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




  1. Bummer, I was hoping your method would let us skip the “cut in half” part – that is nearly impossible! Maybe we just had a tough pumpkin, but my husband actually got out the saw 2 years ago to help me complete the task…

    But my pkins are only 20c a pound, so I really should give it another go, plus the real puree makes every recipe taste so much better!

    Thanks for the reminder! 🙂 Katie

    • TheHappyHousewife says:

      I wanted to try it without cutting it, but it was too big for my crock pot. 🙂 Maybe I’ll try with a smaller one.

  2. Do you think I can do this for acorn squash too? I usually cook them in the microwave but I liked the idea of them not absorbing as much water. My squash was a little watery when I froze it and thawed it.

  3. …this is such an amazingly foreign concept to me. lol! I read ‘do you know how to cook a pumpkin’ and thought you were being sarcastic!

    In Australia we have more varieties of pumpkins than americans do (in fact we didn’t even have ‘jack o lantern pumpkins until the past couple of years, as Australians do not traditionally have halloween. Most our pumpkins have green or grey skin.) and pumpkin is used primarily as a savoury item, rarely sweet (pumpkin scones and gramma pie are major exceptions to this rule). It’s quite sommon to have roast potato, roast pumpkin and boiled peas with a beef roast. As far as I can gather, our pumpkins are not as sweet.

    Mashed pumpkin is popular and served like mashed potato. It’s another easy way to cook the pumpkin, just peel and dice it (yeah, easier said than done, but it gets easier the more you do it, just have a sharp knife. To be honest, I usually use a long sharp, non serated blade, wedge it in, then hit the handle to continue wedging it open.) So, yeah, cut and dice, and boil just like potato, except for not quite as long. DRAIN WELL, some pumpkins are prone to being very watery.

  4. Thank you for this tutorial! I’ve heard of people cooking their own pumpkins before but never tried it. Thinking I might give it a go this time around. 🙂

  5. Great! And just in time I might add. Not only have I never cooked pumpkin, I never ate it other than a pie. I will definitely give this a try.

  6. THANKS FOR THE POST on your fb page. Im going to try this to make a pumpkin cheesecake again this year, but this time with fresh pumpkin puree. Exciting!

  7. *especially for a novice cook.

  8. Awesome! I was just telling my 6 yo that I wanted to cook a pumpkin this year and make our own pie from it. This will work out great!! Thanks so much for posting!

    @abba12 – that’s so interesting about Australia!! Thank you so much for sharing. I had no idea!

  9. One reason people prefer the truer pumpkin flavor of making their own, is because commercial canned pumpkin often contains a mixture of different winter squashes. There are three varieties of winter squashes: Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita maxima, and Curcubita moschata. C. pepo includes the gourds we traditionally think of as pumpkins, such as the kind used for jack-o’-lanterns. Hubbard and Boston Marrow squashes fall into the C. maxima category, while C. moschata includes butternut squashes as well as the Dickinson pumpkins used by Libby’s, the producer of most of the canned pumpkin in North America.

  10. This is great! Thanks so much for sharing it!

  11. Bernette Todd says:

    @ Abba12, now live in the states and there are some things I really miss from home, one is pumpkin (recently scored some Vegemite :)), although I have found some grey skinned ones they do not taste quite the same, however I have never developed the taste for sweet pumpkin pie that is so popular here. Often use Butternut instead of regular pumpkin, still make a savoury pumpkin pie with peas, onions and cheese and of course pumpkin soup.

  12. Robin in New Jersey says:

    I never thought of using the crockpot. I love this idea.

    For several months now, canned pumpkin has not been available in the grocery store. Last week, it was back and selling for $3.19 a can! I was shocked.

    I always cook a couple small pumpkins each fall and freeze them for muffins. But I bake them and puree them in the food processor.

    After hurricane Irene, several farms around here lost all their pumpkin crops. I imagine pumpkins wil be expensive this fall.

  13. My husband just asked me last week how to cook a pumpkin. I had never attempted it (and had no intention of doing so), but I am thrilled to hear you can cook it in the crockpot! He does the crockpot cooking in our house, so I guess that means he’ll be the one to cook the pumpkin 😉

  14. How long does the pumpkin last in the freezer? i.e. how long can I safely keep it frozen? Freezer shelf life. Awesome and plan to try in this weekend.

  15. This post makes me excited for everything pumpkin :)thanks!

    Also can I get an invite to pinterest?

  16. Love your blog would love an invite on pintrest

  17. I saw the title and thought “I need to look at this, b/c I have acorn squash in my fridge, and I’m sure it will work the same way!” Last year I cooked them in my pressure cooker electric skillet and they where very watery! Can’t wait to give this a try!

  18. I’m going to put a pumpkin on my grocery list. We have a book called Pumpkin Soup. My daughter loves that story and she always wants to make pumpkin soup, but I always talk her into tomato soup. Now we can make real pumpkin soup. I thought about the canned stuff, but just couldn’t bring myself to use it in soup. It sounds so easy in a crock pot.

  19. Love this! I’ve always cooked my pumpkin in the oven, but I think a crockpot would make the whole process much easier. 🙂

  20. I have been doing this for years! My secret behind my family’s beloved PUmpkin Pie Cheesecake is out! I use fresh pumpkin! I freeze my puree in an ice cube tray with saran wrap over top, then store in bags just like I do broth. Works amazingly well!

  21. I bought a pie pumpkin today hoping I’d be able to cook it in the crockpot. I came home, searched the web and found your directions. It’s now in the crockpot. I can hardly wait for a good pumpkin pie! Thanks so much!!

  22. I was wondering if I could “can” the purreed pumkin in small jars?? My freezer is getting full… Anybody try this or know of people doing it!! I dont want to do it and find out that its not worth it…. Thanks!

    • TheHappyHousewife says:

      I have read that you should not can puree’d pumpkin. I can’t remember why, I’ll try and find the article and get back to you.

  23. This is awesome! I think I’ll go to the store & get a pumpkin…NOW! 🙂 I was looking around & found this website for canning. Diced is ok in a pressure cooker, but not puree. It explains way better than I can. Also a link on that page to diced pumpkin canning.

  24. I’m going to try this. I puree my pumpkin by roasting it in the oven first, but this seems easier. I am learning all kinds of ways to use my crockpot….brown ground beef, applesauce, cook chicken it it to shred for the freezer….this will be added to my list. I also freeze mine in 2 c portions, as that is almost a can of pumpkin you’d buy at the store. I also freeze small portions in ice cube trays to use for Pumpkin Spice Lattes.

  25. This is great. We love pumpkin and a friend just gave me a larger crock pot her mom never used. That’s a deal! Mine was not big enough.
    This convinces me to grow pumpkin next year. We have the perfect place. I’ll just have to lok for the right type. Also, I picked up a deal on a meal sealer and can’t wit to use it. I guess I’ll be enjoying our pumpkin bread, muffins and waffles this year.
    Thank you!

  26. christina says:

    Thanks for that tip. I want the recipe for the pumpkin pancakes!

  27. Here is the website to say why you can’t can pumpkin puree – interesting reading

    Freezing seems to be the way to go for the puree per this website.

  28. BlondeUSmom-inUK says:

    Awesome! Just picked a small pumpkin up today to try out in the crockpot. Good eating pumpkins are so hard to find in the UK! I did see a couple red onion squash/pumpkins and blue Hubbard pumpkins last year…this one is more like a big pie pumpkin. Tried roasting last year, but it turned out pretty awful, so I sadly tossed it. Hoping this works much better! So hopefully: pumpkin butter, here I come!!

  29. well there you have it…we are growing our own pie pumpkins next year!!! Did you know you can make pies and such from squash as well?

  30. because of your post I bought a pie pumpkin today to cook in the crock pot tomorrow. I will use most of it for the dogs I think (we have 3 of them), since hubby found huge cans of “Libby’s” pure packed pumpkin and bought me 3 cans for my food storage stash. I will probably freeze the pumpkin in my food saver bags in order to not have as much air get to them. Thanks for the post, it honestly has inspired me quite a lot!

  31. Cool! I have never cooked a pumpkin before, always just brought canned pumpkin. I am going to give this a try!

  32. I’ve heard that the reason you shouldn’t “can” pumpkin or other squash puree is because it is too dense and it won’t reach the required temperature for proper canning. What I’d read was that you would have to cut it into small chunks and fill the jar with hot (boiling) water to make sure it reached proper canning temp when in the hot water bath. To me, it seemed easier to freeze the puree in ziploc bags or small containers.

  33. FYI- I just tried your method with a butternut squash & it turned out wonderfully! Quick question: i bought a pie pumpkin that will fit in my crockpot. Can I cook it whole and remove the seeds & skin when it is done? Cutting is horrible! (I used an electric knife which helped a bunch though)

  34. Thank you for this post! My husband had mentioned he wanted to try pumpkin pie from scratch this year and I am so excited to do this in the crockpot… my newest friend! I made buttermilk pumpkin pecan pancakes this morning and am going to try for some pumpkin harvest muffins tomorrow! Loving your ideas!

  35. Serenity Summers says:

    Can’t wait to try this! I am so excited that I am going to “raid” my front porch decorations! Who would notice one little pumpkin missing ? LOL!

  36. Cushaw squash is our favorite …. We make Cushaw Pie just like pumpkin pie and actually like it better. White or brown pumpkins are good too!

  37. Got pie pumpkins to puree this year but didn’t know where to go from there. This post was just in time. I really appreciate your posting. I make pumpkin “custard” in the crockpot (pie without the crust) for my picky son. Will give him all the custard he can eat (including the sugar) if he is at least eating the squash. Can’t wait to try other squashes too.

  38. @AHNA i think the reason you’re not supposed to home can pureed pumpkin is because it doesn’t get hot enough in the jar to kill all the “yuckies” that might be living in it. I believe i read that in the “Home Canning for Idiots” book

  39. Just a tip for cutting hard squash. Put it in your oven while it’s preheating. When the preheat is done take the squash out and let it cool a minute or two. The skin is now much easier to cut. Slice off the stem end and place cut side down. Now you can cut it in half without it rolling. Sooo much easier this way.

  40. I generally just cook the cheapo Halloween pumpkins. I’ve never noticed any difference between them and the more expensive pumpkins (especially after you add a lot of sugar for pies or muffins). I have always cooked them in my pressure cooker (canning size) because I can do so much at one time, but I am going to try at least one of them in the crockpot! Thanks for the idea.

  41. Thanks for the tutorial I always wondered how it was done. I have been looking for a pumpkin to do this with. I have not seen a sugar pumpkin yet this year only some Jack-o-lantern ones. Cans are once again expensive and pumpkins are hard to find. Hopefully we have a drier year for next season!

  42. I learned this from my old roommate, she would just wash the outside of her squash, acorn, butternut or our favorite, kabocha squash ( Japanese squash, I believe) and stick it whole into the oven and cook it at around 340 degrees on the top rack for around 40 minutes. Check it for doneness, you can easily poke a fork in it. May have to roll it over if the bottom is starting to burn. Then we put it in a glass dish with a lid, cut it in half and scoop out the seeds and roast them on a cookie sheet in the oven with some 21 seasoning sprinkled on it until done. We wash the skin because we eat it on all squash because there are vitamins, etc in it. Great straight, kabocha and acorn are naturally sweet tasting or puree in blender when cool with some organic chicken broth, curry, 21 seasoning and sometimes some almond or rice milk and makes a great soup that we use to freeze in single serving jars and defrost the day before eating in the fridge. Yummy…

  43. marie proctor says:

    I just cut up a pumpkin…and it is ready to be cooked. I wanted a recipe to cook in the crock pot…I love this idea of cooking the pumpkin with the skin on…however, the skin is already off of my pumpkin. Can I still cook the pumpkin peices in the crockpot? IF so, This would save me alot of time standing over the stove stirring the boiled pumpkin….thanks.

  44. Just made this, the house smells great and now I have some great pumpkin puree, might even use some as baby food. Thanks for the idea!!

  45. Jennifer C. says:

    I am wondering how you work with pumpkin puree. I have worked with the canned stuff too much – do you use the Libby recipe when you use the homemade pumpkin puree?


  46. This is great! I’m barely able to keep up with demand since we discovered how easy this is and how yummy pumpkin is. Thanks!!

  47. I didn’t read all the comments so…if this is a repeat I apologize!

    You can cook any squash or potato in the crock pot whole as long as it fits! It is very easy to scoop out the cooked innards, too. Cover potatoes with aluminum foil – no water needed. For squash just wash it well and sit it inside the crock pot. That’s it!

  48. Ladies, use an electric knife! I just chopped Jack up into pieces in less than 10 minutes!

  49. Thanks SO much for this post! It was exactly what I was looking for -an alternative to cooking the pumpkin in the oven or on the stove. I’m always looking for creative ways to use my slow cooker. The photographs of each step were great!

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

  51. 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?

  52. 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!

  53. 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.

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

  55. 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!

  56. 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 😀

  57. 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.

  58. 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!


  59. 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.

  60. 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!!

  61. 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.

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

  63. 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’!

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

  65. 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.

  66. Thanks for sharing! Worked like a charm 🙂

  67. A friend that owns a pumpkin farm says the best pumpkins for making pie is called a “cow” pumpkin. They are like a creamy orange color, and are kind of “squatty” in shape compared to other pumpkins. You still cook them the same to get the meat of it out ????


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