Dinner in a Pumpkin is not only a delicious fall recipe but also a unique and festive way to enjoy a hearty meal. The savory filling combined with the earthy sweetness of the pumpkin creates a symphony of flavors that will make your taste buds dance.
As the leaves turn golden, and the air becomes crisp, it’s the perfect time to cozy up with heartwarming dishes that capture the essence of autumn. If you’re looking for a fun and delicious way to celebrate the season, Dinner in a Pumpkin is a must-try recipe.
Where did Dinner in a Pumpkin Come From?
One of the things I love the most about this time of year are the traditions!
When we moved to Utah, one of the first church functions I attended that Fall, was a dinner for the women of our congregation. For weeks beforehand, everyone was talking about the “traditional dinner in a pumpkin”. (Huh?)
I was intrigued! In California, and call me crazy, all we did was carve pumpkins! Then throw them out after the Holiday of Spook was over! You can imagine how surprised I was to learn they are actually useful and delicious! (I was such a city girl back then!)
At the Church dinner there were pumpkins on the serving table with cute little painted faces. Inside each pumpkin, was this heavenly (this was church after all) ground beef, rice, and mushroom casserole.
The best part…we actually ATE the pumpkin! I’d never eaten pumpkin like “squash” with butter and seasonings. Man a day! Had I been missing out.
Now every October, I make dinner in a pumpkin! The kids love the rice and hamburger mixture.
This dish not only tastes amazing but also doubles as an eye-catching centerpiece for your fall gatherings. So, roll up your sleeves and get ready to carve out a culinary masterpiece!
What you’ll need to make this dish
- 1 medium pumpkin – with a clean interior
- 1 medium size onion, chopped – yellow or white will work
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce – regular, or low sodium
- 1 package fresh mushrooms – sliced, or 1 (4 oz) can of sliced mushrooms drained.
- 1 (8 oz) can sliced chestnuts, drained – you can use diced
- 2 lbs. lean ground beef – the leaner, the better for this dish. I recommend 90/10, but 85/15 works great too.
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 cup cooked white rice – you can substitute brown rice, if you’re living healthy.
- 1 can cream of chicken soup – cream of mushroom is a great substitution.
- 1 clove minced garlic
- Salt and Pepper to taste – approximately 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.
How To Make Ground Beef and Rice Stuffing For Dinner in a Pumpkin
Not to state the obvious but…you’ll need a medium size pumpkin for this dish. (Hey! Lol It’s actually THE DISH!) A regular carving pumpkin works well for this dish. You do not need a pie pumpkin! They are too small for this recipe.
Cut a lid into the top of the pumpkin and then clean out all the “guts”! (Guts sounds kind of “spooky” and “gorey” for this Halloween favorite!)
Once you have your pumpkin cleaned and seeded you can paint a face on it, if you want, with nonflammable craft paint. I’m not an artist. I’m a glue gun, cooking, baking freak. Freehand painting not so much so… feel free to laugh!
It isn’t necessary to paint a face on the pumpkin! I actually prefer not painting one on my pumpkin. I think it’s festive enough as is! Kids love it though, and it is fun for Halloween.
Making the Meat and Rice Filling
While your pumpkin face is drying, if you’ve painted one on your pumpkin, you can get started on the “new guts”! Lol
You’ll need 2 cups of steamed cooked rice. I used long grain white rice. It’s my favorite. However, brown rice, or even wild rice, can be used.
Tip: You can cook the rice earlier in the day, or even the day before and keep it in the refrigerator until you are ready to make the filling. The filling can even be made ahead of time and stuffed in the pumpkin when you are ready to bake this dish. (Just a few ideas to help with busy schedules!)
In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, brown two pounds of lean ground beef with the diced medium onion, and minced garlic.
Finishing the Pumpkin Filling
Add fresh mushrooms. (Note: The Original Recipe calls for canned mushrooms however, I feel they are evil and should be destroyed, or only used during the apocalypse! You do you though.)
Strain the meat after it is cooked.
Return to the heat, and continue cooking until the mushrooms are soft and tender. I like to chop them a bit as I’m cooking them. Helps hide them in the dish!
Add brown sugar, soy sauce, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
Add steamed rice and canned soup. Mix until everything is combined and ready to stuff into your prepared pumpkin.
TIP: You can add mixed vegetables if you want to sneak a few more veggies into this dish! Also, please note that the cream of chicken soup can be substituted with cream of mushroom soup.
Filling and Baking Stuffed Pumpkin
Place your clean pumpkin on a foil lined baking sheet. Be sure to adjust your oven rack, before preheating, for that big ol’ pumpkin you’re about to place in there! (See what I mean!) I generally move my rack to the lowest position.
Tip: If you’re worried about your stem burning you can cover it with foil. I had enough of a gap, so it was okay.
Fill the pumpkin with the hamburger rice mixture. Place the lid on top. Place the entire tray, pumpkin and all, into the oven. (You’re gonna need to bust out those muscles or ask someone to help you get this bad boy into the oven!)
Bake at 350° (F) for 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until pumpkin is tender. (Poke that poor thing with a fork to see if he or she…no pumpkin discrimination here…is done!)
TIP: I bake my pumpkin for 1 hour and 30 minutes, turn the oven off, and let it rest inside until ready to serve. This dish will stay warm for a long time thanks to that nice hot squash baking dish!
Remove the top of the pumpkin. Can you see how the pumpkin, aka…squash, is now cooked and tender? It’s perfect and ready to eat!
Serving Ground Beef and Rice Dinner in a Pumpkin
Using a large spoon to scoop out the filling. Then carefully scoop out the cooked pumpkin. You don’t want to poke through the outer layer of the pumpkin, just the meat of the squash.
Serve with a side salad, my pumpkin buttermilk biscuits, or sweet buttery corn bread and you have the perfect fall meal!
The pumpkin is rich, tender and flavorful with just a little butter, salt and pepper. The ground beef and rice is so delicious.
It’s a wonderful family friendly dish! A tradition you’ll want to make for the ghouls at your house!
Other Favorite Ground Beef Recipes
- Mexican Ground Beef Lasagna
- Spaghetti sauce with Ground Beef
- Easy Ground Beef Enchiladas
- Cowboy Biscuit Hamburger Casserole
- Hamburger Mexican Skillet Casserole
- 22 things to do with Ground Beef from All-Recipes.com
Embrace the autumn spirit and savor this delightful dish with friends and family. Happy cooking, and happy fall!
- 1 medium pumpkin
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 package fresh mushrooms or 1 (4 oz) can of sliced mushrooms, drained
- 1 (8 oz.) can sliced water chestnuts drained
- 2 lbs. lean ground beef
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 cups cooked rice
- 1 can cream of chicken soup
- 1 clove minced garlic
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350° (F)
- Wash pumpkin and cut off top. Clean seeds and pulp from inside.
- In a large skillet brown ground beef and drain off fat. Add chopped onions and minced garlic, Sauté. Add fresh mushrooms and cook till tender.
- Add soy sauce, sugar, and soup, rice, salt and pepper, and water chestnuts. Mix till well blended.
- Spoon mixture into pumpkin shell. Replace pumpkin top and place on foil lined baking sheet. Bake at 350° degrees for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until pumpkin is tender.
- Serves 6-8
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Serving Size:2 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 382Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 104mgSodium: 635mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 1gSugar: 5gProtein: 35g