How to Cook a Pumpkin

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Do you know how to cook a pumpkin? I didn’t until a few years ago when stores started running out of canned pumpkin around Thanksgiving. I did some research and realized that cooking a pumpkin is actually quite simple and you can freeze the cooked pumpkin for long term storage.

It is easy to cook a fresh pumpkin and it tastes so much better than the canned pumpkin you buy at the grocery store. I usually cook mine in the crock pot and then freeze the extra for later.

Since I live in Florida and didn’t want to turn on my oven in the 90+ degree heat I decided to try cooking a pumpkin in a crock pot. I searched the internet and was surprised that I couldn’t find any tutorials for cooking a pumpkin in a crock pot. Always one to experiment in the kitchen, and having an extra pie pumpkin on hand just in case the crock pot pumpkin experiment went totally wrong, I decided to try it anyway.

All you need to cook a pumpkin in a crock pot is a pie pumpkin (these as smaller than the “jack-o-lantern” type pumpkins ), a crock pot and water.  I cannot stress enough that this needs to be a pie or sugar pumpkin. There is a difference between pie pumpkins and carving pumpkins. The pie pumpkins will be located by the squash and gourds in the produce department at your grocery store.

Wash the outside of your pumpkin with soap and water. Since the outside of the pumpkin will be touching the inside of the pumpkin while cooking you’ll want to make sure you’ve removed all the dirt from the outside before you cook it.

Take the pie pumpkin and cut it in half. This is the most difficult step in the process because pumpkins are not easy to cut! You’ll want to use a serrated knife and use a sawing motion to cut the pumpkin in half.

I like to skip this step by purchasing a smaller pumpkin that I can fit in my crock pot without cutting.

If you have a small pumpkin and a large crock pot you can put the entire thing in the crock pot and cook it whole. This is actually easier and safer since you don’t have to saw the pumpkin in half.

Once you’ve cut the pumpkin in half remove all the seeds and the stringy stuff inside the pumpkin. I usually take a sharp paring knife around the inside of the pumpkin and slice off the strings and seeds but you can also use a spoon or ice cream scoop to remove the innards. 🙂

After you’ve removed the seeds and strings you’ll want to cut your pumpkin in a few smaller pieces. How many pieces depends on the size of your crock pot. The larger the crock pot the fewer the pieces.

Place the cut pumpkin in the crock pot and add about one cup of water. This also depends on the size of your crock pot. You’ll want to make sure you have enough water in your crock pot to cover the bottom with about 3/4 an inch of water.

Turn the crock pot on high and cook for about four hours. If your crock pot runs hot you might want to use the low setting and cook for a bit longer.

You’ll know the pumpkin is finished cooking by sticking a fork into the flesh and gently pulling away from the skin. If it “falls off” the skin it is finished. If not cook for a little longer.

Remove the pumpkin pieces from the crock pot and let cool for a few minutes. Then using a spoon, scoop the pumpkin out of the skin. If your pumpkin has cooked long enough it should be very easy to remove.

Let my pumpkin cool completely then puree it in the blender.

I used Ziploc bags to store the pumpkin. I put two cups of pumpkin in each bag.

You can store your pumpkin in the refrigerator for a few days or freezer for long term storage.

The benefit of cooking your pumpkin in the crock pot is that it doesn’t absorb much, if any, of the water, so it isn’t watery after cooking. It also doesn’t heat up your kitchen, which is a benefit to those of us who are still looking at 90 degree weather.

I paid $0.99 a pound at the commissary for my pie pumpkin. I was able to get 4 1/2 cups pumpkin from a 5 pound pumpkin. So my cost was $1.10 per pound of pumpkin. Depending on where you live this could be more expensive than canned pumpkin, but many people prefer the taste of fresh pumpkin for baking.

Pumpkin is really good for you, loaded with beta carotine and potassium as well as fiber it is a great food to add to your favorite recipes. Below you will find some of my favorite pumpkin recipes.

Pumpkin Pancakes

Pumpkin Donuts

Pumpkin Muffins

Curried Pumpkin Soup



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  1. Wow, this is great! Simple enough that even I am willing to attempt it. Thanks!

  2. Okay, so it seems this site is for the ladies but I have celiac disease and cannot eat any wheat and just found out 3 years ago. I’m 42 and it has taken a while to get used to changing my diet but just this summer my 15-yo son and I planted one little tiny little pumpkin plant we bought at a nursery and it has turned into a monster! I love it. Thanks for putting this here on this site because I’ve missed eating pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving! I’ll give it a try. Besides, I have always loved baking the seeds. Thanks again! PS can you eat pumpkin like squash or does it not taste right?

  3. I just bought a beautiful pumpkin at the greenmarket and had no idea what to do with it. Thanks for the inside scoop on how to cook it in a way that sounds super easy, wish me luck!

  4. I am indebted to you, and your sight. I had always thought a pumpkin had to be baked, good thing for me I googled it before actually doing it, thanks a bunch.

  5. I did this today – best way to cook a pumpkin ever! Thanks so much.

  6. I prefer fresh or unprocessed when I can anymore and now that pumpkins are plentiful thought I’d try having fresh pumpkin instead of canned. Did a google on how to cook and found this site. I live in FL too and with it 85 outside right now, I was not thrilled at turning on the oven for a long period of time so this is PERFECT! Next run to Publix I’ll buy a bog of their pie pumpkins to make lots to freeze. Good for me and it’s good for my dogs too! Thanks! Now to clean the seeds for a little snack!

  7. thank you so much for this tip! i was always sad that we had to composte the pumpkins after halloween (too much work to cook in the in the oven) but now, it’s not so daunting anymore 😀

  8. I never again buy canned pumpkin. If you are reading this give it a try by using the above info. You will love it in the bread, cookies, pies, etc you can make. Microwave or slow cooker is the way to go.

  9. Oh my gosh, you just save my sanity. I had 2 huge pumpkins (equals about 5 of the small pie pumpkins) that I did not want to waste and did not want to boil them.

    This is great!

    Thank you!


  10. Wonderful!! Thank you. I have always baked the pumpkin in the oven, but had a lot going on this afternoon, so the slowcooker was perfect. A note to some of the other commenters, sugar pumpkins (small ones) are what is used for food. Large Jack o’lantern size pumpkins do not yield the same sweet result for pies or other uses.

  11. Oh my, this will certainly come in handy. My husband and I started a compost pile last year and lo & behold we have pumpkin growing out of it this year!! There are tons of blossoms, so this may be a great solution to getting the pumpkin into the freezer! There are so many great pumpkin recipes out there that I am anxious to try!!

  12. Motheroflittle says:

    Thanks to Michele for the suggestion of using an electric knife. Worked great and so much faster than a plain knife. Safer too even though my daughter asked why I was using a chain saw??? LOL

    Boy, those donuts are calling my name! Thanks for the recipes and ideas.

  13. Love this idea! What is the difference between regular pumpkin and cheese/Cinderella pumpkins?

  14. I found a recipe to cook a whole acorn squash in the crockpot, but was not sure on it being a pumpkin instead since we found Organic Pumpkins this year from the farm for 0.25/lb!! I did make TONS of pumpkin puree the year my daughter started eating solids, but in the oven. I ma SOO excited as I can turn it on and let it go! Since I am NOT making dinner in the crockpot, in goes the pumpkin!!
    And you CAN use the larger pumpkins, just put in some apple juice when you puree it to add sweetness and moisture since the larger ones are dryer. Still works the same in recipes! You can also put a flour sack towel in a colander & press the puree so the water runs out, in a since thickening the puree’!

  15. could you use a roster for a larger pumpkin?

  16. My son just brought home a medium size pumpkin from the produce stand. Can you give me any ideas as to what to do with it? I don’t want to carve it.

  17. Thanks for sharing! Worked like a charm 🙂


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