Skip to Content

How to Eat a Pumpkin (almost all of it!)

On one of our recent hayrides in Connecticut, I made a discovery: some people don’t know (important!) things about pumpkins! Like how to eat a pumpkin (and you can eat almost all of it!). Here’s the scene:

I held my sugar pumpkin on my lap as we rode in the wagon back to the barn and casually said to my husband, “I need to make a pie out of this!” The man next to me said, “You can eat these?!” He was shocked. His wife said, “I always buy a can of pumpkin. How do you even cook them?”

Now it was MY turn to be shocked! I cook pumpkins into pies, soups, muffins, and cake every fall. I know some people enjoy the ease of picking up a can of pumpkin puree (hey, I’ve done it!), but I figured everyone kinda-probably-sorta knew you could EAT pumpkins. No? Apparently not!

How to Eat a Pumpkin

How to eat a pumpkin

how to eat a pumpkin

Pumpkins are good eating! Containing potassium and Vitamin A, get yourself an extra helping of that pumpkin pie! Or, for healthier dish, try a creamy pumpkin soup, or mashed pumpkin (just like mashed sweet potato or butternut squash!).

More ways to cook and eat pumpkinsPumpkin halves and seeds

Eat the leaves!

Most of the pumpkin is edible. Some cultures eat the leaves – I have not tried this yet, but now I want to grow a pumpkin next year so I can cook the leaves! This article on TheKitchn describes how to destring and cook pumpkin leaves. It sounds a bit like sauteed Swiss chard to me.

Eat the flowers!

I personally used to enjoy a good fried squash flower when my Italian Grandma used to make them. They are like slightly sweet, slightly squishy fried dough! Yummy!

Toast the Seeds!

Oh, how I love a good toasted pumpkin seed. You might be familiar with the green pumpkin seeds you see in the store a lot these days – pepitas? Those are shelled pumpkin seeds, and very yummy. However, you don’t even have to shell them. Simply scoop out that slimy seed stuff from inside the pumpkin, place in a mesh colander and rinse gunk away till you have just seeds. Then, spread in a thin layer on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 225 degrees for… a long time. I had mine going for about two to three hours. Use a spatula to stir about every 15-20 minutes so they toast evenly. They are done when they are crunchy, not chewy. Watch that they don’t brown or burn.

Saute or Puree the Flesh!

Once you’ve scooped out the seeds, scrape the inside of your pumpkin half with a butter knife or small spoon. I like to use a grapefruit spoon, because the shape is perfect for the pumpkin core, and the serated edges really get the stringy pulp out. Next, you can cook the pumpkin one of two ways:

1. Peel and cube the pumpkin and then saute for use in soups, sides, etc. This would be good for a savory dish or if you want a chunkier pumpkin.

2. Don’t peel. Place the pumpkin halves cut side down on a cookie sheet. Pour in a cup of water until you have a layer of water in the sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until the pumpkin flesh is tender. Let cool.

3. Use a spoon to scoop the flesh from the skin. Discard skins. Use the flesh of the pumpkin for baking breads, pies, smoothies. You can even freeze it for later. (For baked goods, let it drain overnight in a colander because pumpkins are 91% water – it will affect the moisture of your baked goods if you use undrained pulp).how to eat a pumpkinpumpkin seeds are slimyPumpkin seeds disgusting

Now you know all about how to eat a pumpkin! The boys and I had a lovely time scooping out pumpkins seeds to prepare for this post. I think they were a little taken aback that I’d cut up their pet pumpkins, but they went along gamely enough. Turns out, my oldest thinks pumpkin pulp is disgusting and could hardly make himself touch it. Gee, I thought he liked all things slimy? He told me no, not pumpkins! Who knew!

How to Eat a Pumpkin

More facts about pumpkins

Believe it or not, despite there being 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkin grown in the United States each year, most people don’t buy pumpkins for eating. Instead, they are mostly used for decorations, carving, and crafts, and people buy the canned variety instead.

A bit of “food for thought!” Apparently, according to Wikipedia, many “commercially canned pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie fillings are usually made from different kinds of winter squash than the pumpkins frequently carved” – can you believe that!?

So for the real thing – pick up a little two or three pound sugar pumpkin and make your own pumpkin recipes this fall!

>>For fun facts about pumpkins, check out my collection – share with your kids this fall!

Do you cook and eat fresh pumpkin in any favorite recipes?

Trisha W.

Monday 20th of November 2017

My soon to be 20 y.o. called me right after Halloween asking if I remembered how we cooked pumpkins. He had his eye on eating his Aunt and Uncles Halloween jack-o-lanterns. n We use a method like your second option. =)

Jeni Mitchell

Thursday 16th of November 2017

Julie, thank you for this post. While I have cooked pumpkin before, there are still so many other facets of ways to enjoy them that I wasn’t fully aware of, but now am because of this article. I love the pictures of your boys. They are getting so big and yes, their being taken aback from the slimy insides is amusing. I also found it interesting to learn that canned pumpkin really isn’t always pumpkin. It definitely is squash season. I have some cooking to do. I now will add pumpkins to my grocery list.


Saturday 15th of November 2014

You totally make me want to go buy a pumpkin now to do this - which I've NEVER done. :)

Trisha W.

Thursday 6th of November 2014

I love the look on A's face in the "guts" pictures. =)

Lynn B

Thursday 6th of November 2014

Love the picture of your oldest, that's exactly how I feel! Dumb question but, I've never seen pumpkins labeled in the supermarket so how would I know if it was a sugar pumpkin or good for cooking? When we went to the pumpkin patch they had an area labeled "pumpkins for baking" but I don't want to have to pay the admission fee and drive all the way out to the farm to get one I know is good for eating!