If you’re on the hunt for a unique dinner recipe with pumpkin, stop your scrolling. These rich and decadent Baked Pumpkin Stuffed Shells with Burrata are the definition of autumnal Italian comfort food! Tender jumbo pasta shells are generously stuffed with a mix of creamy ricotta, savory pumpkin, and fresh herbs before being topped with rich Alfredo sauce and ooey-gooey burrata cheese. Baked until beautifully bubbly and fragrant, this pumpkin pasta is a ridiculously delicious twist on traditional stuffed shells!
Featured comment: This is an amazing recipe. I want to be eating this so bad right now. So creamy and delicious with fall flavors!” – Danielle
Update: This post was originally published in October 2017. I made updates to the post below to include more information about this delicious and unique pumpkin dinner recipe. Plus, there’s now a recipe video showing you exactly how easy it is to make this restaurant-quality dish right at home!
About this pumpkin dinner recipe
You guuuuuuys. This pumpkin-stuffed pasta may be the most extravagant, indulgent dinner recipe I have ever posted. Listen to this description:
Tender pasta shells are stuffed to the gills with a mix of soft ricotta, savory pumpkin, warm spices, fresh herbs, and a touch of tart lemon. They are then scattered with salty parmesan and generously dotted with luxuriously creamy burrata and baked until melted and bubbly.
They are finally finished with a sprinkling of crunchy walnuts, spicy red pepper flakes, herbaceous thyme, and, here’s the kicker, EVEN MORE CHEESE. Put on your stretchy pants and prepare to feast because these pumpkin shells are simply to die for.
Why you’ll love these pumpkin shells
Aside from being fit for royalty, this lavish pumpkin pasta recipe is also:
- Quick & Easy. You only need 15 minutes of prep to get it in the oven!
- Meal Prep & Freezer-Friendly. You can easily prep this recipe in advance and store it in the refrigerator or freezer to have on hand for a delicious and unique pumpkin dinner ANY night of the week.
- Hearty & Comforting. Savory, rich, cozy, extra special, and 100% delicious.
Ingredients for this pumpkin dinner recipe
Shockingly, you don’t need a ton of ingredients to make these pumpkin-ricotta stuffed shells. Here’s what to grab:
- Jarred Alfredo Sauce – Technically, this is an optional ingredient. But if you’re in the mood for the richest, most opulent vegetarian pasta you’ve ever tried, go on and give it a try.
- Substitution: Feel free to swap in homemade alfredo if you prefer!
- Jumbo Pasta Shells – In total, you’ll need about 25-28.
- Substitution: Manicotti is an excellent swap.
- Canned Pumpkin Purée – Make sure you’re grabbing 100% pure pumpkin and NOT canned pumpkin pie filling.
- Substitutions: Swap in homemade pumpkin purée or any puréed winter squash (such as butternut squash) or sweet potatoes instead.
- Parmesan – Grate your own cheese for the ultimate level of melty goodness.
- Substitutions: Any hard, aged cheese like pecorino romano, asiago, or grana padano will work here.
- Whole Milk Ricotta – None of that low-fat nonsense! (Seriously. It has too much liquid and will make the final dish runny.)
- Substitutions: You’re also welcome to use mascarpone cheese or full-fat cottage cheese that has been blended or run through a food processor until smooth.
- Egg – To bind the cheesy filling together.
- Substitutions: If eggs are a no, use a mix of 1 tablespoon of arrowroot flour/starch + 2 tablespoons of water. You can also use a scant ¼ cup of leftover mashed potatoes (or prepared instant potatoes) instead.
- Garlic – Use fresh for the best flavor.
- Substitutions: In a pinch, you can use an equal amount of jarred minced garlic or about 1 teaspoon of garlic powder instead.
- Fresh Sage & Thyme – For savory herbaceousness.
- Substitution: Swap in about 1/3 as much dried herbs for fresh ones.
- Lemon – You’ll need both the zest and juice to provide a bright counterpoint to all the creamy deliciousness of the cheese.
- Nutmeg – For a hint of warmth.
- Burrata – This ridiculously tasty fresh cheese is *chef’s kiss* fantastic.
- Substitution: In a pinch, use regular fresh mozzarella balls instead.
- Olive Oil – Normal cooking oil is fine here.
- Kosher Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper – For flavor.
Pumpkin dinner variations
While I love this unique dinner pumpkin recipe just the way it is, there’s always room for customization here at No Spoon Necessary! Here are a few variations to consider:
- Gluten-Free Ricotta Shells – Swap in your favorite gluten-free pasta and be sure to choose a gluten-free alfredo sauce.
- Add Meat – Give a little extra heft to these creamy stuffed shells by adding some browned, crumbled sausage, ground beef, ground chicken, or turkey to the mix.
- More Cozy Flavor – Add a generous pinch of ground cinnamon and ginger to the pumpkin filling.
- Add Crunch – I love hearty, cheesy casseroles with a scattering of a crunchy topping. Try topping this pumpkin dish with roasted walnuts or pumpkin seeds.
Tips for the best pumpkin shell dinner
- You can either make your own pumpkin puree or used the canned variety. Just make sure you do NOT purchase canned pumpkin pie filling! It is NOT the same thing as pumpkin puree!
- Make sure you are properly salting your water for cooking the pasta. For the recipe below, use 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and 4 quarts of water. AFTER the water has come to a rolling boil, stir in the salt.
- Just as properly salting your pasta water is important, so is cooking your pasta shells until BARELY al dente, which is approximately 9 minutes. The shells will continue to cook in the oven, so it is imperative you do NOT overcook them!!
- If you like a more golden brown color and slight crispness to the top of your cheesy shells, I highly recommend you switch the oven to broil during the last 2-3 minutes of baking. Just make sure you watch the oven VERY carefully!! Your pumpkin dinner can go from perfect to burnt in a matter of seconds!
FAQs: pumpkin stuffed shells
What is the difference between manicotti and jumbo shells?
Manicotti are shaped more like tubes, whereas jumbo shells are shaped like, well, shells.
What is the proper Italian name for stuffed shells?
Conchiglioni. Regular shells are called conchigle, and stuffing them gives the suffix “ioni” like canneloni.
Serving this unique dinner recipe
These pumpkin stuffed shells are rich and filling, but that doesn’t mean you have to eat them plain!
- I like to pair them with a lighter side dish, like a simple side salad (maybe made with peppery arugula and a light vinaigrette? YES PLEASE.).
- Roasted seasonal vegetables are also a great option if you are looking to serve your unique dinner with something a bit more substantial.
- I’m also a firm believer you just can’t have cheesy stuffed shells without some crusty artisan bread or toasted garlic bread to sop up all the goodness. Carbs On Carbs = Happy Bellies.
- Don’t forget about dessert! Make it a pumpkin smorgasbord and serve a slice of your favorite pies and pumpkin spice lattes for dessert.
Make-ahead and storing
Can I make this savory pumpkin recipe ahead of time?
- To freeze unbaked pumpkin stuffed shells, simply cook the pasta, make the filling, and then stuff the shells. Instead of proceeding with the recipe and baking the pumpkin casserole, transfer the stuffed shells to an un-greased, or wax-paper lined sheet pan.
- Cover the shells with plastic wrap and transfer the pan to the freezer. Once the shells are completely frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe zip-closure bag and store them in the freezer until ready to use.
- Alternatively, you arrange the pumpkin shells into a baking dish, cover them tightly with plastic wrap, and then with aluminum foil and freeze.
- To use the frozen shells, allow them to defrost in the refrigerator overnight and then proceed with the recipe as written.
How do I store leftovers?
Any leftovers will keep in a covered container in the fridge for up to a week. To reheat, transfer to an oven-safe dish to warm through or heat individual portions in the microwave.
Alright, my little pump-kings and queens! I hope you make this deliciously rich and creamy pumpkin dish for your next dinner party. Like I always say, go big or gourd home! This fabulously decadent and unique dinner recipe is sure to give your friends pumpkin to talk about.
I can’t wait to see you back here next week!
More pumpkin recipes!
Desserts with pumpkin
Baked Pumpkin Stuffed Shells recipe👇
Pumpkin Dinner Recipe: Stuffed Shells
- 1 Large Pot (for boiling shell pasta)
- 1 8x11-inch Baking Dish or Casserole Dish (for baking pumpkin shells)
- 1 (15 ounce) Jar Alfredo Sauce (OPTIONAL)
- ½ (12 ounce) package Jumbo Pasta Shells (approximately 25-28 shells)
- 1 (15 ounce) can Pumpkin Puree
- 1 ¼ cup Parmesan - freshly grated, divided
- 1 cup Whole Milk Ricotta
- 1 large Egg – lightly beaten
- 1 large Clove Garlic – minced
- 2 TBS Fresh Sage Leaves – chopped, roughly 6 large leaves
- 2 tsp Fresh Thyme – roughly chopped
- ½ Lemon 1 TBS Juice and 1 tsp Zest
- scant 1/8 tsp Nutmeg
- 2 (8 ounce) Balls Burrata
- Olive oil
- Kosher Salt and Ground Black Pepper to taste
- Optional for garnish: Crushed Walnuts, Fresh Thyme, Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat an 8x11-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. OPTIONAL If using Alfredo sauce, spread 3/4 of a cup Alfredo sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. Set aside.
- Cook the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and season generously with salt*. Add the shells. Cook pasta according to package directions until barely al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain the pasta (and drizzle with olive oil if desired) and set aside to cool.
- Make the pumpkin filling: In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, 1 cup of parmesan, ricotta, egg, garlic, sage, thyme, lemon juice, lemon zest and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Stuff shells with pumpkin: Fill each cooked shell with about 2 tablespoons of the pumpkin mixture. Arrange the shells snuggly into the prepared baking dish (filling side up). OPTIONAL: If using Alfredo sauce, evenly pour the remaining sauce over the shells.
- Top with cheese: Tear the balls of burrata over top of the shells, allowing the burrata filling to spill onto the shells. Sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup parmesan cheese.
- Bake: Transfer to the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly. (Optional, broil during last 2-3 minutes. See notes.) Cool: Remove pumpkin shells from oven and place baking dish on a wire cooling rack. Set aside and let cool for 5 minutes. before topping with optional garnishes and serving. Enjoy!
- Garnish and serve: Garnish your pumpkin dinner as desired and serve warm. Enjoy!
- Pumpkin puree: You can either make your own pumpkin puree or used the canned variety. Just make sure you do NOT purchase canned pumpkin pie filling!! It is NOT the same thing as pumpkin puree!
- Salt your pasta water! Make sure you are properly salting your water for cooking the pasta. Use 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and 4 quarts of water. AFTER the water has come to a rolling boil, stir in the salt.
- Cooking pasta: I strongly urge you to cook your pasta shells until BARELY al dente, which is approximately 8-10 minutes, depending upon the brand. The shells will continue to cook in the oven, so it is imperative you do NOT overcook them!!
- Make this recipe in advance: The stuffed shells can be prepared, through step 3, a day in advance. Simply stuff the shells with the pumpkin mixture, but do not top them with the Alfredo, burrata or parmesan. Cover the baking dish tightly with plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator. 30 minutes prior to baking, remove the dish from the oven and place it on the counter to remove the chill. Top the shells with both cheeses and continue with the recipe as instructed.
- Broil during the last few minutes for a more golden casserole. If you like a more golden brown color and slight crispness to the top of your cheesy shells, I highly recommend you switch the oven to broil during the last 2-3 minutes of baking. Just make sure you watch the oven VERY carefully!! Things can go from perfect to burnt in a matter of seconds!
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