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How to Roast a Pumpkin

cut pumpkin half

Because fresh food in general tastes better and is often cheaper than processed food, I have put together a short demo on how to roast your own pumpkin:

  1. Choose a firm, small pie pumpkin, not more than 3-4 pounds; smaller pumpkins tend to be a bit sweeter
  2. small pie pumpkin

  3. Rinse the pumpkin under warm water, removing any dirt or debris

  4. Cut the pumpkin in half on a large cutting board, with a sharp knife
  5. halved small pie pumpkin with knife

  6. Scoop out the seeds with a metal spoon, I use an old measuring spoon that has a nice edge
  7. scooping out a small pie pumpkin
    scooped out small pie pumpkin

  8. Lay the pumpkin face side down in a large baking dish
  9. Cover with ¼ inch water
  10. small pie pumpkin face down in large baking dish

  11. Bake at 350° for 45-60 minutes (depending on size) or until tender, using a fork to check
  12. Remove from oven and scoop out insides, discarding skin
  13. roasted small pie pumpkin

  14. Store in refrigerator in a glass mason jar
  15. Keeps for 5 days in refrigerator (at the ready for your pie, muffin and custard endeavors)

If you are in a rush, cut the pumpkin into smaller pieces and it will cook faster. The pumpkin in the picture above was rather large (for a pie pumpkin) and I cooked it for 1 ½ hours. This was far too long (I became distracted during the endeavor) as you can see the pumpkin is rather overdone. However, I think it will still be usable for various dishes.

The above pumpkin preparation technique applies to any winter squash: butternut, buttercup, acorn, kabocha, hubbard, and more. I often substitute these squash in my recipes that call for pumpkin which works very well. For another handy little pumpkin cooking how to, click here.

Here’s a list of all my gluten free recipes that call for fresh pumpkin:

Here’s wishing you much fun in your pumpkin adventures!


posted on October 24, 2008, 75 comments

  1. Michelle @ leavingexcess.com

    Elana,

    Do you know if you can freeze the pumpkin after it is roasted?

    Thanks – beautiful photos, as usual!

  2. ~M

    Great tutorial! Pumpkin rocks! I use a grapefruit spoon to degunk the insides; the serrated edges rock! And, as usual, I wonder if I couldn’t roast the pumpkin in the crockpot with no water. :P

    • Doris

      Thats interesting and I thought of the same thing but wondered if it will work since there is not sufficient heat.
      Did you try it yet? Did it turn out?

      • MaryLynn

        I cut a pie pumpkin in half, got the seeds/strings out and put it in the crock pot with a little water in the bottom on low for several hours. I’m sorry, I didn’t pay attention to how long it was in there because I was in and out of the kitchen doing other stuff, but it worked great!

  3. Margaret

    I find it very hard to cut my favorite butternut squash now. Have discovered that I can roast it whole and then cut it and scoop.

  4. Lori

    I recently read that squashes of all types can be roasted whole, thus eliminating the whole water in the pyrex dish thing and the need to split tough squashes. I have tried it with two different types, both over 2 pounds each, and they were fabulous! I roasted them in my convection oven for 1 hour at 375 (400 in a traditional oven). When they cooled I split them in half (quite easily) and then removed the seeds. They were YUMMY!

  5. Niall Harbison @ ifoods.tv/blog

    I totally agree that fresh tastes much better than canned and there are no exceptions to that rule! Out of the 100s of posts on pumpkins this is probably the most informative! You literally just have to throw it in the oven so there is just no excuse for not doing it yourself!

  6. Caroline Arcand

    We have been roasting pumpkins in our family for generations ….. and we always pick out our pumpkins just Elana has said.

    However, we cook them differently … we roast them. It is a really easy way ….. cut a small circle in the top … take off the little ‘handle’ and put about ¼ cup of water in the pumpkin. Put it in the oven for about 1 hour on 400F. The pumpkin comes out ready to peel. Split open the pumpkin and the seeds scoop out very easily. The pumpkin is roasted beautifully… and yes, it freezes very well.

  7. Joy the Baker @ joythebaker.com/blog

    Great post and just lovely photos too!

  8. Michelle -I haven’t done so myself, though would bet it’s worth a try.

    ~M -I like the grapefruit spoon action. I wonder how it would come out in the crockpot? If you try that please let me know!

    Margaret -Though I have not tried the roasting whole method, I am a big fan because of the simplicity; might give it a go one of these days.

    Lori -I’m definitely going to be trying this method!

    Niall -I couldn’t agree with you more about the fresh versus canned. Thanks for your comment.

    Caroline -Thanks for sharing your family’s method and for the tip on freezing :-)

    Joy the Baker -Thanks!

  9. Shirley

    Just wanted to tell you that I put a link to your blog so people could find these directions in a comment I posted at Gluten-Free Girl in response to her recent entry on squash.

    I freeze pumpkin “meat” all the time. It works great. You usually have to drain off a bit of water when it thaws out, but tastes the same in recipes.

    I actually prefer peeling my pumpkin ahead of time after cutting it into smaller chunks than halves. Whenever I bake it with the skin on, it seems to disintegrate as I try to peel it off and then I’m left fishing litle bits of skin out of the “meat.” If there’s a tip on peeling off the skin with better success, I’d love to hear it. Thanks.

    Last, wanted to mention that cushaw squash provides the same flavor as pumpkin (some say a tad sweeter) and gives you a “bigger bang for your buck” so to speak. Cushaws are very large and really don’t have that much in the way of seeds, etc. to discard. They will keep for the better part of the winter in a cool spot (not freezing) before you have to cook them. I cook them and then freeze the “meat” just like I do pumpkin. If you are not familiar with them, they are crookneck squash that are green with off white stripes.

    • Lisa

      I haven’t tried it with pumpkin, but I have been surprised by how easily I can peel uncooked butternut squash with a good vegetable peeler. I think pumpkin is a little softer, so I would expect the same technique to work.

  10. Shirley,

    Thanks for the tips!

    Elana

  11. Kathleen

    I don’t remember where I learned this, but I found out that the reason that store-bought pumpkin is such a nice dark orange color as opposed to the lighter orange that you get with home cooked pumpkin is because they do not remove the peels. After I learned this, I tried it. I cut the pumpkin into smaller chunks, cooked them, pureed them in the blender with the peel intact, and then cooked it down further until it was nice and thick. It was much darker orange and I imagine has a lot more beta carotene. and it tasted great. I have a huge roaster pan cooking in the oven right now. I am going to try making my own home-canned pumpkin pie filling sweetened with honey.

    • Chrissy

      So .. wait. You put the skin in the blender too?? REALLY? After roasting the entire pumpkin, the only thing you remove are the seeds and pulp … then blend? I’m amazed at the thought of doing this. It never would have occurred to me. Thanks for the tip!

  12. Caroline

    Thanks for the tip on throwing in the skin and giving it a whirl in the blender! I would never have dreamed of doing that … but I have two (2) lb pumpkins in the oven now … I am going to give it a try. In our family, we eat a lot of soups blended with pumpkin … pumpkin/pear, pumpkin/apple, pumpkin/carrot all done in chicken broth.

  13. Kathleen -What a great idea! I’m going to have to try this. Saves time, labor and increases nutrients. Win-win all around

    Caroline -Your soups sound delicious. Especially the pumpkin-apple. Yum.

    • Peter

      I roasted pumpkin chunks last year and it was great, and now I’ll try roasting it whole – great idea! I used the skin and everything in apple smoothies. (The apple tree is in front of the house so the food travelled about 40 feet to the kitchen.) I use ground flax, about 2 T per 5 cups of apple/pumpkin, (and also pop in about the same amount of cracked wheat. It softens overnight and makes this a full meal smoothie – with the protein in the pumpkin.) Sorry, I know this is a glutin free site, but the cracked wheat made me think I could grind the roasted pumpkin seeds too – that worked fine too. As for the skin, it blended into teeny pieces, not much bigger than the ground flax. A little honey and nutmeg or cinnamon and a great smoothie is born!

  14. Caroline

    I love homemade soups … I make them weekly … try some ‘pumpkin pie spice’ in your pumpkin/apple soups (chicken broth) along with a little cream. I have also used rosemary, garlic, ginger (with pumpkin/carrot..yummy) and basil (if I use basil, I use coconut cream .. a touch of Thai …)

  15. Shirley

    Kathleen-Thanks so much for that info! I had originally thought the dark color of canned pumpkin was food coloring, but didn’t find it in the ingredients so I was baffled … until now. I will definitely use this method next time around! It will make the pumpkin-baking task much easier and the baked goods more colorful. :-)

  16. Elana,

    Thanks for the link! I never even knew canned pumpkin existed until I wrote that recipe! Your easy to follow instructions here, should mean that everyone can roast up a pumpkin with ease.

  17. I roast small pumpkins and other squash in the crock-pot: select a pumpkin that will fit into your crock-pot, wash and dry it, then place the pumpkin into the cooker with no water. Cook until it can be easily pierced with a fork. It’s so much easier to cut it apart and separate the seeds when it’s already soft and cooked! Even with my good knife I always have a hard time hacking tough pumpkins/squash in half when raw.

  18. Shirley -I’m going to try this as well; it sounds amazing.

    Naomi -You’re very welcome and I completely agree.

    Jenny -This method sounds fantastic. Thanks for your input.

  19. Robert

    I wanted to thank you all for your insight and information. I have a pumpkin in the oven this very moment and had wondered if the skin could be incorporated as a pie filling. Thanks for such an informative website! I found you by mistake but have marked you as a favorite and look forward to checking in for futher tips. Who knows…I might even be able to offer something as I have been cooking for myself for 30 years.

  20. David Downie @ australianbeers.com

    I can’t believe Americans eat canned pumpkin. I don’t even think you can buy it in Australia. It sounds disgusting. I have never heard of anyone ever using it. Australians always eat roasted pumpkin with their roasts. I wouldn’t recommend roasting it the way outlined here. That looks like a halloween pumpkin for starters. Find the most delicious for roasting. Then chop it into slices. Put in a roasting tray, finely chop some rosemary (a few tablespoons) and mix over the pumpkin with some best quality extra virgin olive oil, and also some good salt and a head of garlic, chopped in half and split up. Use your hands to mix it all in. No water! Roast until caramelised (say 60 mins at 180 celsius).

    • Amy

      Here in North America we often roast squashes the way you describe.

      What is outlined here is a recipe for soft pumpkin to blend into sweet rather than savory recipes – pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cake, etc. It’s a tradition mostly associated with Thanksgiving. The pumpkin used here is not a hallowe’en pumpkin, it’s far smaller, usually about 6-8 inches in diameter, and it’s called a sugar pumpkin. Very yum!

  21. Jeanette

    I make my pumkin exactly the way you describe, and then freeze it in batches for later use. It turns out great in all recipes, and is handy throughout the year!

  22. Cathryn

    I have roasted pumpkin in a similar method but I don’t need to cut them first. That always scares me!! :) I simply wash the pumpkin(s), place them whole on a foil lined baking sheet and roast for about 90 minutes. Let cool, then slip the stem and peelings off,scoop out the seeds and pulp, puree and freeze in one cup portions. Super easy!

  23. Kathleen Ayers

    I’ve freezed (froze?) pumpkin successfully after baking–in plastic freezer bags, with 1 or 2 cups pre-measured. This keeps for about 3-4 months. I also like to use white pumpkins when I can find them–the flavor is also very good. Butternut squash is my favorite. It’s got a creamy flavor that I just don’t find in other squash.

  24. Wonderful photos great tutorial. I was just putting my pumpkin to roast and double check for the right temp and baking time.
    Love your blog:)

  25. Stephanie

    With no canned pumpkin on the shelves at the grocery store and a little boy craving pumpkin waffles, I gave this a go. Followed directions to a tee and turned out perfectly. Thanks.

  26. Elana, Putting a link to this post on my blog at http://www.homecookedhealthy.com
    I just posted yesterday about how to save money using pumpkin by roasting then freezing. This will be great for the details. Getting getting ready to post some great gluten-free, sugar-free recipes for pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies with almond icing, pumpkin bread, etc.

    Love this time of year and all the great foods that go along with it.
    Thanks for such a great blog, you are such an inspiration~

  27. Jessy (squeezetheday) @ squeezetheday.wordpress.com

    I’ve roasted squashes before, but I’ve never added water. What does it do?

  28. Amy

    Will we see a Paleo pumpkin pie recipe soon? Canadians want to know!

  29. Irene

    I am thankful you post simple things like this, step by step with beautiful pictures (and when it doesn’t come out just right) it’s really helpful to have these basics! Thank you, thank you!

  30. Gloria Aldridge

    I received this information last year at this time. I decided it was time to learn to roast a pumpkin. I tried it and found it was easy and tasted so much better than canned pumpkin. My husband loves pumpkin but I am not wild about the taste and found that I had a lot left over after making my recipes. I threw the rest in the dog biscuits I made. Strangely enough, dogs loved it. It was the best batch I ever made and have roasted enough pumpkins since to cover the whole year just for my dog biscuits. I can’t thank you enough for teaching me how to roast pumpkins.

  31. Maria

    What an informative post this has been! I already had your instructions on pumpkin roasting from last year, but I didn’t know there were so many other methods out there. Btw, I made your 4-ingredient butternut squash soup for my family last fall and it was a big hit…..I shall definitely be making that again. Although, I didn’t have any grapeseed oil at the time, so I used some Earth Balance. It was yummy!

  32. Rebecca

    Don’t forget to add your awesome pumpkin bread recipe to the list at the bottom!

  33. Jennifer

    Last night I made your pumpkin pie (from your Almond Flour Cookbook), and bought a 3.5 pound pumpkin and roasted it exactly how you did and then let it cool. I scrapped out all of the meat and noticed how water logged it was. I pureed it and noticed I probably should have tried draining it better before pureeing it, but it was too late, so I had to try to drain the excess water with multiple coffee filters (although I did not know if I should drain the water because you didn’t specify) but anyway, I only measured out a scant 2 cups (maybe less). So since your recipe in your book calls for 4 cups and I only had barely half, I halved the recipe. I probably should have still put both eggs in due to the fact that it didn’t ‘rise’ at all, but it was too late when I had already put it in the oven.

    The results tasted fine (the pumkin filling) but the crust did burn on the bottom and top. Am I suppose to pre-bake the pie before I bake it with the filling? I just thought I was because in your book it sayd (pre-baked) on the pie crust. I don’t think any of this was suppose to happen, do you suppose you think you can tell me where I could have went wrong? I would like to make this again for out family gatherings, but surely wouldn’t bring this particular pie I just made, only because I think it isn’t at it’s peak perfection.

    Hope to hear from you soon! (Before any family gatherings atleast!)

    • Maria Campsall @ n/a

      Sounds to me like your oven was on too high.
      The crust was burned before the pumpkin was cooked.

      • Jennifer

        I’m not sure if I measured everything correctly when making the dough so too little flour might have been the problem, which made it rise too much and way more cakey then it should have been. I noticed Elana does not do the ‘spoon into cup’ method which I used. (since it did not pack in)

        Also I think the pumpkin did not bake all the way because I just didn’t do the puree right and there weren’t enough binders (as I omitted one of the eggs when cutting the recipe in half when I realized I only had a scant 2 cups of pumpkin puree after draining all the water out). The taste was still great, but I’m sure if I did all the measurments right it’d be perfect! I’ll try this recipe again sometimes when I have a pumpkin laying around, otherwise, I might just try a different one of her recipe’s without pumpkin puree for right now. I’m sure it’ll be a much better experience!

  34. Thanks for the refresher on how to roast a pumpkin. When I have done this in the past, I save the seeds and roast them and dry the skin to use in potpourri recipes!

  35. wendy

    this is baked pumpkin, its cooked in water not oil

  36. AnnMarie Deis

    Seriously, I will never purchase canned pumpkin again. Well, I’ll TRY not to purchase canned pumpkin. Roasting a pumpkin was so easy and my house smelled so good, too. Thanks for the tutorial! :)

  37. I love pumpkin (when other people cook it!) but I’ve always been to scared to try it myself. Having read your recipe it doesn’t seem like as much work as I thought, so I’ll give it a go! Thanks :)

  38. Pumpkin is more work then most squashes because of all the gutting you have to but once you get to eat fresh pumpkin. You’ll enjoy the taste so much it will make it worth the effort.

  39. sandra

    why did i never think of using my old measuring spoon to scoop out the seeds??? it has a perfect edge like you said! thanks again for another spectacular tip, Elana!!!!

  40. Kathy Borowski

    Just wondering if anyone can tell me whether using cannned pumpkin is OK since I don’t have any pumpkin in the freezer and it’s not quite available yet and this bread sounds so delicious I want to make it ASAP.
    I can get organic canned pumpkin at my co-op and will do that if it’s OK to use it. Thanks.

  41. Rene

    I actually used a big carving pumpkin – around 10 lbs. To be honest, it tasted better than the smaller sugar pumpkin I bought a few weeks ago! It only cost me $4 and made the equivalent of 9 cans of pumpkin, so I was a happy camper :)

  42. Jared

    THANKS for posting pictures. I’m a 28 year old male; cooking not only lets me control what I eat, it impresses girls.

    I can’t wait to see how this works! The step by step pictures let me know i’m doing it correctly.

  43. Craig from ADayTrip @ adaytrip.com

    Wow, this is really really simple. I’m in love with pumpkin – my favorite time of year is when the coffee shops start offering pumpkin coffee and when stores start to push their pumpkin pies. I’ve never thought to just roast a pumpkin, I am going to have to try this.

  44. Martin @ Leaky gut research @ leakygutresearch.com

    This comes handy, I was about to try another recipe that required roasted pumpkin, thank you.

  45. Dream Holidays Guide @ dreamholidaysguide.com

    amazing idea! never knew you could actually roast pumpkins. thanks for sharing, will try this.

  46. Sarah Ross

    Hi elana I have used grated pumpkin in this recipe as it saves roasting it! It works beautifully

  47. Inside Southeast Asia @ insidesoutheastasia.com

    interesting idea! since pumpkin is not available in our country. I’ll us squash as a substitute then. thanks so much for sharing!

  48. Karen

    Have you tried baking the pumpkin whole? I wash the pumpkin really well, stab it a few times, and put it in the oven whole. A friend showed me how to do that a couple of years ago and I’ve never looked back. No trying to cut up a resistant squash or pumpkin! Once it’s done (you can easily tell), remove and let cool till warm. It cuts in half easily and the seeds come out easily. Remove from the skin, mash, and use. Now if I could just find an easy way to clean the pumpkin seeds!

    Here’s a site that demos with a squash. Works like a charm every time!

    http://cookeatpaleo.com/how-to-roast-a-whole-squash-or-pumpkin/

  49. Trevor Meehan

    Can I eat the pumpkin plain without making it into a pie? Just like squash?

  50. Sharon Cole

    Elana, I love your recipes. I wish you could be my neighbor.

  51. I have never roasted a squash, or anything for that matter, with water. Sounds interesting. What does the water do? Stop it sticking, or help to keep it moist?

  52. Great Baking Recipies: 1 Pumpkin Seeds 2 Pumpkins 3 Pies, Thanks.

  53. I can’t wait to try this and to make your pumpkin muffins! I love your blog and your cookbooks, your recipes are amazing:)

  54. April Bein

    Thanks! Making pumpkin wine, wanted to roast it to caramelized first. Umm ummm!

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  57. Nice, don’t forge that you can also roast the Pumpkin seeds – they are a delicious healthy treat when lightly salted!

  58. Jenn

    An ice cream scooper works great for getting the guts out!

  59. Thank you so much for the clear instructions, Elana. Having never roasted a pumpkin before, I followed your steps exactly, and it turned out wonderfully!

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