Can you Cook a Halloween Pumpkin (Jack-o-lantern)?

Is it possible to cook your Halloween pumpkin (aka jack-o-lantern). The short answer is yes. However pumpkins that we purchase for carving (in America) are not grown to be cooked and don’t taste great in traditional pumpkin recipes like pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin soup, pumpkin pancakes, etc.

Can you bake your halloween pumpkin? Typically jack-o-latern pumpkins are not suited for eating, but here's how to find one that tastes great!

“Jack-o-latern” pumpkins are typically large, flat bottomed, and filled with less flesh to make them easier to carve. Their seeds, however are plentiful and great for roasting.

If you want to use fresh pumpkin in a recipe purchase a “pie pumpkin” from the grocery store. They are sold during the fall months and are grown specifically for baking. They are darker in color and are very dense which makes them perfect for baking.

I do not recommend cooking a pumpkin that has already been carved and left outside for an evening or two. Leave the big pumpkins for carving and use the smaller pie pumpkins in your baking.

If you love pumpkin I highly recommend cooking a pie pumpkin. Canned pumpkin isn’t pure pumpkin it is a mixture of squash and pumpkin and isn’t as sweet as the flesh straight of of a pumpkin. Your friends and family will be raving about your pumpkin baked goods when you use fresh, super sweet pie pumpkin in the recipe.

Find step by step instructions on how to cook a pie pumpkin and several delicious recipes here.

How to cook a whole pumpkin in a crock pot. The easiest foolproof method to cook a pumpkin.



  1. This year I decided I was going to taste for myself the difference between pumpkin from a can and the fresh pumpkin. A week or so ago I bought a pie pumpkin, roasted it up, pureed the flesh and made my first pumpkin pie …ever. Two things I learned from this experience. First, the pumpkin flesh is much lighter in color than the canned pumpkin. Second, the pie was VERY tasty. I am looking forward to trying pumpkin bread and pancakes with the fresh pumpkin. I will be going out soon to buy another pie pumpkin (or 2) so I can freeze the roasted flesh and have all things pumpkin in January. Happy Baking everyone!

  2. I have never purchased the pie pumpkins because I’ve always used the pumpkins we get for Halloween. We don’t get gigantic ones, nor do we usually carve them. They are lighter in color than canned pumpkin. I’ve never had a issue with flavor. I don’t want to waste a perfectly good pumpkin that was not so cheap. Just my opinion. 🙂

    • I agree with Marie. Jack-o-lantern pumpkins, I have always liked the flavor of them after cooking them. I also don’t carve them but instead paint them so it will taste nice and fresh after baking. They are still edible though even if you choose to carve it, just refrigerate it to preserve it if you need to extend the time. Generally it takes an hour in the oven at 370F or so.

  3. i use regular size pumpkins for pies just add more sugar and spices i process it and drain it then freeze it and it works fine

  4. Cletus Hunnicutt says:

    A couple of years ago, I tried cooking a Jack-o-lantern a couple of different ways. The first try was breaded and fried chunks. Not terrible, but the flesh was a little “gelatinous” in a way. Strange but edible. My second, and now exclusive way of cooking it…I fill a large saute pan with chunks of the Jack-o-lantern and cook them down in a little olive oil and salt and pepper over low to medium heat, stirring occasionally. After 20 to 30 minutes I crank it up and saute it for about 10 or more minutes until it gets soft, to the point of turning to mush and starts to get lightly browned. Then I check to make sure there’s enough salt and pepper and sometimes melt a tablespoon or two of butter into it, not necessary though. Sometimes I add a chopped onion while I’m cooking it. Talk about a savory comfort food! It’s delicious! I can make up a plate of it for myself as a meal on its own or use it as a side dish. I don’t even bother to remove the skin anymore because it becomes tender as it cooks and it adds a little more nutty flavor as it browns and extra texture. Now I buy two or three Jack-o-lanterns every year just for cooking. To store it I simply cut it into 1 to 2 inch+ chunks and fill up gallon sized freezer bags and freeze it. It’s kept just fine for up to a year this way in the deep freeze. I dump some frozen chunks into the pan and get started. Of course I roast or saute the seeds, but when I first carve a pumpkin, those “guts” are all mine, my special treat. I saute that up on its own and it’s even more flavorful than the rest.

  5. Honestly, I’ve been cooking pumpkin pie from Jack O’ Lantern pumpkins for years, and they turn out delicious!

  6. i dont carve my pumpkins but even when i did and i cooked them all went well for using it in pies

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