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Preserve Your Harvest,  Recipes

How to Make Homemade Pumpkin Puree (and Freeze It)

It’s that time of year! With fall comes pumpkin this, pumpkin that. To be honest, we’re not huge fans of many pumpkin-flavored goodies – mostly because they’re too darn sweet or processed for my liking! But homemade pumpkin puree and related recipes on the other hand? Sign me up! Plus, the way we like to prepare our puree (roasting the pumpkins first) brings out the best of the pumpkin’s natural sweet flavors.


Read along to learn how to make your own homemade pumpkin puree. It’s incredibly easy to do, and exponentially more fresh and flavorful than the canned stuff you’ll buy in store! We’ll also talk about how to freeze pumpkin puree, and the numerous tasty ways you can use it. Make this now while pumpkins are in season, and enjoy pumpkin vibes for many months ahead!


But first, let’s cover a few frequently asked questions about pumpkin puree. 


What is pumpkin puree?


It’s literally what it sounds like: pureed pumpkin flesh! Most folks are familiar with pumpkin puree that comes in a can. Today, we’re going to make homemade pumpkin puree using whole fresh pumpkins – and nothing else! It is more rich, thick, velvety, and flavorful than the stuff you’ll get at the grocery store.

That said, don’t confuse pumpkin puree with canned pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin pie filling has added sugar and spices, and has far more limited uses than pumpkin puree. For instance, you would NOT want to use a can of pumpkin pie filling in our savory pumpkin chili recipe! Pumpkin puree is more earthy, mild, and naturally semi-sweet.


Is pumpkin puree healthy (good for you)? 


Yep, it sure is! Pumpkin puree is low in fat and calories, but packs a punch of nutrients – including fiber, vitamins, minerals, and tons of antioxidants. In fact, a cup of pumpkin puree provides more fiber than you’d get eating two slices of whole-grain bread. Ample fiber in a meal is good for digestive health and also leaves you feeling more satiated longer. Pumpkin puree is especially high in Vitamin A, along with notable levels of vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, and many B vitamins. Just like its seeds, pumpkin flesh also contains a plethora of health-promoting minerals including iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and copper.


Two sugar pie pumpkins are sitting on a dark wooden table while a part of another is partially visible off to the right. There are various green houseplants in the background including two monsteras and a snake plant.
Classic sugar pie or baking pumpkins, perfect for puree.


What type of pumpkins can I use to make homemade pumpkin puree?


Many types! We personally prefer to use organic sugar pie or baking pumpkins. You know, the smallish orange ones you find in the produce department of the grocery store close to Thanksgiving? Full of thick, sweet flesh, sugar pie pumpkins will create the best-tasting homemade pumpkin puree. You can also make homemade pumpkin puree from Jack-o-lantern or other large decorative pumpkins, though the flesh is usually more stringy, watery, and less flavorful.

Note that ‘sugar’ or ‘pie’ pumpkins are fairly generic names for a number of ideal cooking pumpkin varieties, including Autumn Gold, Winter Luxury, Cinnamon Girl, Baby Pam, and New England Pie – to name just a few. Furthermore, the best baking pumpkins aren’t just round and orange! Some of the squatty, colorful, more unique-looking pumpkins are actually the best ones to make homemade pumpkin puree with – including Musquee de Provence, Cinderella, Jarrahdale, Lumina, Valenciano, and Fairy Tale pumpkins. Heck, you can even substitute most pumpkin puree recipes with butternut squash.

Finally, choose pumpkins that are fairly fresh and in good condition. It’s okay if they’ve been left out as decoration for a bit, as long as they are still firm and have no nasty blemishes or mold. Don’t let your edible Halloween decor go to waste! At least try to compost the ones that don’t make it to the kitchen.


A note about using Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins for puree:

Because these big pumpkins can be less flavorful and rich than others, I wouldn’t recommend using them for puree in a recipe where pumpkin is the star. Meaning, not in your precious Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. Yet that doesn’t mean they should go to waste! A little pumpkin puree made from jack-o-lanterns would be perfectly acceptable mixed in soup, sourdough, or even saved for your pets. Pumpkin puree is healthy for dogs, cats, and chickens alike.


Various types of heirloom pumpkins are sitting on a brick fireplace, two of them are stacked atop each other. A black kitten (Bodhi) is sitting behind them, in between the pumpkins and the gas fireplace. A wicker basket with a houseplant inside is on the far side of the  pumpkins.
In addition to sugar pie pumpkins (shown in the previous image above) these fun Cinderella type pumpkins are just as good (if not better!) for making homemade pumpkin puree. After adorning our mantle for a few festive weeks, these will be turned into puree or something tasty too!


Why roast the pumpkins instead of steam them?


There are few different ways you can soften and cook pumpkin before turning it into homemade pumpkin puree. Some recipes call for steaming pumpkin on the stovetop, while others toss it into a crock pot or Instant Pot. All those methods work! Yet we prefer to roast our pumpkins in the oven. By roasting food at 400°F or higher, a magical little thing called caramelization happens.

When food is exposed to high temperatures and begins to lightly brown, an oxidative reaction occurs that transforms the vegetal, earthy, or even slightly bitter flavors into increasingly sweet, nutty, and toasted caramel notes instead! The result is a wonderfully naturally-sweetened homemade pumpkin puree. 


INSTRUCTIONS


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

  2. Wash your pumpkins of choice and carefully cut them in half.

  3. Scoop out the guts and seeds. I highly recommend to save the seeds to roast later for a delicious, healthy snack! Check out our Crunchy Soaked and Roasted Pumpkin seeds recipe here.

  4. Lightly sprinkle a small pinch of salt over the exposed pumpkin flesh.

  5. Place the pumpkin halves face down (skin side up) on a baking sheet. We line ours with parchment paper for easy clean-up.

  6. Next, use a sharp knife to poke the back skin side of each pumpkin in a few places. The small slits allow steam to get in between the flesh and skin, and makes peeling them after roasting an absolute breeze! Plus, if you do it like my silly husband does (two slits for eyes and another for the mouth), it makes them look like super creepy shrunken pumpkin heads. The kids will love it! I know I do. 😂

A two way image collage, six halves of sugar pie pumpkins lay flesh side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. The second image shows the sugar pie pumpkins after they have been roasted, their skin as bubbled, slightly shrunk, and has turned more brown in color. Roasting pumpkins makes great homemade pumpkin puree.
A close up image of one of the roasted sugar pie pumpkins skin side. There are three slits made in the pumpkin skin that resemble that of two eyes and a mouth, the slits allow for the flesh to be easily separated from the skin.
Say hello to my little friend.


  1. Roast the pumpkins on 400°F for approximately 40 to 45 minutes, until they are tender when poked with a fork or knife. Rotate trays halfway through to promote even cooking. Remember, a little browning is actually a good thing!

  2. Remove the pumpkins from the oven. If time allows, let them cool a bit so you can safely handle them before proceeding to the next step.

  3. Now, separate the pumpkin flesh from the skins. After poking and roasting face-down, the skin should peel right off the flesh! If needed, use a spoon to scoop the cooked pumpkin out, transferring it into a blender or food processor.

  4. Use a blender or food processor to turn the soft pumpkin flesh into homemade pumpkin puree. Blend until smooth.


DeannaCat is holding one of the roasted sugar pie pumpkin halves. She is illustrating how the flesh pulls away from the skin very easily. The pumpkin flesh if bright orange with hints of brown from being roasted which adds to the flavor of homemade pumpkin puree. The remainder of the pumpkins lie below along with an empty blender.
With this method, the flesh literally falls away from the skin!
DeannaCat is holding an empty pumpkin skin after the flesh has be easily removed. Te remainder of the pumpkins lie below along with a blender that is partially full of pumpkin flesh.

A two way image collage, the first image shows a blender full of pumpkin flesh that has just been separated from the skin. The second image shows the pumpkin flesh after it has be blended, turned into homemade pumpkin puree. It is bright orange in color and is very smooth and silky.
Our Vitamix turns cooked pumpkin into silky-smooth puree.


Storing or Preserving Homemade Pumpkin Puree


Either use, refrigerate, or freeze your homemade pumpkin puree. When stored in the fridge, plan to use it within about a week. Pumpkin puree stays ‘good’ for up to a year in the freezer, though the texture and quality will be best if used within a few months. To freeze, we divvy up our homemade pumpkin puree into usable portions in freezer-safe containers – such as wide-mouth glass pint jars, or these BPA-free plastic freezer containers. Defrost in the fridge a day or two before you want to use it. 


DeannaCat is holding a pint mason jar full of homemade pumpkin puree. It is vibrant orangish yellow in color, in the background there are two more pints of the pumpkin puree along with a few pumpkin seeds scattered about.
When freezing in glass jars, be sure to choose freezer-safe wide mouth jars (no shoulders!), use pint size or smaller, and heed the “fill line” – leaving at least a half inch of head space.


How to Use Homemade Pumpkin Puree


Now, what the heck do we do with this stuff? Homemade pumpkin puree can add a welcome boost of nutrients, mildly sweet flavor, and color to a number of meals. Of course, the obvious application is in sweet baked goods, such as pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, or pumpkin cookies. Pumpkin puree can also be used to whip up some pumpkin waffles, pancakes, ice cream or other frozen desserts. Dollop some into your morning oatmeal or plain yogurt and granola with a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar. 

My personal favorites are the savory pumpkin dishes. Add homemade pumpkin puree to soup, stew, sauces, lentils, curry, and more! Check out our Roasted Pumpkin 3-Bean Chili for example. (I like to use part chunky cooked pumpkin and part puree in that recipe.) You could even use it as ravioli filling, or mixed with ricotta cheese and fresh herbs in pumpkin lasagna.  Finally, we plan to experiment with pumpkin puree in homemade sourdough soon. I think by holding back some of the water in the recipe and working this into the dough instead, it will turn out simply divine. 


A bowl of three bean pumpkin chili is in a white ceramic bowl garnished with slices of avocado and a sprig of cilantro. Outside of the bowl there are two halves of a roasted sugar pie pumpkin flanking the bowl along with half a loaf or sourdough bread, two slices of sourdough bread as well as half an avocado. Use homemade pumpkin puree in your next batch of chili!
Our vegan roasted sugar pie pumpkin 3-bean chili is a hit with plant-based and meat-lovers alike.


Easy as pie! Actually, way easier.


As you can see, making homemade pumpkin puree couldn’t get more simple – and I hope you picked up a few helpful tips in this tutorial! Please feel free to ask questions, come back for a review, and spread the love by sharing this article. Have a fabulous fall, and make the most out of pumpkin season!


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How to Make Homemade Pumpkin Puree (and Freeze It)

Learn how to easily make your own homemade pumpkin puree. It's far more fresh and flavorful than the canned stuff you buy in store, and can be used in a wide variety of meals or recipes! Make this now while pumpkins are in season and freeze it to enjoy for many months to come.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Course: Holiday Dish, Preserved Food, Sauce, Soup
Keyword: homemade pumpkin puree, Pumpkin puree, pureed pumpkin

Equipment

  • Oven
  • Baking sheet
  • Blender, or food processor

Ingredients

  • fresh whole pumpkins (Sugar Pie, Cinderella, or other baking pumpkins)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400F
  • Wash your pumpkins of choice and carefully cut them in half.
  • Scoop out the guts, and save the seeds to roast separately.
  • Lightly sprinkle a small pinch of salt over the exposed pumpkin flesh.
  • Place the pumpkin halves face down (skin side up) on a baking sheet. We line ours with parchment paper for easy clean-up.
  • Use a sharp knife to carefully poke the back skin side of each pumpkin in a few places. The small slits allow steam to get in between the flesh and skin, and makes peeling them after roasting an absolute breeze!
  • Roast the pumpkins on 400F for approximately 40 to 45 minutes, until they are tender when poked with a fork. Rotate trays halfway through to promote even cooking.
  • Once the pumpkins are cool enough to safely handle, peel off the skin and/or scoop out the flesh.
  • Place peeled pumpkin flesh in a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth.
  • Either use, refrigerate, or freeze your homemade pumpkin puree. Use within one week when stored in the fridge. Pumpkin puree is good for up to a year in the freezer, though the texture and quality will be best if used within a few months.
  • To freeze, we divvy up our homemade pumpkin puree into usable portions in freezer-safe containers. When freezing in glass jars, be sure to choose freezer-safe wide mouth jars (no shoulders!), use pint size or smaller, and heed the "fill line" – leaving at least a half inch of head space. Defrost in the fridge a day or two before you want to use it.


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