Stuffed Pumpkins

Stuffed Pumpkins

Mini pumpkins are the perfect vessel for savory stuffing. These stuffed pumpkins make a fabulous side dish, and with sourdough bread, Gruyère cheese, cream, and eggs, they're hearty enough to stand on their own. Apples and optional dried cranberries perfectly complement the Gruyère, along with tender sautéed vegetables and herbs. 

The recipe is versatile as well. Feel free to add chopped toasted nuts to the mixture for a bit of crunch, or if you prefer a non-vegetarian dish, add a few ounces of diced sautéed pancetta or bacon, or cooked sausage to the filling. Sautéed mushrooms are another excellent choice. Or choose another stuffing, such as cornbread sausage or this Middle Eastern-style stuffing. Instead of bread stuffing, try a stuffing made with rice or quinoa. The filling doesn’t have to be savory, either. Instead of salt and pepper, season the pumpkins with cinnamon sugar, bake them until they are fork-tender, then fill them with fried apples or creamy pudding. Roasted pumpkins also make terrific soup bowls.

You'll find mini pumpkins in stores from mid-September through November. Properly stored, they can last for 6 months or longer. Look for bright, firm pumpkins that weigh 12 to 16 ounces and are free from damage or soft spots. 

Serve stuffed mini pumpkins with a Thanksgiving or Christmas feast, or add them to a special dinner party menu. They're also an excellent choice for a New Year's Day brunch or dinner.

If you’re looking for a delicious vegetarian thanksgiving dinner, this is the one! These stuffed pumpkins are full of flavor and make you feel warm and cozy. You can also make these one day ahead of time and they will still taste amazing.” —Bahareh Niati

Stuffed Pumpkins/Tester Image A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf sourdough bread, about 1 pound

  • 8 to 12 miniature pumpkins

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Diamond kosher salt, more as needed for seasoning the pumpkins

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more as needed for seasoning the pumpkins

  • 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter

  • 1 1/2 cups diced onion

  • 1 cup diced celery

  • 2 medium tart apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled and diced

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh sage

  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh thyme leaves

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth, more as needed

  • 3 large eggs, beaten

  • 8 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated

  • 1 cup dried cranberries, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 250 F.

    ingredients to make stuffed pumpkins

    The Spruce/Bahareh Niati

  2. Cut or tear the bread into small pieces, then spread them out on a large rimmed baking sheet.

    bread cubes on a baking sheet

    The Spruce/Bahareh Niati

  3. Bake the bread until dry, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the bread pieces to a large bowl and set aside.

    bread cubes in a bowl

    The Spruce/Bahareh Niati

  4. Increase the oven temperature to 400 F. Wipe out the baking sheet and line it with foil.

    foiled lined baking sheet

    The Spruce/Bahareh Niati

  5. Slice about 1/3 off the tops off of the pumpkins; scoop out the seeds and loose fibers.

    sliced open pumpkins with seeds scooped out

    The Spruce/Bahareh Niati

  6. Brush the inside of the pumpkins and lids lightly with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

    seasoned and oiled sliced open pumpkins

    The Spruce/Bahareh Niati

  7. Place the lids back on the pumpkins, arrange them on the baking sheet, and bake until slightly tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the pan to a rack and set it aside.

    mini pumpkins on a lined baking sheet

    The Spruce/Bahareh Niati

  8. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.

    melting butter in a skillet

    The Spruce/Bahareh Niati

  9. When the butter is sizzling, add the onions, celery, and apples to the skillet and sauté until the onions are translucent and the apple is just tender, 6 to 8 minutes.

    chopped onions, celery and apple in a skillet

    The Spruce/Bahareh Niati

  10. Add the garlic, sage, thyme, and rosemary and continue to cook for 2 minutes.

    cooked chopped onions, celery and apples with herbs in a skillet

    The Spruce/Bahareh Niati

  11. Transfer the vegetable mixture from the skillet to the bowl of dried bread.

    cooked onions, celery, and apples in a bowl with cubed bread

  12. Add the cream and broth to the dried bread mixture; stir to combine, adding more broth as needed to moisten. Add the 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.

    adding cream to stuffing mixture

    The Spruce/Bahareh Niati

  13. Add the beaten egg and mix until blended.

    adding beaten eggs to stuffing mixture

    The Spruce/Bahareh Niati

  14. Fold in the cheese and dried cranberries, if using.

    bread stuffing mixture with cranberries and cheese

    The Spruce/Bahareh Niati

  15. Mound approximately 1 cup of stuffing in each mini pumpkin.

    mini pumpkins filled with stuffing mixture

    The Spruce/Bahareh Niati

  16. Leaning the lids on the mini pumpkins, return them to the oven and decrease the oven temperature to 375 F. Continue to cook until the internal temperature of the stuffing reaches at least 160 F, 30 to 40 minutes.

    baked mini stuffed pumpkins

    The Spruce/Bahareh Niati

Recipe Tips

  • If you have extra stuffing, transfer it to a small buttered baking dish and bake it alongside the stuffed pumpkins.
  • Look for mini pumpkins in stores from mid-September into November. Stored properly, a fresh mini pumpkin will last for up to 6 months.
  • Store whole mini pumpkins in a cool (50 F to 60 F) dark place.

Recipe Variations

  • Add a little crunch to the filling with 1/2 to 3/4 cup of chopped toasted pecans or walnuts.
  • To make non-vegetarian stuffed mini pumpkins, add 3 to 4 ounces of diced sautéed pancetta or bacon to the stuffing mixture, or add 8 ounces of browned sausage.
  • Raisins may be used instead of dried cranberries.
  • Mini pumpkins don’t have to be orange—mix it up with an assortment of orange, white, and variegated varieties.

How to Store

  • Refrigerate leftover mini pumpkins in an airtight container; reheat and consume within 3 days.
  • To reheat a stuffed pumpkin, place it in a baking dish with a few tablespoons of water. Reheat in a preheated 350 F oven until the internal temperature reaches at least 160 F, 25 to 30 minutes.

Make Ahead

For quick prep on serving day, bake the bread and chop the vegetables and herbs the day before. Store the dried bread in a covered container or bag at room temperature and refrigerate the vegetables and herbs until you are ready to cook.

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