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Award Winning Autumn Chili Recipe

This Award Winning Autumn Chili recipe is thick, creamy and delicious and has a few surprise ingredients.

When I first mentioned that I was going to make Pumpkin Chili for dinner, the expressions that I got from everyone was less than enthusiastic.

You see, everyone in our family loves our Thick and Hearty Chili recipe. And yes, it is made using the standard chili ingredients of ground beef, beans and tomatoes.

bowl of Autumn chili
A bowl of Autumn chili that is garnished with cheese and green onions.

We love to make a large batch of the chili and cook it over our fire pit. After we eat a few bowls we will freeze the leftovers so that we can have a quick lunch or dinner whenever we need one.

But because I was entering a chili contest, I needed to make something a little different.

Autumn Chili

That is when I decided to make Pumpkin Chili. The contest was in October and of course, every coffee shop and restaurant was serving everything pumpkin related.

So when I decided to enter a Fall Harvest Chili Cook-off contest, I decided to incorporate pumpkin and a few other special ingredients into my chili recipe.

ground chicken for chili
If you use ground chicken instead of beef, you may need to add a little oil to bottom of your pan to prevent sticking.

However, I did not want to use chunks of pumpkin. Instead, I decided to use a more subtle approach and use pumpkin puree instead.

I also added in a few other special ingredients so I decided to change the name from Pumpkin Chili to Autumn Chili.

And the results….. A Blue Ribbon Winner!!!!

The chili had such great flavor and no one could pick out the mystery ingredients.

Pumpkin Puree

The pumpkin puree provides a creamy and silky texture to the sauce that makes the chili melt in your mouth.

autumn chili with pumpkin puree
Pumpkin puree makes this chili thick, yet silky.

But it also adds a touch of sweetness that is the perfect compliment to the chili powder and chipotle peppers.

Chipotle Peppers

Yes, I even put a couple chipotle peppers in my Autumn Chili. I had just smoked our red jalapenos from the garden to make chipotle peppers. Therefore, I thought it was a perfect ingredient to add to the recipe.

The flavor of the smoky chipotle peppers in adobo sauce reminds me of a chili that has been cooked over a campfire.

chipotle peppers in can
This recipe calls for 2 chipotle peppers. Simply dice them and add them to your chili.

I used two large ones for this batch of chili, but if you could certainly add more or less depending on your taste.

But after making this recipe several times, we have found that two is the perfect amount for us.

Hard Apple Cider

And there couldn’t be a more perfect Autumn ingredient than apple cider.

However, this time I used hard apple cider. We have always added a can of beer to our classic chili recipe. Therefore, I thought it was fitting to add hard apple cider since I was making Autumn Chili.

drained beans in Autumn chili
Be sure to drain your beans so that they other flavors can take center stage.

Plus, I was able to keep the recipe Gluten-Free by using hard cider rather than beer.


Many people add cinnamon to their chili recipes. And it wouldn’t be Autumn chili without a little cinnamon to go along with the other Autumn ingredients.

By adding just 1 teaspoon, it enhances the flavors of all of the other ingredients in this recipe.

No Tomatoes

When you look at the ingredients below, you will see that this is a tomato-free chili recipe.

And I promise you, you will not miss them!!

There is so much flavor in this recipe that I had to actually tell people that there were no tomatoes in the chili.

chili contest
This Autumn Chili recipe has won many chili cook off competitions!!

And now that my family has tried this recipe, they frequently ask me when I am going to make it again!


Mary and Jim

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Award Winning Autumn Chili Recipe

Award Winning Autumn Chili Recipe

Thick, yet creamy chili made with pumpkin and hard apple cider to give this recipe a delicious twist that everyone loves!


  • 2 pounds ground beef, pork or ground chicken
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, diced
  • 29 ounces 100% pure pumpkin puree
  • 2 12 ounce bottles hard cider
  • 2 15 ounce cans kidney beans, drained
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Optional Garnishes: sour cream, cheese, diced onion, diced jalapeno, cilantro


  1. In a large pot over medium heat, add the ground beef and begin to brown (if you are using ground chicken you may need to add a little extra virgin olive oil to the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking). Add the chopped onion, bell pepper, garlic, and chipotle peppers. Cook until the meat is brown
  2. Add the pumpkin puree, hard cider, beans, and chicken broth into the pot. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, salt, pepper and bay leaf. Stir well.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn down the heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes stirring occasionally.
  4. Serve warm and top with optional garnishes if desired.


Recipe courtesy of Old World Garden Farms

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:

1 grams

Amount Per Serving: Unsaturated Fat: 0g
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