17 Pumpkin Dishes to Add to your Fall Menu

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Autumn’s here — time for pumpkin-flavored everything! Pumpkin isn’t just a flavor for spiced lattes — it can spice up every section of your restaurant’s fall menu, ranging from the salad course and savory dishes to cocktails and dessert.

Not only can seasonal pumpkin specials help attract customers, but they can potentially boost sales all fall long. Ready to get cooking? Here are 17 ideas for pumpkin items to add to your menu right now.

Pro Tip: If you want to spice up your design to match your seasonal offerings, you can easily create new menus with DIY template services like MustHaveMenus

Pumpkin Cocktails

Pumpkin — or sometimes just the suggestion of pumpkin — makes for some seriously cozy cocktail concoctions. Consider these two approaches:

Pumpkin Spice Cocktails

Pro tip: you don’t always need to include actual pumpkin in a cocktail to give it that PSL vibe. Simply adding pumpkin pie spice (usually a mix of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg) to a cozy cocktail like a Manhattan or an Old Fashioned can give it a crave-worthy fall flair. 

Pumpkin Puree Cocktails

Of course, cocktails made with pumpkin are also an option. One approach? Mix pumpkin into creamy, pumpkin pie-inspired martinis. This recipe for Pumpkin Pie Martinis includes pumpkin puree, cream, aromatic spices, and rum and vodka — per the creator, it tastes like a “boozy, bodacious pumpkin pie.” 

Or, consider something like the Bourbon Pumpkin Smash cocktail. Featuring simple syrup made with pumpkin puree and a pumpkin spice rim, it’s a sweet but sophisticated sipping drink for sweater weather.

Pumpkin Salads 

Pumpkin isn’t just for sweet dishes — it makes for gourd-geous savory dishes too. Here are some ideas to add fall flavor to your restaurant’s fall menu:

Roasted Pumpkin Salad

Roasted pumpkin has an earthy, neutral flavor — which means it can pair beautifully with a variety of other flavors in salads.

For example, this Roast Pumpkin and Feta Salad combines earthy pumpkin with salty feta and a sweet vinaigrette for a pleasing combination of textures and flavors. 

Alternatively, this Roasted Pumpkin Salad includes pomegranate arils, walnuts, and blue cheese — a refreshing and flavorful way to kick off a meal. 

Roasted pumpkin is somewhat hearty, so it doesn’t take much to upgrade a salad into vegetarian or vegan entree territory. For example, this Roasted Pumpkin Quinoa Salad, made with pumpkin roasted with coriander, cumin, and fennel and tossed with quinoa scented with lemon and mint, is substantial enough for a main dish. 

Don’t Forget the Seeds! 

Pumpkin seeds — also known as pepitas — are a fantastic addition to fall salads. They add crunch and flavor to every bite! But they’re way more than just a salad ingredient. Pepitas can also be used as a garnish for just about any pumpkin recipe, sweet or savory. Additionally, when toasted and salted, they also make for a great bar snack.

Pumpkin Pasta

The earthy flavor and creamy texture of pumpkin puree makes it a natural pairing with pasta. Here are just two ideas for pumpkin pasta:

Filled Pumpkin Pasta

Pumpkin puree is a natural for filled pasta, either in addition to or instead of cheese. For example, customers line up at Chicago’s Sapori Trattoria for their cappellacci di zucca, featuring pumpkin-stuffed pasta with burnt butter sauce, butternut squash, sage and pine nuts. For a simpler approach, consider adding some pumpkin to filled pasta items such as ravioli or tortellini.

Pumpkin Pasta Sauce

Pumpkin puree can also be combined with other ingredients to create a memorable sauce. This recipe combines pumpkin puree with cream cheese, sage, and aromatic spices to create a creamy, velvety pasta sauce that pairs beautifully with fettuccine. 

Stuffed Pumpkins 

You’ve heard of stuffed peppers … how about stuffed pumpkins? The idea is simple: scoop out the fruit (yes — pumpkin is a fruit!), combine it with savory ingredients, and bake it all up right in the hollowed-out gourd. Not only does this preparation help flavors meld together in a pleasing way, but it makes for a truly Insta-worthy presentation that your customers will love to share.

The options for stuffing are practically limitless, but here are just a few ideas:

Meat-Filled Stuffed Pumpkins

Meat-filled stuffed pumpkins make for a satisfying sweater-weather meal. For example, these 

savory stuffed pumpkins include ground beef, creamy mushroom filling, and savory spices — perfect to stave off Autumn chills. 

Alternatively, stuffed pumpkins with sausage and gruyere make for a cozy fall meal that pairs nicely with a pumpkin beer. 

Mini Stuffed Pumpkins 

If you’re looking for a novel appetizer to add to your restaurant menu this fall, look no further than mini stuffed pumpkins. These mushroom and quinoa stuffed mini pumpkins make for an adorable and tasty plant-based offering.

Pumpkin Desserts 

Don’t forget about dessert! Pumpkin never fails to shine in sweet recipes. Here are just a few to consider:

Pumpkin Cheesecake 

Pumpkin’s earthy flavor makes for a beautiful pairing with tangy cream cheese. For an extra-special and visually pleasing dessert menu offering, consider making a decadent two-layer pumpkin cheesecake served atop a rich graham cracker crust.

Pumpkin Ice Cream 

Pumpkin and ice cream are definitely better together. A healthy dollop of pumpkin puree and some pumpkin pie spice can transform homemade ice cream into a fall-themed delight; if you feel like getting fancy, consider adding candied ginger, cookie bits, or even a caramel swirl. 

Alternatively, stuffed pumpkins with sausage and gruyere make for a cozy fall meal that pairs nicely with a pumpkin beer.

Pumpkin Pie

There’s a reason why pumpkin pie is a classic: it’s delicious, just about everyone loves it, and it’s a cinch to make. While you can’t go wrong with a classic recipe, there are easy ways to jazz it up. For instance, why not try a pumpkin pie with a chocolate chip cookie layer?

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies 

Despite the name, whoopie pies are really more like cakey cookie sandwiches, featuring two soft, pillowy cookies sandwiched with decadent creamy filling. This recipe is based on the top-selling pumpkin version sold at Baked, a popular bakery in Brooklyn. 

Pump Up the Volume With Pumpkin!

As you can see from these menu ideas, pumpkin is an incredibly versatile ingredient that can add fall flair to any and every part of your restaurant’s menu. Why not give a few of them a try? You may just find that your customers fall in love with these seasonal specials!

What’s your favorite pumpkin menu item idea?

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