Apple crisp, rosemary stuffing, moist spice cake—can these fall foods get any better? When you stuff them inside a mini pumpkin, yes, yes they can. This season we’re using the most sustainable bakeware there is—a sugar pie pumpkin—for all of our sweet and savory holiday cooking. This edible vessel ramps up the fall festivities while also providing some extra fiber in your diet—plus, there’s no need to clean an extra pan. Buy a barrel-full of sweet mini pumpkins (try Trader Joe’s) and try these ten classic dishes before the last leaves fall.
When you top this savory bake with cooked beans and serve with a side of Brussels sprouts or steamed kale, you’ve got yourself a full meal. Be sure to use a pumpkin on the shallow side so it all cooks through, and par-bake your pumpkin for 20 minutes at 350 degrees before filling. As with all of these recipes, remove the strings and seeds before filling with your favorite cornbread recipe.
The recipe: This Vegan Cornbread For Two recipe makes the perfect amount of batter to fill a petit pumpkin.
2. Apple Crisp
Whether you call it a crisp or a crumble, it’s delicious when baked inside a pumpkin. Don’t just leave the topping for the end—layer the apple filling with the buttery mixture of oats and sugar so you get a pop of texture in every bite. This method works with bettys, buckles, and cobblers as well.
The recipe: This Easy Apple Baked Crisp is a pantry-pull away from an epic dessert.
3. Spice Cake
There is no such thing as too much pumpkin during the season, so if you want to bake a pumpkin spice cake inside a pumpkin, we support you. Whip up a loose cream cheese icing to drizzle over your pumpkin-on-pumpkin creation once it has fully cooled, then slice and serve as your guests applaud your culinary creativity. Note: as with cornbread, par-bake your pumpkin just shy of fork-tender before filling it with cake batter.
The recipe: Convert these easy pumpkin cupcakes into a mini cake and drizzle with this simple cream cheese icing.
Skip the bread bowl and use a pumpkin for your soup instead. Cut off the top and a thin layer from the bottom (to stabilize), remove the strands and seeds, place upside-down on a baking sheet, and bake your pumpkin at 350 degrees for an hour or until soft and tender. While your pumpkin is roasting, whip up your favorite chili (or microwave a store bought version—no shame) on the stovetop. Let the pumpkin cool for 10-15 minutes before filling it with chili. Top with vegan cheese and broil the whole thing until the cheese oozes and bubbles. Dig in.
The recipe: Engine 2’s Two-Alarm Chili packs a spicy protein punch with Beyond Meat crumbles and a generous helping of Tabasco sauce.
Not only is this fun to say (Stuffing-Stuffed Pumpkin—admit it, you smiled), it works brilliantly as a hearty side dish. Par-cook your pumpkin until just shy of fork-tender then finish the bake with your desired stuffing—be that cornbread or breadcrumb-based. Serve with a side of thick mushroom gravy and cranberry sauce.
The recipe: Seasoned with fragrant sage, this Savory Walnut-Mushroom Stuffing screams Thanksgiving dinner.
6. Pumpkin Bread
We’re going for the pun again with this pumpkin-stuffed pumpkin bread. As breads and muffins are baking cousins, you could also swap in your go-to pumpkin muffin recipe to create a giant pumpkin muffin. Enjoy with coffee or a vegan pumpkin spice latte.
The recipe: If you don’t already have a stellar pumpkin bread recipe, this citrus and ginger-flavored loaf is it.
7. Bread Pudding
Never let bread go to waste. Repurpose day-old or even slightly stale bread by dousing it in a sweetened chocolaty pumpkin custard and baking it into a divine dessert. This recipe also works with old doughnuts and cupcakes, too!
The recipe: If you don’t believe chocolate and pumpkin go together, this Pumpkin Bread Pudding will prove you wrong.
8. Cheese Fondue
No need to buy a fondue set you’ll use once and never again. A mini pumpkin is the perfect vessel for cheese dip.
The recipe: Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. This ooey-gooey, vegan Pumpkin Cheese Fondue is perfect for a virutal Friendsgiving.
9. Pot Pie
Stuff your pot pie ingredients into a mini pumpkin and you’ve got yourself a hearty and soul-satisfying meal-for-one. Bonus: with only a top crust, you can avoid the soggy crust situation that comes with virtually all savory pies.
The recipe: Praised by omnivores and vegans alike, this Veggie Pot Pie recipe never fails to please a crowd of mixed eaters.
The Cheesecake Factory can’t compete with homemade vegan cheesecake baked inside a pumpkin. This idea is so aggressively “fall,” you might even consider swapping your pumpkin pie this year for a show-stopping pumpkin cheesecake centerpiece.
The recipe: Sprinkle the graham cracker and pecan crust on top of this Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake instead of on the bottom. The result is a sweet and delicately crispy top layer followed by an indulgently creamy cheesecake center.
Tanya Flink is a Digital Editor at VegNews as well as a writer and fitness enthusiast living in Orange County, CA.