Pies and breads and bars, oh my! What makes pumpkin dishes even better? Homemade pumpkin puree! Here’s how to make pumpkin puree for all your holiday baking needs.
You might ask: Why would you possibly want to make pumpkin puree from scratch when it’s so readily available in a can?
To that, I say: Why would you not?
This is true of anything you make yourself: when you cook from scratch, you get to decide exactly what goes into the foods you prepare. And in this case, I choose to make my pumpkin puree with one simple ingredient: pumpkin. No salt, no spices, no oil. Just pumpkin.
From there, you can use it in whatever recipes you love to have pumpkin in, sweet or savory.
Choosing a Pumpkin for Pumpkin Puree
Step away from those giant pumpkins you bought for Halloween. You don’t want to eat those. Much like decorative corn and gourds, those giant pumpkins are bred for looks not flavor.
Instead, opt for a variety that’s better for eating. Sugar pumpkins, which are smaller, rounder pumpkins are great for making puree.
Long pie pumpkins, which is the variety pictured in this post, are another great option. Popular in my area of Maine, these pumpkins have rich, flavorful flesh and are great for puree.
The instructions in this post will work for long pie pumpkins and sugar pumpkins alike.
How to Make Pumpkin Puree, Step by Step
Start by washing the exterior of the pumpkin to remove any dirt. Use your hands to gently brush the skin all over to remove any dirt, dust and debris from the skin.
Now that the pumpkin is clean, it’s time to prepare it. On a cutting board, remove the stem with a shallow cut. This will make it much easter to work with.
Now, it’s time to cut the pumpkin in half. Plunge the knife into the flesh and gently rock back and forth to slice the pumpkin in half. Repeat in the other direction, if needed.
Separate the pumpkin. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and sinewy fibers from the center cavity. Discard the fibers, but do consider using the seeds for roasted pumpkin seeds.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. Place the pumpkin halves cut side down on the baking sheet. They’re now ready to bake.
Slide the baking sheet into a preheated oven set to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Roast the pumpkin halves for about 45 minutes, or until the flesh is softened all over. When you press the cooked pumpkin, it should easily indent.
Remove the pumpkin from the oven. Let cool slightly. Scrape the flesh from the inside of the pumpkin into a food processor or blender. Process until smooth. Hint: it’s also okay to wait until the pumpkin has completely cooled to do this.
Now, you have pumpkin puree. It can be used in any recipe that calls for pumpkin puree. Or, freeze it in one cup portions until ready to use.
Can You Boil Pumpkin for Pumpkin Puree?
Yes! After removing the sinewy fibers and seeds, cut the pumpkin into pieces and boil (or steam) for about 15-20 minutes, until tender. Drain and cool. Then remove the flesh from the skin. Follow directions for processing to a puree above.
I do prefer the roasting method. I feel like the result is less watery and has an extra richness to it.
Recipes That Use Pumpkin Puree
So … what are you going to do with all that fresh pumpkin puree? Here are a few ideas.
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
- Perfect Pumpkin Bread
- Pumpkin Coconut Muffins
- Pumpkin Pancakes
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes
- Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Muffins on The Novice Chef
- Pumpkin Spice Waffles on Lovely Little Kitchen
- Spicy Thai Curry Pumpkin Noodle Soup on My Food Story
- Pumpkin Alfredo on Yellow Bliss Road
- Cheddar Pumpkin Mac and Cheese on Trial and Eater
- Iced Pumpkin Cookies
- Pumpkin Cupcakes with Dreamy Cream Cheese Frosting
- Pumpkin Pecan Bars
- Pumpkin Raisin Turnovers
- Pumpkin M&M Cookie Pie
- Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares
- Iced Pumpkin Bundt Cake
- Pumpkin Spice Truffles on Sally’s Baking Addiction
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. Her latest cookbook is The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook, published by Rockridge Press, which focuses on quick, easy, from-scratch cooking for busy people. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.