Today’s recipe, Turkey Pumpkin Chili, is my go-to recipe to use up all the pumpkins I have before they go bad. With a whopping 9-cups of pumpkin, this chili/soup recipe makes a filling, healthy, heartwarming meal that will easily feed a crowd.
Similar to my Ground Turkey Meatloaf and Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie recipe, it is made with ground turkey and a generous amount of fall spices.
If you have ever had, Whole Foods’ Turkey Pumpkin Chili you will love this recipe because it is very similar in taste.
Now, I know that the list of ingredients is rather long, but if you take a closer look, you will see they are mostly spices and other natural aromatics like onions, peppers, garlic, and ginger. I added a cup of quinoa at the last minute to thicken the chili and make it even more nutrient-dense and protein-packed. It is also naturally low-carb, gluten-free and dairy-free, too!
The ingredients for this fresh pumpkin chili recipe are nutritious and delicious. There are two separate components to bring this chili together – the roasted squash and the chili.
For The Roasted Squash:
- Pumpkin – A small-to-medium 3-pound pumpkin will give you about 9 cups pumpkin cut into ½ inch cubes (that’s about 3 cups for every 1 pound). If you don’t have pumpkin on hand, feel free to use an equal amount of butternut squash, honeynut squash, kabocha squash or sweet potatoes.
- Onions – White or yellow onions will do the trick. Slice into ½ inch thick slices.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Make sure to purchase a good-quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil that is cold-pressed and single origin. Olive oil blends simply don’t offer the same flavor. My favorite is California Olive Ranch.
- Salt + Pepper – Sprinkle the vegetables with salt and pepper after you drizzle them with oil, then toss to coat. This ensures each cut of vegetable is seasoned on all sides.
- Water – The water helps create a smooth puree once you place half the pumpkin and onions in a blender or food processor. It’s best to add the water to the bowl of your blender or food processor first, as it makes it easier on the blade.
- Lightly Salted Peanuts – Lightly salted or unsalted will work. If you use unsalted peanuts, start with ¼ teaspoon salt, taste and adjust the seasoning from there.
For The Chili:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Use the same olive oil you used to roast the vegetables.
- Red or Yellow Bell Pepper – I love the pop of color the red or yellow pepper adds in contrast with the orange squash, so use whichever you have on hand.
- Jalapeno – Removing the seeds and ribs tones down the heat in the jalapeno pepper. If you would like a spicy turkey pumpkin chili, simply leave the seeds and ribs intact and look for jalapeno peppers with brown stripes down the sides – this indicates a spicier pepper!
- Ground Turkey – I prefer the cleaner, leaner flavor of white meat, ground turkey, or ground turkey breast. However, use dark-meat turkey thighs if you prefer.
- Garlic – Freshly minced garlic adds a subtle, savory edge to this hearty chili recipe.
- Ground Cumin + Coriander + Cinnamon + Salt – I love the combination of cumin, coriander and cinnamon because it tastes like a classic chili recipe with a hint of warming spice from the cinnamon. Salt, as always, brings out all the other flavors.
- Fresh Ginger – A bit of kick from fresh ginger turns up the volume in this easy pumpkin chili. Something about the combination of sweet pumpkin and spicy ginger works beautifully together!
PRO TIP: To get the most use out of fresh ginger, purchase a large piece of ginger root from the grocery store. As soon as you get home, peel the entire ginger root with the tip of a spoon and grate the amount you need for the recipe. Store the remaining peeled ginger root in a small plastic freezer storage bag in the freezer. Any time you prepare a recipe with fresh ginger, simply grate it from frozen!
- Vegetable (or Chicken) Stock – Either variety will work, just make sure to purchase low-sodium. If it’s the right time of year, look for low-sodium turkey stock in your grocery store, which can be found on grocery store shelves during the holiday season. Or you can make your own chicken stock as well.
- Canned Diced Tomatoes – A small, 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes adds color and acidity. Make sure to use all the tomatoes and their juices.
- Canned Full-Fat Coconut Milk – Canned, full-fat coconut milk is real coconut milk. Unlike coconut milk you buy in the carton, which has been diluted with water, canned coconut milk is rich, creamy and provides that silky texture we are after.
- White Quinoa – White, sometimes labeled yellow, pearl, or golden quinoa, is my variety of choice, but you can use an equal amount of red, black, or tri color quinoa. Just make sure to rinse the quinoa before adding to the chili, as this helps to wash away that notorious bitter flavor.
- Lightly Salted Peanuts – The final addition of peanuts enhances the peanut flavor in the vegetable puree. They also add a fun texture and crunch to every bite!
- Fresh Parsley – Fresh, grassy and green, the fresh parsley is that special finishing touch. Fresh cilantro or mint would be just as delicious, too!
How to make This Turkey Pumpkin Chili Recipe
This healthy turkey pumpkin chili recipe can be made by following one of three methods – the stovetop, slow cooker or Instant Pot. Each method begins with the same process of roasting the vegetables and then breaks down into its own steps below.
To Roast The Pumpkin and Onions:
- Roast the vegetables. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and set a rack in the upper and lower third of the oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and divide the pumpkin and onions. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat evenly. Roast the vegetables for about 40-45 minutes, tossing once and rotating the pans halfway through.
- Prepare the pumpkin puree. In your food processor or blender, add the water, peanuts and half of the roasted vegetables. We are pureeing only half of the vegetables as we still want the chunky roasted veggies in every bite.
Blend or puree until smooth.
Once the vegetables are roasted and pureed, continue to make the chili by following the steps for the Stovetop, Slow Cooker or Instant Pot method.
- Saute the aromatics and turkey. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot (such as a Dutch oven), heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the pepper, jalapeno, ground turkey, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and salt. Cook until the peppers soften and the turkey is cooked, 8-10 minutes. Add in the ginger and saute for 30 seconds.
- Add the vegetables, liquid and quinoa. Stir in the now-pureed vegetables, roasted pumpkin and onions, vegetable (or chicken) stock, diced tomatoes and their juices, coconut milk and rinsed quinoa. Give it a gentle stir.
- Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer. Bring the pumpkin quinoa chili up to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer at medium-low. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until quinoa is fully cooked. Adjust seasonings, if necessary. If the chili is too thick, thin out with a bit of warm water or warm stock.
- Ladle and serve! Ladle into large soup bowls, garnish with peanuts and parsley, and enjoy!
- Add all the ingredients except the quinoa. In the bowl of your slow cooker, add the olive oil, pepper, jalapeno, ground turkey, garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, salt, ginger, pureed vegetables, roasted vegetables, vegetable (or chicken) stock, diced tomatoes and their juices and coconut milk. Stir to combine. Set on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 6-8 hours.
- Add the quinoa. Stir in the rinsed quinoa and continue to cook on LOW for 30 minutes, or until quinoa is fully cooked.
- Ladle and serve! Ladle into serving bowls, garnish with peanuts and parsley, and enjoy!
Instant Pot / Pressure Cooker
- Saute the aromatics and turkey. Press Saute. In the bowl of your Instant Pot, add the olive oil, pepper, jalapeno, ground turkey, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and salt. Cook until the peppers soften and turkey is cooked, 5-6 minutes. Add in the ginger and saute for 30 seconds.
- Add the vegetables, liquid and quinoa. Stir in the now-pureed vegetables, roasted pumpkin and onions, vegetable (or chicken) stock, diced tomatoes and their juices, coconut milk and rinsed quinoa. Give it a gentle stir, cover and cook on HIGH pressure for 10 minutes. Then, natural release. Adjust the seasonings, if necessary. If the chili is too thick, thin out with a bit of warm water or warm stock.
- Ladle and serve! Ladle into large soup bowls, garnish with peanuts and parsley, and enjoy!
How To Freeze
This roasted pumpkin chili recipe freezes beautifully. You can either freeze the whole batch for a convenient make-ahead meal or freeze leftovers in individual airtight containers.
To freeze, simply place in an airtight container, seal tight, label, date and freeze for up to 3 months. Take it out the night before you are going to serve and thaw overnight in the fridge.
To reheat, transfer to a large pot, cover and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce to a simmer, ladle into serving bowls and serve with freshly prepared garnishes!
A Few Helpful Tips for The Best Pumpkin Turkey Chili with Quinoa
- Can I use a different winter squash instead of pumpkin? You sure can. If you have other plans for your pumpkins, feel free to swap the pumpkin with butternut, honeynut, or kabocha squash. For even more nutrient density, an equal amount of peeled and cubed sweet potatoes can also be used.
- Don’t want to use peanuts? For this recipe, I used some peanuts and parsley. However, if you have family members with peanut allergies, feel free to substitute almonds or walnuts instead.
- Want to add even more spices? Add another 1 teaspoon each of cumin and coriander, or substitute all the spices with 1 ½ tablespoons of garam masala instead.
- Can I add beans and make a Turkey Pumpkin White Bean chili? Of course! For an authentic chili with an extra protein boost, add 1 (15oz) can of white beans (or black beans) that have been drained and rinsed when you add the roasted vegetables and liquid ingredients.
You Might Also Like:
- Three Bean Turkey Chili
- Easy Chicken Chili
- Vegan Chili Recipe
- Healthy Chicken Chili
- Vegan Chocolate Chili
- Quinoa Chili
- Pumpkin Ginger Soup Recipe
Turkey Pumpkin Chili Recipe
For the roasted squash:
- 3 pounds 9 cups pumpkin (or butternut squash) , peeled, seeded and cut into ½-inch cubes
- 2 medium-sized onions sliced into ½-inch thin
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
- 2 cups water room temperature
- ¼ cup lightly salted peanuts chopped
For the Chili:
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large red or yellow bell pepper seeded and cut into small (½-inch) pieces)
- 1 jalapeno seeded and chopped
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 3 cloves of garlic peeled and minced
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¾ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger grated
- 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 1 14.5 oz canned diced tomatoes
- 1 13.5 oz canned full-fat coconut milk
- 1 cup white quinoa rinsed thoroughly
- ½ cup lightly salted peanuts roughly chopped
- ¼ cup fresh parsley roughly chopped
- To prepare the roasted squash: Adjust the oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 450 F degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the cubed pumpkin and onion in between the two sheets. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Give it a toss to make sure that both the squash and onion are fully coated with oil and seasoning. Roast vegetables, stirring once, for 40-45 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through roasting.
- Place half of the roasted vegetables, water, and peanuts into a blender (or a food processor). Blend until fully pureed. Set aside.
- To make the chili: Heat olive oil in a large heavy bottom pot over medium heat. Add in the pepper, jalapeno, ground turkey, garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until peppers start to soften and turkey meat is cooked, 8-10 minutes..
- Add in the ginger and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds or so.
- Stir in the pureed vegetables, rest of the roasted squash and onion, vegetable (or chicken) stock, tomatoes (with their juices), coconut milk, and rinsed quinoa. Give it a large stir.
- Bring the chili to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes or until quinoa is fully cooked.
- Taste for seasoning and add in, if necessary. If it is too thick, feel free to adjust thickness with hot water (or warm stock).
- Ladle into bowls and garnish with parsley and chopped peanuts.
You’ve done it again Aysegul! Yet another instant favorite in our house. I think this is the sixth or more recipe of yours I’ve made in the past week and a half, several of which I found some time ago and have made regularly.
This chili may not look like much, but the flavor is incredible. Tweaked it a little, as usual, but this will definitely be a winter staple. Thanks!
This makes me so happy Jennifer. I am thrilled to hear you enjoyed this recipe. It is a favorite in our house as well. Thanks for coming by and taking the time to leave a rating and a comment.
It is truly appreciated.
Thanks for the recipe! It is awesome! So good! I did modify it some. I used can pumpkin, used my left over turkey breast. Added some roasted butternut squash to it plus garnished it with some butternut squash. And added 1 pack of truvia to it. ( I tasted it before adding truvia and liked it much better after adding the truvia). Lol.
Garlic Is in recipe list but not in steps. Probably should add while sauteing Turkey, but I realized it after the fact. Otherwise it’s a great recipe!
It was my bad. I am sorry. Yes, you are right, you add it in right around the time you are sauteeing the turkey.
It is now in the recipe.
I am happy to hear that you liked it. Thanks for taking the time to write.
OH MY GOSH what an amazing recipe. LOVED IT and will definitely make again! It was a perfect prep meal for my lunches!
This makes me SO happy. I make this pumpkin chili quite often and I love it as well.
So happy to hear that you enjoyed it.
Thanks for coming by and taking the time to leave a review.
Pretty good! This was SEVERLY underspiced for my taste however, I added about 1 1/2 tablespoons of garam masala since it was pretty close to the spices in the recipe. Enjoyable!
Thanks so much for your input Signe. I think the addition of garam marsala is such a great idea.
So glad you liked it.
Oh, boy, this is one terrific chili! The addition of pumpkin and quinoa make it hard to resist!!
Thanks my friend. So glad you liked it.
We made this last night with butter squash and it was great. We loved the addition of quinoa too. Thank you for sharing.
Good to hear. I love the addition of quinoa as well. Thank you for letting me know Carol. Cheers!
Sara @ Cake Over Steak
Wow – now there’s a great way to use up some squash. Thanks for sharing this awesome recipe as part of my pumpkin party!
YAY!!! Thanks so much for putting it together Sara! Loved everyones recipes. This was such a fun collaboration.