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How to Prep, Puree, and Bake with Fresh Pumpkin

From pies and cakes to quick breads and pastries, pumpkin is one versatile veggie for baking. There's certainly no shame in using canned pumpkin -- even professional bakers do it. But if you are baking with fresh pumpkin, here are a few tips to keep in mind. And don't miss the top-rated Pumpkin Recipes below!

Pumpkin Cake III

Pumpkin Cake III | Photo by momlovestocook

Smaller is Better

Large field pumpkins, which are bred for jack-o'-lanterns, are too stringy for baking. Choose sugar pie pumpkins or other flavorful varieties. Small and sweet with dark orange-colored flesh, they're perfect for pies, soups, muffins, and breads.

sugar pumpkins

Sugar Pumpkins

A medium-sized (4-pound) sugar pumpkin should yield around 1½ cups of mashed pumpkin. This puree can be used in all your recipes calling for canned pumpkin.

Choose Your Method

There are three ways to transform an uncooked pumpkin into the puree used in baking:

Baking Method

  • Cut the pumpkin in half and discard the stem section and stringy pulp. Save the seeds to dry and roast.
  • In a shallow baking dish, place the two halves face down and cover with foil.
  • Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oven for about 1½ hours for a medium-sized sugar pumpkin, or until tender.
  • Once the baked pumpkin has cooled, scoop out the flesh and puree or mash it.
  • For silky smooth custards or soups, press the pumpkin puree through a sieve.

Boiling Method

  • Cut the pumpkin in half, discarding the stringy insides.
  • Peel the pumpkin and cut it into chunks.
  • Place in a saucepan and cover with water.
  • Bring to a boil and cook until the pumpkin chunks are tender.
  • Let the chunks cool, then purée the flesh in a food processor or mash it with a potato masher or food mill.

Microwave Method

  • Cut the pumpkin in half, discarding the stringy insides.
  • Microwave on high power for seven minutes per pound, turning pieces every few minutes to promote even cooking. Process as above.
  • You can refrigerate your fresh pumpkin purée for up to three days, or store it in the freezer up to six months, so you can enjoy fall pumpkins for months to come.
pumpkin puree

pumpkin puree | Photo by Meredith

Favorite Pumpkin Recipes

Now that we have the pumpkin puréed, let's get right to the recipes. Here are some 5-star favorites.

Pumpkin Breads

Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread

"This is a great old Maine recipe," says Laurie Bennett. "Moist and spicy. The bread actually tastes even better the day after it is baked. Great for holiday gift giving!"

Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread

Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread | Photo by Holiday Baker

Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin Wheat Honey Muffins

"The goodness of whole wheat flour and pumpkin sweetened with honey," says Colleen Moir. "Plump raisins and chopped walnuts add to the wholesome goodness of these muffins. Good for breakfast, brunch or snack!"

Pumpkin Wheat Honey Muffins

Pumpkin Wheat Honey Muffins | Photo by CCLoves2Bake

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

"You'll be glad you made this recipe for pumpkin muffins with a cream cheese filling and a streusel topping," says Barb.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins | Photo by CClove's2bake

Pumpkin Scones

Chef John's Pumpkin Scones

Watch Chef John make his famous pumpkin scones with toasted pine nuts and a super-simple maple glaze. "They're great for any time of year," says Chef John.

 

Cinnamon Rolls and Donuts

Kelsandra's Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

"These rolls were EXCELLENT!" says mmchugh1982. "A nice hybrid between cinnamon rolls & pumpkin bread."

Kelsandra's Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Kelsandra's Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls | Photo by CClove's2bake

Maple Pumpkin Doughnuts

"Baked pumpkin doughnuts are dipped into a maple glaze and finished with some finely chopped pumpkin seeds," says sweetlab. "What a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth this fall!"

Maple Pumpkin Doughnuts

Maple Pumpkin Doughnuts | Photo by lutzflcat

Pumpkin Cakes

Grandma Carol's Pumpkin Roll

A pecan and cream cheese filling is rolled into this pumpkin spice cake. "It is without a doubt the best pumpkin roll I've ever had!" says SusieQ. "You may want to halve the recipe unless you are making for a crowd or to give away. It makes a lot."

Grandma Carol's Pumpkin Roll

Grandma Carol's Pumpkin Roll | Photo by KGora

Perfect Pumpkin Cheesecake

"This cheesecake combines America's favorite cheese-based dessert with America's favorite gourd! (Sorry, cucumbers!)," says Chef John. "There's a lot of ingredients, but the good news is it's super-easy to do. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkling of toasted pumpkin seeds."

 

Pumpkin Cookies

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies III

"If you like pumpkin pie and chocolate, you'll love these cookies," says

Pumpkin Chocolate Cookies

Pumpkin Chocolate Cookies | Photo by Meredith

Pumpkin Pies

Homemade Fresh Pumpkin Pie

This pumpkin pie is made from scratch using fresh pumpkins not canned. For the filling, you’ll simply boil cubes of pumpkin, and then mash the soft pumpkin with evaporated milk, eggs, and spices. "I've made pumpkin pie for years, always using a different recipe -- this is the only recipe I will use from now on," says JTEFFRAY. "It was fabulous! Be sure to use sugar or cinderella pumkins, they are the best for pie."

Homemade Fresh Pumpkin Pie

Homemade Fresh Pumpkin Pie | Photo by llgrotts


Check out our complete collection of Pumpkin Recipes.


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