Dinner In A Pumpkin

by Maria on October 26, 2009

If you’re looking for a great dinner guest this Halloween, I’ve got you covered. He’s quiet, a great listener, an excellent conversation piece, and to top it off, quite tasty! If you haven’t figured it out yet from the pictures, I’m talking about eating the pumpkin…for dinner.  Crazy you say?  Oh just try it, your kids will think it’s the coolest.

My mom came across this dinner in a pumpkin recipe when I was in  middle school, and I have loved it ever since. My favorite memory of having dinner in a pumpkin was about six years ago. That particular Halloween was  memorable for many reasons. I had just started dating my husband, had broken my knee  two weeks earlier and my brother was getting married the next day. My whole family was in Logan, Utah for the wedding (where I happened to be attending USU). This of course meant it was freezing cold and SNOWING, as is typical Halloween weather in Northern Utah. On her way to my apartment my mom got a flat tire. My cute hubby (not even quite boyfriend at the time) went out in the snow to fix it for her. That got him LOTS of points, and I thought it was  pretty nice too. She made us dinner in a pumpkin. It tasted so good! It was the perfect warm meal for such a cold night. Why is it that things always taste better when someone else makes them?

Enough with the  walk down memory lane, let me tell you how it’s done.

1 small-medium pumpkin (about the size of a volleyball)
1½ lbs ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
2 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 can sliced mushrooms
1 small can cream of chicken soup
1-1/2 cup  cooked rice ( I used 2)
1 can sliced water chestnuts (drained)
*Next time I make this I might try adding a little chopped green pepper, and/or celery, or substituting sausage for some of the ground beef.
  •  Wash the outer surface of the pumpkin thoroughly. Cut a circle off the top just like you would if you were making a jack-o-lantern. Remember to put your knife on slant when cutting the top. If you cut it straight up and down the lid will fall into the pumpkin while it is cooking. Clean out all of the seeds and stringy pulp. (I like to save the seeds and roast them later for a healthy snack.) Clean out the pumpkin and rinse it well. Set it aside.
  • Heat two tablespoons oil in sauce pan. Add ground beef and chopped onion. If you want to try adding a little green pepper or celery, put that in at this time as well. Once the meat is browned add the brown sugar, soy sauce, cream of chicken soup, mushrooms, cooked rice and water chestnuts. Mix well.
  • Place the cleaned pumpkin in a 9×13 baking dish or on a cookie sheet. Scoop mixture into the pumpkin and put the pumpkin’s top back on.  At this point you can draw a jack-o-lantern face on your pumpkin if you would like.  Place the stuffed pumpkin in a 350 degree oven and cook for 1-2 hours. Check after one hour. The cooking time will vary due to the size of your pumpkin. You will know it is done when the pumpkin is very tender and your casserole is bubbling all the way through.

You can serve this however you want. We like to put chow mein crunchy noodles on top and a little more soy sauce.  The pumpkin is edible too, so scrap a little of the edge when you are dishing it up. Fall Waffle Iron Cookies would make a great dessert.

Here are a few more of my families favorite fall dinners:

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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

kristin October 26, 2009 at 10:06 pm

YUM!! Thank you for posting this – I am excited to make it this week. :)


Destri October 27, 2009 at 12:15 am

Making it Tomorrow! My neighborhood has a little “you’ve been booed” thingy going on, those little cookies will be perfect.


aubrey October 27, 2009 at 6:18 am

I also LOVE doing dinner in a pumpkin! It’s become a family tradition of ours each year. I’m excited to try your recipe. Love the apples and cookies too, look yummy!


Amber October 27, 2009 at 7:40 am

I’ll have to give the pumpkin a try!
I’m SOOOOOO doing the candied apples for Halloween!!!! How much fun that will be to hold the wait from dinner/birthday cake to trick-or-treating!!!!

LOVE your Ideas!


Sarah October 27, 2009 at 8:43 am

I’m not a huge pumpkin fan, but this sounds so good. Especially for a cold night. I may just have to try it out! :)


Suzanne October 27, 2009 at 11:44 am

Maria, love the dinner and the carmel apples too. We did the apples last weekend and they were delicious. Never tried dinner in a pumpkin so I’ve got to do it, thanks for the idea! Love ya.


Jileen Platt October 28, 2009 at 12:13 pm

I have a really yummy recipe for “Old-fashioned Caramel Apples” where you make the caramel from scratch. It is sooo good – and we had extra so I’ve kept it in the fridge to dip cut apples in. I wish I would have known about the crushed oreo cookies and the cinnamon sugar mixture. Oh, that looks so delicious!


Chelsy October 29, 2009 at 8:20 am

Am way excited to try the dinner in a pumpkin. I think my kids will absolutely love it (hopefully enough to actually eat). :)


Jennifer Bosshardt October 30, 2009 at 8:24 am

I’m craving this now– must make this week!


Jackie October 30, 2009 at 12:10 pm

You’ve told me about this so many times, yet I never did get the recipe. Thanks Maria!


Merry October 30, 2009 at 4:38 pm

Yummy, I love dinner in a pumpkin. I can tell everybody first hand that the apple pie caramel apple is awesome! Maria brought me one. She is the sweetest sister, she drove 6 hours with a 15 month old and a 3 year old to take care of her sister on bedrest. You can’t get any nicer than that.


Amber November 9, 2009 at 3:22 pm

We had this growing up also. The variation I do is to make it in 4 smaller pumpkins, so everyone gets their own pumpkin bowl.


Ucreate Foods October 21, 2010 at 10:12 am

I’m scheduling a feature of this recipe at ucreatefoods.blogspot.com. Keep your eyes open for it! Thanks for sharing!


LInda Bolz October 23, 2010 at 6:29 am

We had Pumpkin stew YESTERDAY!!! Our tradition of pumpkin stew began 10 years ago when my husband and I were first married. We were trying new recipes and this one has become out FAVORITE Fall tradition.
I can’t wait to try this dinner in a pumpkin recipe. Who knows….this may become a new tradition!!


Maria October 28, 2010 at 6:24 pm

Pumpkin stew….sounds like a recipe I need to try. I hope you do love dinner in a pumpkin. It is such a fun way to celebrate the holiday and tasty ta boot.


Shalise October 14, 2011 at 3:59 pm

I am so happy to find this recipe!!!!I loved when My mom made this every year for us and i have wanted to make it for my kids..My mom passed away 8years ago and i never got the recipe from her. Thank you!!!!! This is going to bring back so many GREAT memories!! :)


Keshia October 16, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Don’t laugh at me, but is that 1 and a half pounds of ground beef or 1 half pound?


Destri October 16, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Keshia, you’re adorable. The way it was wrote out, it was hard to tell! I fixed it up, but yes 1 and 1/2 pounds. I have made it with one pound of beef and half pound of sage sausage too, yummy!


hillary October 27, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Going to attempt this for a party this weekend- does it travel well after cooking?


Destri October 28, 2011 at 8:00 am

I think it would travel fine, but if you could do everything up to the point if cooking it, then putting it in the oven when you get there. That way it is nice and hot!


Virginia November 21, 2011 at 3:36 pm

My mom used to do something quite similar in acorn squash – individual servings!
I think I’m going to do this on Thanksgiving with ground turkey/turkey sausages instead of beef. I’m trying to work out how to decorate the pumpkin to look like a turkey, after it’s cooked – any ideas?


the cape on the corner September 26, 2012 at 11:07 am

how neat is that! so festive!


Maria September 26, 2012 at 11:16 am

Thanks, kids love it! It is a great tradition.


Simplee Sue September 26, 2012 at 11:48 am

This is such a cool idea for the fall or at an informal Thanksgiving dinner. thank you for the recipe.


Jacque @theDIYvillage September 26, 2012 at 11:49 am

What a great idea! Not only am I pinning this but I am sharing with our Facebook fans!


CJ September 26, 2012 at 12:26 pm

My family has been doing this for as long as I know. We have a black and orange dinner ever October with 2 other families. Everything is black or orange and we have dinner in a pumpkin.



Sarah September 28, 2012 at 12:25 am

We love dinner in a pumpkin. Here is a different variety. 1 lb lean ground beef, 1 onion, 1 an tomato sauce, 1 small jar diced green olives, 1 egg, 1 TBsp vinegar, salt, pepper, and any other veggies, I’ve added zucchini, green pepper, etc. we love it!!


Destri September 28, 2012 at 8:07 am

OH thanks for sharing Sarah, I might have to try that one this year!


Diane Balch September 28, 2012 at 10:58 am

I love the combination of ingredients. Beautiful presentation in the pumpkin. Please share this on my foodie friday party today. I will pin it too.


Roxanne September 28, 2012 at 4:16 pm

I love this, I just located it on Pinterest and I would love for you to link this project up on my site to share with my other lovely followers. http://mommynmeblog.com/2012/09/perfect-pumpkin-week/


Patricia September 29, 2012 at 8:58 am

I’ve always wanted to try this. It looks amazing, I know my family would go crazy for it!


Maria September 29, 2012 at 9:53 am

Go for it this year. It is really fun!


Diane Balch October 22, 2012 at 8:45 am

I’ve included your recipe in a pumpkin line up. Will be tweeting it etc this week.


Maria October 22, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Awesome, Thanks Diane


Danielle November 11, 2012 at 11:07 am

I love this idea, but we are MSG sensitive so I think I’m going to just use the pumpkin to bake my Thanksgiving stuffing in :)


Clara October 3, 2013 at 9:13 am

This looks wonderful! Has anyone ever tried baking this with uncooked brown rice instead of cooked rice? I’m curious how that would turn out…. and it would cut down on one of the prep steps.


Maria October 3, 2013 at 10:36 pm

Hi Clara,

I have never tried baking it with brown rice, I don’t know if it would work. Brown rice takes so long to cook and you would have to add quite a bit of liquid and cook it for an additional 45 minutes once the casserole mixture was hot enough to be like the simmering temperature the rice would need to cook. I do love the idea of using brown rice though. I would just use pre-cooked brown rice, infact I think I will try that this year! Thank you for the idea!


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