Friday, October 02, 2015

Crockpot Pumpkin Chili Recipe with Ground Beef, Black Beans, and Kidney Beans (Gluten-Free, Can Freeze)

Crockpot Pumpkin Chili with Ground Beef, Black Beans, and Kidney Beans found on
(For Friday Flashbacks I share past recipes that have been my personal favorites, and this Crockpot Pumpkin Chili with Ground Beef, Black Beans, and Kidney Beans has a lot of fans in my family. In fact, my nephew Matt Denny and his wife Lindy won a chili-making contest with this recipe, and they've been making it ever since. And it's pumpkin season and chili season; hope you enjoy!)

This Crockpot Pumpkin Chili with Ground Beef, Black Beans, and Kidney Beans started out in a mysterious way on the blog back in 2010 when I edited these photos, loaded them into a post, and then accidentally hit publish instead of save. For the short time until I noticed my mistake, the photos and no words were published on the blog, and one sweet reader even left a very tactful comment saying "I don't see where the ingredients are listed." But once the actual recipe was there, this recipe quickly developed quite a few fans, and it's a fun idea for family dinner on Halloween!

I do want to mention that there's not a strong pumpkin flavor in this recipe. Instead, the addition of canned pumpkin thickens the chili and gives the entire dish a subtle sweetness that's really good. The recipe was adapted from Pumpkin Chili at Eclectic Recipes, which I discovered when I wrote about Pumpkin Recipes for Soup, Chili, Stew, and Drinks at

I spiced it up quite a bit from the inspiring recipe, switched most of the kidney beans for black beans, added more garlic, and added diced green chiles. My version has what may seem like a lot of spices, but I think crockpot recipes can be pretty bland without extra seasoning and the result was a chili that's full of flavor.

Heat a small amount of oil in a heavy pan, the brown the ground beef well, seasoning with salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Add browned meat to the crockpot.

Add a bit more oil and saute onions and green peppers a few minutes. Then add minced garlic, ground cumin, chili powder, ground Ancho chili pepper, dried cilantro, dried oregano, Spike Seasoning and diced green chiles and saute a couple minutes more. (Sauteeing the dried spices really helps release their flavor; don't skip this step.) Put this mixture in the crockpot, then deglaze the pan with beef stock and add that.

You probably don't have to rinse the canned beans when you're using them in a crockpot recipe, but it helps rinse away some of the starchiness so the beans are easier to digest. (I used 2 cans black beans and 1 can kidney beans, but I figured you didn't need another photo of rinsed kidney beans.)

Add the beans to the crockpot along with a can of pumpkin and two cans petite diced tomatoes. Stir the mixture, then cook on high for 4-6 hours, depending on how hot your slow cooker is.

I cooked my chili about 4 1/2 hours, and it looked like this when it was done. Serve hot, with grated cheese and a dollop of sour cream if desired.

Crockpot Pumpkin Chili with Ground Beef, Black Beans, and Kidney Beans
(Makes 6-8 servings, recipe adapted from Pumpkin Chili at Eclectic Recipes.)

I used a 3.5 Quart Slow Cooker and it was quite full so a 4 or 5 Quart Slow Cooker would also work.

2-3 tsp. olive oil (depending on your pan)
1 lb. ground beef (use ground beef with 10% fat or less for South Beach Diet)
salt and fresh ground black pepper, to season meat
1 medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 T minced garlic
1 T ground cumin
1 T chili powder (I used mild chili powder from The Spice House, note this is a blend of spices and not ground chile pepper.)
2 tsp. ground Ancho chile pepper (or use a little more chili powder if you don't have this)
2 tsp. dried cilantro or 2-3 T chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. Spike Seasoning
2-4 oz. diced green Anaheim chile peppers (I only used 2 oz, but if you like it spicy use the whole 4 oz. can)
3 cups homemade beef stock (or use 2 cans beef broth)
1 can (15 oz. can) red kidney beans, rinsed with cold water
2 cans (15 oz. cans) black beans, rinsed with cold water
1 can pumpkin puree (15 oz. can, not pumpkin pie filling!)
2 cans petite diced tomatoes with juice (14.5 oz. cans)
grated cheese for serving if desired (I used Mexican 4 cheese blend, a mixture of low-fat cheeses)
sour cream for serving if desired

Heat a small amount of oil in a large heavy frying pan, add ground beef, season with salt and fresh ground black pepper, and cook until the beef is well browned. Add browned meat to the crockpot.

Add a little more oil to the frying pan, add diced onion and green bell pepper and cook 2-3 minutes, until the onion and pepper is just starting to soften. Add minced garlic, ground cumin, chili powder, ground Ancho chili pepper, dried cilantro, dried oregano, Spike Seasoning and diced green chiles and saute a couple minutes more. (Sauteeing the spices and chiles helps release the flavor, so don't skip this step.) Put the onion mixture into the crockpot, then deglaze the pan with the beef stock and add that to crockpot.

While onions and peppers are cooking, drain the beans into a colander placed in the sink and rinse with cold water until no more foam appears. (This removes excess starchiness and makes the beans easier to digest.) Add beans to the crockpot. Add canned pumpkin and diced tomatoes with juice.

Stir the mixture to combine ingredients, then cook on high for 4-6 hours, (or 8-10 hours on low) stirring a few times if you're home. (I cooked my chili about 4 1/2 hours on high and it was perfect, but crockpots can vary greatly as to how hot they get, so adjust the cooking time depending on your own slow cooker.)

Serve hot, topped with grated cheese and sour cream if desired. This chili will be even better after it's been in the fridge overnight, and also freezes well.

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South Beach Diet Suggestions:
The addition of pumpkin to this recipe would make it phase 2 or 3 for the South Beach Diet. I'd serve a small bowl of chili with something like Spicy Mexican Slaw or Mary's Perfect Salad for phase 2.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Bloggers Make Pumpkin Chili:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)

Pumpkin Chili from Eclectic Recipes

Chicken, Pumpkin, and Hominy Chili from Not Eating Out in New York

Spicy Pumpkin Vegetarian Chili from Prudence Pennywise

Turkey Pumpkin Chili from Cara's Cravings

Pumpkin Chili with Abuelita from Cupcake Project

Pumpkin Chili from Recipe Girl

Pumpkin Chili from Always Order Dessert

Pumpkin Turkey Chili from Love and Olive Oil

Turkey Bean Pumpkin Chili from Erin's Food Files

Pumpkin Chili from Blog Appetit

(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)
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More to Chew On:


  1. Oh boy, I'm bookmarking! I don't love pumpkin, so I might substitute canned squash puree.

  2. Lydia, that will work, but the pumpkin flavor isn't strong in this. You'll want the whole can of green chiles!

  3. i did see this last night and it made me so excited because I love the sound of this! I bet you could add some butternut squash or pumpkin chunks to really enhance the pumpkin taste! Sounds great though.

  4. Oh, how delicious, Kalyn! I've had sweet potato in chili and it just thickened and subtly complemented the spiciness, so I expect the pumpkin here is similar. This might be just the ticket for my support group meeting here on Tuesday! Oh, and thanks for the info on sauteeing the dried spices to help release the flavor. I don't often do that, but will now! :-)


  5. This looks like a wonderful recipe. Such an interesting group of ingredients that I can only imagine blend into wonderful flavors. Another bookmarked! I've accidently hit the publish button before, but knew I did and was frantically editing before anyone could see it. :-)

  6. Joanne, love the idea of adding some chunks of squash or pumpkin.

    Shirley, I think sauteeing the spices and aromatics makes a lot of difference in a recipe like this, especially for the crockpot.

    Leanne, glad you like it. (And glad I'm not the only one who's accidentally hit publish!)

  7. Nice! Love the deep color of the chili. I'd skip the ground beef, though, and maybe substitute poached chicken. Lately all hamburger ( even the sirloin) I cook makes me think of dog food. It's just so tasteless.

  8. Katrina, there's a lot of spicy flavor here so I think it would be good with chicken or ground turkey instead of beef.

  9. I started making pumpkin chili several years ago and it's been my absolute favorite, go-to recipe ever since! I agree with you that the pumpkin flavor is not strong; it's more of a nice background flavor and adds a wonderful texture. If I might also make a suggestion - I find that cinnamon is a wonderful ingredient in my pumpkin chili!

  10. Cara, I will try a touch of cinnamon next time, although I'd say I'm not a big cinnamon fan in savory dishes.

  11. For me,if I have to cook the meat,and saute veggies I might as well forgo the crock pot,and just cook on the stove. My crock pot cooking imo shortens the amount of dishes,and prep work,so I only go w/crock pot as a one step..that's my reasoning of course..the recipe looks good,has anyone already made it?

  12. This is a fantastic take on a classic chili recipe, Kalyn. Whether or not the pumpkin flavor is strong, you can feel good about all of the vitamins it is providing.

  13. Anonymous, I know a lot of people have that opinion about crockpot cooking, but personally I think that's why so many crockpot dishes are just kind of so-so. The extra flavor from browning the meat and sauteeing the vegetables is worth it for me.

    If you did make it on the stovetop I would slightly reduce the amount of spaces (because the crockpot needs more spices to stand up to the long cooking time) and use a little more liquid.

  14. Anon -- Comments are moderated and don't show up on the blog until I publish them. If I don't do that, I get all kinds of spam comments that I don't want to appear on my blog. I'm usually pretty quick at posting them unless I'm out and about; no need to repost the comment.

  15. Dara, I don't know if it's Blogger or Comcast that's holding up my comments, but I didn't get your comment until after I'd written those replies. Hate it when that happens! You're right, the pumpkin makes this more nutritious as well as tasty!

  16. Wow! This is packed with vitamin and color. I'm always looking for interesting ways to use pumpkin. It's so cold this morning, that it would be so nice to smell this rich stew simmering in the house.

  17. TW, it's cold here too. I hate cold weather, but I love the cold weather foods; figure that one out!

  18. Pumpkin is one of the best things about fall! Exhibit A: Your Chili!

    Happy Fall Everyone!


  19. Thanks Donna. I've been noticing you are definitely a pumpkin fan by all the yummy pumpkin things on your blog!

  20. Great way of using pumpkin. Nice fall recipe.

  21. Thanks Tobias. I'm feeding it to my dad today (the ultimate food critic.) Hope he likes it!

  22. Yum, I want to try yours! It looks amazing!

  23. Angie, thanks! It did get a big thumbs up from my dad yesterday.

  24. This was delicious. I had made salsa a few days ago with fresh roasted anaheims, cilantro, onions, tomatoes and garlic. I substituted it for some of the other ingredients. I also used ground turkey and beef bouillion as my protein. The flavor is wonderful. Thank you Kalyn!

  25. Katie, so glad you liked it. Great idea to substitute the salsa!

  26. Kalyn, I'm considering trying this but I'm a vegetarian. If I omit the beef, do you suggest I replace it with something else so it's not "missing something?" Thank You!

  27. I think this would be very flavorful without the beef. Of course you'd want to use vegetable broth, and I might cut down the liquid just a little because of less volume in the solid ingredients.

  28. your pumpkin article on blogher was so resourceful, Kalyn! This year, I have been buying atleast one pumpkin/winter squash a week and trying something new with it.. and that article gave me so many ideas. thank you!

  29. PJ, thanks; so glad you liked it. I love winter squash, especially butternut!

  30. I would love to try this chili recipe. I love pumpkin and might try to add some croutons and sour creme as a way to splurge and have fun with it.

  31. Melody, I did eat it with cheese and sour cream, just didn't think about the sour cream until after I took the photos.

  32. Thanks for the great recipe. A good way to get pumpkin's benefits into your diet without sugar, and even though it adds flavor to the chili, it's subtle enough that no one would even guess that's the mystery ingredient. I don't normally add cumin to my chili, so it was a good variation to my usual and quite good.

  33. So glad you enjoyed the chili with a touch of pumpkin and cumin flavor added to the mix.

  34. What a great idea! I'll have to use butternut squash, tho. I put pureed zucchini into my white chili last year to thicken it and it was delicious!

  35. Katie, I think butternut squash would be great in this.

  36. Argh! No Spike seasoning at our local grocery stores. I guess they didn't restock after the recall. I don't have any other spice blends; do you think it will be okay without it, or do you have other suggestions? Thanks!

  37. Lynne, I think it will still be good without the Spike. If you have another type of all-purpose seasoning blend that you like, you could use a little of that.

  38. I made something just like this and loved it!

  39. I started making this last night, and it's in the crockpot as we speak. I made a few adjustments based on what I had on hand, but only to a little bit of the seasonings. It's a WONDERFUL recipe!!!! Perfect ratio of meat/beans/sauce. Not to thick, or thin. Just perfect! Thanks Kalyn!

  40. Made this for dinner last night to celebrate our first cold front of the season in here in Houston (it was a chilly 65 degrees!) and it was delicious!!! Will definitely make it again :)

  41. So glad you guys enjoyed it! (And if you think 65 degrees is chilly, don't ever move to Utah!)

  42. Kalyn, I took the plunge and made this for the first time with COMPANY COMING for our family Halloween party! Talk about SCARY!
    So I couldn't find the peppers, and left them out, compensating with the chili powder. I doubled the recipe and it didn't all fit in my crockpot. lol. I cooked it in my big stockpot. I was scared of all the spices, and was concerned about the strong taste of pumpkin initially. But tasting periodically had me adding spices. I liked the tip about cooking the beans. My husband appreciated it! :-) Everyone LOVED the chili. My sister brought Comedian's Corn Bread: a little cheesy and a littly corny! You don't have to post this. Just wanted you to know and say thanks!

  43. Lisa, so glad you enjoyed it. And it sounds like you had fun experimenting with the recipe too!

  44. I'm trying this recipe right now! I had to half it, because my crockpot is teeny tiny, and ended up making some adjustments based on my taste preferences, and the accidental purchase of re-fried black beans... I hope it still turns out okay!
    I'll let you know, but this is such a fun recipe. I love pumpkin anything, and spicy chili sounds so delicious with all this nasty winter weather.

  45. Lianna, I am intrigued by the idea of refried black beans, hope you like it!

  46. I have a confession to make, I've never even tried chili before! However this looks like THE recipe I should try for the first time. Having pumpkin in anything intrigues me!

    - Michelle

    1. Michelle, you must try it! Hope you enjoy.

  47. Sounds delicious! Wondering how it would taste with a chipotle pepper instead of Anaheim chile . . .

    1. I think that would be good, just a bit spicier. Let me know what you think if you try it!

  48. Funny, it's cold here in the Northern Colorado Mtns today and I'd JUST pulled out your Black Bean and Beef Chili and the Crockpot Black Bean Chili w/Lime/Cilantro and this recipe popped into my feed. This is probably a stupid question, but if I just cook this on top of the stove, would I go four hours at low heat? I hate my doesn't seem to HAVE a low (it has a button for Low) setting, and everything just boils all the time. Thanks!


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