The perfect balance of sweet and spicy in this hearty vegan pumpkin chili. Full of healthy plant based protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals and ready in just about 30 minutes.
Chili is the perfect dish to get us through fall and winter. It’s hearty, filling, and nutritious.
I like my chili a little on the sweet side and this dish is a perfect balance between sweet and spicy.
Eat it with a spoon or scoop it up with tortilla chips, but either way, garnish it with your favorite toppings and dig in!
Ingredients notes and substitutions
Veggies ~ Aromatics, like onion, garlic, and peppers. I use carrots in my chili as well as we like the sweetness they bring. Sometimes I shred them so they kind of disappear right into the chili, other times I dice them up so they add texture.
Lentils ~ Brown or green lentils work best in this recipe. They hold their shape well, unlike red lentils which turn to mush.
I like to use packaged steamed lentils or canned lentils to make this recipe in about 30 minutes. You could also use lentils you pre-cooked previously.
If you love lentils, don’t miss these Vegan Lentil Recipes!
Beans ~ I always add beans for an extra punch of nutrition. If you don’t care for beans, you can leave them out. You could also use black beans if you prefer.
Pumpkin ~ Canned 100% pure pumpkin purée makes this chili nice and thick. You won’t taste it in the end result, but it lends good amounts of vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium, vitamin E, folate, iron, and B vitamins.
If you love pumpkin in savory recipes, you must try my Vegan Pumpkin Pasta Sauce!
Tomatoes ~ Canned diced tomatoes, a pantry staple, are the way to go here. Look for the no salt added kind.
Spices ~ Traditional chili spices, chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika, all work great in this vegan pumpkin chili.
How to make the recipe
Please scroll down to the recipe card for exact ingredient measurements and instructions.
Sauté the onion in oil (or veggie broth for an oil-free option) until soft and translucent (1). Add the carrots, bell peppers, and jalapeños and stir to combine (2).
Add the spices and garlic (3), stir, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until fragrant (4).
Add the lentils, tomatoes, tomato paste, pumpkin, and broth and stir to combine (5). Bring to a boil, then simmer 20 minutes until thick and bubbly (6).
Add the beans (7) and stir to combine (8).
Storage and freezing
Fridge: Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.
Freeze: You can also freeze this Vegan Pumpkin Chili. Cool the chili completely before transferring to a freezer safe container or plastic bag. It should keep well for up to 3 months.
Pro tips for success
~ To make this in about 30 minutes, make a big batch of lentils over the weekend, refrigerate the 3 cups you need for this recipe and freeze the rest. That way you’ll have lentils ready to go whenever the mood strikes.
~ Or use precooked packaged or canned lentils.
~ If you use canned lentils, be sure to drain and rinse them before adding them to the recipe.
~ Chop up all the veggies (green peppers, jalapeños, onions, garlic) in advance and store them in an airtight container together in the fridge. The flavors will be melded even before you begin to cook.
~ Take out the ribs and seeds of the jalapeños for a more mild flavor. Leave them in if you like spicy heat.
~ Use 100% pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling!
~ Add extra veggie broth if you like a soupier chili.
~ Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.
Loaded with plant protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, this Vegan Pumpkin Chili is super nutritious and definitely good for you!
Chili is pretty thick on its own, but in this recipe, I add pumpkin purée for even more body. It blends in flawlessly!
You shouldn’t need to thicken this Vegan Pumpkin Chili any further, but if for some reason you find your self with a liquid-y chili in the future, try some of these tricks:
*Use a potato masher and mash some of the beans in the chili
*Add a couple tablespoons of quick oats or cornmeal straight into the chili and let simmer
*Let it simmer longer so the liquid evaporates
The best part of chili is being able to customize individual bowls. Try some of these yummy toppings:
*Diced avocado or guacamole
*Shredded dairy-free cheese
*Vegan sour cream or Dairy Free Southwest Ranch Dressing
*Crushed tortilla chips
*Diced red onion or green onion
*Squeeze of fresh lime juice
*And don’t forget a big slice of Vegan Cornbread on the side!
I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! If you tried it, please use the rating system in the recipe card and leave a comment below with your feedback.
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For even more easy family recipes, be sure to check out my cookbook, The Meatless Monday Family Cookbook!
Vegan Pumpkin Chili
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or grape seed oil or use vegetable broth if you want oil-free
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 2 green bell peppers diced
- 2 jalapeño peppers diced (ribs and seeds removed) (leave them in if you like it spicy)
- 2 carrots peeled and shredded or diced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 cups cooked lentils
- 1 can (15 oz) pure pumpkin purée
- 1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
- 1-2 cup(s) vegetable broth or water
- 1 ½ tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 can (15 oz) red kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup optional
- Heat oil (or vegetable broth) in pot over medium heat.
- Add onion and sauté 5 to 6 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the green bell peppers, jalapeño peppers, and carrots and stir to combine.
- Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Stir well and sauté a few minutes until fragrant.
- Add the tomato paste, cooked lentils, diced tomatoes, pumpkin, and 1 cup vegetable broth. Stir well. Increase the heat to bring to a boil, then decrease the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes until thick and bubbly.
- Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly. If you like your chili on the sweeter side, add the maple syrup and stir to combine. Add the beans and stir. Cook another 1 to 2 minutes to heat through.
- If you like your chili soupier, add an extra cup of vegetable broth and stir to combine.
- Serve hot with your favorite chili toppings.
*Nutrition facts calculated including the optional maple syrup and extra vegetable broth.
Nutrition values are calculated using online calculators and are estimates only. Please verify using your own data.