Dinner in a Pumpkin

Dinner in a Pumpkin is one of my favorite fall recipes!  The dinner itself is sweet and savory, and it is so fun to serve it from a pumpkin!  I have served this many times on Halloween night before sending the kids out to trick-or-treat.
Dinner in a Pumpkin
Dinner in a Pumpkin is a warm, hearty meal with the delicious flavors of fall.  I always hope it will fill my kids tummies before trick-or-treating and prevent them from eating too much candy.  One can always hope!


The best part of this dinner is that the pumpkin cooks along with the casserole inside. Before serving the casserole, you scoop chunks of pumpkin from the inside and stir it into the casserole.  The pumpkin is sweet and tender, similar to butternut squash, and it adds color and the sweet taste of pumpkin to the dish.


Did you know there are many health benefits to eating pumpkin?  Just 1/2 cup of pumpkin provides 100% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin A which aids vision. Pumpkin is a rich source of the antioxidant beta carotene, and 1 cup of pumpkin has more potassium than a banana!  See more benefits from eating pumpkin below the recipe.


Pumpkin seeds are also good for you, so don’t throw away the seeds when you clean out your pumpkin!  You can turn them into a yummy treat as well – a treat that is much healthier to snack on than candy.  Pumpkin seeds are packed with magnesium, protein, zinc, and copper.  You can toss them with butter and salt and roast them in the oven, or for more flavor you can season them.  This Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds recipe is my favorite!


If I haven’t convinced you to make this hearty and delicious dinner for your family yet, I’ll throw in one more benefit – the clean up is super easy.  Instead of having to scrub a casserole dish, you get to throw it away!


Dinner in a Pumpkin

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  • 1 medium pumpkin
  • 1 tbsp oil or butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms (can use canned mushrooms)
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 8 oz can water chestnuts
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 cups cooked rice, white or brown


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line a baking sheet with foil.
  • Thoroughly wash and dry the outside of the pumpkin.
  • Cut the top off the pumpkin and clean out the pulp and seeds. Place the pumpkin on the baking sheet. Save the top.
  • In a large skillet, sauté onion and mushrooms in oil or butter. Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Drain the grease from the beef. Add salt, pepper, and water chestnuts.
  • In a large bowl, mix soup, brown sugar, and soy sauce. Add ground beef mixture and cooked rice.
  • Empty bowl into the cleaned out pumpkin and replace pumpkin top.
  • Bake for 1 hour on the lower rack of the oven, or on the rack where the pumpkin can be most centered in the oven.
  • After 1 hour, remove the top and check the sides of the pumpkin for doneness. The outside of the pumpkin will turn a dark orange, and the inside of the pumpkin should be tender and easily scoop off the sides with a spoon. If the inside of the pumpkin is still not fully cooked, bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. The cooking time will vary depending on the size of the pumpkin. Sometimes I've cooked the pumpkin as long as an hour and a half before it is ready. Using hot pads, place the pumpkin onto a serving plate, remove the lid, and stir. Be sure to scoop off chunks of cooked pumpkin into the casserole as it is served. That's the best part!

Health Benefits of Pumpkin


There truly are great health benefits that come from eating pumpkin – and this Dinner in a Pumpkin recipe uses pumpkin right from the source.  Pumpkin can be used in a lot of different recipes.  My favorite pumpkin recipes are desserts, of course, but pumpkin is also very good in soups and casseroles.  A couple of my favorite pumpkin desserts are Pumpkin Cobbler and Pumpkin Poke Cake.  Pumpkin has a squash-like taste and texture, and adds a lot of flavor to recipes.  It’s worth giving it a try to get the boost of vitamins and antioxidants pumpkin provides.  Here are just a few of the health benefits of eating pumpkin:


  1.  Better Eyesight – One cup of cooked pumpkin contains more than 200% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin A.  Vitamin A aids vision, especially vision in dim lighting.
  2. Weight Loss – One cup of cooked pumpkin has 3 grams of fiber and only 49 calories!  This makes you feel a little better when you eat that slice of pumpkin pie, right?  Fiber makes you feel fuller longer, so you eat less.
  3. Possible cancer and wrinkle prevention – Like carrots, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash, pumpkin is loaded with beta-carotene.  According to the National Cancer Institute, beta-carotene may play a role in cancer prevention.  Health Magazine also reported that the carotenoids in pumpkins can also help keep skin wrinkle-free.
  4. Energy – Pumpkin contains more potassium than bananas!  Potassium restores electrolyte balance after a workout and keeps muscles functioning at their best.


  1. Nancy says:

    Can you do this using individual pumpkins for each person. If so, how do you adjust the cooking time.

    • Erica says:

      You probably could, we haven’t done it that way before — if you try it, let us know the adjustments you made and how it turned out!!

  2. Valerie says:

    INTERESTING… And they look sooooo yummy too!! I love anything pumpkin, and since it’s just me and the hubby, I’m wondering if it might make more sense to scale this down a bit and prepare it in two small/”personal size” pumpkins?? Though it might make for double the work preparing the pumpkins… How do you think this might work, and how might oven temps/times change? LOVE your site!! THANKS!!!

    • Echo says:

      You can definitely prepare it in smaller pumpkins. I think it’s a great idea! Still cook the pumpkins at 350 degrees, but watch them closely after about 30 minutes. You will start to smell the pumpkin when it starts to cook. After 30 minutes, start to check the pumpkin every 10 minutes or so until it is done. It really depends on the thickness of the pumpkin. The pumpkin turns a darker orange and it is easy to insert a fork. Good luck and thank you for visiting our site!

  3. Chelsea says:

    How many people will this feed? I’m having a dinner party of 6!

    • Echo says:

      This recipe will serve 8 generously. Enjoy!

      • irene says:

        I always use a baking pumpkin or pie pumpkin and it comes out amazing!

  4. Linda says:

    This looks so fun….does this calling for “baking” pumpkins or can I use a regular pumpkin? Thanks! Linda

    • Erica says:

      You just use a regular pumpkin but I am sure a baking pumpkin would work fine, too.

  5. Pat Graham says:

    When you say 4 cups cooked rice, is that 4 cups of rice before cooking or after?
    I can’t wait to try this, but don’t want to overwhelm it with rice!

    • Erica says:

      It is 4 c. of rice after it has been cooked. 🙂

  6. Lovie says:

    what can I sub for the mushrooms?

    • Erica says:

      You can probably just leave them out if you don’t like them

      • irene says:

        I use green peppers as a sub

  7. Linda says:

    What size or weight is considered a medium pumpkin? I’m hoping to make this for coworkers this week.

    • Echo says:

      It’s hard to say an exact size. I try to pick a pumpkin that is about the size of a basketball. I’ve used pumpkins that are taller and skinnier than that and pumpkins bigger and smaller. The good news is it doesn’t have to be exactly the perfect size. If there is some room left at the top, it’s fine. The ingredients that go inside of the pumpkin are already cooked, and it won’t burn inside the pumpkin. The desired result is for the pumpkin to cook so you can mix it in with the casserole. Good luck! I think your co-workers are going to love it!

  8. capturing joy with kristen duke says:

    This is so similar to the recipe I just shared, but different. They must have come from the same place years ago! Your picture is so pretty! My pumpkin was too big, and I had to put a bowl inside to “lift up” the food for the picture, ha!

    • Erica says:

      haha thanks, it’s not easy getting an appetizing shot of food in a pumpkin lol! I think your picture looks great! The color is so vibrant!

  9. Tammy Weller says:

    Do you think that you could use this idea for stuffing?

    • Echo says:

      I think it would work for stuffing. The trick will be getting the amount of liquid right in your recipe. You will want to make sure your bread is at your preferred level of “moistness” before you put it in the pumpkin. It’s a great idea!

  10. gogirlrun says:

    Do you have some ideas for me to make the stuffing paleo-friendly? Thanks!

    • Erica says:

      Hmmm… this is a great question. None of us have done the paleo thing so I’m not sure what to recommend. If you make substitutions to make it paleo-friendly, come back and let us know! We would love to hear!

  11. Frances says:

    I just made this and loved it! I changed just 2 things, I don’t like to add sugar to stuff so I eliminated the brown sugar and replaced the soy sauce with worchestersire. So Good, thank you!

  12. Jennifer Rose says:

    This looks so cool! I wish my kids liked pumpkin…I know they’re weird right? I may make this for my Halloween party. Thanks!

    • Echo says:

      You could still make this for your kids, and not mix in the chunks of pumpkin until after you’ve scooped their portion out…just an idea! I’m glad you like the idea! Thank you for your comment!

  13. Karen Howard says:

    Hey Ladies-You Know I’m making this w/ the Pumpkin Poke Cake for Dessert! I’ve been wanting to stuff a Pumpkin for a while now-so this weekend- I’ll be having this .Thanks so much for all of the great recipes you share. : )

    • Erica says:

      Thanks so much for all your nice comments, Karen! Let us know how you like it!

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