How To Bake A Pumpkin, From Start To Finish

giant pumpkin

We grew two different varieties of pumpkins this year. A large heirloom from seeds a friend gave me, and small pie pumpkins. The large pumpkin’s vine died before the pumpkin (pictured above) turned orange, so we picked it green and brought it inside to cure. It took a couple of months, but eventually it turned a lovely pale orange.

That’s one thing I love about pumpkins. As long as you keep them dry and somewhat cool, they’ll last for several months before going bad.

Any time I am able to get my hands on a pie pumpkin, I puree it to freeze for future pumpkin breads and pies. I can remember the first time I was ever given a whole pumpkin. I had no idea what to do with it! It took a google search and a couple of articles before I gathered the courage to cook and process that first pumpkin. It does takes a little time to cook, peel, and puree a whole pumpkin, but man is it worth it.

Before you begin, you wanna make sure that you have a PIE pumpkin, and not a carving pumpkin. Pie pumpkins are usually a much paler shade of orange than traditional bright orange carving pumpkins. You can cook other pumpkins, but these in particular make the best pies and quick breads.

How to Bake a Pumpkin: From Start to Finish

Step 1: Cut the pumpkin in half or quarters, depending on how large it is. You’ll need a sharp butcher knife to get through that tough skin- be careful!

how to bake pumpkin

Step 2: Scoop out all of the seeds and stringy stuff. Save the seeds to bake them for a healthy snack. Or, if you grew an open-pollinated, heirloom variety (away from any other squash or pumpkin plants) you can save the seeds to plant more pumpkins next year.

pumpkin sliced

Step 3: If working with a large pumpkin, cut pieces into more manageable slices. Place the pieces skin-side down in a pan with 1/2″ of water.

pumpkin slices baked

Step 4: Bake the pumpkin at 450* for 45 min to an hour, until you can pierce the skin easily with a knife.

how to bake pumpkin

Step 5: Allow the pumpkin to cool, then use a knife to peel the flesh from the skin. If it’s really tender a spoon will also work. Place the peeled pieces in a large bowl as you work. Liquid will accumulate in the bottom of the bowl. Do not drain it off, you might need to add some of that liquid to the blender.

pumpkin in blender

Step 6: Cut the pumpkin into pieces and drop them into a blender. If it won’t blend easily, add about 1 Tbsp of the liquid from the bowl to the blender.

pumpkin pureed in blender

Step 7: Puree until smooth.

how to cook pumpkin and make puree

Step 8: Fill freezer bags with the puree for future use. I freeze 2 cups at a time, ’cause my favorite Pumpkin Spice Bread recipe calls for 2 cups of pumpkin puree. Push out all of the air from the bag before sealing, and don’t forget to date and label it.

It’s pretty amazing to me that one big pumpkin would yield 30 cups of pumpkin puree! And all it took was one little seed.

Why Freeze It Instead of Canning?  The National Center for Home Food Preservation has put out a warning stating that it is not safe to can homemade pumpkin puree or pumpkin pie filling. It is safe to can pumpkin in cubes, but if you want it already pureed you should to freeze it just to be on the safe side.

Once you have your pureed pumpkin, you might try canning pumpkin bread!

Now that you know how to bake and puree a pumpkin, what are you going to make with it?

Kendra
About Kendra 1116 Articles
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.

11 Comments

  1. I processed my last pumpkin of the year using this method and I absolutely love it. It was simple and easy to follow for sure..!

  2. FIRST OF ALL YOUR LITTLE GIRL IS SO ADORABLE SITTING WITH THAT PUMPKIN ON HER LAP. I HAVE NEVER COOKED A PUMPKIN BEFORE BUT I AM GOING TO DO IT NOW. MY FAMILY HAS BEEN MAKING HARVEST LOAF CAKE FOR OVER 45 YEARS. IT IS A PUMPKIN SPICE LOAF CAKE WITH NUTS AND CHOCOLATE CHIPS. I USUALLY MAKE SEVERAL SMALLER LOAVES DURING THE HOLIDAYS TO GIVE AS GIFTS TO FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS.

    • I had to have her sit down with it ’cause it was so heavy, lol! I wish I’d weighed it before processing. I wanted to use my little girl to show the size of the pumpkin. She’s a precious angel. 🙂 Your harvest loaf sounds delicious! I do hope you try processing pumpkins for yourself. It’s worth the effort!

  3. Hi, I have been making my own pumpkin puree for about 30 years now. I never have put water in the pan the pumpkins have plenty of water in them already. I also do use whatever pumpkins I can get my hands on ( free ones ) and usually they are the carving type. I dont see much differnece in the taste altho they are a bit more stringy and need a bit more time in the processor. Also I always have washed my seeds, however this year I read an article saying NOT to do this since it washes away nutrients and vitamins. So I just squeezed the seeds out of the pulpy part and baked as usual. I must say they taste so much better! Thanks for all your information and tips you share.

    • Thanks for the pumpkin seed tip. I’d not heard of this regarding the rinsing part, so next time, I won’t rinse!

      We also use butternut squash interchangeably with pumpkins, and, in my opinion, the butternut squash seeds taste a lot better.

    • I wonder if adding water effects the length of baking time, since the steam helps to soften the skin? It’s nice to know it’s optional, though 🙂

      Thank you for the tip on the pumpkin seeds. I’ve never heard that. I bet the leftover flesh on the seeds would taste good though.

  4. We go through a LOT of pumpkin in this house – the kids scarf up the muffins as soon as I can make them. My recipe only calls for a half-cup of puree (for six muffins), and I found that I could easily freeze the puree in half-cup lumps by measuring it into the muffin tin and freezing overnight. Come morning, pop them out and into a freezer bag. An ice-cube tray would hold about 2 tablespoons – perfect for stirring into oatmeal or yogurt.

  5. I love to bake pumpkins whole in the oven. I just knock off the stem, Poke a hole or two in it so it can vent, put the oven on 400 and let it go until it is easily pierced with a fork. That way it stays super duper moist. I do the same thing with butternut squash or any squash for that matter.

    Your punkin is beautiful!

    • I do the same thing with butternut squash. When I tell people that they are amazed. It is the heat that cooks and softens it, so may as well make it easier on yourself, lol. Why knock yourself out trying to cut through that tougher-than-brick skin when you don’t have to?

  6. I saw this and had to add 2 things – Meghan already beat me to one! I put a whole pumpkin in, stem and all. It’s a little harder in my opinion to scrape the seeds out after since it’s so soft, but it sure beats trying to cut them open! However, on that note, my hubby was willing to use a mitre saw on my pumpkins! When I wanted to do a bunch of them at the same time, he just went down to the basement, fired it up and came back quickly w/them all halved and ready to go! I was surprised – he promised he washed the blade first =) I now have a photo or 2 of him ‘sawing’ pumpkins open, wearing goggles and all!

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