 8th of February 2016

I made this this past weekend, and even my squash hating husband loved it! I haven't decided whether to tell him there was pumpkin in it. ;)


Friday 23rd of October 2015

I must admit, I give a HUGE eye roll every time I walk into certain coffee shop and see the PSL... but pumpkin chili with pumpkin beer could make me feel the love :-) (Now I must go find pumpkin beer).


Friday 23rd of October 2015

You and me both - spied at the grocery today: pumpkin spice marshmallows and pumpkin spice Twinkies. The world has gone mad.