Homemade Pumpkin Purée

If you don't have a pumpkin, you can make a versatile purée with any fall gourd.

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Every fall, most of us stock up on all things pumpkin, squash, and gourd adjacent, and we're not just talking about in your pantry. Fresh pumpkin is not only packed with flavor but also plenty of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals (hello, calcium, potassium, and magnesium!) that make the decorative, savory fruit worth eating. And while pumpkin seeds are easy enough to process, most of us skip handmade pumpkin purée and opt to buy it in a can.

Fortunately, it's easy enough to make pumpkin purée yourself. The final result retains its health benefits and color and is made without shelf stabilizers or flavor additives. Bonus: Roasting the pumpkin adds a warm, autumnal scent to your home—no candle required! The puréeing process is quick, and one pumpkin (depending on its size) yields enough purée for at least two pumpkin pies. Here's how to get started.


While any pumpkin can be puréed, culinary professionals prefer certain varieties for various uses. Chef Amy Yi, culinary director of Genuine Foods, recommends a Fairytale pumpkin, also known as Musquee de Provence. "They have a delicate, sweet flavor that is great for a balanced and flavored purée," she says.

In a pinch, most pumpkins will do so long as they are still fresh. However, Yi notes that you can make a similar purée with other gourds if you don't have a pumpkin on hand. "If we're expanding this to winter squashes, I also like honey nut squash, kabocha squash, and acorn squash for savory applications because of their density," she adds.

You'll Also Need

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Rimmed baking sheet
  • Large spoon or pumpkin scoop
  • Cleaver or a large chef's knife
  • Food processor or handheld blender

How to Cut a Pumpkin

"The trickiest part is getting a pumpkin cut open," Yi acknowledges. She recommends investing in a good cleaver, but any chef's knife or strong serrated knife can work. If you'd use it to cut open a watermelon, it should also work to cut open a pumpkin.

Start by holding your pumpkin still on a cutting board and slicing it in half. If there's a flatter side, use that for balance. If the pumpkin is too tough to cut, try removing the top (like you're making a Jack-o'-lantern) and clipping it in half from there.

How to Purée a Pumpkin

Step 1: Split your pumpkin in half and remove the seeds.

Once the pumpkin is halved, use a spoon or your hands to remove as many seeds as possible. (You can wash, roast, and season the pumpkin seeds if you wish.) You can remove any remaining seeds after baking the pumpkin.

Step 2: Roast the pumpkin in a 300-degree oven until soft.

Roast the de-seeded pumpkin on a tin foil-lined baking sheet, flesh side down. Cook it at 300 degrees or even lower until the flesh is soft (approximately one to two hours), depending on size. You can add a cup of water to the pan to create more steam.

Step 3: Allow the pumpkin to cool and scoop out the flesh.

"Allow the steam to cook the flesh, so it's easier to scoop out [of the skin]," Yi says. Once the pumpkin is roasted and slightly cooled, remove any remaining seeds. Next, scoop the remaining pumpkin flesh into a large mixing bowl, avoiding the skin.

Step 4: Puree with a hand blender until smooth.

Finally, puree the pumpkin flesh with a hand blender. Also, you could use a food processor, but you should avoid using a regular blender. "A blender is often too narrow for dense purées, and traps unwanted air pockets, or simply doesn't provide enough room for the pumpkin to blend freely," Yi notes.

Storage and Uses

Store pumpkin purée in the freezer. "Pack it into plastic bags, remove any air before sealing, and freeze the bags by laying them flat in the freezer," Yi says. The purée should last for approximately three months before losing quality.

"Use pumpkin purée for soups, pies, [and] side dishes, fold it into a curry or stew, or even use it for baby food. I love using it as a thickener for curries and soups, like a yellow lentil squash stew," Yi adds.

Pumpkin purée is also safe and healthy to feed dogs as a treat or mix into their food for extra flavor. And, of course, you can use it in any of your favorite canned pumpkin recipes!

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