How To Roast A Sugar Pumpkin & Make Fresh Pumpkin Purée – A Step-by-step Photo Tutorial

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I unofficially deem this Sugar Pumpkin Week here on Oh She Glows. No wait, make that officially!

I’m not talking canned pumpkin this week.

I’m certainly not talking large carving pumpkins this week.

But sweet, cute-as-a-button sugar pumpkins. The ones that started showing up quite early in my grocery store at the end of August (thank you Organic Garage!). Often just 2-4 pounds, sugar pumpkins (also known as pie pumpkins or pumpkin pie squash) are sweeter than larger carving pumpkins, making them perfect for all of your favourite pumpkin dishes. Their flesh is also firmer and less stringy than carving pumpkins.

My goals for this week are to show you how simple it is to prepare a sugar pumpkin whether its roasting, puréeing, toasting the seeds, or making recipes. It’s really much easier and faster than you might think (at least it was for me!) and it’s nice to take a break from canned pumpkin once in a while. The flavour of a fresh roasted pumpkin is quite different from the canned variety; it’s a bit earthier and nuttier, not to mention so buttery when roasted. A side-by-side taste comparison of canned pumpkin versus freshly roasted pumpkin will make your head explode. It’s definitely worth the extra work now and then.

I hope my photos will inspire you to try it out for yourself if you haven’t already done so. For the pumpkin pros out there, feel free to share you favourite tips and recipes in the comments. If you can’t find a pie pumpkin in your area yet, feel free to try this with butternut squash. The roasting process is pretty much the same and the outcome is just as delicious.

All set?

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Roasting 101:

1. Preheat the oven to 350F and grab small 2-3 pound sugar pumpkin(s). I like to roast a couple 2-lb. pumpkins at the same time. Remember – we’re not looking for the huge carving pumpkins here.

First things first, sharpen your knife! You don’t want to use a dull knife on any squash…or food for that matter. 

2. Slice the stem off before slicing in half so you don’t have to slice through the stem.

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I forgot to in this photo below, but it’s much easier when you remove the top! Some people prefer to slice off both ends and then peel the entire pumpkin before roasting, but I find it easier to peel the skin after roasting – much like with roasted beets.

3. Slice in half.

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4. With a sharp-edged spoon (I use a metal tablespoon with a sharp edge or you can use a metal ice cream scoop), scoop out the seeds & guts. Make sure you clean & save the seeds for roasting. I’ll show you my favourite way to roast the seeds coming up in a future post. Whatever you do, do not throw them out!

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5. Brush inside with oil (optional, but I like to) and place face down on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. I roasted two 1.9-lb. sugar pumpkins. They are so tiny and could all fit on my roasting pan!

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6. Roast at 350F for about 45-50 minutes. The exact time will vary depending on the size of the pumpkin(s) and you may need more time. The skin will be slightly darker and you should be able to poke a fork quite easily through (see image below).

Here is my pumpkin ready to come out of the oven. As you can see, the skin is a deep orange, slightly wrinkled, and my fork could easily slide through.

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6b) I could not resist sticking my fork in and tasting my first (very hot) bite. YUM!! If you want to stop here, just give it a good sprinkling of Herbamare and freshly ground black pepper. Then dig in!

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7. Let the pumpkin cool for 10 minutes before handling. Grab a large spoon and peel away the very thin skin. It comes off almost effortlessly. At this point, you can use the flesh in all kinds of dishes – soups, casseroles, risotto, pies, etc.

Steamy!

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Into the compost goes the skin. Unless you’re Eric, you might put it in a smoothie…(I joke, I joke).

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Today, I decided to make pumpkin puree for a recipe I was planning (hint #1!).

8. If making a puree: Place the pumpkin flesh into the blender and blend away until super smooth. I used my tamper stick on the Vitamix to push all the pumpkin down until it got going. Let it go for a good minute or two – you don’t want any clumps left.

The result was out of this world – so smooth and buttery!

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3.8 pounds of pumpkin (weighed before roasting) made 4-4.5 cups of pumpkin puree. Not too shabby at all! As a rule of thumb, 1 small sugar pumpkin should make enough puree to equal one 15-oz. can.

At this point you can drain the pureed pumpkin in a cheesecloth to remove excess water or you can use it as is. I didn’t bother draining it because I knew I’d be cooking it down for the recipe (hint #2!).

Whatever you do – be sure to save the seeds for roasting.

Coming up – the recipe I used my pumpkin puree for and my favourite way to roast pumpkin seeds.

What’s your favourite way to enjoy fresh pumpkin?

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{ 143 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa Danhi November 16, 2012

I’m making spiced pumpkin curry soup with coconut milk right now…but I think the roasted seeds I enjoyed with cayenne and garlic last week may be my favorite treat so far!

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Heather November 17, 2012

I actually find that the week after Halloween is a great time to pick up pie pumpkins, as it seems most people don’t know what to do with pumpkins beyond carving. I got a bunch of them (about 3 pounds each) last week for 49 cents each. I roast them all up, process the seeds while they roast, harvest the pumpkin, roast the seeds, and cook down all the flesh to make veggie stock (it’s super great in buffalo chicken soup). I freeze whatever pumpkin I’m not going to immediately use and use throughout the year for pie, soup, muffins, pancakes, french toast,etc.

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Diana boles July 28, 2013

Ok! I know I am a year behind, but in searching for ideas on how to make Pumpkin Butter I stumbled upon this awesome place! I can guarantee that I will start as soon as ome of my grocers has the Sugar Babies in the store. Signed, Pumpka-holic

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Liza September 13, 2013

how is the best way to freeze the pumpkin puree? I mean should I put it in a freezer bag or a glass container? And how much would you freeze in a puree batch to be useful later for soups? I have my pumpkin baking now but then wonder what to do with because it’s still just a tad bit hot here and not quite ready for soups yet. Great recipe!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) September 14, 2013

Hey Liza, I’ve heard of people freezing the puree in ice cube trays then pop it out and place in baggies or containers.

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Anne Marie September 26, 2013

I like to hollow out the pumpkin and stuff it with meat stuffing. You could also use rice and beans or use your imagination.

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ohthip October 7, 2013

Every since I’ve started visiting this site I have been doing away with a lot of processed foods. Now I actually think this can be a lifestyle change I can keep. Thank you. Plus everything is so simple I love it!! KISS in everything in life is great.

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jean October 11, 2013

I read somewhere that you can not can pumpkin . is that so ? I am making pumpkin butter and want to can it.

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clinton ferrara October 13, 2013

we love pumpkin curry soup. it is a thai dish. thanks for your recipes. they are dreat.

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casey October 14, 2013

I just made this purée to make pumpkin bread. It was a great help because I am usually pretty awkward in the kitchen. My 3 year old helped (he put the oil on,which to him was just like painting). I am so glad I stumbled upon your website and will be checking back for more help I’m sure!!

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Tina Dickerson October 20, 2013

My Alaskan friend also said that you should use the pumpkin when it is more yellow than orange cause once the color changes there tends to be a bitterness to the flavor. The Sugar Pumpkins are generally 2-4 pounds each and come early in the season like the end of August

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Lisa October 22, 2013

I think sugar pumpkins are good. I do like Sunshine pumpkins better. I recommend trying
many different types. I am trying to find Cinderella pumpkins, just cause they sound fun.
Area chefs recommended the Sunshine pumpkin. I found a blue pumpkin and was fun.

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Anita October 24, 2013

Thank you for the detailed step-by-step, with pictures! Very helpful.

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Sandi October 24, 2013

I grew three beautiful pumpkins this year, which I roasted whole in the oven for an hour. Then, because I was in a hurry, I scooped the flesh and seeds into the vitamix and pureed the works. I froze most of it into individual use containers, and the next day made a pot of soup with the rest. I was afraid that leaving the seeds in the puree might spoil the flavor, but it really didn’t. It tastes richer, but still good.. If I have more time next time, I’ll keep the seeds and roast them separately since I do love them that way.
Love your site: the inspiring ideas, great recipes and beautiful pictures.

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Patricia Deimler October 25, 2013

would a goose neck pumpkin work

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carag October 27, 2013

are you cooking your stuffing before putting it into the pumpkin? and is there a way to compensate for the extra water in the pumpkin when using the cooked pumpkin or is it best to strain it?

can you point me to a good pumpkin cake to use this puree?

so many questions- thanks for the tut

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Teina Lucas October 30, 2013

I’d just like to add that it is these sweet sugar pumpkins make fabulous juice! Half a pumpkin (pulp), 1 apple, 1 pear, 4-5 carrots = Ambrosia. Top off with a little ground cinnamon! Yum!

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Maureen November 2, 2013

What a great tutorial. I have always wanted to to do this and wasn’t sure how. Now this makes me want to go out and get a pumpkin and do this. You have a very nice website and even though I am not vegan, I like a lot of your recipes. Thanks!

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erna November 4, 2013

Will try roasting pumpkin seeds, too good to waste. My method of cooking pumpkin for use in pies orr muffins is to wash the pumpkin well, DONOT PEEL, cut into pieces while leaving out the seeds & stringy pulp.Cook till tender & put put through the blender & the outer rind is combined with pulp, Less waste & hopefully more nourishment

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V. Hoegler November 4, 2013

Thanks! I have used Libby’s Pumpkin Pie Filling for years! This is the first time I am attempting to make pumpkin pie from scratch. I obtained a recipe from Just A Pinch for how to make pumpkin pie using “roasted pumpkin”. I had no idea the proper technique for acquiring “roasted pumpkin”, hence this internet search! I always look forward to roasting pumpkin seeds from the pumpkin my daughter cuts up, which I have already done! Happy Thanksgiving!

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Joan November 10, 2013

I just cooked my first sugar pumpkin by peeling the skin and cutting into small wedges then roasting it in the oven with some butternut squash . Olive oil , salt and a little chilli powder. It was delicious ! I roasted the pumpkin seeds as you described and sprinkled a few on top when I served it ;)

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Craig November 16, 2013

Thanks, I roasted pie pumpkins the other day, and the pumpkin taste was not what I expected. It was good, but not real pumpkinie. My guess is that they did not get a chance to caramelize enough. I attempted to fire roast them, and my heat was not where I needed, and I did not roast them long enough.

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Jennifer November 18, 2013

Great blog with beautiful pictures. I have to tell you though I’ve been roasting pumpkins for years and I have just recently started roasting them whole. Just clean well, put on a pan and roast for 1.5 hours at 350 depending on size. Let cool enough to handle and slice, take out seeds and peel. It’s super easy, and to your other blog post on roasting seeds – it is much easier to separate the seeds from strings and you don’t have to boil them before you roast!

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arviened November 18, 2013

We use an electric knife to cut ours and it works like a charm. I also use a pressure cooker to cook the pumpkin. Cut it in fourths and place in the bottom on the rack, put about an inch of water in the pan and pressure at 10 lbs for ABOUT 5 MINUTES. The pumpkin slides off the skin. We then can ours for later use.

I really enjoyed reading all the comments.

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Cardiff Moon November 27, 2013

It is the day before Thanksgiving and in my October Organic Food Delivery I received 3 sugar pumpkins! Thanks to you, they are roasting right now! Going to make a pumpkin pie and salted caramel pumpkin squares! I will let you know how they turn out!

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Desiree C November 27, 2013

I have a 36 lbs fairytale!! SO THANK YOU FOR THIS!

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MoMo December 1, 2013

Excellent post! I was looking for written directions for a friend and your blog explained the sugar pie pumpkin phenomenon beautifully! I have been using homemade sugar pie pumpkin puree in my baking and soups for the past 4 years and would only use canned pumpkin during a zombie apocalypse. And yes, my head has exploded several times! LOL

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Sarah B December 10, 2013

I grew sugar pumpkins this year and I have been saving them to roast…thank you for this tutorial…this is my plan today, as the children are home from school because of snow, and because I am imagining pumpkin soup (made with pure turkey broth). Where is your pumpkin seed tutorial? I may have to do that tomorrow!

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teri December 15, 2013

I’m glad to know how to successfully roast pumpkin seeds. Thanks for the great post!

Some extra tips:
If your fresh sugar pumpkin is hard to cut, put it in the microwave for two minutes, after knocking off the stem. It will cut easily.

I cut my pumpkin in half. The easiest way to separate the seeds is to pull them out with your fingers, BEFORE scraping the strings out. Much less messy.

This summer I grew sugar pumpkins in with my flowers. They crawled all over my perennials, but the flowers didn’t seem to mind and it was always fun to see where the pumpkins ended up. We had a great little crop!

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Conni Partridge June 27, 2014

Sugar pumpkins are great stuffed! I brown a half pound of small bite-sized pork, small strips of beef or cuts of chicken. Stove top stuffing of your choice can be prepared according to the box then mix the sauteed meat into the stuffing mixture. Cut the top off your sugar pumpkin the way you would make a lid for a Jack-o-lantern; don’t cut a face! Clean out and save the seeds. Stuff the sugar pumpkin with your stove-top mixture, replace the “lid” and bake at 350 degrees 45-50 minutes. When serving, allow guests to dig deep and wide to scoop some pumpkin along with the stuffing. Deliscrumptious!

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Cathy Hoyer September 1, 2014

Is the pumpkin purée you make what you would use for pie?

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Michelle September 5, 2014

Just thought I would chime in with the addition that it is just fine to use the pumpkin you carved for this. Unless you are a pumpkin gourmet (I’m sure they’re out there!), you will not notice a difference in taste between the sugar pumpkin and the carving pumpkin when you taste it in your recipe. My pumpkin pies always get two thumbs up and I use the same pumpkin I carved. Don’t waste more money by buying the little pie pumpkins. If you’ve already got several carving pumpkins just use those instead and you will be very pleased with the results.

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Cheryl September 24, 2014

I was so excited to find this post. I have never used fresh pumpkin before. I have two roasting as I write this now. Going to be used for a homemade pumpkin crisp for my grand-daughters 3rd Birthday. I just love any kind of dessert made with pumpkin!

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Jennifer October 3, 2014

Thank you for your great pumpkin recipes! This is the first year I’ve cooked a whole pumpkin and I followed your instructions for the seeds and all. Everything has turned out perfect. I’ve actually done it twice this year and it’s only Oct 2nd! The seeds are so good! My kids and I just eat them off the pan and try to save some for the hubs but it’s hard! I have made tons of great pumpkin dishes and still have some purée left. I know I’ll be doing more b/c I have to have more seeds if nothing else!!! Thanks again!

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Vivian October 11, 2014

i roasted the pumpkin yesterday came out perfect just like your recipe today I am making pumpkin pies soo good thank you (vivian)

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opal hari October 15, 2014

I want to roast a pumpkin that I bought. I will try to roast it at 350 degrees. I shall scrape out the seeds and strings after roasting. Let it drain until dry. I will make a pumpkin custard pie. I also want to know if I can freeze two cups of pumpkin in a plastic container for later use for making pumpkin pies? I have a hugh pumpkin (crook neck pumpkin) and I shall have a lot left to make pies.
Thanks for your help in advance.

Opal Hari

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Claudia October 16, 2014

Question! I would like to use my vita-mix too but would like to know what speed you use. I would be afraid I would get pumpkin juice! Thanks

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lori_vt October 18, 2014

Curious – have you ever used the skin for anything? When I roast butternut squash, I usually puree the skin with the flesh and it works beautifully. Perhaps pumpkin skin is a little tougher. Last week I actually boiled a sugar pumpkin and pureed skin and all (I add to my dog and cat’s food, and either roast the seeds or feed them to my chickens). I am going to try the roasting method this weekend – then onto pumpkin butter :) Great tutorial – thanks!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) October 21, 2014

I often eat the skin when I roast the pumpkin (I will chop it up and roast it) it’s pretty good!

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