Here’s how to cook pumpkin the simplest way—plus a selection of delicious pumpkin recipes, from our Blue Ribbon Pumpkin Pie to pumpkin spice pancakes!
Choose the Right Type of Pumpkin
Before we get to cooking, it’s important to pick the right pumpkin for the job.
Look for “pie pumpkins” or “sugar pumpkins“—smaller, sweeter pumpkins that are more meaty and less stringy than the larger “carving pumpkins” used for Jack-o’-Lanterns and such. You should be able to find them at your grocery store. They are much better suited for use in recipes!
How to Cook a Pumpkin
Cooking a pumpkin involves cleaning, cutting, and baking—that’s it!
- First, scrub the outside of the pumpkin with a vegetable brush to remove any visible dirt.
- Cut off the stem, then cut the pumpkin in half (from top to bottom) and use a spoon to scrape out any fibers and seeds out of each half. A serrated grapefruit spoon or an ice cream scoop work great for this.
- Cut the pumpkin halves into smaller pieces, then place the pieces skin-side up in a shallow baking dish with a lid.
- Add water to just cover the bottom of the dish, and cover tightly.
- Bake in a 325ºF (165°C) oven for about 1 hour, or until the pumpkin is fork tender. The time could be more or less depending on the size of your pieces, so keep an eye on them.
- Let it cool, and then either cut off the peel or scoop out the flesh.
Tip: For pumpkins that you’re not cooking right away, keep them cool but not quite as cool as root crops. If you have a coolish bedroom, stashing them under the bed works well (just don’t forget about them). They like a temperature of about 50° to 65ºF (10° to 18°C).
Now that you’ve got your cooked pumpkin, here are a few ways to use it!
- Pumpkin Cookies: When you purchase a pumpkin for your Halloween jack-o-lantern, buy an extra one and make these tasty, light-yellow cookies.
- Pumpkin Pancakes: For a tasty twist on the ordinary, try our seasonal pancake recipe.
- Crunchy Pumpkin Seeds: Classic, tasty, crunchy roasted pumpkin seeds.
- Pumpkin Nutmeg Knots: A prize winner in The 2010 Old Farmer’s Almanac Pumpkin Recipe Contest.
- Pumpkin Harvest Soup: Savor this savory soup on any cool autumn evening.
- Blue Ribbon Pumpkin Pie: Who doesn’t love a good pumpkin pie? And this one is really good—it’s not called “blue ribbon” for nothing!
Do you like to cook with pumpkins? Let us know your tips and tricks in the comments!