How to Make Pumpkin Puree

Bowl of pumpkin puree

Every spring we put a couple of pumpkin plants in the garden of the house we escape to on weekends. It’s outside the city where we live, with few neighbors and little noise beyond the birds who inhabit the canopy of oak trees that frame the house. It’s not far from Half Moon Bay, a town considered by many to be the pumpkin growing capital of the country. It has never come as a surprise that our pumpkins thrive there, keeping us in pies and muffins throughout the fall. The first step in all that baking, though, is knowing how to make pumpkin puree from a whole pumpkin.

Upside of Fresh Pumpkin

Starting with a whole pumpkin versus a can is pretty darn satisfying, not to mention the fact that it’s superior in taste and you get all those pumpkin seeds for roasting. Pumpkin is also enormously nutritious, rich in vitamin A, potassium, as well as iron. Besides all that, making your own pumpkin puree gives you major bragging rights with dinner guests and you can show the kids that their Thanksgiving pie comes from an actual pumpkin.

Tips for How to Make Pumpkin Puree

If you’ve never cooked a pumpkin from scratch, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Sugar Pumpkin on a cutting board with a knife

1. Buy a Sugar Pumpkin

This is the best variety for pies and other baked goods. They’re sold at farmers’ markets, organic markets, and many supermarkets. There are plenty of other good eating pumpkins, too, which you can learn about here. Skip the supersized Halloween pumpkins, which are stringy, watery, and lack the flavor of a good cooking pumpkin.

Halved pumpkin on a baking sheet

2. Cut it in half with care

Use a sharp chef’s knife to cut the pumpkin in half down the center and get it into the oven to roast. There is no need to remove the seeds before roasting.

Roasted pumpkin with seeds removed

3. Roast the pumpkin until tender

Cook until the pumpkin is tender enough to easily pierce with a small knife. Once it’s cool enough to touch, it’s easy to scoop out the seeds.

Pureed pumpkin in a food processor

4. Puree the pumpkin flesh

Peel away the pumpkin skin and puree the flesh in a food processor or blender.

overhead view of a bowl of pumpkin

5. Use the pumpkin in myriad dishes

The pumpkin can be used in sweet or savory dishes. It’s tasty enough on its own to enjoy with a drizzle of olive oil or butter and sprinkle of salt.

Pumpkin puree in a strainer

6. Strain the puree, if needed

Once your pumpkin is pureed, you may want to strain it a bit. Canned pumpkin is quite dense, with no visible liquid. Since most recipes are developed using canned, you want your pumpkin to be similar. Simply transfer the puree to a sieve or colander lined with cheese cloth set over a bowl for about 20 minutes. This is particularly important if you using another variety of pumpkin, such as rouge d’estampes, which has more liquid than a sugar pumpkin.

Now that you know how to make pumpkin puree, check out these recipes:

Bowl of pumpkin puree
5 from 1 vote
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How to Make Pumpkin Puree from a Whole Pumpkin

Making your own pumpkin puree is neither hard to do nor does it take much time. Simply roast a sugar pie pumpkin until tender, spoon out the cooked flesh, and puree. That's it. Cook a couple of pumpkins at once and you'll have enough of the nutrient-rich vegetable not only for pie, but pumpkin muffins, pancakes, soup, and any other seasonal favorites.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings 3 cups , amount can vary based on pumpkin size (six 1/2 cup portions)
Calories 70 kcal
Author Katie Morford

Ingredients

  • 1 four-pound sugar pie pumpkin

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cut the pumpkin in half down the center. If the pumpkin still has a stem, cut that off first. Set the 2 halves, cut-side-down on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

  3. Bake until the pumpkin flesh is very tender (so tender you can easily slide a paring knife into the flesh in several places, 45 to 55 minutes).

  4. Let the pumpkin cool long enough to handle. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. Save the seeds for roasting or discard. Peel and/or scoop the flesh away from the skin and put it into a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Discard the skin.

  5. Run the processor until the pumpkin is smooth, a minute or so. If you don't have a food processor, you can do this with a blender, hand blender, or potato masher.

  6. If the puree looks thin or if liquid begins to pool on top, transfer it to a sieve or cheese cloth-lined colander set over a bowl and leave it to drain for 20 to 30 minutes.

  7. Store pumpkin puree in the refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer for 3 months. If any liquid has separated from the solids, simply strain it off through a sieve or cheese cloth lined colander.

graphic image for how to make homemade pumpkin

Comments

11.14.2011 at 3:24 PM #

Leslie

Um, wild boar?!?!

11.14.2011 at 3:24 PM #

Katie Morford

Yes, wild boar…

11.14.2011 at 3:34 PM #

kim brady

Yum- pumpkin pie for breakfast- one of my favorites! Thank you for the inspiration and encouragement, Katie. I have never done this from a “whole” pumpkin and since I am not in charge of the turkey this year I am going to dive right in. *Any tips on best way to clean and roast the seeds?

11.14.2011 at 3:34 PM #

Katie Morford

In my recipe instructions you don’t scoop the seeds and string until after the pumpkin is cooked simply because it is easier to remove the seeds/string after cooking. But, if you want to roast the pumpkin seeds, scoop the seeds and string before cooking the pumpkin. Then, separate the seeds from the “goop”, rinse them well and dry them on a dish towel. Toss them with a little olive oil and salt and bake at 375 degrees until crispy, about 12 minutes. You can also look here for some more interesting ideas on roasted pumpkin seeds: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/001524.html

Good luck with your pie!

11.14.2011 at 8:26 PM #

Amy

I’ve always wanted to make pumpkin pie from scratch. Thanks for the recipe. I live in Half Moon Bay and have grown my own pumpkins in the past. They do thrive in our area. Have a happy thanksgiving! I really enjoy your blog.

10.31.2022 at 2:06 PM #

Lisa

I roasted my pumpkins today and your method is easy. The only change I made, after the 1st batch was baked, was to lower my temperature to 350 degrees. 425 was too high for my oven. I just baked a little longer. Otherwise, a perfect method for baking pie pumpkins!

10.31.2022 at 2:06 PM #

Katie Morford

Good to know. Thanks for sharing your results!

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