Tip of the Day: Cooking Pumpkin

Having grown up on a pumpkin farm, I get this question a ton…  How do I take a pumpkin I buy at the market and turn it into a pumpkin pie? Well, believe it or not, pumpkin pie doesn’t always come from that canned pumpkin in the preserved foods aisle at the grocery store.

Here are my tips for the perfect mashed pumpkin:

  • Avoid field pumpkins, which are bred for perfect jack o’ lanterns: they tend to be too large and stringy and not very flavorful.
  • Ask the farmer for sugar pie pumpkins or other flavorful varieties: small and sweet, with dark orange-colored flesh, these are the suckers you want.
  • A medium-sized (4-pound) sugar pumpkin should yield around 1½ cups of mashed pumpkin. This puree can be used in all your recipes calling for canned pumpkin.


I prefer baking the pumpkin over boiling or steaming to get the flesh soft enough to work with.  Here’s how…

Cut the pumpkin in half and discard the stem section and stringy pulp. Save the seeds to dry and roast if you’d like. In a shallow baking dish, place the two halves face down and cover with foil. Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F oven for about 1½ hours for a medium-sized sugar pumpkin, or until tender. (Stick a fork in it – if it’s not soft, keep roasting.) Once the baked pumpkin has cooled, scoop out the flesh and puree or mash it. For silky smooth custards or soups, press the pumpkin puree through a sieve or pulse in a food processor.




Filed under Food, holiday, How To, Recipes

17 responses to “Tip of the Day: Cooking Pumpkin

  1. I find roasting and steaming really effective 🙂 I have a few more tips on my food blog:


  2. Abiel

    It never came to me how actual pumpkin pie was prepared. I now have an idea what to make for the family on Halloween. This recipe sounds very natural, yet delicious.

  3. I grew up eating pumpkin pie made from canned pumpkin, and now I’m not sure why because this does not seem too difficult. I am going to have to try this-thanks for the tip!

  4. My mom and sister get requests at this time of the year (every year) for pumpkin and sweet potato pies. People pay them for it. I’d like to do that and donate the money to charity for Christmas gifts for hospitalized children. Off to bake I go.

  5. I’ve been eating pumpkin and squash nonstop lately. I love fall!

  6. rose

    another wonderful food from the americas. i find it very hard to eat canned pumpkin and only do it when the other runs out. after several methods of cooking i also have come to prefer baking it. first i cut the top off about 1/3 down, then scoop out all the seeds. i add a 1/4 cup of water into the pumpkin, stab it several times on the sides, then i put the top back and back until the fork inserts without too much effort. then i cool. when cool enough i quarter it and scoop up the pulp. sometimes the skin just peels right off. my recipe for pie calls for 2 cups so i freeze it in that proportion. my favorite pie recipe is in the old betty crocker cook book of which i adjusted to taste. pumpkin is good to add to a basic soup stock too and excellent for health esp the eyes. currently i have about 6 sugar pie pumpkins for this season… there will be more.

  7. Seldom has a picture whetted my appetite like this one. So simple. So beautiful.

    Oh, thanks for the tip also.

  8. I do the oven baking and the mashing but then I place in a cheesecloth lined colander and then with cc folded over the top … place on top a pie tin and then a 5# weight (like a bag of flour) and let it drain excess moisture for an hour … texture smooths out as I use food processor to mix with sugars and spices … then I process it again after as I add eggs/cream/milk while running … learned from Cook’s Illustrated NovDec ’93 recipe

  9. I love pumpkin pie. You’re so lucky that you grew up on a pumpkin farm! ha!

  10. softballgirl78

    Those are good tips. I’ll have to remember them, thank you for sharing!

  11. This is great. Especially helpful as I read that there is randomly a shortage this year on canned pumpkins. Perhaps that’s not right but either way I will have to try this!


  12. givenchance

    shame on me, but i never prepared pumpkins for Halloween. usually my little nephews do this.

  13. We do not have pumpkins in the Philippines but we do have squash. Can I use them too?

  14. Is it unhealthy to just fork it a few times (like baking a potato?) and putting the whole pumpkin in the oven? I like to do that with the small pumpkins. Bake it at 350 for around a half-hour or so, cut it in half, scoop out pulp and seeds, then scoop out the pulp. With some butter, salt & pepper, it is a heavenly meal!

  15. Pretty Project

    Having my pumpkin carving soiree in 2 nights. Now maybe I can cook a little pumpkin, too! 🙂


  16. Pingback: Pumpkin custard No. 1 « Baking Family

  17. Scot Roberts

    I have long wanted to make a great pumpkin pie from a pumpkin and this year I’m giving it a go. I was inspired a long time ago by a girl I knew who made the best I’ve ever tasted. She boiled the pumpkin chunks down. I’ve read many other cooks prefer baking it down. I’m trying half one way and half the other and taking notes.

    I’ve been advised to use a Fairytale pumpkin which is a beautiful bright orange color inside, very “meaty” and is said to have a lot of flavor.

    My question: I’ve seen recipes calling for whipping cream, some calling for sweetened condensed milk (no sugars in the recipe) and some calling for condensed milk add sugar. Some even call for brown sugar. Tips and input anyone? I’m starting this venture from “scratch” so to speak. I’m a blank canvas.

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