Whole Pumpkin Baked with Custard ♥ A Fun Recipe for Fall

Baked Whole Pumpkin with Custard Cooked Inside
Today's pumpkin recipe: Stuff a whole pumpkin with custard, bake it, and what do you get? A fun fall dessert!

Finally, pumpkins! For a year now, I've been waiting-waiting for pumpkin season. You see, two recipes had tucked themselves into the back of my brain and refused to let go. One cooked meat and vegetables into a stew, right in a whole pumpkin settled into the coals of a campfire -- sorry, I can't recommend that one yet, perhaps ever. The other cooked custard right inside a whole pumpkin. Yes, custard cooked inside a whole pumpkin, that one I happily recommend!

The stuffed pumpkin and custard recipe comes from "The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American" by Jeff Smith, an uneven but often fascinating look at 'American ethnic cooking'. The recipe's headnotes say that custard baked in a pumpkin was a favorite of George Washington. It's kind of a cozy fall dessert, definitely dramatic in appearance and meant to be shared.

2010 UPDATE Turns out, the fascination with stuffed pumpkins is an annual affair. Check out the brand-new Stuffed Pumpkin with Apple & Cranberry!


Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Serves 4

1 small pumpkin, preferably a 'sugar' pumpkin or a 'pie pumpkin' or anything other than a pumpkin whose destiny is a jack o'lantern

CUSTARD (makes about 2 cups liquid)
3 eggs, whisked well
1 cup cream (sorry, half & half doesn't thicken well)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon dry sherry (optional but nice)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger

1 tablespoon butter, in tiny cubes

Preheat the oven to 350F or 400F. Wash the outside of the pumpkin very well. Carefully insert a knife into the flesh to cut off the 'top'. Remove and discard the seeds (or save them for Spicy Sweet Pumpkin Seeds) and the pumpkin 'gunk' inside.

Whisk together the custard ingredients, then pour into the pumpkin. Sprinkle the butter cubes over top. Place the stem-top back onto the pumpkin and transfer to a baking dish. Bake for about 90 minutes or until the custard is firm. (Check after 60 minutes but both pumpkins I cooked took a full 90 minutes.)

To serve, use long-stemmed spoons (such as iced tea spoons) to share, scooping up bits of the cooked pumpkin along with custard.

This recipe was tested at both 350F and 400F, both worked fine. It's a good excuse to roast some butternut squash at the same temperature.
A grapefruit spoon's serrated blade is ever so useful for cutting stuff out of vegetables. I use one all the time.
We added currants to one batch, they tasted great but sank to the bottom.
If there's custard liquid leftover, pour it into small ramekins. Then place the ramekins in a low flat oven-safe dish and fill halfway up the sides of the ramekins with hot or even boiling water. (This is called a 'hot water bath'.) Place the dish in the oven alongside the whole pumpkin, the custards will be done about the same time or a little sooner.
If your pumpkin can hold more than two cups of liquid, you may want to make more liquid.

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© Copyright 2009

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. I love serving food in pumpkins because the presentation is so impressive. I usually use the baby pumpkins though, for individual serving sizes.

    Looks beautiful.

  2. Julie ~ I looked at the baby pumpkins but wondered if they were just for looks, not really edible. This would be gorgeous as individual servings although I must say, sharing was fun ;-)!

  3. Like Julia, I love to use the baby pumpkins for soup. I'm lucky to live in an area where there are lots of farms and farmstands, and pumpkins of all shapes and sizes are easy to come by. I usually serve soup in pumpkins, but this custard is tempting!

  4. What an interesting idea. I have to say quite a few of those old Frugal Gourmet recipes have turned out to be good for me.

  5. I love the presentation of this! Pumpkin plus custard is a sure winner in my book.

  6. Wow, this is so impressive! And, I love custard... thanks!

  7. Just wondering why you changed Jeff Smith's original recipe?
    Here's what I have:
    1 5-7 lb. pumpkin
    6 whole eggs, 2 c. whipping cream, 1/2 c. brown sugar, 1 T. molasses, 1/2 t. nutmeg, 1 t. cinnamon, 1/4 t. ginger, 2 T. butter. Bake 350 for 1-1.5 hours.
    No mention of optional sherry. Can you explain the changes you show? I don't want to try this for the first time and have it turn out a flop.

  8. Anonymous ~ The original recipe would have made about four cups of liquid, my pumpkin was considerably smaller, as are most pie pumpkins. So I halved the recipe, except for the spices since I prefer 'spice forward' recipes. I also added sherry, it's one of my long-time secret ingredients for custards, both sweet and savory. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

  9. Is the ginger in the recipe dry or fresh?

  10. Krista ~ Dried! Thanks for asking, I’ll clarify that detail the next time I update this recipe!

  11. I have been making Jeff Smith's recipe for 20 years, today I'm going to try this variation. I miss The Frugal Gourmet.

  12. Hockey Mom ~ Let me know how it goes! I’m thinking it’ll be Sunday dinner dessert here ...

  13. I had watched the original show that the frugal gourmet demonstrated and made the whole pumpkin custard dish many years ago. I had written the recipe down as he made it. There is one or two differences in your recipe and his which I believe could altar the outcome. He added 4 cups of chunked pumpkin to the pumpkin and poured the custard over the chunks. I also have wrote down he melted the butter first but on the show he added chunks of butter. If you would like to watch the show it is on YouTube, frugal gourmet colonial Christmas.

  14. Here is a link to the frugal gourmet original airing of the show I saw many years ago, of the making of the whole pumpkin custard. He added 4 cups of chunked raw pumpkin to the pumpkin before adding the custard which makes a huge difference in the outcome of the dish. I added to mine when I made it and it was wonderful and I got many compliments.

    1. Grandma/Anonymous ~ Thank you for sharing this info, it's really fun to know that you remember this Frugal Gourmet dessert all these years later. Wanna know something funny? I'm making this for dessert tonight! :-)


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna