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Healthy Turkey Pumpkin Chili with Black Beans

Healthy Turkey Pumpkin Chili with Black Beans

This 30-minute Sweet & Smoky Pumpkin Turkey Chili will have you pulling out your favourite fall sweaters and embracing pumpkin season! A whisper of cinnamon makes it unique and irresistible. Trust me when I say you are going to love it.

top down view of pumpkin turkey chili in bowls with tortilla chips and garnishes

I love pumpkin when the weather starts to turn. LOVE it. Bring on pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin waffles, pumpkin spice baked oatmeal, pumpkin smoothies, pumpkin everything. It brings me joy and all of the cozy autumn feels.

top down view of pumpkin turkey chili in a large pot

This year, after getting my happy fill of sweet pumpkin spiced snacks and drinks, I was craving something cozy and smoky, so I created this Simplest Sweet & Smoky Pumpkin Turkey Chili. You won’t believe how fast, economical and simple it is! I used pantry staples most of us keep on hand, prep is finished in about 15 minutes and it’s ready to eat in around 30 minutes (Yes! You read that right!). 

close up view of ingredients needed to make this chili including beans, spices and corn

Don’t be shy about trying this chili with the cinnamon, it doesn’t have a prominent flavour in this chock-full-of-beans-and-veggies recipe. The cinnamon accents the pumpkin and gives a peppery sweetness to the smoky, savoury chili. If you feel shy, you can start with half the amount, taste, and add more. You can omit it if you wish, but my family loves the herb and spice combo in this dish! I kept this chili mild so it would be friendly for all family members. This way, spice lovers can add some hot sauce or a sprinkle of cayenne to their individual bowls. 

top down view of ingredients used to make pumpkin chili including spices, corn, beans and pumpkin puree

What this dietitian loves about these ingredients

Pumpkin: Pumpkins are rich in potassium, beta-carotene and Vitamin C. These micro-nutrients can help with blood sugar levels, immunity and more. I used canned for convenience but you could also use 2 cups of mashed, cooked pumpkin.

Black and kidney beans: Beans are a nourishing source of both soluble and insoluble fibre, both important for digestion. They provide plant-based protein and have a meaty texture with a fun shape that makes kids want to eat them!

Tomatoes: Both cooked and raw tomatoes contain a multitude of nutrients. Cooked tomatoes are high in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant which gives tomatoes their gorgeous red colour.

Corn: Is a source of fibre, Vitamins including C and B6, minerals, and antioxidants. I love corn because most kids love corn and are more likely to eat a stew or soup when this sweet ingredient is present! 

Chili spices (onion, garlic, cumin, chili, red pepper flakes, paprika, cinnamon): Add a ton of vibrant flavour and colour to this recipe and draw everyone to the kitchen with their smoky, aromatic scent. Oh, and they contain antioxidants. But really, it’s the flavour and scent that get me.

How to make this Simplest Sweet & Smoky Pumpkin Turkey Chili

It couldn’t be easier (or more economical). I intentionally used ingredients we tend to have on hand so it can be whipped up fast. I try to keep ahead of hangry bellies and this dish doesn’t disappoint!

top down view of ingredients coming together in a large pot to make turkey chili

All you do is add ground turkey to a larger pan to sauté, drain and rinse the beans, open the cans of diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and pumpkin purée and gather your spices.

turkey chili in a large pot with wooden spoon

Pour the contents of each can overtop the cooked turkey, shake on the spices, stir, cover, and walk away until it’s ready. You can eat it as early as a 15 minute simmer or let it bubble gently on the stove while you get other things done. If you prefer to use fresh onion and garlic, I have included how to reduce their corresponding powders for best flavour in the tip.

Why make Simplest Sweet & Smoky Pumpkin Turkey Chili?

This chili is a great way to facilitate little ones trying pumpkin as a new veggie if your child hasn’t eaten pumpkin before or is just getting to know it. It has such a subtle flavour when combined with the spices and its texture disappears in this dish. You can even invite them to make the chili with you, adding the drained beans, sprinkling (pre-measured) spices overtop, and stirring it all together gives them a connection to their food (and to you!) and can be an enjoyable (if somewhat potentially  messy) family activity. 

close up of turkey pumpkin chili

Ways to serve this dish

This veggie and legume packed chili is delicious right after cooking, even more deeply flavoured on the following days and freezes well if you want to reserve some for a later date or batch cook. If you prefer to use your slow cooker so you can “set it and forget it”, I have included those directions in the tips below the recipe. You can enjoy this easygoing recipe over or beside  pasta, rice or other grains like tortilla chips. If one of the family is in a bit of a picky eating phase but loves pasta or other grains, these serving ideas might provide them with a safe food at the table and perhaps they’ll try the chili the next time you serve it (or it might take the tenth or thirtieth time!).

close up of a bowl of pumpkin chili topped with green onions and tortilla chips

We love to top our servings with sour cream, green onions, grated cheese and a little hot sauce and dip tortilla chips into them, too. Almost endless serving options! What toppers do you love?

top down view of pumpkin turkey chili in bowls with tortilla chips and garnishes

Healthy Turkey Pumpkin Chili with Black Beans

7 cups

Prep Time:
15 minutes

Cook Time:
15 minutes

Total Time:
30 minutes

The earthy pumpkin and unexpected hint of cinnamon–which enhances its flavour in a lovely way–really brings the autumn feels to this meal. I used pantry staples to keep this sweet and smoky, turkey-and-veggie-packed dish as quick and easy as possible for those busy days. If you prefer to use fresh onions and garlic, see my tip at the bottom of the recipe. Easily make it a vegan dish by omitting the turkey. Kids love to help with this one, it’s so easy for them to measure and add ingredients to the pot and stir. This chili freezes beautifully, too! 


Chili ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground turkey (or chicken)
  • 1 19-ounce/540 mL can black beans
  • 1 19-ounce/540 ml can red kidney beans
  • 1 28-ounce/796 mL can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce/398 mL can (or about 2 cups) pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons to 1/4 scant cup tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, optional but recommended


  • 1 3/4 to 2 tablespoons chili powder, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch or two red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • Black pepper to taste

Topping suggestions:

  • Tortilla chips, sliced green onions, sour cream, grated cheddar cheese


  1. To a large pan, add the ground turkey and season with a little salt and pepper. Sauté over medium heat, until cooked, about 7-9 minutes. 
  2. Meanwhile, drain and rinse the beans, open the tomatoes and collect your spices.
  3. Add the beans, diced tomatoes, pumpkin and corn, and stir to combine. If your diced tomatoes don’t have much liquid, or if your chili gets too thick during cooking, add a cup or so of water or broth to thin.
  4. For a quick cook, bring the chili to a simmer over high heat, then reduce to medium and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes, lowering the heat, if necessary. Stir in the tomato paste, starting with 2 tablespoons and adding more, to taste. Stir in the vinegar, taste, and adjust seasonings, if desired. If you have a little more time, let the chili simmer, covered, over the lowest heat for up to an hour.
  5. Set your toppings out and let everyone load up their servings with their own preferred toppings (kids especially like dipping tortilla chips into their bowls). Enjoy!

Slow cooker version: Except for the vinegar, add all of the ingredients to a slow cooker, along with a cup of water of broth, and cook for 7 to 8 hours on low. Add the vinegar, taste, and adjust seasonings, if desired.


For a vegan option, omit the ground turkey. This chili is just as yummy without it!

If you’d like to use fresh onion and garlic, use one medium onion, diced and 2 cloves of garlic, minced. Reduce the onion powder to 1 1/2 tablespoons and the garlic powder to 1 1/2 teaspoons. Sauté until soft, then proceed with the recipe as written.

Did you make this recipe?

Tag @sarahremmer on Instagram and hashtag it #sarahremmer. And if you love this recipe it would mean so much if you could leave a review and rating.

The pumpkin turkey chili uses pantry staples to keep this veggie-packed dish as quick and easy as possible for those busy days.