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Chili In A Pumpkin

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dinner chili baked in a pumpkin recipe

Growing up my mom would make some fabulous meals inside of pumpkins during the Autumn season.   It was always fun to lift off the lid and scoop the food out along with some of that beautiful orange pumpkin flesh.  I’ve adopted the tradition in my own family and this year filled my pumpkin with chili.  The combination of chili and pumpkin is delicious and nothing beats a pumpkin as a serving dish.  It’s perfect for anytime during the Autumn season and especially for Halloween!

Here is a delicious recipe for homemade chili that’s baked inside of a pumpkin.  Put it in the oven on a timer and have it ready to eat by the time you get back from Trick-or-Treating!

dinner chili baked in a pumpkin recipe

What are some of your Halloween traditions?  Whatever they might be they likely include pumpkins and pumpkin carving.  We selected a couple of perfect, large pumpkins to carve with our kids.  They enjoyed pulling out the seeds and my husband went to work designing the faces and cutting them out.  As for me, I prepped the third pumpkin for baking :)

Pumpkin Carving

And so we finished carving these perfect pumpkins, set them proudly on our front doorstep under the landing, and left two days later for our southern California family vacation for the next 8 days.  When we got back our pumpkins had completely collapsed, mushy and moldy – in just a week and a half!  I don’t know if it was the moist Washington air but I’ve never seen that happen so quickly before.  I’ve since been gathering some tips from friends who say that rubbing the pumpkins down with vinegar or bleach, or smearing the cut edges with vaseline helps prevent that tragedy.  Have any of you had any luck with those preventative remedies?

Back to Halloween traditions.  Trick-or-treating of course!  I have so many fun childhood memories of trick-or-treating.  Now that we have our own kids it has become especially fun.  Our church puts on an annual “trunk-or-treat” where participants park their cars in the parking lot, decorate their trunks and give out candy.  It’s fun but we always still hit the streets afterwards.  Nothing beats the door-to-door Trick-or-Treating experience of a safe and friendly neighborhood.

Last year our now 4 year old son was the cutest dragon in the world and this year…he’s going to be that same dragon.  I know, it’s a little lame to wear the same costume two years in a row but it’s just so stinkin’ cute and this year he’s even more into character:  He’s got the roar and dragon stomp down perfectly!  He’s one adorable dragon.  Our 2 year old daughter is going to be the world’s cutest ladybug.  So with our little dragon and ladybug in tow we’re ready to fill up some buckets with candy!

But back to that delicious Chili-In-A-Pumpkin.  Whether you’re making it for Halloween or as a colorful, visually-appealing and tummy-warming Autumn dish, this is one meal you’re family is sure to enjoy.

And you have your choice:  Bake the batch of chili in one large pumpkins or divide the chili up in smaller individual-sized pumpkins.  Have fun with it!

Note:  The chili can be made in advance (even frozen and then thawed and added to the pumpkin to be baked).

dinner chili baked in a pumpkin recipe

Chili in a Pumpkin Recipe

Let’s get started!

Select about a 10-12 pound pumpkin or several smaller pumpkins if you’re going for individual serving pumpkins.

Chili in a Pumpkin recipe

Then get started on the chili.  Brown the ground beef.

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Add the onions and cooked until soft and translucent, 5-7 minutes.

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Add one batch of Homemade Taco Seasoning (click on link for recipe).

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Cook for another minute or two.

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Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

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Bring the chili to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beans are soft.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

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You delicious homemade chili is now done and ready to pour into the pumpkin!  The chili can be made in advance and be refrigerated or frozen until ready to use.

Chili in a Pumpkin recipe

Clean out the inside of the pumpkin, discarding the seeds and scraping out the loose pulp.

Chili in a Pumpkin prep 2dinner chili baked in a pumpkin recipe

Carefully pour or ladle the chili into the pumpkin.

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Place the “lid” back on the pumpkin and bake in an oven that’s preheated to 350 degrees F for about an hour, depending on the size of the pumpkin.  The pumpkin is done when a fork can be easily inserted into the flesh.

Note:  VERY IMPORTANT!  Make sure to bake the pumpkin on a baking sheet with sides in case the pumpkin leeks.  Be prepared as well to serve the pumpkin from that baking sheet.  Depending on the size and weight of the pumpkin, if you try lifting the pumpkin from the sheet the bottom may fall out!  (Not that that’s ever happened to me or anything *ahem*)  This is less likely to happen with smaller pumpkins.

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To serve, ladle out the chili, scooping out some of the pumpkin flesh with it from the sides of the pumpkin.  Serve with sour cream, shredded Cheddar cheese and green onions.

Chili in a Pumpkin recipe

Chili In A Pumpkin

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Tex Mex
Servings 6


  • 1 large 10-12 pound pumpkin or smaller individual pumpkins , "lids" cut off and insides removed and scraped clean
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 large onion , diced
  • 16 oz bag of dried kidney beans , soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
  • 2 14 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2 14 oz cans petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 batch Homemade Chili Seasoning Mix
  • sour cream, green onions, and shredded Cheddar cheese for serving


  • Heat some oil in a large Dutch oven and brown the ground beef, adding the onions while the beef is still a little pink. Cook until the onions are tender and transparent, 5-7 minutes. Add the Homemade Chili Seasoning Mix and cook for another minute or two.
  • Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for about an hour until the beans are tender, stirring occasionally to prevent bottom from burning. Add more chili powder and salt to taste.
  • Chili can be made in advance and refrigerated or frozen until ready to use.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Place the pumpkin on a baking sheet with sides or in a casserole dish in case the pumpkin leeks. Ladle the chili into the pumpkin and place the pumpkin "lid" on top. Bake the pumpkin for about an hour, depending on the size. The pumpkin is done when a fork can be easily inserted into the flesh of the pumpkin.
  • Serve the Chili In A Pumpkin in the dish it was baked in. Be very careful if trying to transfer it to a serving dish or the bottom of the pumpkin might fall out! (This is more likely to happen the bigger the pumpkin is, less likely with smaller, individual pumpkins)
  • For serving, scoop some chili out along with some of the pumpkin flesh from the sides and top with sour cream, Cheddar cheese and green onions.
Keyword Chili in a Pumpkin
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


kimberly killebrew the daring gourmet

Hi, I’m Kimberly Killebrew and welcome to Daring Gourmet where you'll find delicious originals, revitalized classics, and simply downright good eats from around the world! Originally from Germany, later raised in England, world-traveled, and now living in the U.S., from my globally-influenced kitchen I invite you to tour the world through your taste buds!

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Recipe Rating

5 from 1 vote


  1. I suggest making your favorite chili recipe and pour it in. There will be a slight pumpkin residual flavor that is unique and fall tasty. Have made this for about the last 4 or 5 years on our twins birthday. (10/31)

  2. I made your chili pumpkin last night, swapping out the after for Guinness and adding about 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Big hit with our guests!

  3. Hi Kimberly,

    did you know, that my home is in the direct neighbourhood of Storck, where Werther’s Original originally come from? It’s about 10 miles away from my home.
    Its somewhat cool to find them on a US website :-)


    1. No kidding, Rolf? That is very cool! Yeah, I grew up on Werther’s Echte. It’s always nice to be able to access foods and treats that I know and love from Germany.

    1. Thanks, chilliandmint! You were wise to hold off carving the pumpkins until now so they’re still around for Halloween! :) Next year we’ll try the vinegar/vaseline approach and see if it does the trick.