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How To Roast A Pumpkin And Why In The World Would You Want To?

How To Roast A Pumpkin And Why In The World Would You Want To?

Home grown pumpkin is the “norm” for me.  Remember my dad the city farmer?  He always grows pumpkins in his backyard garden.  Some years he plants them in my garden too.  So, I grew up eating fresh pumpkin in all my mom’s homemade fall treats like pumpkin bread, pumpkin bars, pumpkin pie, etc.  Frankly, I didn’t even know pumpkin could be purchased in a can until I was nearly an adult.

So why would anyone go to the bother of roasting a fresh pumpkin?  Well, personally I don’t think canned pumpkin even comes close to tasting like fresh pumpkin.  Fresh pumpkin has a light, delicate flavor.  It also is much lighter in color than canned.  It has a golden/orange tone vs a dark orange hue.  I know, canned pumpkin is very convenient and I will admit I do use it occasionally, but I really do prefer the “real deal!”

I was telling a co-worker about a recipe and I mentioned that I started by using Roasted Pumpkin from my garden.  She was flabbergasted and started asking questions about how to roast a pumpkin.  So, this blog’s for you Joan!

It’s important to start with the right kind of pumpkin.  Pie or sugar pumpkins are the variety of pumpkins that make delicious sweet treats, not carving or jack-o-lantern pumpkins.  Pie or sugar pumpkins are smaller and more round in shape then the big pumpkins used for carving.  They are also higher in sugar content.  The grocery store or farmer’s market should have these available during the fall months.  Here’s a picture of a couple of carving pumpkins alongside some pie or sugar pumpkins.


I often roast my pumpkin a day or two before I plan to make my recipe using the pumpkin.  One small/medium pumpkin will yield about 3 cups of mashed pumpkin.  Once you have the right kind of pumpkin you are ready to roast.  Begin by heating your oven to 375º F.  Place the whole pumpkin onto an ungreased baking sheet.

Poke the top of the pumpkin several times to let steam escape while it’s baking.  I just use a table fork to do the poking.


Bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until the pumpkin is fork tender.  Just poke the pumpkin with a table fork, it should go into the pumpkin with ease indicating that the flesh or meat of the pumpkin is cooked.


Remove the pumpkin from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes.  Once cooled, move the pumpkin to a cutting board and cut in half.  The stem will likely pull off, if not just cut the pumpkin on one side of the stem.  See the beautiful golden color?


With a spoon, scoop out the seeds and most of the fibrous material in the center of each half.

Scrape the pumpkin flesh from the peel.  A spoon works well for this too.  It should be soft and easy to scrape from the peel.  Place the pumpkin flesh in a bowl.


Mash the pumpkin with a potato masher until smooth.  Sometimes I blend the pumpkin on medium-high speed in small batches in a blender container instead of mashing it.   


That’s it!  It’s ready for your favorite pumpkin recipe.  If you aren’t going to use the pumpkin immediately, place recipe quantities in resealable plastic food bags.  Refrigerate up to 2 days or store in the freezer.  Stir the mashed pumpkin well before using as some liquid may separate during storage.


Here are three pumpkin recipes you can try using your fresh, roasted pumpkin.  Pumpkin Sandwich Cookies, Classic Pumpkin Pie and Pumpkin Swirl Bread.  Don’t be surprised if your baked goods have a lighter, more golden color. 


Roasting a pumpkin is really not a difficult thing to do and boy will you impress your friends and family when you tell them what you’ve been up to.  I’d love to hear how your Roasted Pumpkin turns out and how you used your fresh pumpkin, so leave me a comment.  Please rate and review this recipe too.

Come back in a few days when Liz fires up the grill for one last time before winter sets in.

Becky Wahlund is the Director of the Test Kitchens for Land O'Lakes and writes for our Recipe Buzz® Blog.
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Brilliant. I've been struggling to cut up the pumpkin before baking and now this makes it so much easier to cut. Thanks for the fantastic idea! Love it!

Posted September 29, 2015 by Linda

I have a question. I would love to try fresh pumpkin as opposed to canned; however, the part I am concerned about is the spices. Canned pumpkin comes with spices mixed in how do you compensate for that with fresh pumpkin?

Posted October 06, 2013 by Christine
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Cindy
Fresh pumpkin is so good in recipes and it is really very easy to do. Typically in recipes when the ingredient calls for canned pumpkin you should use a can of pumpkin and not pumpkin pie mix which does have the spices added. So, for example if you search for Classic Pumpkin Pie on our web site the recipe calls for pumpkin. You would use an equal amount of cooked fresh pumpkin. The recipe then lists the spices to add to the pie mixture (cinnamon, nutmeg etc.) I encourage you to try using fresh pumpkin!
Posted October 08, 2013

Do you use cheese pumpkins?

Posted April 23, 2013 by kathy

This is a wonderfully detailed guide to roasting pumpkins. I also have had fresh pumpkin all my life and continue to grow them in my own gardens. The fresh flavor is so much lighter and delicious. Thank you. Laura

Posted November 27, 2011 by Laura

I made this an it was so very easy! But the mash is extremely liquid, not at all like the texture of canned pumpkin. I'm worried the pie won't set.

Posted November 19, 2011 by Bonnie

This is wonderrfull!! I had been taught to boil the pumpkin meat and have been doing it that way for years. But, I bet the roasted flavour would out do that greatly! It's also much easier than trying to scrape out all the insides of a pumpkin! Although one has to do that anyway for carving. Thank you so much for this.. you've made my life much easier and tastier! :)

Posted September 30, 2011 by K G.
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Becky
I’ve boiled pumpkin too but find this method easier. I’d love to hear what you think after giving the roasted method a try. So glad I could help!
Posted October 03, 2011

Thanks so much, I have trying to roast pumpkins on my learn list this fall. Seems simply with these directions

Posted September 28, 2011 by Cheryl
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Becky
Cheryl, I’m so glad you found the directions easy to follow. Isn’t it fun to learn new things, especially when food is a part of the “lesson?”
Posted October 03, 2011

I usually cut mine in half, remove pulp and seeds. then wrap in foil and put in a shallow pan and roast. While the pumpkin is roasting I remove most of the pulp from the seeds and the seeds on a cookie shhet and put them in the oven with the pumpkin. after roasting I put mine in a bowl, store it in fridge until the next day when my mom comes over and tries yet again to teach me how to make empanadas. We make them with fresh pumpkins puree and a homemade sweet bread.

Posted September 28, 2011 by Ani8ta
Test Kitchen Comment
From: Becky
Empanadas, what a great way to use fresh roasted pumpkin! And, spending time with your mom sounds like fun too. Hopefully this time you will have success.
Posted October 03, 2011

Margaret, Wow! Am I ever impressed. You are defientely the pro at preparing and freezing pumpkin. Isn't it great to know it is waiting to be used in the freezer? And, it taste so good!

Posted December 20, 2010 by Becky

I have cooked pumpkins for over 25 years - 8 - 10 a season and freeze 'em. The only thing I do differently is put the pumpkins on a tray and fill it with water. It makes for a more most pumpkin product. I also put the roasted pumpkin (after it has cooled) in the food processor before freezing - zip, then done! Also, when cooking, I generally use 1 1/2 to 2 times the amount of pumpkin that is called for in the recipe - that way you can taste it! - especially my pumpkin chocolate cheesecake! Whoo!

Posted December 18, 2010 by Margaret

Pauline, Enjoy your pumpkin this season. It really is quite easy to prepared.

Posted November 15, 2010 by Becky

Mary, I also have made cooked my pumpkin in the microwave. I encourage you to try the small "pie pumpkins." They will give you pumpkin that is slightly more sweet and flavorful.

Posted November 15, 2010 by Becky

Thanks for telling me how to roast a pumpkin. I live in Ireland where canned pumpkin is next to impossible to source but organic farmers in my area grow 'eating' pumpkins. When I'm getting ready for the holidays I now have a good reason for serving pumpkin, whether as a veg or a real pumpkin pie. Using it both ways, I have the basics for a good meal.

Posted November 14, 2010 by County Cork Pauline D

I also cook up my own pumpkin for pies and all. I do use the large carving pumpkins and my microwave oven for cooking. I cut the pumpkin in manageable pieces and place them skin side up on parchment paper lined pyrex dish, microwave on high for 8 to 10 minutes till fork tender, when cooled about 15 minutes peel off skin and puree in food processor. I use a vacuum seal system and mark the outside of package with contents, how much and the date and put in freezer.

Posted November 11, 2010 by Mary V.

Kathleen, What a great idea to use butternut squash in your autum recipes. I'll have to give it a try.

Posted November 09, 2010 by Becky

Nice technique, thanks for sharing. I've been using fresh butternut squash, instead of pumpkin, in all my autumn recipes for years, because I never see fresh pumpkin for sale. Butternut squash is also available all year (here in California) so we aren't limited to autumn for our favorite treats.

Posted November 08, 2010 by kathleen

I want to make pumpkin butter but do not have the receipe for it. If someone out there have it. Can you share it with interest party?

Posted November 03, 2010 by Patricia

I also love the fresh pumpkin! I roast them differently than you do -- I cut the top open, take out the seeds and pulp, put the lid back on and place on a cookie sheet. I roast it at 400 until the top almost falls inside and the pumpkin is tender. Remove it from the oven and the pumpkin can be scooped out of the shell with a spoon. I place it in a bowl to cool down, put the pulp in my food processor to mash it, then put in plastic bags and freeze for later use. I have 10 sugar pumpkins sitting in my basement waiting for me to cook them. I use it for my pies, breads, cookies and whatever else I can find to do with it. I have been doing this for over 30 years and will do it as long as I possibly can. I love fresh pumpkin!!

Posted November 03, 2010 by Sue

Sandi, I'm glad to meet another fresh pumpkin "believer." Freezing the prepared pumpkin is my way of having fresh pumpkin available year round.

Posted November 02, 2010 by Becky

Sandi, I glad to meet another fresh pumpkin "believer." Freezing the prepared pumpkin is my way of having fresh pumpkin available year round.

Posted November 02, 2010 by Becky

Another way to roast a pumpkin is to cut it open, scoop out the seeds, place it in a cake pan face down with a little water in the bottom of the pan. Bake at 350 until soft enough. Another way to make it smooth after baking is to use a hand blender. We've been growing our own pumpkins for years too. There is no going back to canned pumpkin after you've had the real thing. If you have frozen the pumpkin it is usually a little watery when you defrost it. Hang it in a sieve for a while until the water has drained. I have used it for every kind of pumpkin receipe (cakes, cookies, cheese cakes, bars, muffins, scones, etc.) and it always turns out great. My pumpkin cheese cake is a must for every Thanksgiving dinner no matter which side of the family we are dining with.

Posted November 02, 2010 by Jan R.

Over 40 years ago I came across a recipe for pumpkin pie which called for fresh pumpkin in one of my Grandmother's cookbooks from 1927. The pie was so delicious that I haven't used canned pumpkin since. I used to have to buy up pumpkins at halloween because it was the only time they were available. I am grateful the stores have expanded their product to include pie pumpkins and now carry pumpkin for a longer time. .

Posted November 01, 2010 by sandi