Creamy Turkey Pumpkin Chili
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Fall comfort food to love! Creamy pumpkin turkey chili simmers with ground turkey, canned pumpkin, spices and tender white cannellini beans. This easy recipe makes an incredibly tasty soul-warming bowl. Stovetop or pressure cooker variations included.
Turkey, pumpkin, chili. Maybe it’s a lucky coincidence those three ingredients go together so perfectly!
Those separate words instantly conjure up a scene from the season called “Fall”. Especially if you were to throw in a chunky sweater, your favorite latte and a dash of cinnamon spice.
Putting the actual things together turns out pretty darn tasty.
Ingredients for turkey pumpkin chili
Like traditional chili recipes, the ingredient list looks long. The spices! The vegetables! The proteins! But once you get everything together in the pot, I promise this dish is a one-dish deal that cooks in less than 30 minutes. We all need a delicious and easy weeknight recipe, right?
- Ground turkey: I usually choose dark (thigh) meat because it’s fattier (and therefore tastier), but of course you can use ground turkey breast if you prefer.
- More options: Instead of turkey, try ground chicken, pork or even a vegetarian sausage.
- Vegetables: Carrot, celery and onion. You can often buy these prepped and pre-chopped to save time.
- Canned white beans: Cannellini beans are my first choice. They have a plump shape and creamy texture I love. You can substitute with any small white bean such as navy beans or even pinto beans.
- Canned pumpkin puree: Make sure it’s unsweetened puree, not the pie filling.
- Spices: You need ground coriander, cumin and paprika along with a large pinch of red chili flakes.
- Fresh herbs: Fresh herbs make a huge difference. If you can find the classic Thanksgiving trio of fresh rosemary, sage and thyme, use all three! Dry herbs are fine to use, too, but use half the amount listed in the recipe — 1 1/2 teaspoons.
- Chicken broth: Go for a low-sodium broth or use vegetable broth instead if you want to make this a vegetarian meal.
- Heavy cream: I’m gonna be honest. You don’t need heavy cream. The cooked chili has a beautiful creamy texture already from the pumpkin puree and the white beans. But just a few tablespoons to finish the dish makes this even more silky and comforting! If dairy isn’t your thing, try a full-fat oat milk or other unsweetened dairy substitute.
Adding pumpkin to chili
Pumpkin gets along really well with white beans, chili spices and turkey. Are you surprised?
And no, adding pumpkin to turkey chili does NOT make it taste like dessert. Pumpkin in chili is surprisingly subtle tasting. Think butternut squash or sweet potato. Pumpkin puree also turns this chili a vibrant (gorgeous) shade of orange.
I’m in love with the combination of velvety winter squash and savory flavors — Pumpkin Pasta in Parmesan Garlic Cream Sauce is an example what I’m talking about.
In this dish, canned pumpkin puree adds subtle sweetness, creamy texture and deep color to the base of a hearty soup.
Recipes using pumpkin tend to veer toward the sweet side of the menu, but it’s just as great (if not better) in savory dishes, too.
As a side note, did you know that most canned pumpkin is actually produced from a variety of hard winter squash that looks nothing like the perky orange ones decorating front stoops?
Classic decorative jack o’ lanterns are often watery, stringy and not very delicious to eat, it turns out. That’s fine, though. This recipe, at the very least, is fantastic way to use up those cans of pumpkin puree.
In my experience, if you root around long enough in dark, forgotten regions of your kitchen cabinets you’re likely to emerge with a few containers of the stuff.
Serving and storing chili
Lucky you, now you’re a few pantry staples away from dinner!
- You’ll find this chili makes a hearty, satisfying bowl. It’s perfect to serve for a hearty supper, with a big salad on the side.
- If you’re a meal planner who loves something warm for lunch during the week, make a pot of this chili and enjoy the even tastier leftovers for up to five days.
- To freeze, cool the chili and pack into freezer containers. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or use the defrost function of your microwave. Enjoy within 1 month.
More cozy comfort food recipes:
- Creamy Parmesan Polenta
- 25 Simple Dinners
- Baked Dijon Chicken Thighs
- Pumpkin Pasta in Parmesan Cream Sauce
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Creamy Turkey Pumpkin Chili with White Beans
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
- 2 large carrots, chopped (1 ½ cups)
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon ground paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon crushed red chili
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 ½ pounds (675 g) ground turkey thigh
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, rosemary or sage (or a mixture of one or more)
- 1 15-ounce (285 g) can unsweetened pumpkin purée
- 2 15-ounce cans (850 g) cannellini beans, drained
- 2 cups (500 ml) low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- Kosher salt
- ½ cup (125 ml) heavy whipping cream, optional
- Pour the oil into a 4 or 5 quart soup pot or Dutch oven and place over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots and celery and cook until the vegetables are softened, stirring occasionally.
- Add the garlic and all the spices through the black pepper, stirring to coat in the oil. Add the turkey and cook until it’s no longer pink, stirring and breaking the meat up with a spoon, about 8 minutes.
- Add the herbs, pumpkin, beans, broth and 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a simmer, partially cover and cook 20 minutes, adjusting the heat so it doesn't boil.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the cream, if using. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Serve warm in bowls.
Karen’s Notes and Tips
- Follow step 1 and 2. Transfer the mixture to your slow cooker and add the herbs, beans, pumpkin, 1 1/2 cups broth and salt.
- Set to cook on low for 6 hours or 3 hours on high.
- Stir in the cream and serve.
- Set your pot to Saute. Follow the steps in step 1 and 2.
- Add the remaining ingredients except the cream to the pot as in step 3.
- Cover and set to pressure cook for 10 minutes, allowing pressure to release naturally.
- Stir in the cream and serve warm.
- Instead of turkey, try ground chicken, pork or even a vegetarian sausage.
- Fresh herbs make a huge difference. If you can find the classic Thanksgiving trio of fresh rosemary, sage and thyme, use all three! Dry herbs are fine to use, too, but use half the amount listed in the recipe — 1 1/2 teaspoons.
- To freeze, cool the chili and pack into freezer containers. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or use the defrost function of your microwave. Enjoy within 1 month.
Hey, I’m Karen
Creator of Familystyle Food
I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about creating elevated dinners with everyday ingredients. Find simplified recipes made from scratch and enjoy incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.
I love it. Did some modifications myself, switched the beans with kidney beans, used 70\20 turkey to beef ground meat and i made the pumpkin puree myself, because they don’t sell it in my country. The recipe is 10\10 absolutely beautiful and tasty
This was great. I took quite a few liberties with this recipe. I used smoked paprika instead of regular, and I added a teaspoon and a half of cinnamon. In addition to dried sage and thyme, I added freshly grated nutmeg. I used Better Than Bouillon beef stock paste. I then added two cups of homemade veggie stock along with a teaspoon of Worchestershire sauce and two bay leaves. YUMMY!!! SO MUCH FLAVOR and so filling!
The spices sound perfect! Glad you enjoyed it.
Have you used unsweetened Coconut Milk instead of cream?
Hi Alyson – You can absolutely substitute with coconut milk!
I love this recipe!! Made it for my whole family for a family weekend and it was a huge hit! I added cut up sweet potatoes also…so good!
haven’t made this yet (will this weekend!) but I learned a trick for making soups creamy without using heavy or any type of cream! Take a can of the white beans and put in blender. Add 1 cup of Chicken broth and blend until creamy! Then add a second can of beans to the soup! Works great and adds protein, fiber, and not the fat like heavy cream!
Thanks for sharing that great tip, Marilyn! I love to use pureed beans instead of cream in my homemade cream of mushroom soup — perfect for those who are lactose intolerant 🙂
It is delicious and a great departure from the usual chili recipe.
It was almost eaten by my kids before I took it of the stove…
I made this today and put it in the crock pot so we’d have dinner ready. I used dried herbs as I didn’t have fresh, and I didn’t add cream at the end. I had Great Northern Beans as the white bean. Perfect for a snowy evening! Thank you!
Love this, one of my favorites!
This soup is fantastic! It goes together quickly and is incredibly flavorful without having to simmer half a day. My whole family loved it.
Thanks Karen! I made this with puree from a fresh, homegrown pumpkin and broth from our Thanksgiving turkey. It’s to die for! I really appreciate your clean and beautiful work on this site.
Thanks so much Heather, I appreciate that! How great that you made pumpkin puree from scratch!!
Does this really only have 8g of carbs??
Andrea – I use an online tool to calculate nutrition facts, and all are approximate. I recommend that you use your favorite calculator if you have concerns.
This is definitely are new favorite soup.It was easy to make and had great flavor.I substituted ground Italian chicken sausage for the turkey.
Delicious! Making this again as it is so good.
This is so very good.
Pantry friendly recipe and quick prep\cook with tasty rewards!
I used Oikos brand Greek yogurt in place of cream.
We made this last night, but since we had no turkey, we used chicken chorizo sausage. We also swirled in sour cream instead of heavy cream just before we ate. It was fantastic!
Delicious recipe, exactly as posted! No changes or substitutions…seasoned perfect!
Pumpkin turkey chili? WHAAAT??? I’m am SOOOO making this and can not wait too. I bet my husband & son (who swear they hate pumpkin) eat this & have no clue they are, in fact, eating pumpkin (just like both said they hated cauliflower and eat cauliflower rice and love it). 😜😁
This soup is excellent. I used Beyond sausage and flax milk (about 1 cup) and 3 cups of broth and it was rich and creamy. I plan on making it for Halloween dinner with the grandkids.
Delicious recipe! Next time, as one reviewer suggested, I may try thickening the liquid by adding puréed beans. The seasonings are perfect! I will definitely make this again. Thank you Karen.
Great idea to add some pureed beans! You can also let the cream reduce a bit by simmering a few minutes until thickened.
This is now our favorite stand by. Do you know if it freezes well?
Happy you enjoy it! Yes, it should freeze just fine. To avoid condensation, be sure to let it cool to room temp (or in the refrigerator) before placing in the freezer.
I wanted a WW points friendly chili, so I used fat free greek yogurt instead of the cream. With this substitution, the recipe comes to 2 points per serving (on blue plan) basically for the olive oil. I think if you used cooking spray, it could even get down to 0.
Other substitutions: Instead of the carrots, I used some bell peppers. And I used cilantro instead of the herbs you’ve listed. These are just ingredients I happened to have on hand… THIS WAS AMAZING and this is going to be a go-to for me and my husband!!
So glad you enjoyed this and made it your own!
I made a double batch (so 4 cans of beans) and puréed one of the cans of beans before adding it to the chili. It made it thicker and more creamy. Delish recipe!
What a great idea! Thanks for sharing the tip Pat.
Delicious! Will definitely make again.
This was really yummy and perfect for Halloween. I made half with turkey then up’d the veggies and added rutabaga for my veggie friends. Everyone loved it!
I was wondering if the nutritional facts are correct – 1g = 290 calories? I hesitate to make this recipe (which sounds amazing) the nutrition is correct.
Yes, 290 calories is how it’s calculated. It should say “1 serving” not “1g” I use a third party nutrition calculator so it might vary from one that you use.
I plugged this into My Fitness Pal and the calories were a lot higher! 420 per serving. I left out the coconut milk, which is what I was going to use and it brought the calories down to 350.
It’s always a good idea to use your favorite calorie counter as they can vary.
Love love loved it. The only thing different I did was add a can of green chilies. Thank you for this recipe, it really was fabulous.
Thank you for the wonderful recipe. My entire family loves it! It’ll be added to our Fall/Winter rotation.
Hi! Was wondering for cooking this in a crockpot, when should I add the beans?
Hi Callie – You would add the beans along with the pumpkin I just corrected that-sorry that step wasn’t clear
Can I opt for Almond Milk instead of whipping cream? (Dairy Free)
Yes, you can substitute with plain almond milk. You might want to simmer for a few extra minutes after adding it so it will reduce and thicken a bit. You could also use coconut milk or omit all milk completely.
This is one of the best chili recipes i’ve ever made!!!
So I realized afternoon putting the canned pumpkin into the pot that I mistakenly used canned pumpkin pie filling. It tasted amazing! Good mistake.
Wow – that’s great to hear! Sometimes we make good mistakes 🙂
I’ve made this twice now and it’s definitely a wonderful cozy soup! I did add in a small diced sweet potato along with a little extra broth, and cooked in slow cooker and the recipe came out excellent . Thank you for incorporating such a lovely fall/winter ingredient list along with several cooking options. It’s now added to my deck of recipe cards 🙂
This was great. I used Italian sausage instead of turkey, and I’ve made it twice, and both times it was well received. Also made a double batch the first time and took the extra to work. Everyone asked for the recipe. Love it!!
Thanks for sharing! Does it keep long?
Hi Vanessa – The chili will keep in the fridge up to 5 days and frozen 1 month.
This looks so good! What a great lunch meal prep for the fall!
Do you think ground beef would work in this as well as turkey?
Hi Amber – yes you can swap beef for the turkey. You might want to drain some of the fat before simmering though because it’s not as lean as turkey – up to you!
Could this be made in the pressure cooker? Also, could coconut milk be used as a substitute for the heavy cream?
Hi Nicole – I think the chili will taste really good with coconut milk instead of cream – go for it! I added directions to the recipe card for making this in a pressure cooker.
I used coconut milk, and it turned out great. I cannot eat dairy, tomatoes, or peppers, and therefore haven’t been able to eat chili for years. Thank you for bringing chili back into my life!
Hello. Just curious. What size onion, celery & what size carrot? They all come in various sizes & I don’t want to add too much or too little of any of the ingredients. (Maybe you can give me cup size of those ingredients) Also want to know, if I can’t find crushed chili, if I can sub it for red pepper flakes? I looked it up, & maybe a place or two have the chili flakes, but red pepper flakes seem to be what is showing up (was wondering if it’s really just the same thing) & I keep that in the house so I’m hoping it can be used.
Hi Daniele – Great questions! One medium onion should do it, which is usually about 1 cup chopped. Two medium-large carrots, also about 1-1 1/2 cups chopped and 2 whole celery ribs with the top and bottom trimmed. Yes – crushed red chili is exactly the same as red pepper flakes.
Would this stay well if frozen?? Looks great!
Yes – it will freeze well for a month or so. Enjoy!
Thanks for asking this. I was just about to ask the same thing! Great minds think alike.
Hi! Can this be made in the crockpot???
Hi Carmela – Yes, totally can! I updated the recipe with instructions. Enjoy!
Had this tonight for dinner with some crusty French bread. DH and I both loved it! Flavor was outstanding. Would also be great in the slow cooker. Will be adding this one to our regular rotation!
This looks absolutely amazing. I can’t wait to try it! XO
Hope you enjoy it! xo