Slow Cooker Pumpkin + Short Rib Chili

Summer heat may be known to last through October here in Memphis, but it’s time to start thinking about cozy sweaters, pumpkin lattes, and brisk fall air. The end of another sweltering summer usually feels like a cause for celebration, and fall is perfect season to bring your family and friends together over a hearty, comforting bowl of chili. Even better, it’s the perfect time of year to break out your slow cooker, which is the perfect kitchen tool for autumn meals and makes life easier for those busy back-to-school days.

Slow Cooker Pumpkin + Short Rib Chili, also known as “the best chili on earth,” is full of hearty meat and savory spices in every bite. To help save time, steps 1-4 can be prepared the night before, so the next morning all you have to do is plug in the slow cooker. You’ll come home to the smell of a new season and be more ready than ever for that crisp, cool air.


  • 2-3 lbs short ribs
  • 2 bottles pumpkin beer (optional)
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 orange bell pepper (chopped)
  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (chopped with some of the sauce)Found in the international section of most grocery stores
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1 can pumpkin purée
  • 1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1.25 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Optional Toppings: Chopped green onions, Sour cream


1. Bring pumpkin beer and 2 cups water to a boil in a large pot (if not using beer, add 3 more cups of water). Add the short ribs to the water allow to boil for about 2 minutes. Lower heat and let them simmer for 10 minutes. Afterward, drain and pat dry to remove some of the fat from the ribs.

2. Heat a pot or Dutch oven on high heat, adding a drop of olive oil. Add salt and pepper to both sides of the meat and sear them until they are nice and brown. Then set them aside

3. In the same pot, add olive oil, onions, garlic, bell pepper, and a heavy pinch of salt. Cook veggies until soft. Then add chipotle peppers with some of the adobo sauce, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and brown sugar. Stir together and let cook for about 2 minutes.

4. Dump cooked veggies into the slow-cooker. Add maple syrup, tomatoes, beef broth, pumpkin purée, and black beans. Stir to combine and nestle the short ribs in the liquid. Sprinkle cloves near the top, so they are easy to find and discard later. Cover and refrigerate if prepping in advance.

5. When ready to cook, set the slow-cooker on low heat. Allow it to cook for 6 to 8 hours. Uncover the cooked chili and discard cloves. Transfer tender short ribs onto a plate or cutting board to remove the bones and fat. Shred the short rib meat into small pieces with two forks or your hands. Skim the surface of the chili to remove any extra fat floating on the top. Add the shredded meat back into the slow cooker and stir to combine. Stir in the cinnamon. Taste the chili and add 1/4-1/2 tsp of salt if needed. Serve in bowls and top with green onions and sour cream, if desired.

Andrea LeTard is a personal chef, cooking instructor, and creator of Andrea’s Cooktales, a recipe website and video series where there’s a story behind every recipe. Her recipes are what she calls “next-generation southern” – fun and fundamentally southern with a modern twist using fine, fresh, and unexpected ingredients. She is a regular contributor on Local Memphis Live, her recipes have been featured on The Today Show, and she was chosen as a Top 100 contestant on MasterChef Season 6. Follow Andrea on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter or read her blog and watch her video series at

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