Paleo Pumpkin Chili

November 8, 2011 in Categories: , , by

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When I cut into our big pumpkin to make a jack-o-lantern this year, the pumpkin smelled so good!  It’s a funny thing about eating very strictly paleo:  foods that used to smell great don’t anymore and foods that used to be sorta ordinary smell FANTASTIC!  I resolved to eat that pumpkin in addition to the pie pumpkins I had already purchased.

I wanted to try something savory with my new abundance of fresh pumpkin and I remembered a recipe posted on for pumpkin chili.  The recipe itself wasn’t that inspiring to me, but the idea was!  One of the foods that I was very sad to see go when I fully adopted paleolithic nutrition was chili (especially as the weather gets cooler!).  So my challenge was to create a chili, full of texture and with a flavor similar to my old tried and true recipe.  This is what I created.  It is a very flavorful, slightly sweet chili that is slightly reminiscent of a curry dish and tastes great on its own (even my husband didn’t reach for the grated cheese and sour cream!).  It is packed full of nutrient rich, low carbohydrate veggies.  You can use grass-fed ground beef for an even healthier meal.  You should get 8-10 servings out of the pot.


  • 1 medium pie pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 lb ground turkey
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 6-8 celery stalks, chopped
  • 8-10 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2.5-3 Tbsp chili powder, to taste
  • 1.5 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (optional, or substitute fresh hot peppers for more heat)
  • 1.5 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1.5 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 3 Tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 bag/bunch fresh spinach, chopped
  • 3 small cans diced tomato (15oz)
  • 1 can tomato paste (6oz)
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree (fresh puree can be made by blending some extra roast pumpkin, or use canned)
  • 1/2 tsp salt, to taste

1.    Toss pumpkin and sweet potato with oil.  Spread on baking sheet lined with tin foil and bake at 350F for half an hour or until soft and starting to brown.  Turn on broiler to get a bit browner with some crisp bits (approximately 6-7 minutes).
2.    Meanwhile, brown turkey and beef with garlic, onion, celery and bay leaves in large pot at medium-high heat.  Stir only occasionally to not break up the meat into too small of pieces.
3.    When meat is browned, add chili, cumin, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cocoa.  Stir and cook until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.
4.    Add tomatoes, tomato paste, pumpkin puree and salt.  Bring to a simmer and then reduce to low-medium heat.  Simmer 15 minutes, until celery is soft, stirring occasionally.
5.    Add basil, oregano, cilantro and chopped spinach.  Finally add pumpkin and sweet potato.  Stir to incorporate and serve!


I’m not sure how it would work. I haven’t made it since I went nightshade-free myself, but I’ve been trying to think of a pumpkin stew version of this without nightshades. Pumpkin isn’t very high carb.

I was excited to try this recipe until I saw the use of nightshades and seed flavorings as well. I am wondering if a mix of turmeric, ginger, bone broth – have found umami flavors can lessen the lack of umph when spicy flavors are left out. Raw garlic can also add a kick too :)

I’ve been using a nightshade free taco seasoning. My kids like it too but we don’t like very spicy to start with. I use avocado oil instead of tomato sauce when simmering the meat and spices after browning. It looks a little green when I refrigerate leftovers and the oil congeals.

I make something similar, no tomato sauce just 1/2 chicken broth and 1/2 butternut squash soup from TJ’s in the box.
Also, Against All Grains has a tomato free marinara… Might be worth playing with.

This recipe looks amazing. One ingredient throws me, “1 medium pie pumpkin”. Is this one medium squash used to make a pie? …in addition to the puree?

This was so delicious! Took a bit of time to prepare but made a TON! We fed 4 adults and had enough for 4 additional lunch portions. YUM! Thank you for making this lifestyle so much easier to stick with by offering delicious, healthy and satisfying recipes!

Mmmm. This is a great recipe! I cooked this as our first *real* meal in our new-to-us house! This is the second time I am making it in two weeks. I am a long time listener to The Paleo View, and this is the first time posing to your site. Thanks so much for the hard work you do and share with the community.

I made something similar to this once and served it in a pumpkin for a Halloween party. Might be a good idea for feeding kids on the new Paleo diet.

Sorry to act like a Paleo-Princess, but in no universe am I ever going to all the work of processing a fresh pumpkin for this recipe. How much pre-cut butternut squash would be an appropriate substitute for a medium pie pumpkin. Thanks for your help. This does sound delicious.

All I can say is wow!!!…made this today…I substituted the pie pumpkin with butternut squash. This is absolutely amazing!!…I put a little dollop of plain greek yogurt on top of my serving. I can’t stop eating it!!!!

Would ground goat be too weird in chili? I have no idea what to do with goat, but I have some in my freezer that I need to add to something :-).

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