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Chicken Pumpkins

Chicken bites that look like little pumpkins! Skill Level: Intermediate

40 min Prep
160 min Total
price per Serving

Nutrition Facts

Amount Per Serving
Calories 512
Protein 32.7g
Total Carbohydrates 27.1g
Dietary Fiber 1.2g
Net Carbohydrates 25.9g
Sugar 8.0g
Total Fat 31.1g
Saturated Fat 6.8g
Trans Fat 0.3g
Cholesterol 94.3mg
Sodium 980.7mg
SmartPoints® 13.0


  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 1 pinch kosher salt, for the buttermilk
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper, for the buttermilk
  • 4 reduced fat mozzarella string cheese
  • 3 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 5 cups cheddar crackers
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, for the crackers
  • 1 cup ranch salad dressing


  1. Cut chicken breasts lengthwise in half to create a long thick strip. Each strip will become a mini-pumpkin. Along one edge of each strip, cut a series of deep slits crosswise, about 3/4 inch apart from one another. These slits will become the ridges of the pumpkin.
  2. Whisk together the buttermilk, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
  3. Meanwhile, cut each cheese stick in half crosswise. Freeze until solid, about 2 hours.
  4. Fill a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot with 3 to 4 inches of vegetable oil. Heat over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer registers 350 °F. Prepare for the cooked chicken to drain by placing a rack on a baking sheet.
  5. Meanwhile, trim the skinny tops from the celery stalks and remove any leaves. Cut 1-inch pieces from the skinny tops (these will be your pumpkin stems) and set aside.
  6. Add the Cheddar crackers and salt to a food processor and process until finely ground. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
  7. One at a time, remove the chicken pieces from the buttermilk mixture, letting the excess drip off.
  8. Transfer to the bowl of cracker crumbs and toss to thoroughly coat.
  9. Shake off any excess coating and transfer to a cutting board, placing the side with the pumpkin ridge slits down.
  10. Place a piece of cheese on one end of the chicken and roll up the chicken around the cheese, with the pumpkin ridges on the outside. Seal with a toothpick. 
  11. Working in batches of two, carefully lower the coated chicken into the oil using a slotted spoon. Fry the chicken until golden and cooked through, about 4 minutes. A thermometer inserted in the center of the meat should registers 160 ºF.
  12. Remove to the prepared rack to drain.
  13. Insert a celery stem in the center of each pumpkin so it sticks into the cheese. Serve hot with ranch sauce.

Price Per Serving based on average national price: excludes store savings and local grocery store pricing