Cool evenings and fall foliage trigger cravings for everything pumpkin from drinks, to cakes, pies, muffins, breads, and soups. Skip the can and make your own homemade pumpkin puree to use in all your favorite pumpkin recipes.
Learn how to make pumpkin puree from a whole pumpkin you grew or picked up from a local farm stand. You can use this homemade pumpkin puree in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin!
Making pumpkin recipes can be as easy as buying a can of pumpkin purée at the store, but roasting and pureeing your own pumpkins isn’t that difficult. And you can do a large batch at once and freeze it for later.
Homemade pumpkin puree is a little different than the canned stuff. It is lighter in color, has more moisture, and tastes fresh and mildly fruity. Making pumpkin puree from scratch does take a little extra effort, but the flavor is worth it.
Best Types of Pumpkins for Making Puree
A good pumpkin puree begins by selecting a smooth-textured and sweet flavored pumpkin. Choose small pumpkins that are considered good for baking, such as New England Pie, Sugar Pie, Winter Luxury, or Pumpkin Pie varieties.
If you do an Internet search on what type of pumpkin is in your favorite canned pumpkin, you will discover a lot of drama because most are winter squash instead of pumpkin. Oh, the horror! Pumpkins ARE a winter squash, so I never understood why people felt deceived.
Our New England standard, One Pie pumpkin puree, like many brands of canned pumpkin in the grocery stores are likely made from a combination of winter squash including, butternut, Hubbard, and pumpkin.
Libby brand of pumpkin puree is created from their own variety of Dickinson pumpkins, which is a medium tan winter squash that grows fruit from 10-30 pounds! (Source)
Don’t discount other pumpkin or winter squash varieties. Each has its own unique color, texture, and flavor once pureed. You may even discover a variety that becomes a family favorite for making pumpkin pie.
If you are at a farmers’ market, ask the grower what they suggest for making pumpkin puree. Often times they will have a local variety that is superb in flavor, texture, and ideal for baked goods. Here in Maine, I often hear about an almost lost heirloom pumpkin called, Long Pie Pumpkin.
Avoid the field pumpkins, such as the large jack-o’-lanterns because they tend to taste rather bland and have fibrous flesh when cooked and pureed.
Steps to Making Pumpkin Puree
A 3-pound pumpkin will give you about 2 cups purée, which is what you need for pumpkin pie, and most baking recipes. These are the steps to roasting a pumpkin in the oven. A full printable recipe can be found at the end of the article, See the notes below for other ways to cook a pumpkin, including oven roasting whole, slow cooker, and Instant Pot pressure cooker.
Step 1: Prepare the Pumpkin
Rinse the pumpkin under clean running water. Dry well with a kitchen towel so it isn’t slippery. Carefully cut the pumpkin in half with a serrated knife using a sawing motion to run the knife through the flesh.
Remove the seeds and scrape out any fibrous strings with a spoon. Save the seeds for roasted pumpkin seeds.
Flip the pumpkin pieces so the flesh is face down on a baking sheet, and bake in a preheated 400˚F oven until soft, between 30 to 60 minutes depending on the size of the pumpkin. Remove the roasted pumpkin from the oven and let it cool.
Step 2: Puree the Pumpkin Flesh
Once the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and puree the flesh in a food processor until smooth. You can also puree using a stick blender, or by pushing the cooked flesh through a colander. If your puree is watery, place it into a fine mesh strainer and let the moisture drain out.
Step 3: Store the Puree
Store the puree in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using.
If I am doing a large batch, I like to measure out 2 cups (16 ounces) and freeze flat in quart size freezer bags. This is just the right amount for most baked recipes. The commercial cans are 15 ounces; so if you have recipes that use one can of pumpkin puree, use a kitchen scale to weigh 15 ounces per freezer bag. Remove the air from the bags, lay them flat on a baking sheet, and freeze. Thaw before using and drain excess moisture.
Other Ways to Cook Pumpkin
- Roasting a Whole Pumpkin in the Oven: If you are worried about cutting yourself when slicing your pumpkin in half, consider roasting it whole. Cut a few slits in the flesh with a knife to let moisture the release as it cooks, place the pumpkin in a roasting pan, and cook in the oven until it is soft. Let the pumpkin cool, cut it in half, remove the seeds, scoop out the flesh, and process into puree.
- Roasting Pumpkin in a Slow Cooker: Stack the pumpkin pieces in the slow cooker crock, and cook on low until the flesh is tender, about 4 hours.
- Cooking a Pumpkin in a Pressure Cooker: If you have a 6-quart Instant Pot pressure cooker, use it to roast a small pumpkin in half the time it takes in the oven. Place the pumpkin pieces cut side up on a trivet in the Instant Pot insert. Add about 1 cup of water. Lock the lid, set the pressure valve to seal, and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, and then quick release the remaining pressure. Open the pressure cooker and check to see if it is soft. If not, repeat the process and cook for another 5 minutes more.
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Don’t forget the pumpkin seeds! Roasted pumpkin seeds are a great snack. Rinse the seeds well under running water to remove any stringy flesh. Air dry on clean kitchen towels.
Toss the seeds in a bowl with melted butter, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake in a 400˚F oven until crisp and golden, about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching.
How to Make Pumpkin Puree
- 1 3 pound pie pumpkin
- Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup.
- Rinse the pumpkin well under running water. Cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and scrape the flesh to remove any fibrous stringy flesh. Save the seeds for roasted pumpkin seeds.
- Place the pumpkin halves cut side down on the baking sheet, and bake in a preheated 400˚F oven until soft, between 30 to 60 minutes depending on the size of the pumpkin.
- Remove the roasted pumpkin from the oven and let it cool.
- Once the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, peel off the skin, and puree the flesh in a food processor until smooth.
- If your puree is watery, place it into a fine mesh strainer and let the moisture drain out.
- Makes about 2 cups of pumpkin puree.
- Store the puree in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
- To freeze, measure 2 cups (16 ounces) and freeze flat in quart size freezer bags. Remove the air from the bags, label and date the bags, lay them flat on a baking sheet, and freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and drain moisture before using.
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