How to Cook a Pumpkin (+ make pumpkin puree!)

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by Sil Pancho

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10.05.2021


I’m not sure about you, but I’m a PL4L aka Pumpkin Lover 4 Life. It will forever be my favorite. In fact, enjoy a photo of me below when I was 9 years old, making my first pumpkin pie completely from scratch (and using homemade pumpkin puree).

Since starting my annual pumpkin week, I’ve gotten a ton of questions on how to cook a pumpkin and how to make homemade pumpkin puree, especially because canned pumpkin tends to fly off of the shelves each fall. Today I’ve got all the answers you! It turns out homemade pumpkin puree is absolutely delicious, easy to make and so much fun! I don’t want to spend too much time talking, let’s just get to this thing!

AK Pumpkin Week is HERE

That’s right, we’re SO excited to launch AK Pumpkin Week on Monday, October 4th! Remember to sign up here to get:

  • Our brand new, FREE Pumpkin E-book with 10 of our best pumpkin recipes from over the years
  • Every new recipe delivered straight to your inbox each day this week
  • All of the details on our epic #AKPumpkinWeek giveaway!

monique holding a pumpkin pie

What is pumpkin puree?

Pumpkin puree is simply the inside of a pumpkin that has been cooked through baking, roasting, steaming, boiling or sautéing and then blended or mashed to create a smooth puree. It can then easily be used in cooking and baking for both sweet & savory recipes! You can often find pumpkin puree canned in grocery stores, but during the excitement of pumpkin season, there is often a shortage.

That’s why we created this simple guide to show you how to roast a pumpkin and make your own homemade pumpkin puree from scratch!

a pie pumpkin on a grey board

The best type of pumpkin for cooking and baking

It may seem tempting, but I wouldn’t recommend cooking with the big pumpkins you normally get at the pumpkin patch. They tend to be very stringy and not flavorful.

Instead, I recommend using a pie pumpkin or sugar pumpkin (pictured above). During the fall and winter seasons, most stores will have them available. Try to pick pumpkins between 3-6 pounds — that’s usually when the flesh is best.

Tools you’ll need

In order to properly cut and cook a pumpkin, plus make homemade pumpkin puree, there are a few key tools you’ll need:

How to cut a pumpkin into cubes

This method is perfect for cooking up cubes of pumpkin to use in recipes like a tray of roasted veggies.

  1. First, use a very sharp knife to cut the pumpkin in half on one side of the stem (with stem facing upward).
  2. Use a spoon to scoop out the pumpkin seeds and discard or save for roasting. 
  3. To make it easier to peel the pumpkin, place in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes until slightly soft.
  4. Next, cut each pumpkin half into wedges.
  5. Use a sharp knife to cut off the skin of the pumpkin as best you can, it should come off fairly easy. You may even be able to peel it off without using a knife!
  6. Cube pumpkin wedges into 1-inch cubes.

pumpkin cut in half on a cutting board with a knife

Cook cubed pumpkin (perfect for soups)

  1. Place pumpkin cubes on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper (add any other spices you’d like!)
  2. Roast at 375 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until pumpkin cubes are fork-tender, flipping halfway through. You can also add it to soups and curries or in any recipe that calls for winter squash.

pumpkin cut into pieces on a cutting board with a knife

How to cook a whole pumpkin

Use this method to roast a whole pumpkin and use it in sweet & savory recipes.

  1. Use a very sharp knife to cut the pumpkin in half on one side of the stem (with stem facing upward).
  2. Use a spoon to scoop out the pumpkin seeds and discard or save for roasting later.
  3. If you’re making a sweet recipe, rub the pumpkin with a little melted butter or coconut oil, then rub a little brown sugar into each pumpkin and sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired. For a savory recipe, rub the pumpkin with olive oil and sprinkle some salt and pepper.
  4. Place pumpkin flesh side down on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  5. Roast at 375 degrees F for 40-50 minutes. Peel off the skin and enjoy!

two pumpkin halves face down in a glass baking pan

hand scooping out the inside of half of a cooked pumpkin in a glass baking dish

Homemade pumpkin puree in a few simple steps

Making your own homemade pumpkin puree is SO easy and always worth it. You’ll simply:

  1. Roast the entire pumpkin as explained above.
  2. Peel off the skin and add the pumpkin flesh to a blender or food processor.
  3. Process the pumpkin until it’s nice and smooth — about 2-3 minutes. Then it’s ready to use!

half of a pumpkin in a glass baking dish with the insides mashed

Store & freeze your homemade pumpkin puree

  • To store: once your pumpkin puree has completely cooled, store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • To freeze: instead of putting your containers of pumpkin puree in the fridge place them in the freezer for up to 6 months. Simply thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before using it.

homemade pumpkin puree in a blender

Delicious recipes using homemade pumpkin puree

Looking for even more pumpkin recipes? Get all of our BEST pumpkin recipes here!

Pumpkin week giveaway deets

This year we’ll be selecting 2 lucky winners in our Pumpkin Week giveaway to each get a $150 Target gift card! To enter:

  1. Post a photo of any Ambitious Kitchen pumpkin recipe you make in your Instagram feed, in IG stories, or in the Ambitious Kitchen Community Facebook Group with the hashtag #AKPumpkinWeek.
  2. The more you post & share your recipe photos, the greater chance you have to win! **Please note, your profile must be public so that we can see your pumpkin creations.
  3. Winners will be announced on Wednesday, 10/13 and notified via DM on Instagram or in the Facebook group. Must be 18 or older, USA only.

I hope you love this easy tutorial on how to cook a pumpkin and make homemade pumpkin puree! If you try it be sure to leave a comment and a rating to let me know how you used it. Enjoy, xo!

How to Cook a Pumpkin + Make Homemade Pumpkin Puree

Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes

Learn exactly how to cook a pumpkin and make easy homemade pumpkin puree! Pumpkins can be intimidating, but in this easy step-by-step tutorial you’ll learn exactly how to cut, dice & roast a pumpkin for cooking and baking. Use your homemade pumpkin puree for all of your favorite pumpkin recipes!

  • 1
    (3-6 pound)
    sugar pumpkin (or pie pumpkin)
  • 1/2
    tablespoon
    melted butter, coconut oil or olive oil
  • For sweet recipes (optional):
  • 1/2
    tablespoon
    brown sugar
  • 1
    teaspoon
    cinnamon
  • For savory recipes (optional):
  • 1/2
    teaspoon
    salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Use a very sharp knife to cut the pumpkin in half on one side of the stem (with stem facing upward).

  2. Use a spoon to scoop out the pumpkin seeds and discard or save for roasting later.

  3. If you’re making a sweet recipe, rub the pumpkin with melted butter, coconut oil or olive oil, then rub brown sugar into each pumpkin and sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired. For a savory recipe, rub the pumpkin with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper.

  4. Place pumpkin flesh side down on a parchment lined baking sheet.

  5. Roast at 375 degrees F for 40-50 minutes or until fork tender. Allow to cool for 20-30 minutes.

  6. Peel off skin and then add pumpkin flesh to a blender or food processor. Process until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Makes about 4 cups of pumpkin puree (depending on how big your pumpkin is of course!)

To store: once your pumpkin puree has completely cooled, store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

To freeze: instead of putting your containers of pumpkin puree in the fridge place them in the freezer for up to 6 months. Simply thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before using it.

Nutrition

Servings: 4 servings

Serving size: 1 cup pumpkin puree

Calories: 94kcal

Fat: 2.7g

Saturated fat: 0.2g

Carbohydrates: 18g

Fiber: 10g

Sugar: 8g

Protein: 4g



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