Natural and Edible Bowls: Less Effort & More Fun at the Table

Imagine this situation:

You’ve had a nice dinner with friends or family. You’ve served a salad for a starter, a hot soup as your main course, and ice cream for dessert.

Do you love being creative in the kitchen? Are you also tired of doing dirty dishes? You'll love our suggestions for natural, edible bowls made with fruits, veggies, and more. Check out our favorites now on Foodal.
Hollowed-out oranges filled with fruit salad make a fancy addition to your brunch table.

Everything’s fine so far. But what about all those dirty bowls you now have to rinse?

Your choices: either spend your evening cleaning them by hand, or fill up your dishwasher completely (if they’ll even fit)! This takes you away from spending precious time with your loved ones, right?

Here’s an idea: save a few precious minutes and keep the good times rolling at the table instead with these fancy, tasty, edible bowls. They’re not just fresh, fun, and different for a nice change of pace – they also look great, and you can even create them from common food scraps!

Do you love being creative in the kitchen? Are you also tired of doing dirty dishes – while beloved guests share in wonderful conversations you miss out on? Keep it simple, and use fruits, veggies, and more as edible bowls to serve salad, soups, desserts – you name it. Take a look at the best ideas for savory and sweet edible bowls here!

It’s far easier to make edible bowls than you might think, since some foods seem as if they’re simply predestined for use as receptacles for other foods. The ideal edible bowls have strong leaves, firm skin, or can be hollowed out to make a perfect bowl shape.

Those are just some basic guidelines. Here are some wonderful and creative ideas for you to prepare natural, edible bowls for every occasion.

A Leafy Dish

There are some foods that really don’t need any further preparation to work as edible bowls – and cabbages and lettuces are up for the task!

Some varieties of cabbage are absolutely perfect candidates, though not all. Think about the beautiful structure of savoy cabbage, or the vibrant color of red cabbage – if the cabbage has large, colorful outer leaves that keep their shape when taken off whole, you’ve got a good set of edible dishes right there, prepped and ready to go in no time.

Just carefully snip off individual leaves straight from the cabbage head, then wash and dry each, and you’re done! Filled with some yogurt dip or finger food, they make a fabulous impression for buffets or at brunch, alongside a big pitcher of spicy bloody marys.

Looking for a serving suggestion that combines creativity with less dishes to wash up after the meal. You've come to the right place! Take a look at our favorite suggestions for natural, edible bowls on Foodal now.
Endive leaf “boats” filled with a rice and vegetable salad.

Keep in mind that they work best with cold dishes. Otherwise, the leaves will become flabby, wilted, and lose their ability to hold anything firmly enough.

Not only is cabbage nice for this – some varieties of lettuce can be used, too.

Iceberg lettuce is one example that’s firm and crunchy, making it a good choice.

Plus, the great advantage of both cabbage and lettuce receptacles is this: you can simply eat the basket itself. This way, you’re free of additional waste and cleanup!

Other leafy vegetables like chicory and radicchio can often be used as well, as little boats for plating salads and dips.

Other Vegetables

You might already be aware that stuffed bell peppers make a great baked oven dish. Using the same basic concept, these veggies also make wonderful natural bowls.

Simply cut a large bell pepper in half, remove the seeds, and fill with whatever you choose. Bell peppers are better than other veggies for serving warm dishes, since the structure is not as sensitive as that of lettuce or cabbage leaves.

Another food that I love for this serving idea: tomatoes! Especially the larger varieties, like giant beefsteak.

Tomatoes will impress your guests when you serve them as a snack, or with a little side salad inside.

Love being creative in the kitchen? Are you also sick of doing dishes while your guests enjoy the party? Keep it simple, and use fruits, veggies, and more as edible bowls to serve salad, soups, and desserts. Follow the link for our favorite sweet and savory suggestions.

All you need to do: cut off a lid right below the stem base, remove it, then hollow out the inside by carefully removing the seeds, and fill.

To make this work properly, you need to use really fresh tomatoes with firm skins, and a very sharp knife. Otherwise, they might not make it through the hollowing process – and these will fall apart.

The same advantages as with lettuce and cabbage apply, and you can let your guests eat the tomato right away.

Cucumbers are another awesome edible bowl option that absolutely deserves mention. Why not cut a few in half lengthwise, scoop them out, and serve tzatziki dip right in there? Yum!

Looking for a creative spin on your standard dinner presentation tonight? This one will help you to cut down on dirty dishes, too! Check out our favorite suggestions for making the best sweet and savory edible bowls on Foodal now.

Another tip: pumpkins, zucchini and other types of summer squash, and winter squashes like butternut and hubbard can be used as serving bowls, too. However, a little more effort may be required to hollow out and prepare these – softening them first and roasting them off is necessary for most varieties to be edible.

So if you want to keep it quick, you might want to stick to the simpler choices above. But don’t overlook a nice pumpkin or squash bowl for a delicious roasted vegetable dish in season!

A Doughier Option

A wonderful eye-catcher for your dinner table or brunch buffet is a bread bowl.

For this, you can either bake your own loaf, or buy one. A round loaf works better than a long narrow loaf, because it looks more similar to an actual bowl, and it will fit nicely on a plate. Individually sized boules with a hard crust are perfect for this use.

Do you love being creative in the kitchen? Are you also tired of doing dishes? Take a look at our favorite ideas for savory and sweet edible bowls now!

You can fill it with various things. If you choose to serve a soup, you have to consider that the inside of the bread will become a bit mushy – but with many varieties of soup, it tastes delicious! Just be sure to serve these right away, once they’re filled.

Of course, there are other possibilities with bread bowls, too:

  • You can use them as breadbaskets for serving other smaller loaves, sliced baguettes, or crisp rolls.
  • Fill them up with green salad and serve dressing on the side.
  • Fill with snacks like olives, cheese cubes, or potato chips.
  • Fill with hummus, and serve raw veggies like carrot and celery sticks.
  • Even some small, cold meatballs for a buffet could be served in there, with dipping sauce alongside it!

While emptying the bowl as you go, especially if it’s filled with a nice dip or sauce, guests can break off some pieces from the top of the rim and consume the container itself!

An artichoke spinach dip is excellent for this. Try slicing the lid off a loaf of pumpernickel bread and cut the insides (if you’re able to carefully scoop them out mostly intact) into bite-sized chunks for dipping. Put out long fondue forks or skewers, for guests to help themselves.

Take warning, though: when hollowing out the loaf, you might wind up with a mess. If the bread can’t be cubed nicely, whiz it up in the food processor to make breadcrumbs for later use.

If you’re not going the dipping route, you still don’t have to waste this precious stuffing. Why not make some crispy croutons by frying up the bread bits in a pan, with olive oil and fresh herbs, or maybe some minced garlic? Jazz up your soups and salads with this tasty topping.

Make it fruity!

Salad and soup aren’t the only things you can serve in edible bowls – there are amazing possibilities to arrange your dessert or ice cream in natural dishes as well.

Fruits are perfect for the job! Not all kinds of fruit are suitable for this of course, but who could ignore a fruity orange cream dessert served in an actual orange? Or a lemon filled with frosty sorbet?

Looking for a new spin on the traditional table setting that combines a bit of whimsy with just a touch of creative know-how? Best of all- fewer dishes! Make your next dinner party a hit with our edible bowls. Follow the link for our suggestions.
Serve up something sweet (and tart!) – like lemons filled with sorbet for dessert.

The approach to certain fruits (like citrus) can be compared to hollowing out tomatoes. Cut off a lid on top, and scoop out the inner pulp. Be very careful not to tear the skin!

Citrus fruits in general work really well because their pulp can be removed quite effortlessly, though you do have to be delicate.

You can also choose different types of melons, and use a melon baller to serve the pulp that you’ve removed in an attractive way. Watermelons, honeydew, and cantaloupe make great bowls for fruit salads.

Forget your traditional china bowls, ice cream dishes and cocktail glassware- save some time spent standing by the sink doing dishes, and serve up something fun with these natural, edible bowls instead! Follow the link for our favorite suggestions on Foodal.

Pineapples also can be cut vertically or horizontally, and they do a great job of holding cold, sweeter dishes like sorbets, or a fruity chilled soup.

For a variety of sweet (and savory) chilled soups just begging to be served in edible bowls, check out our round-up post!

One splendid idea: serve drinks or cocktails like this as well! What about a pina colada in a pineapple, or freshly squeezed fruit juice inside a grapefruit?

Have you tried any of these ideas before? Or do you have other suggestions or experiences of your own? Share your thoughts and comments with us below!

Photo credits: Shutterstock.

About Nina-Kristin Isensee

Nina lives in Iserlohn, Germany and holds an MA in Art History (Medieval and Renaissance Studies). She is currently working as a freelance writer in various fields. She enjoys travel, photography, cooking, and baking. Nina tries to cook from scratch every day when she has the time and enjoys trying out new spices and ingredients, as well as surprising her family with new cake creations.

47 thoughts on “Natural and Edible Bowls: Less Effort & More Fun at the Table”

  1. I ate at a restaurant once that did something like this and I thought it was an amazing idea. They served their soups in a bread bowl. First off it is great for lessening the amount of clean up after the meal. Secondly, it adds to both the design and flavor of the meal. It makes eating fun. I tried serving spaghetti in a bread bowl once when I had friends over and they loved the idea. They thought it was a fun way to serve the meal. I recommend anyone try it. Several of the ideas you mentioned in this article I had not even thought of like the cucumber version. It might actually be a great way to serve a salad also.

    • That’s right, they make a great eye-catcher for a dinner table. I’m happy that I could offer some more ideas for you to try. Hope you have fun thinking of some new and fancy versions ๐Ÿ™‚

    • My pleasure ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope you enjoy this special serving suggestion and can surprise your family or friends with one of these creative ideas!

  2. Anything that reduces washing up is always good, and it sounds like the leftovers would be great for the compost pile. I’ve tried bread bowls with homemade bread before, but I ended up putting them in actual containers, because if there were any thin spots in the crust it started leaking almost immediately. Depending on what type of bread you’re making, if you can shape it before it goes into the oven it can get a bit stronger.

    But think you for the dinner idea tonight: I grow lettuces like Little Gem and Tom Thumb which grow tightly-packed, firmly-shaped leaves, which would be ideal for making organic containers like this. I just never thought of it. Tonight’s dinner might be an experiment!

    • Yeah, that’s right – when using lemons, savoy cabbage e.g., you can put them to compost, that’s really practical! I agree with the bread-situation, that is one thing to consider when making your own for this purpose.

      And I hope your “dinner experiment” went well and your lettuce leaves were strong enough to hold their filling.

  3. Ooooh, I love creative stuff like this. These all look so pretty. It definitely adds something special to any occasion, or even to spruce up an everyday meal. For parties, edible containers can replace ones that would otherwise be thrown away. Healthy and green.

    My mother used to take the prettiest tomatoes from her garden, wash them up, and stuff them with tuna salad or chicken salad.

    Another good one is crisping up tortillas to use as taco salad bowls.

  4. These look gorgeous and pretty delicious as well! Although would the flavors of some of the bowls clash with the flavor of the food you put in them? Like pineapple for example. If you put some type of strawberry juice in it would it create a strong pineapple flavor or is it just used for holding it?

    • Well, it depends on the type of fruit or vegetable that you are starting out with and I would try to put food into them that fits the taste of the “bowl” somehow too. For example, I like using the flesh of cucumbers for tzatziki and then serve it in little cucumber boats. This way, you can be sure that the flavors will match.

      However, it hasn’t such a strong influence. For the pineapple, you have to expect that the juicy pulp will add some flavor to the drink. But whenever I tried it, I like the way it worked out and I can imagine it would go nice with strawberry juice. When using pineapples, I enjoy filling it with coconut milk-infused cocktails. This goes so awesome together ๐Ÿ™‚

      I’d suggest to choose combinations that fit (as you can eat some of the bowls together with the meal), but I haven’t experienced enormous flavor clashes in the past ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. This is an excellent idea! I love this and will have to try it at my next party. How durable are things such as the orange peel? Do they stay standing up and can they hold a lot of food? Thanks for the tip!

    • Things like hollowed oranges or lemons will last about one day, I suppose. However, I recommend preparing them on the day of the event/party etc. This way, you will be sure to have them firm and fresh. (For example, tomatoes will lose their durability more quickly.) You can also cut a little bit off the bottom of the oranges to keep them staying in an upright position!

      You might also have a look at the picture of the orange with the fruit salad in the article above. The whole orange is filled and some fruits look out on top. A filling capacity of that will work best.

  6. I learned about stuff like this back in high school when I was taking culinary arts. Oftentimes we could cook for people, or cater events, or make spreads that would then get voted on by our classmates, and a lot of the times I would make things using bread bowls. Other than that, though, I haven’t really gone far with turning food into edible dishes. There’s a few things I’d like to try, though, such as eggs baked inside green peppers or portabella mushrooms, and pizza made by hollowing out a zucchini.The drink-in-pineapple and ice cream-in-lemon method sounds very interesting, I’ll try to give them a taste this summer!

    • That’s great, I hope your bread concoctions were among the winners ๐Ÿ™‚

      Baking eggs inside veggies like bell peppers is a fantastic idea, I also like that. It is just a nice way to vary things on the menu. I hope you enjoy the ice-cream-lemons, this is one of my favorites. It has this fresh look and it is like summer on the table ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. This looks so fancy I absolutely love it! I would love a little bread bowl filled with something yummy. I usually eat hummas with pita chips though. I also like the idea of less clean up with the dishes. Sometimes it’s a real turn off to see a pile of dishes when I have company but it must be washed at some point.

    • You should definitely try the bread container idea. When not making your own loaf, it is such a convenient, quick and funny thing to do. Plus, you don’t need to waste anything, as you can use the inside breadcrumbs in other ways. Hope you have fun experimenting ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Well I love to see all of those fruit ones up there, and it really makes me excited for the summer time coming up. The first thing that I thought of was the bread bowl, and I would have to say that it is my favorite when it comes to an edible container. It is probably just because I love soup, so eating the wrapper/dish just makes sense.

    • Indeed, the combination of bread and soup is perfect. It’s like you say, it makes just perfect sense when you think about it. But it’s also great for buffets and BBQs when filling it with salad or stuff like that. I enjoy the versatility it offers me, as bread makes a steady and delicious container ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. Most of the above I could relate to as being edible bowls, however, the citrus fruit bowls would leave something to be desired in that arena. I personally can’t stand the taste of the bitter orange peels and I imagine lemon peels are even worse. So in that regard, I would call those types “disposable” bowls and leave it at that, but the rest of these seem like really great ideas…except, how much time do you save at the end of the meal when you have to tinker around so much before the meal? Meal preparation is time consuming enough, in my opinion, why come up with ways to make it more so? But all in all, these ideas do sound delicious and I might be tempted to try a few of them once or twice.

    • That’s right, the lemon peel belongs to the kind of “natural” bowls, not the “edible” ones. Also, things like raw cabbage leaves are only there for “keeping” the food in place. But either way, you don’t have to wash it, and can simply dispose it as compost.

      I think I don’t mind investing more time into the food preparation, because I like creating things like this (rather than washing and cleaning up afterwards when I’m full and tired ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

      A time-saver idea would be to choose recipes that require parts of the fruits or veggies you use as a container, e.g.: hollowing the pineapple, but using the pulp to mix a drink or making a fruit salad with it. (Like serving the breadcrumbs of the hollowed loaf).

      If you have some time left and want to surprise your guests, you might try one or the other idea and see how it works out for you ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Gosh, these are just super-cute! I particularly like the lemon filled with sorbet and it would be incredibly easy to create. I have eaten of an edible plate before, I went to a medieval ball and our dinner was served up on extremely hard plates made from bread! Some of us got a bit confused about what was happening and started to nibble on them! Excellent idea, though.

    • That sounds really interesting, an actual plate of bread. I will have to do some research about that and see if I can find some info if people really used to do this in Medieval times ๐Ÿ™‚ Or did someone tell you about this?

      The filled lemon is awesome, it’s always pretty to look at and is a refreshing idea for summertime. Enjoy!

  11. I have tried using a hollowed out pineapple to hold juices and cocktails, and it did amazingly well, because pineapple flavor was added to my juices and cocktails. I have used it to take orange juice and coconut juice, and it gave it a beautiful dash of pineapple flavor. For a suggestion, I think you can also use round bread and transform them into little edible containers by scooping the inside. Then you can put in eggs, bacon and even salad. I think that will make a great meal!

    • Wonderful idea! Using it for cocktails is perfect, because it provides an exotic and fresh feeling! I also think that the pineapple flavor will fit to most of other drinks.
      The tip with eggs and bacon is great, indeed that will make a fantastic dish.

  12. This post is brilliant! I’ve always loved the idea of natural/edible bowls, they make the cleaning up process easier and quicker and they are really pretty to look at. I’ve tried using cabbage and lettuce leaves and once I cut in half a big watermelon, scooped out the pulp and used the two halves as big fresh fruit containers, it was very nice.

    I love the idea of using bread as a holding vessel for soups and I’m going to use hollowed oranges and lemons the next time I’ll make sorbet. Thank you so much for the amazing ideas!

    • Thank you! I’m glad you enjoy the suggestions. Watermelons are well-suited for this possibility, especially during summer, it is such a refreshment – and looks amazing ๐Ÿ™‚
      Hope you have fun with the other ideas too!

  13. Thanks to Panerai I’m a huge fan of bread bowls. I have never ventured off into any other fruit or veggie bowl other than stuffed peppers from Stauffers.
    I guess since it’s almost summer this could be something worth trying out!
    First up is any drink in a pineapple!!!

    • Yeah, the varieites made from bread are simple and fancy at the same time. They belong to my favorites.
      I’m excited to find out how you’ll like the pineapple or other fruits if you should try it. I also think that those are nice ideas especially for summertime!

  14. Really interesting and fun ideas for natural and edible containers. These give such a nice presentation and some may help reduce cleanup time. Others, like the roasted squash/pumpkin and bread bowls for soups would still need a plate underneath to prevent leaks from getting on the table. I could see guacamole or salsa being served in the hollowed out avocado shell halves. They wouldn’t be edible but you wouldn’t need a plate or bowl for individual servings and it uses a food scrap that you would already have on hand. It would definitely be an interesting challenge to serve a whole meal, appetizers to desserts, in only natural and/or edible bowls.

    • Thanks! Right, not all of them really require no cleaning at all. This might be an aspect for some of them, but I also use them mainly for their fancy look. But a “security plate” underneath is a good thing to care for ๐Ÿ˜‰
      By the way, hollowing avocados is another great idea, thanks. I didn’t think about them, but they would definitely have deserved their entry in the article too.

  15. When I was small my mother always made fruit salad in half watermelon skins, It was the absolute best part of the salad making, craving out the melon itself,

    I like it because making these bowls is a really nice way to entertain children too.

    • Yummy – and beautiful to look at! I think so too, that this is a great way to entertain and attract children. It makes preparing food interesting and fun. The melon is a wonderful classic, I always love the little snacking during the prepraration process ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • I’ve seen people carve a watermelon into a basket shape as well, for serving fruit salad. I’ve never tried it, but it looks really cool. I guess we could get really creative with this kind of stuff.

      I always liked the bread bowls too. These kinds of things just add that extra something special to whatever is being served.

      Time to put on my thinking cap for something cute to make for Memorial Day.

      • Right, I also think that there are so many possibilities to work with this. I hope you could prepare some special menu and maybe use some of these ideas for Memorial Day.

        • I like your suggestion for tzatziki served in cucumber boats as well. That’s perfect. I’m thinking salsa or giardiniera or marinated veggies or something like that served in hollowed out bell peppers too. This is so much fun coming up with lots of different ideas. Thanks for all the inspiration.

          I can’t wait to make some of these. I’ve done the bread bowls, which are nice, but I want to try several of the others as well.

          • Amazing idea, sauces like salsa perfectly fit a bell pepper bowl! I’m happy that you enjoy coming up with lots of creative ideas, and that you’ve made some good experience with the bread bowls. Let us know whenever you’ve tried a new and interesting way of serving ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. These ideas are so decorative. They would make a great addition to any themed party. They also look easy to make, and would definitely save time on clean up. These ideas are also so versatile: moving from fruit to bread. You can do so much with them.

    The bread bowl idea would be a perfect way to give a meal a throwback feel. Combine it with a hearty grilled meat and some ale. Who knows, you could have a Viking themed meal planned.

    • I love that idea, I think throwing a theme party like that works perfect with these “accessories”. And the viking topic is just one way to go, thanks for the input!
      I hope you enjoy trying the one or the other idea soon ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. When I first read the title of the article I thought “edible plates and ustensils? Huh, wonder what they’re made of” but that’s not the case, haha! Bread bowls are the norm in my house, I can eat so much stuff out of them and if you make them at home they get really puffy and soft, which I love.

    • ๐Ÿ˜‰ Yeah, I see that the title might lead to this conclusion. Great to hear that you have been using some of these suggestions already. Bread baskets are really wonderful and versatile. As there are so many bread varieties in Germany, it always makes fun to choose two or three different kinds and combine them.

  18. This is a great idea, i have heard from this one before but never have seen such variety of them, so thank you for sharing those extra ideas! ๐Ÿ™‚
    I really enjoyed the leafy dishes one, I think that it’s a perfect choice when it comes to salads, specially on a really hoy day, I think that the leafs add a little more of a refreshing (and natural, of course) touch.

    • That’s fantastic, now that you’ve got some more inspiration. The salad/cabbage ideas are prepared in the twinkling of an eye – that’s probably their biggest advantage. Enjoy those!

  19. Oh wow. I have had the ice cream in a lemon at a Chinese restaurant and have heard about the eating soup out of a pumpkin before.
    But to actually use fruits as fruit salad bowls is really interesting.
    I will try this for our next picnic and see how my kids like it.

    • Yummy, right? I love using lemons, oranges or even coconuts as ice-cream bowls! It looks really nice and exotic ๐Ÿ˜‰
      Happy that you love the other ideas, too, I hope you can get creative with your kids and create some wonderful variations!

  20. I love using potatoes for soup bowls, almost any type of soup works well. the other cool thing where I live is stuff like nacatamales and just using plantano leaves as dishes for meals. They do a lot of recipes where not only does the leaf add flavor to the meal, but it also is used as the plate afterwards.

  21. Cool. This is a good way to make your kids help out in making meals (ex. by them carving the fruits or bread) and make them more enthusiastic to eat. And good thing is that dishes would lessen by the end of the meal XD (Yay to less dishes to wash!)

    This also looks classy -I’ll send the link to my friend who plans to have a cafe <3

  22. Wow! These are such neat ideas. I have heard of using citrus dishes before. I saw a recipe for jello in orange halves once. Looked pretty neat. I love the idea of serving drinks in a pineapple except I’d be worried that it would be hard to drink out of. I guess that’s what straws are for.
    Some of the vegetable ideas look pretty amazing too. I loved the way the soup looked in that pumpkin. That would make an awesome fall meal. I never thought of tomatoes as a dish before. That would be so yummy. I think it would be fun to fill them with cucumber, feta, onion and greek salad dressing!
    I love bread bowls too. This inspires me to find a good recipe for mini loaves of crusty bread. Fall is coming up and it’s time to bring on the soup served in bread!

  23. I’ve done this with bell peppers and melons before, but I’ve never thought of using oranges and lemons this way. What a great idea to cut back on food waste! It looks cute, and it makes a great serving bowl. Imagine serving lemonade in little hollowed-out lemons! Bread bowls are the best, and they can be used for just about anything. Sometimes you can buy them from a bakery or, once in a great while, from the supermarket. This gives me a whole new perspective on fruits and vegetables and how to serve them. Thanks for sharing this!


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