How to Cook Pumpkin

Last Updated on November 5, 2021 by Anne-Marie

Learn how to cook pumpkin! Includes several easy methods for cooking fresh pumpkin to make a puree for baking and to use in many recipes.

A pile of pumpkins.

Why this recipe works

It’s time to learn how to cook pumpkin!

We’ve been having unseasonably warm weather here. So it’s only when I go to the store and see the pumpkins that I’m reminded that it’s fall. Halloween and Thanksgiving are just around the corner.

It’s time to stock up on roasted pumpkin puree for all your fall baking and cooking needs.

While there’s nothing wrong with canned pumpkin, cooking pumpkin is easier to do than you think.

Not only will you learn how to cook a pumpkin for pie. You’ll then have the option to cook the pumpkin seeds, too!

The resulting pumpkin puree can be turned into soups, casseroles, curries, cookies, pies, and more.

Not only is pumpkin wonderful to cook with, pumpkin is filled with fiber, vitamins A and C, beta-carotene, potassium, and fiber.

Scooping out pumpkin seeds from a raw pumpkin.

How to cook pumpkin

Best pumpkins for cooking: Start with small sugar pumpkins, about two to three pounds. Make sure to use sugar pumpkins, which are sweeter in taste than carving pumpkins.

How to clean a pumpkin: First, wash the pumpkins over running water and pat dry with a clean dish towel or paper towel.

Next, cut the pumpkin into large chunks and scoop out all the seeds (save them for roasting!) and stringy bits.

There are several ways how to cook fresh pumpkin. Use whatever method works best for you.

How to bake pumpkin in oven: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place pumpkin chunks, skin side up, in a glass baking dish.

Add 1/4 inch of water and bake, uncovered, for 45-60 minutes (depending on chunk sizes) until flesh is tender, checking occasionally to add more water, if needed.

Microwave a pumpkin: Place pumpkin chunks, skin side up, in a glass baking dish that will fit in your microwave.

Add 1/4 inch of water and cover pan with plastic wrap or wax paper, and vent.  Microwave on high for about 10 minutes (or about 5 minutes per pound) until pumpkin is tender.

How to steam pumpkin on the stove top: Heat water to boiling in a saucepan fitted with a steamer basket.  Place pumpkin chunks in steamer and place over pan.

Reduce heat to medium and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes or until pumpkin is tender.

How to cook pumpkin in a slow cooker: For easy clean up, use a slow cooker liner or spray the crock with cooking spray.

Then place pumpkin chunks, skin side down, in your crock-pot. Cook on low for 3 to 3-1/2 hours or until pumpkin is tender.

Chopping up a large pumpkin.

How to make pumpkin puree

1. For all methods after pumpkin is cooked, scoop out pulp and discard skin.

2. Pulp can be pureed in a high speed blender or food processor. Or you can use a potato masher to puree the pumpkin until smooth.

A two to three pound pumpkin will make about 2-1/2 cups of puree.

What can you do with pumpkin puree?

Once you have a batch of puree, the sky’s the limit!

Here are some pumpkin recipes for you to try like:

Pumpkin Smoothie

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chili

Keto Pumpkin Mousse

Dairy Free Pumpkin Fudge

Fresh pumpkin puree will keep in the refrigerator for a week or two.

How to freeze pumpkin puree

Puree can be frozen in airtight containers or freezer bags for up to a year.

For easy cooking, freeze the pumpkin puree in one cup proportions.

A field of pumpkins.

How to cook pumpkin seeds

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Place seeds in a colander and rinse.

3. Pick out all pieces of pulp.

4. Place seeds on a baking sheet and pat dry.

5. Drizzle a little vegetable oil over seeds and sprinkle with some salt and toss.

6. Bake for 10 minutes, stir, and return to oven.

7. Bake another 10-15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes until golden and crispy.

What can you do with pumpkin seeds?

Most people like to snack on pumpkin seeds. You can mix them into trail mix. Or add them to Homemade Granola Bars or Chocolate Bark Candy.

You can use pumpkin seeds as a decorative topper on Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread or on Sweet Potato Soup.

Or mix into salad recipes.

Check out the Best Gluten Free Thanksgiving Desserts Recipes and the Best Keto Thanksgiving Recipes for more delicious recipes for your holiday table.

A bowl of pumpkin seeds.

You can also boil pumpkin seeds

This gets the seeds nice and salty!

1. Boil the pumpkin seeds in very salty water for 20 minutes.

2. Pour seeds and into a colander to drain water.

3. Place seeds on a baking sheet and pat dry with a paper towel.

4. Drizzle a little vegetable oil over seeds.

5. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees, stir, and return to oven.

6. Bake another 10-15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes until golden and crispy.

Originally published on October 4, 2011 and October 17, 2016. Updated with new pictures and information.

9 thoughts on “How to Cook Pumpkin

    1. Anne-Marie Nichols Post author

      Drusila, you can cook a regular carving pumpkin, but they’re very stringy and not naturally sweet (like a squash). I don’t know if adding regular sugar would help much. Instead, find some squash and bake those for empanadas if you can’t find sugar pumpkins.

  1. Carolyn

    How do you tell if a pumpkin is a sugar pumpkin? I didn’t think they were different except for size, shape, and color. Thanks!

  2. Anna

    I make pumpkin soup witha very simple and fast recipe: in a pressure cooker add some evo oil, 1 sliced leeks, 2 sliced carrots and pumpkin in pieces and 1 water glass. Steam for 5/6 minutes then use a minipimer to reduce to puree. Add water to your desidered consistency and serve with parmigiano reggiano and a bit of parsely.

  3. Elsie

    Thanks for the great tips! I just got 2 pumpkins in time for Canadian Thanksgiving, so I’ll get to eat some soon enough! It’s my first year of purchasing pumpkins too! Thanks for the great post!


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