Perfect for Halloween. And you can freeze the leftovers for Thanksgiving eve!
It’s pumpkin season in our part of the world. Chili season too.
So, hey, pumpkin chili. Pumpkin adds unique flavor (not to mention a rich, creamy texture), and it plays well with pork.
Sounds like a trick, we know. But it’s a real treat.
Recipe: Pumpkin and Pork Chili
We use canned pumpkin in this dish, but you could easily use fresh, roasted pumpkin. We add some cinnamon, too. Cinnamon tastes terrific with both pumpkin and pork, and also works well with chili spices.
We include a few jalapeño peppers in this dish for flavor and heat. You could also add spicy green peppers if you like – Hatch or poblano chiles would be wonderful.
This recipe makes a lot of chili – about 5 quarts. That’s probably way more than you can use at one time, unless you’re feeding a crowd. But this chili freezes well, so you can save some for later. Like maybe the night before Thanksgiving?
Prep time for this recipe varies depending on how quickly you work. The most time-consuming process is cutting up the pork and browning it (you can save time if you buy the meat already cubed). Figure on 20 minutes for cutting up the meat, plus at least another 20 for browning it. While you’re browning, you can do much of the other work, so total prep should take you under an hour. Cooking time adds another couple of hours. BTW, you can cut up and brown the meat a day ahead, then proceed with the recipe the following day.
- 2 to 3 pounds pork shoulder or pork steaks (see Notes)
- salt to taste (1 or 2 teaspoons kosher salt, but see Step 1 and Notes)
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil for browning meat
- 2 large onions
- 3 to 5 garlic cloves (to taste)
- 2 to 3 jalapeño peppers
- additional 2 tablespoons neutral oil
- additional salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon kosher salt for us; see Notes)
- 2 to 4 tablespoons mild or medium red chile powder, or a mix of the two (to taste; see Notes)
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 28-ounce can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
- water for thinning chili mixture
- 3 to 4 cans black or kidney beans, or a mix of the two
- additional salt and chile powder to taste
- 2 to 3 cups frozen corn
- Cut the pork into chunks of ½ inch or so (specific size isn’t crucial; it’s more important to have pieces that are all roughly uniform in size so they’ll take about the same amount of time to brown). Dry the pork pieces thoroughly, then salt them lightly (just enough to season the meat a bit).
- Place a large skillet on medium stovetop heat. When hot, add 2 tablespoons of neutral oil. You’ll use this skillet to brown the pork chunks, a process that takes some time and attention to do well (see Notes for discussion of the Maillard reaction). Begin by adding a few pork chunks to the skillet (don’t completely fill the skillet at this time, because when you add the meat, the fat will cool somewhat). Once the fat heats again, add as many pork chunks as you can without crowding the pan. Brown each chunk until the first side has colored nicely. Do this until all sides of the pork chunks are browned. Remove the pork chunks from the pan and drain them on a plate covered with a paper towel. Then brown the remaining pork chunks (using a bit more oil if necessary). When you’ve finished browning the meat, you’ll probably notice that some browned bits have stuck to the bottom of the skillet, so you’ll want to deglaze the pan: Drain the grease from the pan, then add ½ cup or so of water. Simmer for a bit, stirring to release the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Turn off the heat, then let the skillet sit until you’re ready to use the browned bits (you’ll add them in Step 8).
- Meanwhile, peel the onions and cut them into dice of about ½ inch. Set aside.
- Peel the garlic and mince or slice it finely. Set aside.
- Wash the jalapeño peppers and cut them lengthwise. Use a teaspoon to scoop out the ribs and seeds (be careful, the oil on these is hot; keep fingers away from your eyes). Chop the peppers into very small dice (or use a mini food processor). Place the peppers in a bowl until you’re ready to use them, then wash your hands with soap and water to remove the hot jalapeño oil from your skin. You may want to reserve a slice or two of the pepper for garnish.
- Warm a large cooking pot or Dutch oven (one that holds 6 quarts or more) over medium stovetop heat. When hot, add 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the chopped onion, season it with salt to taste, then cook until the onion is wilted but not browned (5 to 8 minutes). Add the garlic and jalapeño pepper, and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Add the browned pork chunks to the mixture, then add the spices (chile powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, and cinnamon). Stir to combine the ingredients, then cook for another minute.
- Add the liquid from the deglazed pan (Step 2), along with the canned tomatoes and the pumpkin. Add enough extra water to create a liquidy consistency – usually about one 28-ounce can of water. Bring the chili mixture to a simmer, then cook it for an hour (or even longer – timing is not critical).
- Pour the canned beans into a strainer and rinse them well. Add the beans to the chili and cook for an additional half-hour. (Add more water at this point if too much has evaporated or if you prefer chili with a thinner consistency).
- At this point, the chili should be almost ready (though you can continue to simmer it on low heat for another hour or two if you prefer). Taste the chili and adjust the seasoning. About five minutes before serving, add the frozen corn to the chili, and cook for 5 minutes.
- Ladle the chili into serving bowls (see Notes for garnish suggestions).
- There are many options for garnishing chili. The best ones not only look good, but add a flavor boost too. Try a slice or two of jalapeño pepper, a handful of oyster crackers, some grated cheddar cheese, a sprinkle of diced raw onion, or a dollop of sour cream.
- What kind of chile powder to use? We like medium Hatch chile powder in this recipe, but that can be hard to find. Ancho chile powder (which is sold in many supermarkets) also has great taste and is fairly mild. We also like to add a bit of dried chipotle powder, which has a pleasant smoky taste (it’s widely available in supermarkets too).
- We use 4 tablespoons of chile powder, which produces a chili that we consider somewhat spicy. If you prefer less spice, you may want to start with half that amount. Taste the chili when you add the beans (Step 9), then add more chile powder if desired.
- You can substitute chili powder for chile powder in this recipe. Remember, chile (with an e) powder contains just powdered dried chiles. By contrast, chili (with an i) powder contains chile powder, but also typically includes oregano, cumin, and other flavorings. If you’re using chili powder, we suggest 3 to 5 tablespoons – though as always, season to your taste. You might also want to reduce the cumin, coriander, and oregano by about half, or eliminate them altogether (since these flavors are already in the chili powder).
- We like to use pork shoulder or pork steaks for this recipe. But any fairly lean cut of pork will work. And don’t stress on the amount – you want at least 2 pounds, but up to 3 pounds wouldn’t be too much.
- Browning meat caramelizes the surface, which concentrates and improves flavor. If your browning skillet is too crowded, however, the meat will just steam – and you’ll miss most of the benefits of browning.
- Ideally, bits of meat will adhere to the browning pan, forming a crust that’s extraordinarily tasty. In fact, this crust may have more flavor than the meat itself. That’s because, as you brown meat, a process called the Maillard Reaction is taking place (it’s named after Louis-Camille Maillard, who described it in 1912). This reaction helps intensify the meat flavor.
- You can release this flavor by deglazing the frying pan with liquid (water in this case, though beer or wine would also work well). Liquid loosens the crust and dilutes it. When you pour the deglazing liquid (which holds the scraped crust in suspension) into the chili, you recapture the flavor.
- BTW, because browning meat can take a while, we often use two skillets to speed up the process.
- We use canned beans in this recipe because they’re quick and easy. But you could also use dried beans that you’ve prepared ahead of time (and, of course, beans you cook yourself are usually better than canned).
- Kosher salt is more coarse than regular table salt, so it’s less salty by volume. If you’re substituting table salt for kosher, always use less – about half as much as we suggest. If the dish isn’t salty enough, you can always add more later.
- If you like really thick chili, cook it a bit longer to evaporate more of the liquid. If you prefer a thinner chili, just add more water at the end to achieve the consistency you prefer.
“Delish!” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “This chili lights my jack o’lantern.”
“Yup,” I said. “A light went on in my head when I thought of this recipe.”
“And the bright grin on your face completes the picture,” said Mrs K R.
“You were really jacked up to drop that comment, weren’t you?” I said.
“Sure,” said Mrs K R. “Thought I’d just carve out some fun.”
“Booo,” I groaned.
“Well,” Mrs K R smiled. “You would say that, wouldn’t you?”
You may also enjoy reading about:
Texas-Style Chili con Carne
Meat and Potatoes Chili
Roast Squash & Sweet Potato Chili with Kale
BBQ Beef Brisket Chili
Pulled Pork Green Chile Chili
Chunky Pork and Sweet Potato Chili
Sweet Potato Chili with Black Beans
Slow Cooker Homestyle Chili
Or check out the index for more recipes
You created a seasonal treasure John. This chili looks yummy and I think even my husband who doesn't like pumpkin would eat this.
Hi Gerlinde, the flavor of this is sensational. And the pumpkin adds a nice creamy texture that is really interesting. Great mouth-feel. Thanks for the comment.
I LOVE to add pumpkin in the chilli too. This looks droolicious and ever so comforting!
Hi Angie, pumpkin is just made for chili spices, don't you think? SO good! Thanks for the comment.
It most definitely is the season for pumpkin and chili - and what better way to enjoy a couple of falls favs than by combining them! This chili is so flavor packed - I cannot help salivating every time I go over the ingredient list! And thank you for teaching me soemthing new - I didn't realize the difference between chile (with an e) powder and chili powder!
Hi Shashi, pumpkin is wonderful in chili! Such terrific flavor -- our new favorite. :-) Thanks for the comment.
That is a novel idea of adding pumpkin to the chili! We are deluged with pumpkins at our markets, will have to try this yummy looking recipe. Thanks :)
Hearty, filling, and tasty! Looks and sounds like a darn tasty chili to me!
Hi Pat, pumpkin adds such a nice, creamy texture to chili. Really interesting. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Pam, it IS darn tasty! :-) Thanks for the comment.
The warming flavors of fall make this an enticing recipe! This would be a great make ahead recipe. The flavors would have time to mingle and develop and I would have dinner ready to go, a win!
This looks so easy and very good for entertaining a crowd. I bet I can use it with beef as well. Nice recipe John.
You should write a chili book this is yet another wonderfully creative take! GREG
Hi Deb, this is wonderful when made ahead, for just the reason you state. This is good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Amira, beef would be excellent in this. As a matter of fact I almost made this with beef, but decided on pork at the last minute. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Greg, gosh, thanks so much for that nice comment!
Love the idea of using pumpkin in savory recipes! Chili is always a hit this time of year and leftovers in the freezer are always a win in my book.
Wow look at all the flavors going on here. A comforting fall dish and perfect for a day like today here in St Louis. Great recipe.
It just so happens I have pumpkin in the oven right now to make some chili later tonight. Looks like I have to change my recipe because this looks amazing!
Hi Laura, pumpkin is wonderful in savory things! Like it a ton in baked goods, of course, but it's even better in something like this. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Vicki, this dish is perfect for today's rain, gloom, and chill! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Pamela, it's impossible to have too many pumpkin chili recipes! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Wow, wow, wow. I had never thought of adding pumpkin to a chilli dish. Awesome recipe, John.
I need to shake up my chili and I think I've found my inspiration! I love the idea of using pork and pumpkin for a delicious change of pace! Perfect for after the cold front passes through :)
Hi Lizzy, pumpkin is a natural in chili! Although it wasn't until this year that I tried it either. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Liz, pork and pumpkin makes an outstanding chili! Really a good flavor combo. And the texture is so creamy! Thanks for the comment.
It was only last week that I made some bean soup and I had like half can of pumpkin puree left, since I did not know what to do with it I added to the soup...it was awesome, it added color and taste...therefore looking at your chili, I already know that I will love it, chunky pieces of pork with all the spices...yum!
Thanks for the recipe John...hope you are having a wonderful week :)
Hi Juliana, the color is one of the neatest things about using pumpkin! Adds a nice orange glow to the red of the tomato. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love pumpkin chilis!!! I don't love pork though, I won't lie to you there - so I would swap in some beef or chicken, but otherwise - SIGN THIS LADYYYY UPPP! Although, lets wait about a week because the thought of eating chili when it's like 90 + degrees outside... NO THANKS! ha!
Hi GiGi, you're signed up! :-) Beef would work really well in this. Maybe chicken too, but I know beef is good. Thanks for the comment.
Just wonderful, I love how you boldly use jalapeno peppers (not to taste - but 2 or 3) this is a divine creation, thank you :)
WOW! This looks amazingly delicious and so flavorful. Going to try this out soon. Thank you for sharing!
I love the addition of the cinnamon! I have some canned pumpkin that is going to turn into this chili very soon :)
What a great recipe for the upcoming season! Boo hoo, I don't have a bowl of this in front of me right now!
This I'm saving for when it really gets cold here! This is one of those hearty meal that stick to yours bones and warms so nicely from the inside out. Love using the pumpkin puree' for flavor and a thickener. So many flavors here and love that little kick you give it with the jalapeno. Great chili!
Looks comforting that i would gulp a whole warm bowl. iam trying it right away
Hi Merryn, jalapeno peppers are GOOD! As is this chili. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Kushi, this is terrific -- loads of flavor! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Ashley, the cinnamon works really well in this dish -- nice background flavor. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Abbe, boo hoo indeed! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi MJ, this is terrific stuff -- you'll love it! And do use some Hatch chilies in yours. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Smitha, a bowl of this sounds good right around now! Thanks for the comment.
I have to admit, I have seen a lot of pumpkin lately, but not chili! How original of you ;)
A beautiful chili - great pics! I used to add canned pumpkin to just about everything when my kids were little - especially stew, spaghetti, and soups - just for added nourishment. Plus they couldn't pick it out! So good for you but also like you said, such a lovely creaminess.
Have to admit I would have never thought to add pumpkin to chili, but it does sound nice. And the color is incredible.
What a great idea... a warm, hearty, fall dish!
Great idea on adding Pumpkin to Chili!
Hi Kristi, you'll love pumpkin chili! Such a neat flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Mimi, isn't the creaminess pumpkin adds wonderful? And SO tasty! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Frank, the color of this is really nice, isn't it? As is its flavor! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Denise, this is a good one! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Peachy, we're adding pumpkin to everything at this time of the year! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I bet this is delicious, love the spices that you added. Have a great week!
I'll admit that I've never used pumpkin in my chili but I would agree the unique pumpkin flavor will add another layer of flavor to the already delicious chili. Thanks for the recipe!
Hi Cheri, this really is good stuff -- super flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Yi, the pumpkin works better than I would have believed -- REALLY good! Thanks for the comment.
Yummy, sounds wonderful and so perfect for a chilly fall evening. Love that you can use canned pumpkin in here.
This really is a treat, John! Love the creamy pumpkin in it. We are having some serious chili eating weather here now. Thank you for the inspiration! And the dish you serve in is stunning.
Hi Chris, canned pumpkin can be pretty good stuff. And it's so convenient in this recipe! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Hannah, isn't this neat? SO tasty! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Going to certainly try this recipe this weekend in the crock pot. We love the spice and the slightly sweet combo. Now on to those absolutely stunning photos. Already pinned and shared on facebook and this recipe is going to go viral for sure!
OK first pumpkin chili I have ever seen and love the big pieces of pork vs beef chuck. Looks really good and may use t but with a butternut I have, thanks for the recipe.
Hi Bobbi, this one was really fun to shoot! And you'll love this -- such nice flavor. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Evelyne, we've used butternut squash in chili before and it works really well. And we like beef, but pork is wonderful in chili! Thanks for the comment.
Oooh! Pumpkin and chili! That must be a great combination. I think I will like the slight sweet taste from the pumpkin. I better try out your recipe.
Hi Holly, you better! :-) You'll really like it -- SO much flavor. Thanks for the comment.
This sounds sensational John. I have some Hatch chili powder that I forgot about that I will definitely use when I try this great seasonal chili you've created. I bet the pumpkin truly adds a nice depth of flavor. Great recipe!
I'm not much of a dessert person, and am loving the sprinkling of savory recipes that people are coming up with for pumpkin. This sounds great John. Thanks for sharing.
That looks like the perfect fall recipe. Love all the ingredients! Thanks for sharing this one.
A wonderful recipe indeed. It has been only after I started blogging that I began to appreciate pumpkin as an ingredient. I would love to try this recipe but with lamb since we do not eat pork and beef. I hope it works well.
Hi Vicki, we love Hatch chile powder! And always buy a bag of it every year. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Lea Ann, I do like desserts and love pumpkin pie, but really, pumpkin tastes better in savory dishes. Or at least we think so! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Beth, it's a fun dish! Loads of flavor, and a bit different. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Taruna, same deal with us -- we always enjoyed pumpkin in pie, but until we started blogging we didn't realize the enthusiasm people had for it. Love the stuff! Bet lamb would work extremely well in this -- definitely worth a try. Thanks for the comment.
Perfect combination of flavors. I love soup/stew/chili time of year!
Hi Debra, yup, I'll bet we eat an awful lot of our meals with a spoon at this time of the year. Soups, chili, stews -- they're all wonderful! Thanks for the comment.
I love pumpkin meals! I've made a number of them, although my pumpkin lasagne, which I thought was waonderful, didn't get much more than an "hmmm" from Mr. Rosemary -- even though there was his favrite food group (sausage) in it. I love all the spices in your dish. It's on my list!
Mmmmmmm..... This looks terrific! I love pumpkin in savory recipes and this bowl looks so warm and inviting.
Hi Rosemary, you'll like this -- wonderful flavor, fabulous texture. :-) Pumpkin lasagne sounds good -- I've been toying with the idea of making one, but haven't gotten around to it yet. But I will! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Amy, pumpkin works so well in savory dishes. Love it! Thanks for the comment.
Now that's a nice combo! Seems like there's a bit of Mexican, Caribbean and American flavors all rolled into one!
Hi Fran, yup, lotta different flavors in this. All good. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Such a wonderful idea of adding pumpkin to this chili. The pork and the pumpkin sound like a great combination.
Hi Dawn, pork and pumpkin are wonderful together! Particularly in chili. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This looks and sounds absolutely fantastic! I've put pumpkin in with beef for chili, but the pork sounds like a better pairing.
Hi Pamela, pumpkin and pork do make a wondering pairing! Really good. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love chili (especially the cold season!) and I am even more interested in this pumpkin version! I think the spicy and sweetness in the chili sounds quite addicting, and I love pumpkin so much! This is a great way to take advantage of all pumpkins this season! Wish the pot of this was simmering in my kitchen right now. Imagine the smell!! YUM.
Hi Nami, you'd love this! Great way to eat pumpkin. And chili. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I am salivating already because pork and pumpkin just go wonderfully together. A little sweet, a little rich and fatty -- it's a bowl of flavor that can't be beat.
Hi Carolyn, it's a wonderful combo of flavors and textures! Really good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Those are really impressive photos -- it's so hard to get a picture of something with lots of ingredients mixed together! Also must be delicious.
best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com
This is a must make for Sunday's Seahawk's game. We gather with a group of friends and the guys would love this served with sweet cornbread!
Hi Mae, this is delish. :-) And thanks for that kind comment.
Hi Kristi, cornbread would be wonderful with this! And a beer. :-) Thanks for the comment.
You know I love chili and this recipe sounds great. I also love a recipe that makes a big batch so you can freeze for later. Thanks for sharing John!
Hi Tricia, we always make a big batch when it comes to chili -- little more work, and it's nice to have loads in the freezer. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Ohhh the creamy sweet pumpkins will complement the chilies perfectly. Love this recipe!
Hi Raymund, the texture of this is wonderful! It is indeed quite creamy -- so good. Thanks for the comment.
hmm… Now I know what to do with the leftover pumpkin when I'm done making the pumpkin spice lattes!
Just because I love heat in my food, could I use habaneros instead of the jalapenos without scorching everyone's mouths?
Hi Bob, habanero wouldn't scorch my mouth, but don't know about anyone else's. :-) Thanks for the comment.
John, this just looks super delicious! What a great, seasonal twist on chili. I love your clarification in the notes about the chili/chile seasoning too! Good information. Can't wait to try this with some corn bread on the side :)
Hi Marcelle, this would be wonderful with corn bread! And the colors would go together so nicely. :-) Thanks for the comment.
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