Learn how to cook a whole pumpkin in the oven, so you can make your own homemade pumpkin puree. I’ll teach you how to roast or bake an entire pumpkin so you can use homemade puree in your favorite recipes.
I love the autumn season. And it isn’t just because my name is Autumn! It’s because of the warm spices that come with the seasonal food of fall. Cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger pair beautifully with fresh apples, pears and of course, pumpkins.
Every year, I grow pumpkins in my gardens and lately, I’ve taken to making my own pumpkin puree as well.
It’s wonderful because you get to choose the pumpkin variety (hint: you want a sweet one for cooking), prepare it in the manner you want it prepared and then? You can use it up immediately or freeze it for use throughout the year.
While I do make my own canned pumpkin, I find I often end up baking and pureeing it, using the method I’m going to show you here.
Best Varieties of Pumpkin for Cooking
Before you buy fresh pumpkins from the grocery store or your local farmers market, you need to know that not all varieties are created equal!
If you come across big pumpkins (like jack-o-lantern pumpkins or bigger), they’re probably a field variety. These pumpkins were developed for ornamental purposes and also, animal food. Most are mild in flavor and are often stringy in texture, making them less desirable for cooking.
They also tend to have tougher skin, which can be a challenge to cut through, even with a sharp knife.
Smaller pumpkins are often your sweet varieties. They aren’t as big as most field pumpkins, but they are creamy in texture and have excellent flavor for baking and cooking.
I find small pumpkins are easier to handle in the kitchen. They have thinner skin, are easier to cut open and fit in the oven.
Whether you buy pumpkins at the grocery store, from a local farm or even grow them yourself, here’s a list of sweet heirloom varieties that make excellent pumpkin puree.
- Sugar pie pumpkin
- Jarrahdale pumpkin
- Long Island Cheese Pumpkin
- Luxury Pie pumpkin
- Moranga pumpkins
- Musquee d’Hiver Provence
- Queensland Blue pumpkin
- Winter Luxury
Tips for Preparing Pumpkins
- Always use a large, sharp knife and a cutting board. Pumpkin skins can be tough and a big knife will help you get through it easier.
- A large spoon will make quick work of removing pumpkins seeds.
- Don’t worry about getting all the stringy stuff inside the pumpkin; stringy bits will cook up like the flesh of the pumpkin.
How to Roast Pumpkin on a Baking Sheet
This first method takes more chopping, but it’s a tasty way to serve hot pumpkin at the dinner table. Here’s how to roast a pumpkin in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil (or any other type you prefer).
Scrub fresh pumpkin clean at the kitchen sink, then cut raw pumpkin in half and scrape out seeds.
Chop halves into 2 inch thick wedges. Cover the bottom of your baking sheet or cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Spread pumpkin wedges out on pan and drizzle with oil of your choosing.
Roast pumpkin in oven at 400 F for 30-35 minutes or until soft. Serve wedges at dinner, then scrape fresh roasted pumpkin from the peel for making puree.
How to Bake a Whole Pumpkin in a Dish
If I’m trying to make lots of pumpkin puree for the freezer, I like to cook pumpkin halves in a 10×14 deep baking dish with a little water.
Preheat the oven to 350 F, while you scrub the skin of your fresh pumpkins to remove dirt.
Cut raw pumpkins in half with a large kitchen knife, then scrape seeds from the inside of the pumpkins. You can save pumpkin seeds for roasting later on, if you like.
Place pumpkins flesh side up in a 10×14 baking dish and add 1.5-2 cups of water. This will keep pumpkins from drying out.
Bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes or until flesh is soft. Let pumpkin halves cool, then scrape soft flesh from peels for making puree.
How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree
You can mash cooked pumpkin using an old fashioned potato masher. But you’ll get extra creamy puree if you send cooked pumpkin through a kitchen blender, a food processor or an immersion blender.
Once it’s pureed, you can measure it into your favorite pumpkin recipes, or freeze some for later.
Want more help learning how to freeze the harvest? Check out my guide: From the Garden to the Freezer for more directions and helpful tips.
How to Measure a Can of Pumpkin
Sometimes, recipes will call for a can of pumpkin vs a cup measurement.
This can be confusing when working with your own homemade pumpkin puree. So let me give you the basic conversions.
Note: tins cans of pumpkin usually hold a little less puree than the comparative cup measurements, but it’s very close.
- 15 ounce can of pumpkin=2 cups
- 29 ounce can of pumpkin=4 cups
- 398 ml can of pumpkin=2 cups
- 795 ml can of pumpkin=4 cups
Best Way to Store Pumpkin Purée
If you plan to use your cooked pumpkin in the next 7-10 days, store it in an airtight container in the fridge.
And if you have too much or would like to keep some for later, measure it into a sealed container and freeze. You can use freezer bags as well.
I like to look at my favorite pumpkin recipes and freeze suitably sized portions, so I can pull out the perfect amount for my baking and cooking.
Special Pumpkin Recipe Ideas
The traditional way of serving pumpkin is mashed and also in a fall pie. But there are quite a few creative ways to use pumpkin in your home cooking. Here are a few idea.
- pumpkin bread
- pumpkin cake
- pumpkin cinnamon rolls
- pumpkin cheesecake
- pumpkin custard
- pumpkin dinner rolls
- pumpkin muffins
- pumpkin soup
- pumpkin waffles
- pumpkin dip (savory recipe or sweet)
Check out my guide: From the Garden to the Freezer for more helpful tips on preserving the harvest.
How to Cook a Whole Pumpkin in the Oven
- large baking sheet or 10×14 deep dish
- parchment paper (only needed if roasting pumpkin)
- cutting board
- sharp kitchen knife
- metal spoon
- 1 whole pumpkin
- light sprinkle of salt (optional)
- 1.5-2 cups water
- 3-4 tablespoons light oil
Baking a Whole Pumpkin in the Oven
- Scrub pumpkin clean at the kitchen sink.
- Use a large knife to cut pumpkin in half.
- Scrape out seeds with a spoon.
- Place pumpkin halves right side up in a 10×14 baking dish.
- Add 1.5-2 cups of water.
- Bake in 350F oven for 30-40 minutes or until flesh is soft.
- Remove from oven and cool until you can safely handle pumpkins.
- Use a spoon to scoop out soft flesh.
- Puree and refrigerate up to 1 week, or bag and freeze for 8-12 months.
Roasting a Whole Pumpkin in the Oven
- Scrub pumpkin clean at the kitchen sink.
- Cut pumpkin in half and scrape seeds away.
- Slice pumpkin into 2 inch wide wedges.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Lay pumpkin on parchment paper and drizzle pumpkin with a light oil.
- Bake wedges in a 400F oven for 30 minutes or until soft.
- Serve hot at dinner or cool and scrape pumpkin from peels.
- Puree and refrigerate up to 1 week, or bag and freeze 8-12 months.