Including a step-by-step photo tutorial for how to roast a pie pumpkin (also known as a sugar pumpkin), this post shows how easy it is to make this homemade pumpkin puree recipe for all your Fall baking, like pies, breads, cookies & more!
Make magic happen for your kids by showing them how you take real actual pumpkins, and turn them into delicious baked goods using this homemade pumpkin puree recipe! Yes, it’s more work to roast a pie pumpkin than to just open a can of Libby’s pumpkin puree, but it’s fun work and definitely rewarding!
A couple of years ago, my oldest daughter started begging me to turn a pumpkin into something edible and when I pulled out a can of Libby’s to make chocolate chip pumpkin bread, she was not impressed. So I decided I would figure out how to make a little magic happen for her by figuring out what goes into a homemade pumpkin puree recipe and making it with her, and we’ve done it every year since!
There is one Halloween I can remember from when I was a kid that my mom made homemade pumpkin puree and it has always stuck with me. I’m pretty sure I had pestered her and pestered her to turn our carved jack-o-lanterns into something edible because somehow I just knew that would be the coolest, most magical thing ever.
As I recall, the process involved cutting the jack-o-lanterns apart and into chunks and then boiling them, but I don’t have any memories of what was made with the resulting pumpkin puree, probably because it turns out that carving pumpkins aren’t the same as pie pumpkins (aka sugar pumpkins) and you probably don’t want to use them to make homemade pumpkin puree for baking. We used canned pumpkin puree every year after that.
Canned vs. Fresh Pumpkin Puree
I’m not going to knock on canned pumpkin here, although there are some noticeable differences between fresh pumpkin puree and the kind that comes in a can, most noticeably the color and the flavor. Canned pumpkin is much darker – usually a deep orange brown color – while fresh pumpkin is much lighter – more of a yellow orange. Although there are flavor differences between the two, if you are planning to add them to baked goods like breads or pies, by the time you add the sugar and spices, there won’t be a hugely noticeable difference.
If you are interested in a more detailed comparison of canned vs. fresh pumpkin puree, check out this one by one of my favorite blogs, Handle the Heat where she did side-by-side taste-testing and posted about it, along with some pretty cool pictures to show the differences.
I totally still use the canned stuff sometimes because one thing you will find if you attempt to roast a pie pumpkin is that they can sometimes be hard to find. Especially AFTER Halloween (or basically any month of the year other than October). So if you are thinking you want to make this pumpkin puree recipe, you will want to look for pie pumpkins NOW, because once November hits, they can be almost impossible to find. The good news is that if you love fresh pumpkin puree, you can always make a bunch of it and freeze it for future use.
Sugar Pumpkins vs. Carving Pumpkins
Right now, sugar pumpkins are in most of my local grocery stores (the ones in these pictures just happen to be from Trader Joe’s) and I also saw a bin of sugar pumpkins at our local pumpkin patch. Just look for signs that label them as pie pumpkins or sugar pumpkins, or ask the produce manager if they carry them if you can’t find them. They might even be white instead of orange!
Sugar pumpkins are smaller than regular carving pumpkins – more like the size of a cantaloupe – and the flesh is less stringy and more flavorful than that of large carving pumpkins. One idea for your kids is to let them paint a jack-o-lantern face on the outside, rather than carving the pumpkin, and then after Halloween is over you can roast them and use them in this homemade pumpkin puree recipe since the skin gets removed and tossed anyway.
- 1 2-3 lb. sugar pumpkin
- Heat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the pumpkin (or pumpkins) in half. The stem can be tricky to cut through, so you might want to slice the top off the pumpkin so you don't have to bother with the stem.
- Scrape out all the guts and seeds using a large spoon. You can clean and save the seeds for roasting, if you like.
- Place the pumpkin halves face-down on the parchment-lined baking sheet and roast uncovered for 50-60 minutes in the preheated oven, until fork-tender. You may need more time if your pumpkins are a bit bigger. The skin will darken to a deep orange and you should have no trouble getting a fork in and out. If in doubt, keep roasting a bit longer - it won't hurt the pumpkin.
- Let the roasted pumpkin cool for 10 minutes, then use a large spoon to scrape the pumpkin flesh off the skin of the pumpkin, or just peel the skin off with your hands. Place chunks of roasted pumpkin into a food processor or blender and process for 2 to 4 minutes until completely smooth. You will need to tamp the pumpkin down a couple of times while pureeing in order to make sure it all gets processed. Use within 3 days or freeze in large freezer-safe bags.
You don't want to wait until the pumpkin is completely cool to do this though, because it comes off much better while the pumpkin is still hot.
That’s it! Then you can use your pumpkin puree in any of your favorite fall pumpkin recipes like this Chocolate Pumpkin Babka or Pumpkin Streusel Muffins with Cream Cheese Filling! Or portion it out into large ziploc bags and freeze for future use!
If you found this homemade pumpkin puree recipe helpful and are interested in more how-to-roast-stuff-in-the-oven sort of posts that might seem basic, but are staples in my house, you might be interested in these:
What other tutorials or how-to’s would you be interested in seeing on House of Nash Eats? Let me know in the comments below!