Turkey Pumpkin Chili


Fall is finally here! It was 96 degrees in north Georgia yesterday and today, it dropped to 80 with cool 66 degree nights. It was time to break out my soup and chili recipes. I was looking for something healthy, easy to make and hearty. Turkey Pumpkin Chili is a great way to ease into the season.

Chili is much easier to make than it might sound. Look through a few recipes online and see what catches your eye. Start with something that looks good and if there is an ingredient you don’t think you’ll like, switch it with something else. You don’t have to follow a recipe exactly for chili, or soups, unless you’re trying to match something you ate at a restaurant or the neighborhood chili cook-off. It might take a couple of times to nail the recipe to your liking but then you have it whenever you want it.

When making this recipe, everything is done in one big pot. Here are some tips.

  • You can cook the onions and peppers first before putting in the raw turkey, or you can brown the turkey in olive oil first, remove the meat onto a plate then add the onions and peppers into the pot with the turkey bits. Be careful not to overcook the turkey when browning first. It can have a tougher texture at the end of the process.
  • You do not have to use Trader Joe’s Taco Seasoning. There are many on the market. I prefer TJ’s because it has no preservatives. It’s a mixture of sea salt, cumin, cayenne pepper, cane sugar, paprika, onion, garlic, black pepper, red bell pepper, oregano, chili pepper and smoked paprika. This saves you from having to keep lots of spices on hand if you don’t cook often. If you want more control over the flavors, buy each spice separately and mix to taste.
  • Pumpkin puree is used in the recipe like any other spice. The flavor is subtle, not overpowering. If you want more of a pumpkin flavor, experiment by adding more than the one cup.
  • I’m not a fan of kidney beans. Without them, you don’t really get that rich brown chili look unless you let it sit overnight. If you do like them, add 7 ounces when you add the other beans.
  • Why Great Northern Beans? They have a great texture for soups and casseroles and can be used interchangeably with other white beans like cannellini and navy beans. They also hold their form after a long cooking process and help bind a dish together.
  • When simmering for one hour, taste the chili half way through. Does it need more salt and pepper? Usually. Is it missing something? I found that I needed more smoked paprika so I added 2 teaspoons. Checking the flavors half way through will allow more time for the newly added ingredients to combine during the simmering process.
  • I feel any hearty chili, or soup, is better the next day. I usually make it a day ahead so all of the flavors have time to marinate in the refrigerator overnight.


To bring the heat, add 1 diced jalapeño or try dried ancho peppers or chipotle peppers.

Chocolate is good with heat, so add in cocoa powder with the other spices, or let a chunk of dark or semi-sweet chocolate melt in the pot as it simmers.

Want flavor but not much heat, try anaheim peppers.

Love kidney beans, add 7 ounces.

Don’t like turkey, replace with chicken, lean or extra-lean ground beef.

If using beef, add a dark, rich stout in place of some of the vegetable broth.

To brighten the flavors, add a few splashes of balsamic vinegar right before you serve the chili.

Top with cheddar cheese, chives, raw onions, fresh cilantro and sour cream.

There are lots of possibilities. That’s the beauty of chili. Jump in and and create a batch with the flavors you love!

NOTE: I made Jalapeño Goat Cheese Cornbread to accompany the chili. Watch for the recipe in the upcoming Second Edition of our publication, Nourish and Flourish, on stands in over 1,500+ stores nationwide in early December!

Turkey Pumpkin Chili

Hearty, healthy turkey chili with a hint of spice.
Servings 8 servings
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 15 mins
Total Time 1 hr 35 mins


  • Large pot
  • Wooden spoon


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper seeded and finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 pounds ground turkey (chicken or lean ground beef)
  • 3 tbsp Trader Joe's Taco Seasoning
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz each) fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2-4 cups vegetable broth (chicken, turkey or beef stock is fine depending on meat used)
  • 1 can (15 oz) Great Northern Beans drained
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans
  • 2 tsp honey
  • saly & pepper
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika


  • In a large pot over medium-high heat, add olive oil.
  • Once hot, add onion and yellow bell pepper. Cook until tender, about 4 minutes.
  • Add garlic and cook for an additional minute.
  • Add in ground turkey, and cook for 4-5 minutes.
  • Add in Trader Joe's Taco Seasoning, stir in completely and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add the pumpkin puree, fire roasted tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Pour in vegetable broth, then add Great Northern Beans, black beans and honey. Stir to combine.
  • Once the mixture heats up and begins to bubble, add salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 hour.
  • After 30 minutes, taste chili to check spices. If needed, add more salt, pepper, smoked paprika or other spices to fill out the flavor.


  • Make chili a day ahead of serving so flavors can marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Top with cheddar cheese, chives, cilantro and sour cream.
  • Serve with cornbread or rustic bread.
Course: Main Course, Soup
Keyword: Chili, Pumpkin, Turkey

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment on Facebook or Instagram and tag with @morganskitchn and #morganskitchn.

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