Pumpkin Chili with Lentils & Beans

5 from 2 votes

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Fall kicks off soup and chili season, and there’s no better way to start than with this easy pumpkin chili. Loaded with beans, green lentils and bell peppers, this hearty vegan chili has fresh garlic and jalapeños along with a mix of dried spices for just the right amount of heat. Like many other soups and stews, this chili is a great make-ahead recipe that’s freezer friendly.

Looking for another way to cook with a can of pumpkin puree? Try this tofu pumpkin curry or pumpkin pasta.

Three bowls of pumpkin chili.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • It uses pumpkin puree in a savory way. I know I’m not the only one who gets excited when they see a display of canned pumpkin puree at the grocery. Quick breads and pies might be the first thing that come to mind, but this versatile puree is wonderful for soups and stews.
  • This vegan/vegetarian chili is hearty with beans and lentils. There’s no need for ground turkey or ground beef. Beans and lentils make it filling. At its core, this chili recipe is vegan. It all depends on how you top. You just need to use plant-based versions of shredded cheese and sour cream to keep it vegan.
  • With mostly canned ingredients, this is a pantry recipe. Except for the peppers and whatever fresh garnishes like herbs and cheese you decide to finish your bowls of chili with, everything else is an ingredient that you can keep on you pantry shelves.
  • If you’re looking for a chili recipe for game day or potlucks, this is a solid choice. Pumpkin flavor adds just a hint of sweetness to spicy chili powder and jalapeños, and it makes sense when we are in peak pumpkin season—which seems to start earlier every year.
  • Chili makes fantastic leftovers. Warming up a bowl of chili the next day, actually gives the flavors more time to meld together and develop. That’s the beauty of simmering a big batch of soup. The leftovers taste just as good, and in some cases better than when you first make it.

The Ingredients

Ingredients including pumpkin puree, beans, lentils, tomatoes, peppers, garlic, jalapeños, vegetable broth and spices.

This is what you need:

  • Pumpkin puree: Make sure to buy a can of 100% pumpkin puree with no other ingredients. You can substitute with a can of sweet potato puree.
  • Beans: The recipe calls for black beans, pinto beans or kidney beans. It is up to you if you have a favorite. As you can see from the photos, I like to use a can that is a mix of all three. 
  • Green lentils are mild, nutty and earthy. They add nice texture and bite to chili, and they are a good source of protein and fiber. They plump up but still hold their shape as they simmer in the broth.
  • Tomatoes: I prefer using fire-roasted crushed tomatoes in my chili recipes. You will need a 28-ounce can.
  • Red bell peppers add crisp freshness to chili. You can use any color bell pepper. I like red, orange or yellow because green peppers can be bitter.
  • Jalapeños: If you want your chili to turn out more mild, you can use half a jalapeño instead of a whole one. Or look for a jalapeño that’s on the smaller side.
  • Garlic: Even though there is minced garlic and garlic powder in the recipe, the taste is balanced with the rest of the ingredients. 
  • Spices: The chili has a blend of cumin, paprika, chili powder, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and black pepper. These are all things you should have in your spice drawer because they are useful in a number of recipes and different cuisines.
  • Vegetable broth: To control the seasonings, use low-sodium vegetable broth. If you don’t need the chili to be vegan, you can substitute with chicken broth.

How To Make This Pumpkin Chili Recipe

1. Warm the olive oil and sauté the onions. You can do this in a large pot or a dutch oven over medium heat. Give the onions about 5 minutes to soften and start to turn translucent.

2. Stir in the jalapeños, garlic and spices.  Sauté them for a minute or so, and they will become very fragrant.

Chopped onions sautéing in a pot.

3. Sauté the bell peppers for 2-3 minutes.

4. Pour in the beans, lentils, pumpkin puree, crushed tomatoes and vegetable broth. Bring the chili to a boil. Then turn down the heat and let it simmer on low to medium until the lentils are tender, and the chili has thickened a little, about 20-25 minutes. Ladle the chili into bowls and garnish with the toppings of your choice.

Red peppers salting with onions, jalapeños, garlic and spices. Chili simmering in a large pot.

Toppings for Chili

As mentioned, this chili recipe is vegan. It is what you end up topping your chili with that can change that. Look for vegan or dairy-free versions if that’s your dietary preference:

  • Sliced jalapeños
  • Chopped cilantro or whole leaves
  • Diced avocado
  • Sour cream or greek yogurt
  • Tortilla chips (crumbled or whole)
  • Shredded cheese (cheddar, monterey jack or a blend)
  • Sliced scallions
  • Cornbread croutons

What To Serve with Chili

You can serve buttermilk cornbread or corn muffins with chili. Or you can keep it simple with country bread with a good crust, warmed tortillas or even just tortilla chips. For more of a side dish, try baked sweet potato fries or oven-baked garlic fries.

Pumpkin chili with toppings in a bowl.

Leftovers, Storage & Freezing

Before you transfer leftover chili to an airtight container, let it cool to room temperature. You can store it in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. To keep it longer, freeze it up to 1 month. For easier thawing and reheating, I always like to divide soups and chilis into individual portion sizes before I freeze them.

Recipe Tips

  • As the chili simmers, add more liquid if you think it is thickening too fast and the lentils need more time to cook. You can use vegetable broth or even water.
  • Taste the chili to see if it needs more salt or pepper. These seasonings have a way of switching on all the other flavors in a dish, especially soup. It’s not about making it salty. Sometimes you just need an overall boost.
  • Don’t skip the toppings. They are a simple way to customize your chili. You can even create a chili bar by having bowls of toppings for your guests to spoon into their bowls.

Recipe FAQs

Can you add corn to the chili?

If you want to include 1 cup of corn kernels, you will need to increase the amount of vegetable broth or liquid to 5 cups. Then watch the chili as it simmers to see if you should pour in more liquid. You can use canned corn or frozen corn. There is no need to thaw it first.

Can you use all beans instead of lentils and beans?

Yes. Then use 2 15-ounce cans of beans instead of just 1 can if you eliminate the lentils.

Is this chili gluten-free?

Both lentils and beans do not contain gluten, so this recipe is gluten-free.

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Pumpkin Chili with Beans & Lentils

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Servings: 6
Loaded with beans, green lentils and bell peppers, this hearty pumpkin chili recipe has fresh garlic and jalapeños along with a mix of dried spices for just the right amount of heat. 


For chili

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 15-ounce can black, pinto or kidney beans (or a mix), rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 1 28-ounce can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

For toppings

  • Sliced jalapeños
  • Cilantro
  • Diced avocado
  • Sour cream or greek yogurt
  • Tortilla chips
  • Shredded cheese (cheddar, monterey jack or a blend)
  • Sliced scallions
  • Cornbread croutons


  • Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes until they start to soften. 
  • Stir in the jalapeños, garlic, cumin, paprika, chili powder, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.  Continue cooking until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the bell peppers and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  • Stir in the beans, lentils, pumpkin, crushed tomatoes and vegetable broth. Bring the chili to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes over medium to low until the chili has thickened slightly and the lentils are tender.
  • Divide the soup into bowls and garnish with desired toppings.



You can substitute pumpkin puree with canned sweet potato puree.
If you want the chili to be more mild and less spicy, use half a jalapeño minced instead of a whole one.
Add more vegetable broth or water if you think the chili is thickening too fast and the lentils still need time to cook.
Let the chili cool to room temperature, before you put it into an airtight container. You can keep it in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and in the freezer up to 1 month. Divide it into individual portion sizes to make it easier to thaw.
Nutritional information does not include optional toppings.


Calories: 322kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 571mg | Potassium: 1184mg | Fiber: 22g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 11986IU | Vitamin C: 47mg | Calcium: 116mg | Iron: 7mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
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Hi, I'm Paige.

Welcome to Last Ingredient where you will find simple seasonal recipes with plenty of fruits and vegetables, all for the home cook.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    We really enjoyed this chile. I had never put pumpkin into chile so I was interested to try this recipe. Sure glad I did!