How to Cook a Whole Pumpkin (and Make Puree)

How to make homemade pumpkin puree

I’d been staring down the French Red Pumpkin perched in the corner of my kitchen for weeks, ever since we picked it up at the pumpkin patch in mid October. I’d had big plans for that pumpkin — a creamy soup perhaps, pumpkin flan, a seasonal pasta with toasted pumpkin seeds.  But the pumpkin was a good 10 pounds and I knew it would be tricky to cut. So it continued to sit, untouched, week after week, as the pressure to “do something” built.

Yesterday, it overcame me, so I hastily decided to skip my traditional method for cutting and cooking a pumpkin, and just put the whole 10-pounder, uncut, into the oven. Then I waited to see what would happen.

Here’s what:  You can cook a whole pumpkin, no pre-cutting necessary.

What Type of Pumpkin to Use

Sugar pumpkin is most common variety of eating pumpkin and the one often used for baked goods, including pumpkin pie. They are smaller and denser than the French Red Pumpkin I used for this recipe. There are plenty of other varieties that work well for cooking and bakingl, which you can read about here. The amount of liquid differs by variety, so some pumpkins need to be strained after they’re pureed if you plan to use them for baked goods.

How to Cook a Cook a Whole Pumpkin

The process for cooking a pumpkin whole is pretty straightforward:

  1. Star by putting the pumpkin on a sheet pan and get it into a 400 degree oven. Roast it until very tender, so you can easily slide in a knife in several spot. Pull it from the oven and leave it until it’s cool enough to handle (30-ish minutes). Then cut it in half.

2. Next, scoop out all the seeds and stringy bits (just as you do when you’re carving a pumpkin on Halloween). What remains is the flesh and skin. Scoop the flesh away from the skin. It should pull away with ease. Put the pumpkin flesh into a food processor or blender.

3. Run the food processor/blender until the pumpkin is creamy smooth. If you are using the puree for pie, it might be on the watery side, so set it in a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl to allow the pumpkin to thicken up. You can save the liquid that pools in the bowl as a starter broth for pumpkin soup.

That’s it!

If you like learning how to cook a whole pumpkin, check out these recipes for using your puree:

Yummy Pumpkin Protein Pancakes

Pumpkin Pie Milkshake

Cheesy Baked Pumpkin Pasta

Marbled Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf Cake

How to Cook a Whole Pumpkin

Canned pumpkin is awfully handy, but there is nothing like making your own for pies, quick breads, and creamy pumpkin soup. Here is your "how to" on the simplest method there is.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Author Katie Morford


  • 1 whole pumpkin (Sugar Pie, Cinderella, or another good variety for eating)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Wash the exterior of the pumpkin and set it on a baking sheet with sides. Spear the pumpkin through to the center a few times with a sharp knife so the steam can release as it cooks.

  3. Roast the pumpkin until tender enough to easily spear with a knife. When it's done, it should feel as tender as spearing a fresh peach.  Cooking time will vary depending on the size of the pumpkin, but will likely start at about an hour and go up from there.

  4. Leave it to cool enough to handle. Cut half. Scoop out the seeds and string. Scrape the flesh from the pumpkin skin into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.

  5. If you're planning to use the puree for pie or baked goods, assess if it is thick enough. It should be similar to what you find in canned pumpkin. If there is too much liquid, put it in a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl and leave it in the fridge for several hours or overnight to drain You could also line an ordinary colander with cheese cloth if you don't have a fine strainer. You can save the liquid to use in place of broth in pumpkin soup.

  6. Store the pumpkin puree in a covered container in the fridge and use within one week or freeze for up to three months.


11.13.2013 at4:36 PM #


How clever you are~~! i like the idea of using the pumpkin water for your holiday flowers best~~

11.13.2013 at8:16 PM #


Brilliant–cutting through squash skin always holds me back and next time I won’t bother. (p.s. I would drink that pumpkin water right now–but what a wonderful vegetable broth it would be for squash and farro soup, or even minestrone.)

11.13.2013 at8:16 PM #

Katie Morford

Squash and farro soup sounds perfect…but I ended up including it in a batch of chicken broth I have brewing in my slow cooker.

11.13.2013 at8:26 PM #


I never would have thought of roasting it whole like that – very clever idea!

11.13.2013 at8:26 PM #

Katie Morford

I wouldn’t have either, except pumpkin “guilt” drove me to it.

11.14.2013 at9:02 AM #


Pumpkin…it’s a whole new world now! I am always a little hesitant to cut a big squash…fearful I am going to lop off a finger or two in the process. Thanks for the tip.

11.14.2013 at9:02 AM #

Katie Morford

I know, exciting. I’ve got two little ones I’m going to test out in the next day or two.

11.20.2013 at5:27 AM #

Regan @ The Healthy Aperture Blog

Great How To for pumpkin, Katie!

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