One-Pot Pumpkin Quinoa Chili
This chili is definitely one of our very favorites! Adding a can of pumpkin brings out the natural sweetness of the tomatoes and makes it rich and even a little indulgent. The pumpkin flavor is super mellow- so even the pumpkin skeptics are going to love this satisfying and flavorful chili.
Over the past few months I’ve come to a realization: chili doesn’t need meat!
I’ve always thought that to make a nice, hearty chili you needed some sort of meat – whether that was ground beef, ground turkey or even chicken or sausage. A meatless chili just doesn’t satisfy. Oh how I was wrong.
Vegetarian chili has made its way into my heart and quickly become a staple in our weekly meal rotation.
Typically I like to make chili in my crock pot. That fix it and forget it method is a lifesaver! But other times I get done with work and I’m craving something warm and cozy for dinner and I know a big bowl of chili would totally hit the spot.
Luckily, chili can also be made on the stove top, using just one pot AND in less than 40 minutes (most of which is hands off time anyway). All you need to do is throw the ingredients into the pot, let it bubble away for a while and dinner is served.
So getting home from work and whipping up this fabulous pumpkin quinoa chili? Totally doable and totally worth it.
One of my secrets to making an ultra satisfying pot of chili without the meat is to add quinoa. The quinoa puffs up as the chili cooks and gives it a very meat-like consistency. It’s thick and chunky, but the quinoa almost resembles ground beef/turkey. See in that picture above? It really looks like it could be meat chili!
The quinoa also adds some nice depth of flavor. Even though it isn’t necessarily adding flavor itself, it soaks up all the wonderful juices and spices and makes the whole dish really pop.
Oh and of course I have mention that quinoa also adds a bit more protein to the dish, naturally making it more rich and filling.
Now I’ve made my fair share of chilis before, but this one is definitely one of my favorites. I added a can of pumpkin to the mix which brings out the natural sweetness of the tomatoes and makes it rich and even a little indulgent. The pumpkin is super mellow though, so don’t worry. My boyfriend, who is NOT a pumpkin fan, had no idea it was in there (and no, I didn’t tell him…shhh!)
Aside from the pumpkin, the other addition I made that I don’t normally do is a touch of maple syrup. I know it might seem a little strange, but it totally works with this recipe. It doesn’t make it overly sweet because you’re just adding a touch, but it really marries all the flavors together and makes the dish taste more rounded and complete.
Oh and one more thing to add at the very end is just a splash of lemon juice. The acid intensifies all the flavors and makes the whole dish a little brighter.
It’s amazing how just a simple splash of an acid (lemon, vinegar, etc.) can totally transform the flavor of a dish. And it applies to more than just this dish – I highly recommend you give this a try next time you make a soup or chili!
Last but not least, probably one of the very best thing about this dish is that it freezes well!
There’s nothing worse than coming home after a long day of work, to realize you have nothing to make. So I’m all about using my freezer as much as possible this winter. I have chili (and other soups) on hand as my saving grace.
Hope you enjoy this protein-packed quinoa chili – I think your family is going to love it!
Alyssa is the blogger and cook behind Simply Quinoa. A gluten-free website dedicated to healthy food, always with a little quinoa twist.
One-Pot Pumpkin Quinoa Chili
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion
- 1 cup, cubes butternut squash
- 30 ounce pinto beans, canned
- 1 3/4 cup pumpkin, canned
- 14 1/2 ounce diced tomatoes, canned
- 2 cup vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup quinoa, uncooked
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin, ground
- 1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon black pepper, ground
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup, pure
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/4 cup guacamole
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- Heat the oil over medium heat in a large stock pan or dutch oven.
- Dice onion and squash (if not buying frozen) and add to pan. Saute for 3 – 5 minutes until onions have softened.
- Drain and rinse beans.
- Pour in beans, pumpkin, tomatoes, and broth and stir to combine.
- Add in quinoa and spices (through pepper) and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 30 – 40 minutes until the squash and quinoa are tender.
- Stir in maple syrup and lemon juice, and adjust seasonings as needed. (If mixture is too thick, stir in a little more broth or water until desired consistency is reached).
- Top with guacamole, sour cream, and/or fresh herbs if desired.
I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.Learn More about Natalie
Loved this recipe. I am sure my toddler would love this.
It looks amazing! How many servings does it make?
I just made this for dinner and it was delicious! My 4yr old loved it too. What a feel good meal! I accidently didn’t drain one can of the beans, but I just let it simmer longer and it worked out fine. The maple syrup actually was a nice cut to the spice. This is a keeper. Thank you!
How many servings does this yield?
We don’t have canned pumpkin in the United Kingdom; could you suggest a substitute?
You could use mashed sweet potato or pureed butternut squash as an alternative!
Does the chili powder make it too spicy for an 18 month old or does it just add flavour? Would it change the taste too much if I omit it?
If your child has yet to even try food with it, I would make a small portion without it. Or maybe even split the recipe and only add half the chili powder to one half so it is not so strong. My kids, now 8 & 10, have gotten used to the spicier foods because I have added it gradually to their dishe.
Thanks so much Jackie. I was just about to make it now. I think I’ll just omit it because whenever we have given him spicy food he seems to have a hard time with it. Makes it tough because we are East Indian and all of our food is spicy! Hopefully one day he’ll develop a taste for it. Thanks again!
This was a hit at our house…even the kids loved it!
Very spicy! I only used 1/2 tbsp of chili powder and it is still spicy! I would reduce chili powder to maybe 1 tsp.
Yummy recipe and easy to make. My little picky eater did not like it but it was a hit for everyone else. Heats up nicely the next day as well. Definitely needs the guacamole and sour cream topping.
Just made this for dinner and my 2 and 4 year olds both loved it! And literally 1 pot to clean! We don’t have canned pumpkin either so just used some left over baked sweet potatos and butternut pumpkin. Yum!
We made this tonight and it was so yummy! Thank you! Can I freeze the leftovers?
I lived this. I made some minor modifications – mainly somebody out sour cream for Greek yogurt and made my own guacamole. Really good with a few tortilla chips for a bit of crunch.
We loved this! I added an extra cup of broth- it was way too thick.
This was quite good! I don’t think anybody in the family knew it was made of pumpkin and squash. Next time I will use half the chili powder, though. It was a little too spicy for us.
Next time make smaller squash chunks. They enjoyed eating this with cornbread on top.
I used 1/2 the chili powder and was too spicy for my 3 year old. My husband and I loved it though. I will keep tweaking it for the kids as it was easy and delicious.
Good to know – thank you!
I just made this and it’s delicious, but the sodium content is pretty concerning. Max recommended daily intake of sodium for adults is 1,500 mg.
Hi Alyssa! I haven’t made it yet but was wondering if you tried to make it in Instant Pot. I’d love to cut the cooking time.
We haven’t tried it! But I would use the saute feature to cook the onions, add the rest of the ingredients, then cook on high pressure for 10 minutes before releasing pressure. Good luck!
Can this be made in a slowcooker?
It should work just fine! We would probably set it on low for 3-4 hours.