The slow cooker is just about the best invention EVER. Especially for busy moms or people dealing with food allergies. We are entering ‘slow cooker season’ now that fall is upon us. It’s my favorite time of year because it just so happens to coincide with pumpkin spice season. Does it get any better than that? Well, it does now! Today I have a recipe for you for slow cooker pumpkin chili that is absolutely fabulous. Warm fall flavors like pumpkin and cinnamon marry perfectly with the comfort of a warm bowl of chili on a cold night. You can get your chili going in the morning and when you get home from a fun-filled fall day it’s ready to go!
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Pressure Cooker vs. Slow Cooker
Deciding whether to use a pressure cooker or slow cooker can be oddly controversial today. In the end, it’s really a matter of personal preference. This pumpkin chili recipe is for a slow cooker because that’s what I prefer most of the time. If you’re not sure which you want to take up your precious counter space, here are a few things to consider.
- Planning: Do you prefer to get dinner going early, or put it together last minute? If you’re a last minute person, then a pressure cooker is the right choice for you. On the other hand, if you want to just be able to walk in at the end of a busy day and eat, a slow cooker is a better option. Or you could be like me and have both!
- Overnight: If you want to be able to cook something overnight, like a breakfast casserole, then a slow cooker is the best choice.
Choosing a Slow Cooker
Okay, you’ve decided to go with a slow cooker, but you’re feeling a bit lost as to which one to get. There are sooooo many options these days! The two main considerations are size and programming.
- Size: The two most common sizes of slow cookers are 6 quart and 8 quart. There’s not a huge difference between them in usability and price. That said, I always say having a bit more room while cooking is a good thing. A larger slow cooker will allow you to make more food to take to potlucks and parties. Do yourself a favor and get the 8 quart!
- Programming: Did you know that slow cookers can come with all sorts of bells and whistles now? There are now slow cookers like this that allow you to program the temperature and time when you get things going and it will automatically switch to ‘warm mode’ once the cook time is complete. That can be convenient for when you need to cook something for 6 hours but will be gone for 8!
Make this Pumpkin Chili Meet Your Needs
I’m all about adaptability. If anyone understands needing to adjust a recipe to meet a family’s needs, it’s me! That’s why I worked to make this recipe highly adaptable.
- Allergies: This pumpkin chili includes seed/nut butter. Use whichever works best for your family. If you can’t do nuts, try sunflower seed butter or even pumpkin seed butter. It also calls for masa as a thickening agent. If you can’t eat corn, try swapping it out for chickpea flour instead.
- Vegan: A lot of chili recipes call for meat (this one included). The good news is, it’s pretty easy to turn this recipe into a vegan chili. The bulk of flavor here is coming from the pumpkin, tomatoes, and spices. If you want to make this vegan, use vegetable or mushroom broth and replace the meat with 3 cans of beans. You just won’t need to saute the beans like you would cook the turkey.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp ginger
- 1/8 tsp allspice
- 3 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 bell pepper, diced (color of your choice)
- 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 small jalapeno, minced
- 1 pound ground meat of choice (use 3 cans of beans to make it vegan)
- 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 6 fresh sage leaves, finely minced
- 1 large can crushed tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 8 oz can tomato sauce
- 1 can pumpkin puree
- 4 cups broth of choice
- 2 large sweet potato in 1 inch cubes
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 tbsp masa or chickpea flour
- 1 tbsp seed or nut butter
- In a large pan, pour the olive oil and saute the onion, pepper, and jalapeno until they start to get tender.
- Add the ground meat and cook until it is mostly browned, then add all spices. Do not add the sage, oregano, or cinnamon stick yet. Saute for about a minute, then stir in the garlic and tomato paste and cook for another minute or two.
- Pour your meat and veggies into your slow cooker and add the rest of the ingredients except the masa and seed/nut butter. Cook for 6 hours on low or 3 hours on high.
- After cook time is complete, remove the cinnamon stick and lightly sprinkle flour over the chili. Immediately stir it in. Don’t dump the whole amount into one spot or you will end up with large clumps of flour in your chili. Stir in seed or nut butter. With slow cooker on low, allow to cook for another 15 minutes then serve.