The Recipe Redux: Whole Pumpkin Cheddar Gratin

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Whole Pumpkin Cheddar Gratin |

I asked myself, “Self, what’s the worst that could happen?…Maybe, that I’d be out the $3.00 I spent on the pumpkin at the farm? Plus, I’m doing this all in the name of research for my fellow Recipe Reduxers…Right?” So I did it. I opened the oven door and stuck the entire 11-inch diameter sugar pumpkin, uncut, stem-and-all in the oven and closed the door!

Whole Pumpkin Cheddar Gratin |

When I opened the oven door 1 hour and 20 minutes later, nothing had exploded. Seeds and pumpkin guts were not covering the inside of the oven walls. The stem was not black and neither was the pumpkin flesh. (I had expected one of these scenarios might have occurred.) Instead, when I cut open the top and pulled up the ‘lid’ still stuck with seeds, the inside revealed a perfect evenly cooked interior. And the outside was a deep golden orange that would display as a perfect serving vessel.

Now, this little experiment was not entered into without some prior research. I consulted a few cookbooks for pumpkin soups served in the pumpkin shell. Nothing. Searching online for any “recipe in pumpkin shell” and yielded a few recipes similar to this delicious-looking whole pumpkin apple casserole. But I wanted something savory and cheesy like a gratin or strata. I also found this amazing-looking Pumpkin and Cabot Habanero Cheddar Soufflés recipe to add to my To-Try file. But no whole-pumpkin strata. In the end, it was the Cabot recipe that gave me a hint that cooking a whole pumpkin might not burn down the house – but I wasn’t positive, since the soufflé recipe uses mini pumpkins and my sugar pumpkin was a whopping 11 inches in diameter!

Once my pumpkin was cooked, I created my gratin using a recipe from Martha Stewart and another from Cabot. (Those Cabot folks know a thing or two about cooking winter squash!)

Whole Pumpkin Cheddar Gratin |

Whole Pumpkin Cheddar Gratin


  • 1 large sugar pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 large apple, peeled, cored, chopped
  • 1-1 1/2 cup chicken broth, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crumbled
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups) I used Cabot
  • 2 cups fresh bread crumbs (about 4 slices firm white bread) I used bread from Italian bakery


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place uncut pumpkin in large shallow dish and add 1/4 inch of water; cover tightly as best you can with foil and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes, or until just tender. Let cool. Then cut off 'lid' and scrape out pumpkin seeds. Place pumpkin shell in refrigerator to chill while completing remainder of recipe. Cut and scrape pumpkin meat from inside of shell leaving at least 1/4 inch shell. Chop pumpkin meat into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Mix together cheese and breadcrumbs; set aside.
  3. In large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add onions and sugar. Stir often until onions are golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in apple, 1/2 cup chicken broth, salt, thyme and pepper, saute until apple is tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add chopped pumpkin, about 1 1/2 cup bread crumb mixture and 1/2 cup broth; cook, stirring, until thoroughly heated through.
  4. Transfer mixture back into cold pumpkin shell and pour 1/2 cup broth over mixture. Sprinkle remaining bread crumb mixture over top of pumpkin mixture. Cover entire top of pumpkin with foil. Place pumpkin on metal baking sheet (not stoneware! I cracked mine in the heat!) Bake in preheated 350°F oven for 20-25 minutes until heated through. Remove foil and broil until breadcrumbs are golden (being careful not to burn pumpkin shell.) Serve in pumpkin shell.

For more delicious recipes “Fresh from the Pumpkin Patch,” please visit fellow Recipe Redux members:


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    • Serena says

      Thanks Danielle. Pumpkin have so many possibilities…am loving all the #RecipeRedux ideas…including your goulash!

    • Serena says

      You’re right! I should’ve called! And I should have remembered you Aussies are brilliant when it comes to winter squash!

  1. says

    wow i love this idea… isn’t it a great feeling when your kitchen experimentation turns out great. Im sure you were thrilled with this one. It’s beautiful and spells autumn loud and clear.
    Happy Monday!


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