Turkey, Wild Rice, Apple, and Cranberry Stuffed Pumpkins

5 | November 3, 2011

First of all, lets all thank Julia Child and Dorie Greenspan for teaching us you can stuff practically anything in a pumpkin, cook it, and have an insanely delicious and impressive meal. Second of all, who is as obsessed with fall vegetables like butternut squash and pumpkin as I am? Love, love, love, me some pumpkins Charlie Brown.

Stuffed pumpkins are very simple to make. Serve in multiple small pie pumpkins or 1 large sugar or Cinderella pumpkin. Just takes a few minutes to prep and then throw it in the oven for about an hour. I love this recipe because it’s healthy, fun, and can be treated as a side or a main dish. And picture how beautiful a wild rice, apple, and cranberry large stuffed pumpkin (minus the ground turkey) would be as a side at your Thanksgiving table? Yeah, that would get you out of the dog house with the in-laws.

Sweet and savory, these Turkey, Wild Rice, Apple, and Cranberry Stuffed Pumpkins is the perfect fall meal for everyday, an upcoming holiday, or dinner party. I will warn you though, the resident 3 year-old was not as impressed with this particular pumpkin and opted for a bowl of peas instead. The Husband on the other hand ate almost 2 whole pumpkins.

Turkey, Wild Rice, Apple, and Cranberry Stuffed Pumpkins
makes 3 small pie pumpkins or 1 large 3 – 4 pound sugar pumpkin
serves 4 to 6 as a meal 

  • 3 small pie pumpkins or 1 large sugar or cinderella pumpkin (3 to 4 pound)
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 large Granny Smith Apple (about 1 1/2 cups diced)
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup walnut halves
  • 3 cups cooked wild rice or wild rice/brown rice mix*
  • 2 Tbs fresh sage, chopped or 1 Tbs dried sage
  • 1 Tbs fresh oregano, chopped or 1/2 Tbs dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken or turkey broth
* I like to use a wild rice/brown rice blend. Pour 1/2 cup wild and 1/2 cup brown rice into 2 1/4 cups of boiling water plus 1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil and 1/4 tsp salt. Cover reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 to 5o minutes until water is absorbed.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Wash pumpkins. With a sharp knife slice the very tops of the pumpkins off. Next, scoop out the seeds and save for roasting or do whatever you want do with the seeds. I find that a serrated grapefruit spoon works the best. Set aside.
Peel and chop the onions and garlic. In an large sided sautee pan over medium-low heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are soft and transparent, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.
In the same pan turn the heat up to medium-high, add a splash of olive oil if needed, and add the ground turkey. Season the turkey with 1/4 tsp of Kosher salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper. Brown the meat until cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes.
While the turkey is browning, slice, core and chop the apple into small cubes. You don’t have to peel the apple but if that is your desire, go right ahead.
When the turkey is cooked, turn the heat to medium-low. To the turkey add the onions…
apples, dried cranberries, walnuts…
rice, sage, oregano, and chicken broth. Add the remaining salt and pepper. Stir to combine scraping any bits of browned goodness off the bottom of the pan. Taste and add any extra salt and pepper if needed. Simmer until the broth is absorbed, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
On a foil or parchment paper lined baking sheet, place the hollowed out pumpkins. Fill the pumpkins to the rim with the stuffing. Place the pumpkin tops back on the pumpkins. Place the baking sheet in the oven and cook for 40 to 50 minutes until the pumpkins are cooked and tender. Test by inserting a toothpick or fork into the side of one pumpkin. If it inserts easily with no resistance it is done. *the larger the pumpkin the longer it takes to cook* Can’t even tell you how good the house smells right now.
Remove from the oven, plate, and serve.
If serving as a meal, a small pumpkin can be a serving. That is if you have an ultra-marathoner as a husband who eats everything in site. If you are like me, aka a normal person, a fourth to a half of a small pumpkin is just right. With a sharp knife slice the pumpkin as you would a cake and serve.
Fun, healthy, and not to mention mouth-watering delicious. It’s a keeper.


  • Jennifer and Wayne Dempsey

    These look fabulous! These are certainly a pretty addition to the Thanksgiving dinner table.

  • Mandy

    OMG. This will be my new “impress the guests” dish. And its almost EXACTLY the recipe I used for the wild rice and venison sausage stuffing in the wild turkey last year! Except I used pecans. You know those Steeles. Pecans are next to godliness. Nobody trucks with walnuts except Fuquas.

    • In Sock Monkey Slippers

      Wow! Know where I’m going for Thanksgiving this year! This would be so good with venison!

  • Lauren

    These are so cute and festive! LOVE!

  • Barb

    I couldnt find pumpkins ANYWHERE so I made this in acorn squash. The filling couldve filled 8 of them, but was delicious in the acorn squash as well! Thanks for the recipe!

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