It’s time to start thinking about pumpkin, if you haven’t already. And this pumpkin black bean and lentil chili recipe is a great way to move into the season of crisp mornings, sweaters, football and all things pumpkin.

Pumpkin black bean and lentil chili is actually my go-to recipe anytime I’m in the mood for chili. My kids love it, too. You actually can’t even taste the pumpkin that much, but it gives the chili a certain creaminess and richness that I really love. You don’t have to reserve this recipe just for pumpkin season though, since a can of pumpkin purée can be found on the grocery store shelf anytime you’d like to make this pretty perfect chili.

FYI: did you know most great chili recipes have a secret ingredient that gives it a kick? Some people use peanut butter, some use chocolate, some use cinnamon and some use dark beer. My secret/not so secret chili ingredient is pumpkin!



Vegan and dairy-free, makes 6-8 servings



  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium zucchini, diced
  • 2 15-oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 cups dried green lentils, rinsed
  • 2 15-oz cans diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz can pumpkin purée
  • 1 4-oz can chopped green chiles
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (regular paprika also works)
  • Toppings: fresh chopped cilantro, diced avocado, diced green onions, nutritional yeast, hot sauce


  1. Sauté the onion, red or yellow bell pepper, garlic and zucchini in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Use a couple of tablespoons of water or a teaspoon of oil if you need to keep the veggies from sticking to the pot. Sauté until the onion is translucent, about 7 or 8 minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients except the frozen corn to the pot, stir well and bring to a simmer. Let the chili simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the frozen corn and allow the chili to simmer for about 10 more minutes, until the lentils are fully cooked. 
  4. Let the chili sit for 10 minutes if possible before serving, to allow the flavors to blend. Adjust the seasonings and serve, allowing everyone to top with toppings of their choice. 


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