Turkey Chili in a “Pumpkin” Recipe

Jeff and I spent the last weekend of 2017 in Wilmington, NC; a charming city that is close to the beach and has a lovely old town. We stayed at Stemmerman’s Inn, which is also charming and within walking distance to many attractions. I would highly recommend a night or two there. One of the restaurants that we ate at for lunch while in Wilmington served chili in a pumpkin. I was intrigued and ordered it. When it arrived, it was actually served in half of an acorn squash. However, I loved the dish and proceeded to make a version of it for New Year’s Eve. Chili preferences are somewhat personal. I tend to like mine mild, with about a half meat to bean ratio, and served in a “pumpkin.” I will include notes in the recipe below on ways to modify based on heat and meat preferences.

–Leah and Jeff

Wrightsville Beach

Makes 4 servings


  • 2 acorn squash, cut in half and seeds scooped out
  • Olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. lean turkey meat (I used 93%, for a vegetarian version, swap with two more cans of beans)
  • 2 cans of beans (pinto and kidney beans used here)
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (unsalted)
  • 2 T. Chilli powder (I used mild)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 t. red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Shredded cheese and chopped green onions, to top
cooked acorn squash


  1. Preheat the oven to 375′ F. Place the squash cut side down on a baking sheet with a rim or a large casserole dish. Bake until fork tender, about 45 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil into medium sized stockpot on medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and stir briefly until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add the turkey meat and chili powder. Sauté until the meat is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the beans. Season with salt and pepper, as desired. Cover and increase heat to high until the mixture bubbles, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for a least in hour.
  3. To serve: place half a squash on each plate, fill with chili, and top with chopped green onions and shredded cheese.
  4. Invite your friends over and as you eat it insist that they are eating chili in a pumpkin.
  5. Enjoy!
Chili in an Acorn Squash


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