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Chipotle Pumpkin Chicken Chili

Between the cold weather and the big game this Sunday, it’s safe to say that February is the perfect month to whip up some chili. So, we enlisted our talented friend, Emily, two-time winner of Hill Country Barbecue’s Annual Chili Cook-off, to share her award-winning Chipotle Pumpkin Chicken Chili recipe.

We love that her version incorporates ground chicken, a slew of veggies, and pumpkin puree to make the hearty dish a bit lighter, without sacrificing flavor. Her unconventional key ingredients–a can of beer, Chipotle peppers, and a squeeze of fresh lime at the end–make the flavors pop and creates a fresh, clean spice that leaves you craving more with each spoonful. The best part is that the chili actually tastes better the longer it sits, truly making this a perfect make-ahead recipe for the busy host. Oh, and let us remind you that this winter party staple also happens to be pretty healthy, granting you permission to indulge without ruining your New Year’s resolutions.



  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 onion
  • 1 bell pepper (whatever color you like)
  • 4 chipotle peppers in adobo
  • 1 can sweet corn
  • 1 can cannelini or navy beans
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 beer (I usually use a lager, but we’re not above a PBR or a taste of the Rockies)
  • 32 oz. carton low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper
Garnish:  Sour Cream, Monterrey Jack Cheese, diced avocado, crumbled Fritos, Lime Wedges, Chopped Cilantro


1.  Heat 2 tbsp. vegetable oil in a large, heavy bottom pot over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and paprika.  Sprinkle generously with 2 tsp. salt. Brown the chicken for 5-8 minutes and remove from the pot with a slotted spoon.

2.  Chop onion and pepper. Turn down the heat to medium and add the chopped veggies. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt and cook for 4-5 minutes.

3.  Add the beer, diced tomatoes with their juice, stock, and the drained corn and beans.  Stir until well distributed.

4.  Finely dice 4 chipotles (more if you are daring) and add them to the chili. Also add 1-2 tbsp. Adobo sauce from the can of chilis. Depending on how spicy you like things.

5.  Add the can of pumpkin puree and sugar and stir until distributed into the chili.

6.  Bring it to a boil and turn down the heat to a low simmer. Allow to simmer for at least 60 minutes until the chili thickens and is totally delicious. I usually let it simmer for 3 hours or so, if I have the time. Taste and add more salt is needed.

If you are ready to serve, continue right to step 7. Or you can refrigerate and serve later. I think this just a gets better with age so I usually make it the day before. That makes serving it up to friends even easier!

7.  Before serving, add the juice of 1 lime for freshness and balance. Serve with your favorite garish.



Former DC Editor in Chief

Steph is the former DC editor in chief and is known for having a good eye, a sharp wit, and an eclectic palate.

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