Fall Stew Baked in a Whole Pumpkin

How to stuff a pumpkin with a vegetarian stew of bell peppers, tomatillos and hominy, then bake it in small individual pie pumpkins or one large pumpkin. Very dramatic in appearance and very tasty eating, too! Wouldn't it be just perfect for a Thanksgiving vegetarian entrée?! This recipe is featured in the brand-new collection of Thanksgiving vegetable recipes at A Veggie Venture, see My Very Best Thanksgiving Vegetable Recipes.

Fall Stew Baked in a Whole Pumpkin ♥ KitchenParade.com, a stunning tomatillo-hominy vegetarian meal for fall, a great vegan entrée for Thanksgiving.

Real Food, Fresh & Seasonal. Hearty & Filling. Budget Friendly. Great for Meal Prep. Low Fat. Low Calorie. Very Weight Watchers Friendly. Vegetarian & Easy Conversion to Vegan. Naturally Gluten Free.

Once Upon a Time ...

... I harbored visions of cooking stew in whole pumpkins in a campfire. So one cool-ish fall afternoon, we stuffed small pumpkins with bits of pork and vegetables, then poured spicy V-8 over top.

If indeed “hunger is the best sauce,” by rights, those should have been the best darned pumpkins EVER. We were famished and they looked so promising, all plump and pretty tucked into white-hot coals.

Time passed, we poked the flesh: raw. We added fuel to the fire until it snapped and crackled. More time passed, we poked the pumpkins again: still impenetrable.

In the field, improvise. We reversed the meal’s order, munching apples roasted on sticks intended for dessert. We put out crackers and cheese. But in the end, we abandoned the pumpkins to the crows and coons and found ourselves a steakhouse.

But here you go, the Campfire Stew That Wasn't ...

Fall Stew Baked in a Whole Pumpkin ♥ KitchenParade.com, a failed attempt to bake in a campfire. Use the oven!

If At First You Don't Succeed, Try Again.

Still the stew-stuffed pumpkin idea stuck in my brain.

Lucky day, the Vegetarian Times newsletter arrived gushing praise for a tomatillo and hominy stew cooked in a pumpkin in an oven. (Smart folk, those vegetarians, how modern!) Nothing like a great recipe and a proven technique to reignite my vision of cooking stew in whole pumpkins.

And OH, this stew! The tomatillos and hominy are a magical combination. Eat this dish with a spoon, scooping out soft pumpkin and stew together. Every so often, surprise! bite into creamy cheddar – in fact, I like the cheese surprise so much I’ve actually doubled the amount. (When was the last time that happened, anyone?)

This would make a great vegetarian entrée for Thanksgiving, it’s hearty, it’s filling, it plates with such dramatic flourish. Isn’t it pretty?!

Or put this one on your must-make list for another fall occasion, maybe the first fire in the fireplace, just use the oven – the hot, even-cooking, no-stoking-required, ever-so-reliable oven – for cooking the stuffed pumpkin.

About This Recipe

Fall Stew Baked in a Whole Pumpkin is visually stunning, hearty and satisfying.

For individual servings, look for small pumpkins: just eyeball ones that can hold one to two cups of the stew. If needed, switch from pumpkin to acorn squash or another winter squash that's a suitable size.

The stew itself is first cooked in a skillet, then is layered inside the pumpkin with grated cheese to finish in the oven while the pumpkin flesh itself cooks.

The stew's distinctive ingredients are fresh tomatillos, canned hominy and a heady mix of spices. This is a special, vegetarian stew but if you have another favorite stew recipe, I think you could successfully stuff it into a pumpkin to bake whole as well.

It takes about 40 minutes to cook the stew and to cut into and scrape out the pumpkins. Both steps may be done ahead of time, early in the day, say, then finished in the oven later. Allow up to two hours oven time but once the pumpkin has turned soft and luscious, timewise, the recipe is forgiving.

I hope you love this recipe!

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How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If this recipe for such a stunning fall meal hits the mark, go ahead, save and share! I'd be honored ...

Fall Stew Baked in a Whole Pumpkin ♥ KitchenParade.com, a stunning tomatillo-hominy vegetarian meal for fall, a great vegan entrée for Thanksgiving.


Hands-on time: 40 minutes
Time to table: 2-1/4 to 3 hours
Makes 3 cups stew (see TIPS)

Let the size of your pumpkins dictate how much stew to make, 3 cups is enough to fill two small-ish pumpkins. It's easy enough to make more for larger pumpkins or additional pumpkins.
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced small
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (see TIPS)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 pound fresh tomatillos, husked and chopped
  • 15 ounces canned hominy, drained
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt
    PUMPKINS (per serving)
  • Small pie pumpkin, 1 to 1-1/2 pounds
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 ounce (28g) grated cheddar cheese (omit for vegan dish)

Heat the oven to 350F/175C. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.

MAKE THE FALL STEW In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil on medium high until shimmery. Add the onions, peppers and garlic as they’re prepped, stirring to coat with fat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions and peppers begin to soften. Stir in the spices and cook for about 3 minutes.

Add the water, tomatillos, hominy and salt, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a slow simmer and cook, partially covered, until the tomatillos soften, about 10 minutes. If needed, uncover and let the liquid cook off a bit.

TO MAKE AHEAD OF TIME Finish the stew and refrigerate. Just before baking, return to a boil and then continue.

PREPARE THE PUMPKINS While the stew cooks, wash the pumpkins well. Insert a knife at the “shoulder” of the pumpkin (this makes the widest possible opening while preserving the greatest height) and cut around the pumpkin to form a lid. With a serrated grapefruit spoon or something similar, scrape the seeds and strings out of the pumpkins.

About two hours before serving time, rub the interior of the pumpkins with olive oil. Sprinkle half the cheese in the bottom of each pumpkin. Fill the pumpkin halfway with the stew mixture, add the remaining cheese, then continue filling.

BAKE IN THE OVEN Place the lids back onto the pumpkins and transfer to the baking sheet. Bake for 1-1/2 to 2 hours until the pumpkin flesh is knife tender (just insert the tip of a small knife through the pumpkin skin in some inconspicuous spot). Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

TIMING I think that the pumpkins are forgiving, timing-wise. Mine finished in 90 minutes but I left them in the oven another 30 minutes or so without any issue.

ALANNA’s TIPS As written, the stew recipe yields three cups in volume. Here, three cups was just enough to fill the two smallest pumpkins I could find, a lady-size gal weighing just over a pound, a man-sized fella that weighed in at nearly a pound and a half. If your pumpkins are larger, bulk up the stew quantity, for you do want to fill the pumpkins. A “pie” pumpkin is grown for eating, unlike carving pumpkins which are grown for jack o’ lanterns. Some times they are called “sugar” pumpkins. An acorn squash or another winter squash would work too. To save some calories, add a half pound of fresh mushrooms to the onion-pepper mixture and use only a half can of hominy.
NUTRITION INFORMATION I struggled with how to calculate the nutrition for this dish. In the end, I decided to separate the stew and the pumpkin. For the stew, I stick with the one-cup portion regimen used across Kitchen Parade, even though it will likely take more than one cup to fill even a small pumpkin.

Stew Only, Per Cup: 206 Calories; 6g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 893mg Sodium; 33g Carb; 7g Fiber; 7g Sugar; 4g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 4 & PointsPlus 5 & SmartPoints 7 & Freestyle 1 & myWW green 4 & blue 1 & purple 1
My recipe is adapted from Vegetarian Times. (FYI as of 2021, Vegetarian Times is no longer a print magazine and no longer producing new recipes.) The inspiring recipe uses just one large pumpkin as the cooking vessel, which would add its own drama to the table. They also suggest a cucumber-poblano-avocado salsa to serve alongside that other cooks rave about. I intended to make it but ran out of time.

Are You Up for Baking a Whole Pumpkin?!

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Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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2010, 2014 & 2021

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. These look great. I've been wanted something special that was vegetarian and vegan to serve over all the holidays. This will be it for sure! I like your tips and I might just add some pureed dried peppers to the stock.

    Really love what you are sharing these days!

  2. Marilyn11/02/2010

    super idea ... we were at a wedding in maine in aug and they had cream soup in an uncooked squash ... the presentation was lovely but the serving of soup small and it seemed such a waste to not be able to scoop up some squash

  3. That campfire stew sounds like such a great idea; too bad it didn't really pan out, but hey- you got this recipe, didn't you? Sounds amazing, too! I would have never thought to put cheese in there, but cheese ALWAYS makes everything taste better :) And I love the presentation, too- it's totally the perfect fall dish.

  4. I love the idea of this fall stew served in a pumpkin. Looks so adorable and yummy too!

  5. Anonymous1/15/2011

    Campfire stew doesn't have to be completely out of the question! Have you tried wrapping the whole thing in tin foil to keep the moisture all in one place...like an oven? It's worth a shot!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna