How to Cook Pumpkin

Here are two of our favorite ways to enjoy pumpkin this season.

By Sasha Weilbaker
Sep 16, 2022
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Packed with an impressive amount of vitamins and minerals, pumpkin is both a superfood and versatile fall favorite that adds flavor and seasonal cheer to a variety of dishes. Similar to its relative butternut squash, the gourd can be incorporated into an impressive list of dishes, from seasonal treats like quick breads and muffins to savory mains like lasagna, curry, or Sheet Pan dinners.

While canned pumpkin can be used in a pinch for some baked goods, fresh pumpkin is not only more versatile, it has a more pronounced flavor, and can even be cheaper. Find out how to choose the best pumpkin and the simplest way to break it down. Plus, learn two different ways to cook pumpkin for all your sweet and savory needs this season.

How to Pick Pumpkin for Cooking

All pumpkins are edible, but like any fruit some varieties are better for cooking, baking, and eating than others. For example, the palm-sized orange or white ones have very little flesh and are best as a festive decoration. However, sugar pie pumpkins can just as easily be carved into jack-o’-lanterns as they can be baked into a pie.

If at all possible, try to source your pumpkins from a farmer’s market, or better yet straight from the patch itself. Both options will yield more varieties, as well as a greater degree of freshness. When choosing your pumpkin in a store, look for one with a dark green stem. This indicates that the pumpkin has recently been picked, and is far from going bad. Additionally, check for soft spots, dents, and signs of mold before purchasing.

How to Cut Pumpkin

Cutting a pumpkin for cooking and pureeing is more similar than you’d think to cutting a pumpkin to carve a Jack-o’-lantern. Pumpkin skin is often thick and can be hard to cut. We recommend using our 8” Chef’s Knife (, as its sharp tip can piece the skin and its sturdy blade gives you the leverage you need to cut all the way through. Start by cutting around the stem of the pumpkin to create a hole in the top. Then, scoop out the seeds and guts with whatever tools you have available, from your hands to a large metal spoon.

Pumpkin seeds make a delicious snack, so if you want to roast them, simply rinse them clean and let them dry on a paper or kitchen towel. Once dry, you can toss them with oil and whatever seasonings you like before roasting them in a 350F oven for 10–15 minutes.

Just like other members of the gourd family, roasted pumpkin is a great addition to any salad or grain bowl. Similarly, pumpkin puree can be added to desserts, pancakes, and more. Here are two of our favorite ways to cook pumpkin this fall.

How to Roast Pumpkin

Roasting pumpkin provides a crispy, flavor-packed bite to any dish, from a side to the main ingredient. Here’s how you roast it in just two easy steps.

Step 1: Remove the Skin and  Cut into Cubes

Using a Santoku or Chef Knife, begin by cutting the pumpkin into quarters and removing the “meat” of the pumpkin from its thick outer skin using crescent-like cuts. From here, cut into bite-sized cubes.

Step 2: Season and Roast

Season the pumpkin cubes with desired seasonings (be sure to use oil, salt, and pepper, if nothing else) and arrange the cubes, evenly spaced, on a Sheet or Roasting Pan. Roast the pumpkin cubes at 4000F until they’re soft and lightly browned, which should take around 30 to 45 minutes.

How to Make Pumpkin Puree

Pumpkin puree is a great way to add moisture and festive flavor to all kinds of baked goods in the colder months. Here’s how you make your own pumpkin puree that’s better than the store-bought kind.

Step 1: Cut and Roast

Slice your pumpkin in half, remove the guts and seed, and place each half face down on a baking sheet. Roast the pumpkin halves at 350F until the “meat” of the pumpkin is soft, and separating from its skin. This should take between 45 minutes to an hour.

Step 2: Blend

Once the pumpkin is roasted, let it cool until you can scoop the flesh away from the skin. Transfer to a food processor or blender, and blend until the mixture is smooth. The puree can be used right away, or will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

How to Use Cooked Pumpkin

Pumpkin is a welcome addition to a variety of dishes, from desserts to soups. You can use as filling for a pumpkin ravioli, use it as a flavor add-on in pumpkins, muffins or bread for a fall-forward treat, spice up a bowl or salad with roasted pumpkin and pumpkin seeds, or add cubes of pumpkin to your next risotto. This is an incredibly versatile ingredient that can carry you through fall and into winter.

Pumpkin Cooking Tips

With its large size and tough outer skin, roasting, preparing, and cooking pumpkin can be  intimidating. Here are a few tips to make your prep easier.

Use the Right Roasting Pan

The right roasting pan can make all the difference. We recommend our Carbon Steel Roasting Pan for even browning and locking in roasted flavors.

Save the Seeds

Save your pumpkin seeds for a snack or built-in appetizer by topping with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and roasting at 350 degrees for between 10 and 15 minutes. For an even roast, toss the seeds every 5 minutes or so.

Freeze your Puree

While pumpkin puree lasts for around a week in your refrigerator, it can be stored for even longer when you freeze it. Keep it in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag so you can enjoy pumpkin all year round.

Ready to Cook?

Now that you know how to cook pumpkin, check out this festive recipe from Chef Travis Swikard of San Diego’s Callie. Instead of pairing pumpkin with sage or brown butter, Chef Swikard opts for Mediterranean flavors by using pomegranate molasses and the spice blend ras-el-hanout. This soup is a great holiday appetizer or a weeknight meal when paired with some pita and a nice salad.