Vegan Pumpkin Black Bean Chili
Vegan Pumpkin Black Bean Chili

I’m gonna go ahead and put this out there: this black bean chili recipe is weird. Things tend to get weird when you’re trying to make something taste “meaty” only using vegetables. But you can trust me, I promise. You’re really going to love this.

I’m not a vegan (or even a vegetarian), but I do love the challenge of cooking meatless dishes. It really tests my cooking skills to try to take plants and make them taste rich and hearty like a meat dish would. I mean, I love veggies as much as the next gal, but I don’t love them because they are rich or hearty. Those aren’t words you usually associate with lettuce, you know? I think that’s why there are so many meat substitutes out there on the market—many folks want to eat a plant-based diet for one reason or another, but find themselves still craving that meaty depth.

Vegan Pumpkin Black Bean Chili

I have two really great meat-based chilis in my arsenal—Turkey Taco Chili and White Chicken Chili are pretty much alternated each week from September through March in our house. They are both really awesome recipes that are 100% no-fail (I even heard from a reader that they won their office chili cook-off with my White Chicken Chili recipe last year). Mama can cook a mean pot of meaty chili.

Vegetarian chili is a whole other story. I’ve made a few vegan chilis in the past (there are even a few on the blog), and they all turned out well. But all of them seemed to be missing something. They were all delicious, and packed full of flavor, but none of them were good substitutes for regular, meaty, rich, hearty chili. They all felt light. I really like lighter fare sometimes, but when I’m craving a bowl of chili? That’s not when I want light.

Vegan Pumpkin Black Bean Chili

So I’ve been working on conquering this meatless chili thing for a while now, and I figured I’d make another go of it for Pumpkin Week. My original plan was to make a pumpkin and lentil chili, which sounds great, and I should totally make that at some point—but when I was looking in my pantry for lentils, I saw steel cut oats, and the world’s biggest, meatless lightbulb went on over my head. And that’s when things got weird:

  • Weird Thing #1: OATS. STEEL CUT OATS. Steel cut oats are chewy, hearty, and dense. When they are mixed in a vat of chili, they look remarkably like ground beef. I added a breakfast food to my chili like no one was watching.
  • Weird Thing #2: I didn’t drain the black beans. The starchy, thick packing liquid of black beans adds a really nice hearty quality to the chili.
  • Weird Thing #3: I put a whole bunch of finely diced mushrooms in chili. IN CHILI. You don’t taste mushrooms, but it does add some richness that my previous meatless creations have been sorely lacking. Mushroom haters wont even know they are in there, I promise.
  • Weird Thing #4: I added a slurry at the end of cooking of warm water and cornmeal. It adds some thickness and corn flavor that is bonkers awesome. I do this with most of my chilis and soups!

The end result is glorious, my friends. GLORIOUS. It’s thick, rich, hearty, and totally, 100% free from animal products. It even LOOKS like it has meat it in. I made a vegan chili that is as awesome as my meaty ones, and guys, I can die happy now (except not, because I really love my life, and I’m having too much fun to die, k?). Enjoy.

Vegan Pumpkin Black Bean Chili

Vegan Pumpkin Black Bean Chili

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

This Vegan Pumpkin Black Bean Chili is thick, rich, hearty, and totally, 100% free from animal products. You won't even miss the meat!


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 6 ounces button mushrooms, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1 pie pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 14-ounce cans black beans, undrained
  • 1/2 cup steel cut oats
  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup fine cornmeal
  • 1 cup warm water
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, mushrooms, garlic, and jalapeño, and cook until just tender and fragrant, about five minutes.
  2. Add the pumpkin, tomatoes, beans, oats, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the oats are soft and the pumpkin is tender, about 25-30 minutes.
  3. Whisk the cornmeal with the water in a small bowl. Stir the cornmeal mixture into the chili. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 serving
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 381Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 467mgCarbohydrates: 64gFiber: 19gSugar: 9gProtein: 19g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


    1. Sure, canned pumpkin puree won’t give the chunky texture that the fresh pumpkin does, but you can add 2-3 cups of canned pumpkin to get the flavor.

  1. Good Morning,
    Please excuse my silly question, but I am from Australia.
    What size is a ‘pie pumpkin’ in grams?

    Thank you in advance

    1. They are also called sugar pumpkins, and are typically 2-4 pounds (900-1800 grams-ish). They are also sweeter and less stringy than other varieties of pumpkin.

  2. I made this today and had to comment because it was so good! Super filling too. I used a butternut squash in place of the pumpkin because I had one from this week’s CSA. It was the perfect meal for the rainy day we had and even though I’m still full from dinner, I’m already excited about leftovers for lunch tomorrow! My husband raved about it and my three year old loved it too. Will definitely make again!

    1. Woohooo! So glad your family loved it, and YES, it is super filling. I sometimes struggle with veggie dishes leaving me feeling empty, but this isn’t one of them.

  3. I’m so excited to try this! I’m a longtime meatless reader who has mostly been plant-based this past year, and I”ve always appreciated how you include a lot of vegetarian and vegan recipes. I’m sure your ones with meat are just as stellar 🙂

    Quick question, how would you anticipate rolled oats rather than steel cut working in this recipe? I know that rolled are more processed and can get more mushy. I have everything but steel cut oats on hand and don’t want to drive to the store, haha.

    1. You know, I’m not quite sure. I’m afraid that the rolled oats might plump up a little too much have make it taste like chili-flvaored oatmeal? Which isn’t necessairly a bad thing. 😛

  4. I laughed SO hard at your mushroom comment. I know in the States that depending on the region chili’s can be very different. I’m Canadian and chili in my opinion HAS to have mushrooms and kidney beans to be good. Non-negotiable. 🙂

  5. This chili looks bonkers awesome! I think I may wait a bit for the temps to cool down before I give it a go, but it is going on my fall to-make list for sure. I’m so intrigued by the steel cut oats and cornmeal slurry!

  6. Huh, interesting, I’ll have to try this! I’m in the market for a new chili recipe since morning sickness put me off my previous go-to chili and I still can’t even look at the recipe four months later!

    1. Morning sickness is such a jerk! I still get wigged out by bratwurst sometimes (it was the first meal I threw up—it’s how I found out I was pregnant). And Juni is over two!

      1. It’s so crazy! There are some songs I listened to during my first bout with morning sickness that still make me nauseous when I hear them, and that was 2.5 years ago!

  7. Thanks Cassie – I’m going to try making this on the weekend. I think it would be good using squash instead of pumpkin. Fresh squash is always available to buy but fresh pumpkin is seasonal (canned anytime).

    1. Sure could! Just go ahead and put everything except the oats in the slow cooker, and then cook for 6-8 hours on low or 4-6 on high. Add in the oats in the last 30-45 of cooking. 🙂