This brown rice and pecan stuffed pumpkin recipe is vegan, gluten-free, and can be made nut-free too. It makes the ideal vegan Thanksgiving centrepiece!
(Updated October 2021.)
It's that time of year! Every year Autumn comes around so fast (do I sound like a broken record already?!) and with it comes Thanksgiving. But more importantly, Thanksgiving food!
Traditionally a challenging time for those who are plant-based, nowadays there is no shortage of vegan Thanksgiving foods available (Tofurky Veggie Roast anyone?). If however like me you prefer to eat gluten-free and want to make your own vegan Thanksgiving dinner, I have a beautiful recipe for you here - my delicious vegan Stuffed Pumpkin.
I'm particularly proud of this recipe as it's a nod to my adopted home country of Canada. Being English, I didn't grow up eating Thanksgiving food (we don't celebrate the holiday) and as a result, things like pumpkin pie and yam mash were a little alien to me!
Since I've lived here, I've thoroughly enjoyed eating my fill of roasted pumpkins and pecan pies, and it makes me so happy now to be able to finally share a Holiday recipe of my own.
Vegan Stuffed Pumpkin
This recipe is totally vegan and gluten-free, and is the perfect pumpkin centrepiece for your holiday feast. It's not difficult to make, but it's sure to add the wow factor and a splash of colour to any table.
The pecans give it a delicious crunch, the brown rice makes it hearty and the cranberries provide a gorgeous splash of colour. Make this dish for your vegan Thanksgiving dinner if you want to visually impress your guests!
(P.S. I've got more vegan Thanksgiving and Holiday Recipes here.)
Ingredients & How to Adapt this Recipe
What Size Pumpkin?
It probably goes without saying that if your pumpkin is larger than the recommended 5-inches wide, you'll need more of the filling mixture. Be sure to add extra herbs and seasonings if this is the case, as it's easy to scale up the other ingredients but forget to increase the salt and pepper etc. You don't want a bland filling mixture!
If your pumpkin is on the smaller side, you can make stuffing balls from any leftover filling. Just be aware that a smaller pumpkin may not feed so many people.
For a nut-free option, you're welcome to use pumpkin or sunflower seeds instead of the pecans. This will change the flavour slightly but it will still be delicious!
Can I use Butternut Squash instead of Pumpkin?
Yes! Feel free to use whatever squash you have to hand, and just adapt to fill the squash shape you have.
Likewise, if cranberries are unavailable, feel free to use raisins or apricots. They won't have quite the same traditional Thanksgiving appeal but they'll be just as delicious.
Wondering what to serve this Vegan Stuffed Pumpkin with? Why not try my:
Vegan Stuffed Pumpkin (vegan & gluten-free)
- 1 small to medium-sized pumpkin (about 5 inches wide and 2½lb in weight)
- ⅓ cup uncooked short or long grain brown rice
- ¾ cup pecans
- 2 tbsp olive oil (plus a little more to brush the pumpkin)
- ½ stick celery, finely diced (about ⅔ cup)
- 1 small onion, finely diced (about ⅔ cup)
- 3 large cloves garlic, crushed
- ½ tbsp dried rosemary, finely ground
- 1 tbsp dried sage, finely ground
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- ½ tsp onion powder
- 2 tbsp water
- Sea salt to taste (I usually use about 1-1½ tsp)
- ½ tsp black pepper
- Cut the lid off your pumpkin and scoop out the insides, leaving a large hollow cavity. Set aside.
- Cook the rice as per package instructions. When cooked, drain and set aside.
- While the rice is cooking, place the pecans in a skillet and toast them on the stovetop on a medium-low heat for about 10 minutes.
- Place in a blender or food processor and blend for 6-8 seconds, until pecans are broken into small pieces. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan or skillet, add 1 tbsp of oil, plus the celery and onion, and sauté the mixture on a medium heat for 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently (or until onion is translucent).
- Add the garlic and sauté for a further 2 minutes.
- When the rice is cooked add it, along with the rosemary, sage, cranberries, pecans, onion powder, remaining oil, water, salt and black pepper to the pan. Gently cook the mixture for a further 10 minutes (stirring frequently). It should be fairly crumbly by this point. Adjust the seasoning if needed and remove from the heat.
- Preheat the oven to 400°CF/205°C.
- Brush the inside and outside of the pumpkin with olive oil, and season the inside well with salt and pepper.
- Spoon the filling mixture into the pumpkin - packing it fairly tightly - and place the lid on top.
- Wrap the pumpkin completely in a layer of aluminium foil and place on a baking tray. Bake in the oven for 1 hour.
- Remove the foil and bake the pumpkin, uncovered, for a further 10 minutes. The pumpkin is ready when you can easily push a knife into the skin.
- Remove from the oven and serve cut into four wedges with your favourite seasonal greens or salad, mashed potatoes and if you wish, gravy.
- For a nut-free version, feel free to replace the pecans with sunflower or pumpkin seeds.
- Cranberries can be subbed for raisins or apricots as needed.
- Other types of squash, like butternut, can be used instead of pumpkin.
If you’ve tried this recipe, please leave a comment or tip for others below. I'd love to know how you’ve made it your own!