The Great Stuffed Pumpkin

The Great Stuffed Pumpkin ~

This stuffed pumpkin recipe is a dramatic side dish or vegetarian main course ~ I guarantee  it will command center stage on your table. Perfect for Friendsgiving!

*This post is in partnership with Swanson® ~ thank you for supporting me and the brands I work with, I promise to bring you only the very best!

The Great Stuffed Pumpkin is a spectacular vegan side or main dish for the holiday season ~

I love recipes that glorify vegetables, they so rarely get to bask in the spotlight. Just imagine pulling this steaming whole roasted pumpkin out of your oven, bringing it to the table, and slicing it open to reveal a treasure trove of grains, nuts, fruits and veggies tumbling forth. It’s dramatic, it’s delicious, and it rivals any turkey or rack of lamb, if you ask me.

The Great Stuffed Pumpkin ~ a whole roasted pumpkin filled with a multi-grain pilaf, dried fruits, nuts, and veggies, or a spectacular side dish or vegan main course! ~

I was inspired by one of my favorite cookbook authors, Anna Thomas, who has a version of this in her latest book Vegan Vegetarian Omnivore. The premise of the book is that with a little bit of forethought you can feed everyone at your table well, despite widely varying dietary needs. I think it’s such a great concept because it’s something we all struggle with. At our Thanksgiving table I have a brother-in-law who can’t eat red meat, a sister who doesn’t eat pork, a nephew with a nut allergy, another who is vegan, a daughter who is gluten intolerant, and a close friend who eats nothing but veggies and cheese. Holiday meals can be challenging!

TIP: The key to creating a vegetarian dish that tempts even the carnivores at the table? Flavor! I cooked the grains and rices for this stuffing in Swanson® Vegetable Broth instead of water, and that infuses the whole dish with a depth of flavor from the ground up.

The Great Stuffed Pumpkin is a dramatic side dish or a vegan main course ~

I used a mix of hearty grains and rice in this recipe, including barley, farro, wheat berries, quinoa, and wild rice. It’s essentially a multi-grain pilaf, enriched with veggies, nuts, and dried fruits. The grains have a wonderful texture and ‘chew factor’, but flavor isn’t their strong suit. That’s where Swanson broth comes in. When you cook grains and rices in broth, they literally absorb its flavor as they simmer and swell up. That foundation of savory flavor makes a big difference when you’re cooking without animal protein.

TIP: For a variation try filling a pumpkin with regular stuffing. If you eat meat, I love the idea of using my Pumpkin Cornbread with Country Sausage and Sage Stuffing. Kinda makes the turkey obsolete!

The Great Stuffed Pumpkin using Swanson Vegetable Broth ~

This stuffed pumpkin recipe can be broken down into several stages. I assemble my stuffing the day before, and let it come to room temperature the next day while I  par-bake my pumpkin.

Grains for stuffing The Great Stuffed Pumpkin ~ theviewfromgreatisland.comMaking The Great Stuffed Pumpkin ~

After I stuff the pumpkin I moisten everything with more Swanson Vegetable Broth right before I pop it in the oven, that infuses even MORE flavor and allows everything to steam beautifully.

The Great Stuffed Pumpkin ~

An hour and a half later, bring it to the table, lift off the top, watch the steam rise, and carve it into big fat wedges.

The Great Stuffed Pumpkin is a healthy and exciting vegan side dish! ~

TIP: Keep in mind that if you want to serve this table-side, you’ll need a pretty large round dish or platter to hold the stuffed pumpkin, and the wedges as they fall away, so plan ahead.


stuffed pumpkin
3.05 from 63 votes

The Great Stuffed Pumpkin

Author Sue Moran


  • 1 large pumpkin about 7-8 pounds
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion peeled and diced
  • 1 cup diced celery plus inner leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
  • 6 cups cooked grains I used barley, farro, wheat berries, and quinoa, (cook in Swanson Vegetable Broth for extra flavor)
  • 1 cup cooked wild rice
  • 1 cup cooked lentils I used red and green
  • 2 Tbsp fresh sage chopped
  • 1 large sweet potato peeled, diced, and cooked until just tender
  • 1 cup toasted nuts I used walnuts, almonds, pistachios and pecans
  • 1 cup chopped dried fruit I used cranberries, raisins, and apricots
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Swanson Vegetable Broth


  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Pepitas


  • Set oven to 375F
  • Pierce the top of the pumpkin with the tip of a sharp knife several times and put it on a baking sheet with a lip. Bake the pumpkin for 45 minutes, or until it just starts to give when you press on the side.
  • Remove the pumpkin and let it cool slightly.
  • Cut a circle around the stem of the pumpkin, just like you would for a jack-o-lantern. Make it at least 6 inches across, or big enough so you can scoop out the interior of the pumpkin and stuff it.
  • Scoop all the seeds and stringy bits out of the pumpkin.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and saute the onion, garlic, and celery for about 15 minutes until the onion has softened.
  • Combine the cooked grains, rice, and lentils with the sauteed vegetables in a very large bowl (or divide the mixtures between 2 large bowls if you need to.)
  • Mix in the sage, sweet potato, nuts, and dried fruit. Make sure everything gets thoroughly combined. Season well with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Fill the interior of the par-cooked pumpkin with the stuffing. Replace the top and place on the baking sheet with a lip. Add a cup of water to the bottom of the pan. Bake the pumpkin for approximately 1 1/2 hours, or until everything is steaming hot and the pumpkin is tender. Add more water to the baking sheet as needed.
  • Remove the pumpkin carefully to a platter. Remove the top and slice into wedges. Serve the wedges with the stuffing spooned over the top. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and pepitas.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.


  • If you’re not quite up for stuffing a huge pumpkin, try this idea with a smaller winter squash like kabocha. Look for a large round specimen, and stuff it in the same manner. You can cut the recipe down as needed.


don’t forget to pin the great stuffed pumpkin!

This stuffed pumpkin recipe is a dramatic side dish or vegetarian main course ~ I guarantee  it will command center stage on your table.  Perfect for Friendsgiving! #vegetarian #vegan #thanksgiving #stuffed #recipe #healthy #pumpkin #sidedish

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  • Reply
    Heather Harts’horn
    November 24, 2020 at 5:23 am

    Wow! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Great Island! My grandfather built the house w the 3 car garage on Beach Hill Rd, just steps from Great Island Common. I love your cooking style! This year my husband and I will have Rack of Lamb & stuffed pumpkin. I found your recipe looking for variations. Yours uses grains; the one I will cook this year is cornbread based. In either case, it’s true as you say, moist stuffing will steam it’s container, bird, gourd, or whatever! In more typical Thanksgivings, I roast a turkey with a white bread, sage, apple & walnut stuffing moistened with some of the liquid from boiling the giblets and some from stewing yellow onions (for Creamed Onions which are topped with cream & butter). Be sure to save remaining liquid for Giblet Gravy. These are Thanksgiving traditions I learned on Great Island.

    • Reply
      November 24, 2020 at 6:50 am

      So nice to ‘meet’ you Heather, what a coincidence! Actually I’ve heard from a surprising number of Great Island residents, past and present, it’s such fun, and such a magical place 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving!
      By the way, you have the most beautiful name 🙂

      • Reply
        HW Harts'horn
        November 25, 2020 at 2:15 pm

        5 stars
        Thank you for saying that! You have made my day!
        Every morning one of the first things I see is a watercolor painted in Great Island Common from the remnants of a concrete pier looking out across the mouth of the river under a grey winter sky. It shows the house on that tiny island suspended between NH & ME. This painting was in my parents house all my life.
        Q: Do you know what Ice Box Cake is? It might be a Portsmouth kind of thing. Square chocolate cookies with a texture of graham crackers, layered with vanilla ice cream, lying down in a loaf pan. I’m looking for a recipe. Happy holidays!

        • Reply
          November 25, 2020 at 4:14 pm

          I love ice box cakes, you can search my blog to see some of mine. I’ve made the classic one, but never posted that, it’s a winner!

  • Reply
    Crystal Padilla
    November 5, 2019 at 2:03 pm

    Made this last year for a gathering and everyone was amazed with the flavor and presentation. I used my favorite peanut pumpkin that is covered in sugar eruptions that look like peanut shells, gorgeous, bright orange flesh and wonderful flavor. Definitely will be making it again this year.

    • Reply
      November 5, 2019 at 7:22 pm

      I loved that you used a peanut pumpkin ~ I’ve never cooked with one, I bet yours was spectacular 🙂

  • Reply
    Annarosa Berman
    August 9, 2019 at 4:12 am

    I made this today and it worked a treat. I followed the recipe to the letter and everything came out the way it was suppsed to. My addition: a bit of cumin and coriander. Great dish, especially for pumpkin lovers.

    • Reply
      August 9, 2019 at 9:31 am

      Pumpkin lover here for sure 😉 Can’t wait for the season!

  • Reply
    Jill Coward
    December 15, 2018 at 7:58 pm

    Sue, this is beautiful! I want to make this for a Christmas ladies’ luncheon for about 20 women. Of course, there are no pumpkins available now. Although presentation would be preferential, I’m curious how this might work in a crockpot since I’ll be taking it to share at a friend’s home who is hosting.

    Would I need more stock? Or other thoughts & suggestions? I look forward to your reply.

    • Reply
      December 15, 2018 at 8:28 pm

      I think what you’d have to do is to make it first, then transport it in the crock pot, and keep on warm to serve. I don’t think you could actually make the stuffing in the crock pot.

      • Reply
        Jill Coward
        December 16, 2018 at 6:41 am

        Thank you, Sue. Wondering if I would need extra stock thinking it might be drier since it’s not cooked inside a pumpkin?

  • Reply
    November 20, 2018 at 10:15 pm

    What a delicious alternative dish for vegetarian and everybody else. It looks so pretty!

  • Reply
    November 20, 2018 at 10:07 pm

    What a great treat for a vegetarian or anybody else. It looks so beautiful !

  • Reply
    November 10, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    Question marks? No! No! *which they are still talking about??*

    • Reply
      November 10, 2018 at 2:01 pm

      Exclamation points times 2.

    • Reply
      November 11, 2018 at 6:34 am

      I can’t figure out why those question marks show up on comments 🙂

  • Reply
    November 10, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    Sue! THIS was a show stopper—beautiful and so very delicious! It was a hit with everyone. And yes, it will be part of our holiday tradition from now on-along with your amazing cranberry pie (which they still talk about)??

    • Reply
      November 11, 2018 at 6:35 am

      That sounds like quite a feast with the pie and the stuffed pumpkin! I saved a big beautiful ‘cinderella’ pumpkin to make this again this year, can’t wait.

  • Reply
    October 2, 2018 at 4:18 am

    What a neat idea! I’m going to try it! Thanks for the post!

    • Reply
      October 2, 2018 at 7:39 am

      It’s a fun one, Belinda. I’m on the hunt for the right pumpkin myself these days…

  • Reply
    November 25, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    Just made this for my husbands birthday dinner I used a small pumpkin and didn’t have most of the grains listed but just used lentils and brown rice also didn’t have raisins. It still came out beautiful fragrant and delicious!! My two year old gobbled up the leftover filling with a spoon.

    • Reply
      November 25, 2017 at 6:33 pm

      That’s great to know, and it sounds like you’re starting your daughter off right!

  • Reply
    November 5, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    Looks gorgeous. Here’s my problem – I’m invited to friends’ for the meal. I’m wondering how this dish would taste at room temp. (oven space already spoken for) I’m thinking that in my case, it would be better in a dish with roasted butternut squash standing in for the pumpkin. What do you think?

    • Reply
      November 5, 2017 at 7:33 pm

      I don’t think this would be at its best at room temp, Bonnie, so I agree with you that butternut or acorn squash might be a better idea. Acorns have more the shape of the pumpkin, in miniature, so that would be my vote.

  • Reply
    November 5, 2017 at 6:14 am

    Sue, unable to find any pumpkins at the store. Went to several. So disappointed. Do you think a covered casserole would work?

    • Reply
      November 5, 2017 at 6:55 am

      That’s so frustrating, I know you have to find those pumpkins early and then store until Thanksgiving. How about individual stuffed pumpkins? Or acorn squash?

  • Reply
    Courtney Rowland
    November 20, 2016 at 9:30 am

    This is perfect for Thanksgiving!

  • Reply
    Jules @ WolfItDown
    November 19, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    This is a work of art! And it looks as though it can be accompaniment alongside any dish imaginable with those flavours and textures 😀 WANT! x

  • Reply
    November 18, 2016 at 10:04 am

    I really want to try this. It looks fantastic. How far in advance can I cook the grains? Could I prepare them on Monday? Do they freeze? Wednesday for us is the time to bake all the pies and cakes so I can’t do it then. This seems labor intensive to me (cooking all those grains!) and I’m trying to save time. We also have a huge smoked turkey which my husband is in charge of and a baked ham as well. Thanksgiving is the major holiday of the year for us, as you can tell. We cook vast amounts of food for a lot of people.

  • Reply
    Laura | Tutti Dolci
    November 17, 2016 at 8:12 pm

    Just gorgeous, Sue! I’d absolutely love to sit down to the pumpkin at Thanksgiving.

  • Reply
    Shawn @ I Wash You Dry
    November 16, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    What a brilliant idea! I have to try this!

  • Reply
    Cookin Canuck
    November 14, 2016 at 8:34 pm

    This is a seriously gorgeous dish! i’m sure this would be the hit of any holiday feast.

  • Reply
    Vicki Bensinger
    November 14, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    I love stuffing a pumpkin during the holidays but this is beyond beautiful and nutritious. I love everything about this. This should be on the cover of your first book!

    • Reply
      November 14, 2016 at 1:15 pm

      haha, you’re so sweet 🙂

  • Reply
    November 14, 2016 at 11:38 am

    Wow, you never cease to amaze! This is so fantastic. What a great idea!! I’ve got a veggie stuffing I’m sampling right now. It would be super darling served up in mini pumpkins. I love the art you bring to food presentation. I’m also a fan of the variety of grains, nuts, seeds and berries you use in your dishes – my favorite but unfortunately I’m the only one in the family that likes things that crunchy. I can throw in one or two but not all – love it though, so healthy! Keep ’em coming!!

    • Reply
      November 14, 2016 at 12:09 pm

      Yes, Bita, I think mini pumpkins would be great for this, how cute to set them on each plate. And for your crunch-averse family, I think regular stuffing would be so good in this, too.

  • Reply
    Chris Scheuer
    November 14, 2016 at 11:33 am

    Woweeeee! This is gorgeous and I can imagine the oohs and ahhs as this one is pulled out So beautiful!

  • Reply
    November 14, 2016 at 10:57 am

    Gorgeous presentation!

  • Reply
    Karen @ Seasonal Cravings
    November 14, 2016 at 10:15 am

    What a beautiful dish and a creative idea! It makes quite a showstopping dish for the holiday table.

  • Reply
    November 14, 2016 at 10:14 am

    This is quite intriguing. It could be a side dish for anybody or even a main dish for anybody. I like dishes that work for a wide range of dietary issues.

  • Reply
    November 14, 2016 at 10:07 am

    Wow! What an awesome dish with beautiful presentation! Sitting on a pewter platter, it would look fit for the Pilgrims’ feast!

    • Reply
      November 14, 2016 at 10:45 am

      I think with the right platter it would be stunning on the table.

  • Reply
    carrian cheney
    November 14, 2016 at 9:36 am

    That is the most beautiful thing ever!! Love this!

  • Reply
    Mark, Compass & Fork
    November 14, 2016 at 8:21 am

    What a great dish to glorify everything that is good about pumpkin. Fabulous looking filling and very photogenic. Nice job.

  • Reply
    Jamie | The Kitchenarium
    November 14, 2016 at 8:12 am

    Absolutely beautiful! I think I need to make this for Thanksgiving this year.

  • Reply
    Tina Dawson | Love is in my Tummy
    November 14, 2016 at 7:55 am

    This is so awesome! So much more healthier and easier than a turkey! I’ll be trying this one out, thanks!

  • Reply
    Platter Talk
    November 14, 2016 at 7:15 am

    Your stuffed pumpkin is a real show stopper! Excellent idea and post.

    • Reply
      November 14, 2016 at 7:28 am

      Turkey is so over-rated 😉

  • Reply
    [email protected]'s Recipes
    November 14, 2016 at 7:01 am

    That looks sensational! I just want to dig into that filling!

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers
    November 14, 2016 at 5:42 am

    Stunning! And such a great side (or vegetarian main :). Sending this along to my (vegetarian) daughter, too. She could dig in to this!!

    • Reply
      November 14, 2016 at 6:47 am

      This would be such fun for a vegetarian themed Thanksgiving celebration, hope she likes it Jennifer.

  • Reply
    November 14, 2016 at 5:08 am

    This has to be the prettiest side dish ever. Love all the different textures and flavors. Looks delicious Sue!

    • Reply
      November 14, 2016 at 6:43 am

      Thanks Cheri, I think it would be a fun turkey substitute for a ‘Friendsgiving’, too 🙂

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    November 14, 2016 at 4:36 am

    My goodness this is a work of art! Tempting – you bet! Who wouldn’t love to dig into this beautiful vegetable treat! Love all your photos and the creativity – amazing~!

    • Reply
      November 14, 2016 at 6:43 am

      Thanks Tricia, I had fun with this!

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