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How to Cook a Pumpkin

Cooking a pumpkin is much easier than you may think!


Here are some different methods for you to choose from. My favorite varieties to use for baking are Cinderella, Pink Banana Squash and Sugar Pie Pumpkins. You can cook a jack-o-lantern type pumpkin, only the flesh will be watery and stringy.


Before cooking the pumpkin do the following:

  1. Choose a pumpkin that feels heavy for its size and is firm to the touch.
  2. Cut open the pumpkin and remove the seeds and stringy material.
  3. Cut into wedges or halves depending upon cooking method chosen.

In large pot with approximately an inch of water, add two pounds of chopped pumpkin pieces (the larger the chunks, the longer it takes to cook); bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and let simmer. Stir occasionally. Larger pieces take between 20 - 25 minutes to cook; cubing the pumpkin into half-inch cubes results in a quicker cooking time of 10 - 15 minutes. Cook until you can pierce the flesh easily with a fork. When cubing pumpkin, it's easiest to remove the skin first with a potato peeler; when using larger chunks, just peel the flesh from the skin after it's been cooked. Drain and let cool.

Fill large covered pot with 1 inch water; place a steaming rack inside. Add pumpkin pieces/chunks, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and steam for 30 minutes (or until tender). Remove flesh from skin once pumpkin has been drained and cooled.

Oven baking:
This is my favorite method. Cut pumpkin in half crosswise and scoop out the seeds and stringy material. If the flesh looks fairly dry, cover the cut side of each pumpkin half with a piece of foil. If it is moist leave it uncovered. Place the pumpkin halves on a baking sheet and bake, foil side up in a preheated oven at 350 °F for about 1-1/2 hours or until the flesh is very tender when pierced with a fork. Don't worry if the edges are browned. The natural sugars actually caramelize and give it a richer more complex flavor. When it is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh.


Finishing the Process:
Once the flesh has been removed using any of the above methods, mash with a fork or potato masher, or puree with a food processor or blender until smooth; then simply measure out the amount you need.

  • In general a 5 lb. pumpkin will yield approximately 4 cups of mashed, cooked pumpkin pulp.
  • If you're using a recipe that calls for canned pumpkin, figure one 29 oz. can is equal to about 3-1/4 cups fresh, cooked, and pureed pumpkin. A 16 oz. can of pumpkin is the equivalent of approximately 2 cups of mashed pulp.
  • If your pumpkin pulp is too watery you may drain it in cheesecloth or a sieve. Alternatively you can cook it down to a thicker consistency in a sauce pan.

Use fresh pumpkin for all your recipes! You'll be amazed at the taste!


Time Saving Tip:

Depending upon your favorite recipe, place one cup (or 1/2 cup if that is what most of your recipes call for) into a freezer ziploc. Flatten like a slice of bread. Mark the date with a Sharpie and place in your freezer.


Cooked pumpkin pulp freezes extremely well, with no discernable loss of quality even when frozen for months.


When you are ready to bake your favorite pumpkin bread, cookie, pie etc., just place the ziploc on the counter. It will thaw in about 20 minutes.



Choosing the Right Pumpkin:

Depending upon the variety, pumpkins and winter squash have different culinary uses. Sweet and refined varieties are best for pies, while dry and dense varieties are well suited for soups and stews.


If you want to toast pumpkin seeds, some varieites have hull-less or semi-hull-less seeds.


Physical characteristics to look for in choosing a quality and fresh pumpkin or squash:


  • Choose a pumpkin that feels firm and heavy for its size.

  • Choose a pumpkin that has consistent coloring throughout.

  • Turn the pumpkin over and place pressure on the bottom with your thumbs. If it flexes or gives your pumpkin is not fresh.

  • Look for soft spots or open cuts that would indicate damage or early spoilage.

  • Choose a pumpkin with a solidly attached stem.

  • Don't worry about cosmetic blemishes or surface insect damage. They won't affect the taste.


Click the links below for more information on choosing the right variety for you culinary needs.




Pumpkins are Versatile


Nearly every part of the pumpkin can be eaten.


The cooked pulp is fabulous in pies, cookies, breads, soups, appetizers, main dishes . . . the list goes on and on!


The blossoms are excellent breaded and fried or use as a wrap.


The seeds make a great snack.


Below you will find some of my favorite
easy pumpkin recipes.


Recipe Box


Pumpkin Pie

Great-Grandma Helen's Squash Pie

Great-Grandma Helen always made pumpkin pie with a Pink Banana Squash instead of pumpkin. It is sweet, never stringy and more refined than most varieties of pumpkins. It's shape makes it easy to work with. You can substitute any variety of pumpkin or squash for the cooked flesh.


2 cups cooked and mashed Pink Banana squash

3/4 cups sugar

2 eggs, well beaten

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tps ginger

2 cups milk

2 - 9-inch unbaked pie crust shells

Preheat oven to 450°. Mix squash, sugar, eggs, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and ginger. Beat with an egg beater. Add the milk and beat until well mixed. Pour into two 9 - inch shells. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes and then turn heat down to 325° for 30 - 40 minutes. Bake until knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.



Pumpkin Soup


Lazy Evening Pumpkin Soup

1 cup cream
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup pumpkin, cooked and mashed
1-1/2 tbsp melted butter
1-1/2 tbsp flour

1/2 tsp salt
dash of pepper

Combine milk, onions and bay leaf in saucepan. Slowly bring to a boil. Strain, then combine strained ingredients with chicken broth and mashed pumpkin (save the milk). In a separate pan, make a roux by combining the butter and flour and cooking over low heat for 5 minutes. Add milk mixture to roux slowly and whisk until the soup is smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes to bring out the flavors.


Garnish with pomegranate seeds, parsley, and cream.



Butternut Squash


Becky's Butternut Enchiladas


This recipe is my daughter Becky's favorite. It is easy to make, with delicious results. It is easy to modify to your own taste.


1 large Butternut squash cooked and mashed
1 stick butter
2 ears of corn roasted and kernels removed from cob
(you may substitute 1-1/2 cups cooked frozen corn)
1 heavy pinch cumin powder
salt & pepper to taste
1 dozen corn tortillas
green taco sauce
sour cream
2 tbsp vegetable or olive oil

Roast corn ears and remove kernels. Cook and mash the Butternut squash. Place it in a saucepan with one stick of butter. Add the corn and seasonings. Heat thoroughly. Heat the oil in a skillet and lightly cook the corn tortillas. Spoon hot squash mixture into corn tortillas. Roll / fold into thirds with seams underneath. Top with a drizzle of green taco sauce and garnish with a dollop of sour cream. Serve warm.


Whole Pumpkin Pie


Mandy's Magic Pumpkin Pie

My youngest daughter would rather be outdoors fishing than baking. This is one of her favorite recipes because it is fast and simple.


1 unbaked pie shell
2 cups pumpkin
1 (15 oz) can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated!)
1 egg

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ginger

3/4 tsp cinnamon

Blend together and pour into pie shell. Bake at 375° F for 50 minutes. Cool. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.


Pumpkin Pancakes


Yummy Pumpkin Pancakes


This recipe is too fun! It is super simple to make with amazing results. It is a fun breakfast to prepare for guests. They will think you spent hours in the kitchen. The flavor of warm pumpkin pancakes with maple syrup is a fabulous combination.


2 cups Bisquick
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk

1/2 cups cooked mashed pumpkin
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla


In a bowl, combine Bisquick, brown sugar and cinnamon. In another bowl, combine the eggs, milk, pumpkin, oil and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients and mix well.
Pour batter by 1/2 cupfuls onto a lightly greased hot griddle; turn when bubbles form on top of pancakes. Cook until second side is golden brown. Serve with butter and maple syrup.


Toasted Pumpkn Seeds

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

2 cups pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp oil (corn, sunflower)
1 tbsp butter (or margarine)
1-2 tsp salt


Separate the seeds from pumpkin pulp. No need to wash them, just pull the fibers and excess pulp off. Leaving remnants of the flesh on the seeds gives them a wonderful pumpkin flavor. In a bowl coat seeds with oil, butter and salt. Spread and bake on a baking sheet at 225° F until seeds are golden, crisp and dry, about 1 hour. Stir frequently to prevent scorching. Cool and enjoy!



1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp soy sauce

chili powder to taste

garlic salt to taste

cayenne pepper to taste

seasoned salt to taste