These tasty stuffed mini pumpkins combined ground beef, pumpkin puree, and herbs into a hearty and satisfying meal. This quick and easy dinner recipe is sure to please your family and is the perfect dish for fall and Thanksgiving.
Stuffed mini pumpkin recipe
Wondering what to do with mini pumpkins? I love classic stuffed peppers, but sometimes it’s fun to change things up a bit. I absolutely love finding new veggies to stuff, and small gourds are a fabulous fall twist.
But don’t let the simplicity of this stuffed mini pumpkin recipe fool you. These little pumpkins are filled with so much flavor! They are meaty with pumpkin, spices, caramelized onion and savory garlic in each bite.
Baked mini pumpkins are quick and easy. You can throw them together on a busy weeknight. But they also appear festive enough to be served at your Thanksgiving feast and other autumnal celebrations.
You only need a handful of simple ingredients to make these stuffed mini pumpkins. The recipe is great when small pumpkins are in season, and as long as you have ground meat, you’ll probably have everything else in your kitchen too. Please scroll down to the recipe card to see exact measurements.
- Mini pumpkins: The stuffing makes enough to fill 8 to 10 mini pumpkins or 4 to 5 medium gourds. I used a bright orange variety called Jack Be Little.
- Ground beef is hearty and pairs nicely with pumpkin and spices. I like to use prime grade 80/20 ground chuck because it’s more flavorful, but choice or select grade work as well.
- Pumpkin puree adds delicious fall flavor and moisture to the stuffing. You’ll need a 15-oz can.
- Yellow onion adds a tasty, caramelized aroma to the stuffing.
- Garlic: You can’t go wrong with minced garlic. It packs each bite with so much flavor!
- Pumpkin pie spice: A dash of pumpkin pie spice adds depth of flavor and warming aroma. If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, simply combine 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon + 1/4 tsp ground ginger + 1/4 tsp ground cloves.
- Herbs complement the other flavors so well. I used a mix of thyme, oregano, and sage. You could also substitute 1-2 tbsp Italian seasoning instead of fresh herbs.
- Salt + pepper enhance the overall flavor of the beef stuffed pumpkins.
- Olive oil for greasing the pan and sauteing the onions + garlic.
Are mini pumpkins edible?
Yes, those mini pumpkins that are often used for fall decorations are actually edible. Cooked mini pumpkins are smooth and tender with a mild, slightly sweet taste.
They make the perfect serving bowl for all sorts of sweet and savory dishes, from soup to pumpkin pie and stuffed mini pumpkins.
How to make stuffed mini pumpkins
This stuffed pumpkin recipe is so quick and easy! Mini stuffed pumpkins are great to make for the holidays and whenever you crave a cozy meal. Here’s how to make the dish step-by-step:
#1: Preheat oven
- Preheat your oven to 400°C / 200°C / gas mark 6.
#2: Prepare the mini pumpkins
- To prepare the mini pumpkins, rinse them well and pat dry.
- Then cut off the tops and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Set aside.
#3: Sautee onion + garlic
- Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a pan over medium heat.
- Add the onion and garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 3 to 5 minutes.
#4: Mix stuffing
- Add the minced meat, pumpkin puree, sautéed onion and garlic, pumpkin pie spice, salt, pepper, and herbs to a large mixing bowl. Gently stir until everything is well combined.
#5: Assemble pumpkins
- Grease a casserole dish or cast-iron skillet with 2 tbsp olive oil and add the mini pumpkins.
- Brush each pumpkin with oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
- Fill each pumpkin cavity with the ground beef mixture until all mini pumpkins have been evenly filled.
- Top with the pumpkin stems. Brush the tops with oil.
- Place the pumpkins in the preheated oven and cook for 30 to 35 minutes, until the pumpkins are soft and tender, and the stuffing has cooked through.
- Keep the pumpkins from getting soggy: Don’t overbake your mini pumpkins. They will get mushy if baked too long. Also, avoid adding extra liquids to the stuffing before baking to keep the pumpkins from getting soggy.
- Make sure the pumpkins are fork tender: While you don’t want them mushy, you also don’t want them underdone. When properly roasted, you should be able to easily piece the stuffed pumpkins with a fork. The cooking time can vary based on your oven, baking dish, and pumpkin size.
- Tent pumpkins: If the tops brown too quickly or the pumpkins aren’t tender when the filling is done, tent the casserole dish with tin foil and continue baking. The steam will help to cook the pumpkins.
Dishes like stuffed mini pumpkins with meat are great because you can customize them with your favorite fillings and seasonings. I’ve added a few of my favorite variations below to get you started.
- Use different meat: Instead of ground beef, you can also use ground pork, ground turkey, shredded chicken, or sausage. You could even use diced cooked turkey if you’re looking for a post-holiday leftover turkey recipe.
- Try different vegetables: You can change up the veggies and try shredded zucchini, tomatoes, brussels sprouts, or some baked butternut squash instead of pumpkin puree.
- Add cheese: For cheesy stuffed mini pumpkins, stir 1 cup shredded cheddar, pepper Jack, Manchego cheese, or parmesan cheese into the filling.
- Add-ins: Chopped pecans and dried cranberries make aromatic additions to the filling and create interesting texture.
- Extra seasonings: Adding different herbs and spices is a great way to customize the flavor of the filling.
How to store stuffed mini pumpkins
Make sure to keep leftovers – baked mini pumpkins make great lunches the next day! Here are some tips to keep them fresh:
- Refrigerator: Store any leftover miniature baked pumpkins in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
- Freezer: While I don’t recommend freezing the pumpkins themselves, you can freeze the beef stuffing in a freezer bag for up to 2 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight before reheating.
- Reheating: You can reheat mini pumpkins in the oven at 350°F / 180°C / gas mark 4 for 10 to 15 minutes or until warmed through. Alternatively, pop them in the microwave and reheat them in 1-minute intervals.
Make-ahead mini pumpkins
- Pumpkins: Cut and core the mini pumpkins 1 day in advance and refrigerate them in an airtight container.
- Filling: Mix the stuffing as directed up to 1 day ahead of time. Let cool, then place in a separate storage container and refrigerate.
- Cook: When it’s time to eat, fill the mini pumpkins and bake as indicated just before serving.
- 10 mini pumpkins
- 1 lb / 450 g ground beef
- 1 can (15 oz / 425 g) pumpkin puree
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 tbsp fresh thyme
- 1/2 tbsp fresh oregano
- 1/2 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
- Preheat oven. Preheat your oven to 400°C / 200°C / gas mark 6.
- Prepare the mini pumpkins. To prepare the mini pumpkins, rinse them well and pat dry. Then cut off the tops and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Set aside.
- Sautee onion + garlic. Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Mix stuffing. Add the minced meat, pumpkin puree, sautéed onion and garlic, pumpkin pie spice, salt, pepper, and herbs to a large mixing bowl. Gently stir until everything is well combined.
- Assemble pumpkins. Grease a casserole dish or cast-iron skillet with 2 tbsp olive oil and add the mini pumpkins. Brush each pumpkin with oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Fill each pumpkin cavity with the ground beef mixture until all mini pumpkins have been evenly filled. Top with the pumpkin stems. Brush the tops with oil.
- Roast. Place the pumpkins in the preheated oven and cook for 30 to 35 minutes, until the pumpkins are soft and tender and the stuffing has cooked through.
- Serve. Remove the stuffed mini pumpkins from the oven and serve hot.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 5 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 501Total Fat: 32gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 80mgSodium: 1019mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 6gSugar: 11gProtein: 28g