Everything you need to know about How to Cook a Pumpkin! It’s so easy to make your own homemade pumpkin puree from a roasted pumpkin. Cooking your own pumpkins at home is a great alternative to canned pumpkin, and it is next-level delicious in all your favorite pumpkin recipes.
I love everything pumpkin in October and November, and learning how to cook pumpkin was a game changer in my kitchen. Homemade pumpkin puree made from roasted pumpkin has such a rich flavor and is easy to make, and I love that we’re not wasting all the pumpkins we buy for holiday decorating.
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Choosing a Pumpkin
You can cook just about any pumpkin, but if you want to make delicious pumpkin puree, it helps to choose the right pumpkin. Most of the large pumpkins you buy to carve into jack-o-lanterns are not good pumpkins for eating. They tend to be stringy, watery, and bland in flavor. Instead, you’ll want to choose pumpkins that are grown specifically for cooking and are cultivated to be sweeter and smaller than jack-o-lantern pumpkins.
For the best flavor and texture, look for Pie Pumpkins, Sugar Pumpkins, or Autumn Gold Pumpkins. Pictured here are Pie Pumpkins that I purchased at my local grocery store.
Each pie pumpkin pictured here weighs about 3 pounds and yields about 2 cups of puree.
What is the Best Way to Cook Fresh Pumpkins?
First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the rack in the center of the oven.
To cook your pumpkin, use a long, sharp knife and cut your pumpkin in half horizontally. If your pumpkins have long stems, you’ll also want to cut those off so that they’re easier to roast.
Remove the Seeds
Next, scoop out all of the pulp and pumpkin seeds. Save the pumpkin seeds, and you can turn them into roasted pumpkin seeds for a tasty snack later!
Baking the Pumpkin
Place the pumpkin cut side down on a large rimmed baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet with foil, crimping the edges around the pan to seal them.
Cook the pumpkin in the preheated oven for 60 to 90 minutes or until the pumpkin flesh is very soft and can be easily pricked with a fork. Smaller pumpkins (2 to 4 pounds) will be closer to the 60-minute mark, while larger pumpkins (5 to 7 pounds) will need longer.
When the pumpkins are fully cooked, remove them from the oven. Very carefully remove the foil wrapping – I use tongs while wearing an oven mitt because a lot of hot steam builds up in there. Allow the pumpkins to cool until they are no longer hot but still warm.
Pureeing the Pumpkin
Scoop the pumpkin flesh out with a large spoon and place it into the bowl of a food processor. Discard the pumpkin skin.
Puree the roasted pumpkin until it is completely smooth.
Place a large fine mesh strainer or a colander lined with cheesecloth over a medium-sized bowl. Spoon the pumpkin puree into the strainer and let it sit for 20 or 30 minutes to let all of the excess liquid drain off. After you complete this final step, your homemade pumpkin puree should very closely resemble the canned pumpkin puree texture.
Recipe Pro Tips!
How Can I Store My Pureed Pumpkin
You can use your pumpkin puree right away, or you can store it for later. You can keep your pumpkin puree in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
To store your pumpkin for longer, measure out 1 or 2-cup amounts into freezer zip-loc bags or glass canning jars (make sure to leave enough space at the top for expansion in the freezer).
Frozen pumpkin puree lasts for up to a year.
Can I Cook Pumpkin in a Microwave?
Yes, you can! Cut it in half the same way and place it in a microwave-safe dish. Cover and microwave on high for 4-6 minutes or until the pumpkin is done.
Can you Cook Pumpkin in an Air Fryer?
Yes, you can! Again, cut the pumpkin in half, place it in your 400F preheated Air Fryer, and cook for 20-25 minutes, depending on the size of your pumpkin. Check to see if it is done with a fork, making sure it is very tender.
- Fresh Baking Pumpkin (like Pie Pumpkin, Sugar Pumpkin, etc.) approximately 2 to 7 pounds *see note
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with rack in the center of the oven.
- Using a long sharp knife, cut your pumpkin in half horizontally. If your pumpkin has a long stem, you'll also want to cut that off too.
- Scoop out all of the pulp and pumpkin seeds. Save the pumpkin seeds to roast later.
- Place the pumpkin halves cut side down on a large rimmed baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet with foil, crimping around the edges of the pan to seal it.
- Bake for 60 to 90 minutes (small pumpkins will need about 60 minutes, larger pumpkins will need about 90 minutes). When ready, the pumpkins will be very soft and can be easily pricked with a fork.
- Very carefully remove the foil (there will be a lot of trapped hot steam). Let the pumpkins cool until they are warm but no longer hot. Using a large spoon, scoop the cooked pumpkin flesh into the bowl of a large food processor. Discard the skin.
- Puree the pumpkin flesh until completely smooth.
- Place a fine mesh strainer or a colander lined with cheese cloth over a medium bowl and spoon in the pumpkin puree. Let it sit for 20 to 30 minutes to drain off excess water.
- You can use your cooked pumpkin immediately in any recipe that calls for pumpkin puree, or you can refrigerate it for up to 4 days or freeze it for up to a year.
A 3 pound pumpkin will yield about 2 cups of puree. See the post for more tips and tricks.
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