Want an easy way to take your fall meals to a new level? Try serving food in mini pumpkin bowls. Perfect for soups, chili, desserts, or as part of a charcuterie or buffet display. They’re simple to make and add a great pop of color!
When I was growing up, my aunt and two of her best friends started a small catering business.
I can’t remember whether they catered full dinners or not, but I do remember them making all kinds of hors d’oeuvres and desserts.
Any time she hosted a family party she knew how to make the food she served look extra special.
She was making charcuterie boards long before they became a thing!
I can remember being so impressed when she did things like serving dips inside hollowed peppers.
My mom always had a gift for entertaining too, especially the way she created cookie displays for the holidays.
So you could say I came by my love of entertaining and making food look special naturally.
After all, I learned from some of the best!
So when I came up with my Pumpkin Chili recipe, I knew I wanted to step things up a notch and serve it in bowls made from mini pumpkins.
Pumpkin bowls add a little something extra, don’t you think?
You can scrape the insides with your spoon and get a little extra pumpkin in each bite!
Mini pumpkins are a great way to serve all kinds of things during fall and even winter.
Obviously, using a small pumpkin bowl to serve stew, chili, or soup is a great option. This Autumn Squash soup would be amazing served in a pumpkin bowl!
But why stop there?
You can find all different sizes of mini pumpkins, so why not use them to hold dips like this Hot Corn Dip on a buffet?
Spreads, honey, or jellies on a charcuterie board.
Or you could even use a pumpkin bowl to serve dessert like a pudding, pumpkin mousse, or a caramel cheesecake.
- Can I Use a Pumpkin as a Bowl?
- Are All Mini Pumpkins Edible?
- How to Pick the Best Pumpkins
- What You Need to Make Pumpkin Bowls
- Step-by-Step Pumpkin Bowl Process
- Can Baked Mini Pumpkin Bowls Be Made in Advance?
- Printable Recipe
Can I Use a Pumpkin as a Bowl?
The question isn’t really can you use pumpkins as bowls?
More like, why wouldn’t you use mini pumpkins as bowls?
There are some things that probably wouldn’t be great to serve from a pumpkin, like chips or a crunchy snack mix.
The natural moisture from the pumpkin would make those things get soggy, and nobody wants a soggy chip…
I’ve read that you can line the inside of a pumpkin with plastic wrap, but I’m suspicious about how well that would really work.
Of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to only using mini pumpkins as bowls! You could use any of the larger pumpkins as gorgeous soup tureens or to bake a variety of casseroles inside.
Are All Mini Pumpkins Edible?
I’m happy to report that not just all mini pumpkins, but all pumpkins are edible!
However, some pumpkins definitely taste better than others.
For instance, large carving pumpkins generally don’t have much flavor and the flesh is often watery or bland. They’re bred to have thinner flesh and are mostly hollow.
Pumpkins that are made for food are flavorful, many are naturally sweet, and they’re filled with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
How to Pick the Best Pumpkins
Choose a mini pumpkin that’s firm to the touch and free from any soft spots or sunken areas.
If you’re planning to use the mini pumpkin bowls to serve soup or chili to a group, try to choose pumpkins that are uniform in size.
Depending on how you’re using the mini pumpkins, consider size, colors, shape, and how they’ll look on your table or display and with the food you plan to put inside them.
There are so many varieties of mini pumpkins to choose from that are all great options for pumpkin bowls!
You can even use some varieties of squash.
Some types of mini pumpkins that work well include:
If you don’t have access to a wide variety of mini pumpkins, just look for small pumpkins ranging from 3 to 5 inches in diameter.
What You Need to Make Pumpkin Bowls
You don’t need a lot of special tools to make bowls out of mini pumpkins, but you’ll definitely want a good sharp knife.
Some people prefer using a set of pumpkin carving tools.
Over the years, I’ve tried a variety of tools to scoop the seeds and pulp out of pumpkins. My favorite for small pumpkins is a serrated grapefruit spoon!
They’re the perfect size to get inside the little pumpkin, and the serrated edges do a great job of scooping away all the fibrous pulp.
Step-by-Step Pumpkin Bowl Process
Preparing mini pumpkins to make them into bowls is very simple.
1. Wash the outside of the pumpkins well, then dry them off.
2. If needed, trim the bottoms so they sit flat
Be careful not to cut off too much from the bottom!
You don’t want to cut open the bottom of the pumpkin’s cavity or else it won’t be able to hold the soup or chili.
If you do accidentally cut too much and make a hole, you may be able to use some foil to line the bottom of the pumpkin.
3. Cut the top of the mini pumpkins.
If the pumpkins are taller, you may want to cut about an inch off the top like I did in the images above.
However, if the pumpkins are shorter, cut around the stem instead, leaving about 1/2-inch border around the top.
Even after cutting the top off of my pumpkins, I still needed to cut an opening to form the bowl because the flesh was very thick.
4. Scrape out the pulp and seeds.
Use a sharp spoon (grapefruit spoons work best!) to scoop out the pulp and seeds.
Be sure to scrape away any loose fibers.
Even though the seeds may be small, you can still save them and roast them the same as you would roast larger pumpkin seeds!
Roasted pumpkin seeds would be great to use as a garnish.
5. Season the mini pumpkins.
Place the hollowed-out pumpkins and the tops on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
If desired, lightly brush the insides of the pumpkins with light olive oil or refined coconut oil.
Be careful to not get any of the oil on the outer skin because that can cause the skin to char.
I opted to skip this step because I didn’t want to add any fat. I didn’t notice any loss in flavor.
If you’re making the pumpkins for a savory dish, you can also lightly sprinkle the insides with salt, pepper, or other seasonings that compliment the dish you’ll be serving inside them.
If you plan to use the mini pumpkin bowls to serve a dessert or something sweet, you can sprinkle the insides with brown sugar (or Swerve Brown), cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, or pumpkin pie spice.
6. Bake the mini pumpkins.
Bake the pumpkins at 375 degrees F for 20-35 minutes. The correct length of time depends on the size of the pumpkin.
Do not overcook the pumpkins!
The insides should just be fork-tender. If you bake them too long, they’ll begin to collapse in on themselves and won’t work as a bowl.
I begin checking them to see if they’re getting tender at 15 minutes, and then check again every 5 minutes until they’re done.
Can Baked Mini Pumpkin Bowls Be Made in Advance?
I’m all about recipes that can be made ahead when I’m entertaining!
You have two options when it comes to making mini pumpkin bowls in advance.
First, you can completely make them, including baking them, and then refrigerate them for up to three days in an airtight container.
Let them sit on the counter and come to room temperature about an hour before you’re ready to serve them.
You can warm them in the oven at 300 degrees F, being careful to not let them overcook.
The second option is to prep the pumpkins in advance but wait to cook them until just before you’re ready to use them.
Store the prepped pumpkin bowls in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
If you bring them to room temperature before baking them, the same cooking times as above apply. If you put them in the oven cold from the fridge, you may need to add five minutes to the overall cooking time.
If you have any questions or suggestions, contact me or leave a comment.