Roasting Pumpkins for Pies and other Projects

As I mentioned yesterday, we recently celebrated Elena’s birthday, for which I made a Pumpkin Cake. This cake was inspired by the beautiful organic “Cinderella” pumpkins I found at my local market. I had been told by another local farmer that these make “the best” pumpkin pies and such. I was so happy with the result! (Always pay attention to the advice of your local farmers!)

Why make your own pumpkin puree when you can buy it canned? Four reasons: Fresher tasting, cheaper, higher quality, more nutritious (canned food has lost a lot of nutrients). If you would rather, I have heard that using squash makes a great substitution.

Too often you hear of people putting some work into making their own pumpkin puree to use in recipes, only to be disappointed when it turns out less than flavorful and watery. Do two things to avoid this from happening. 1-Use the right type of pumpkin. A pie pumpkin (which is a fairly small pumpkin), or a Cinderella pumpkin are good choices. The ones you buy for your kids may have some good pumpkin seeds for you to use, but have far less flavor and too much water for pies and cakes. 2-The second thing to do is to cook your pumpkin in a way that does not promote a watery final product, and to strain off any extra water.

Keeping those two principles in mind, this is how I cooked my pumpkin. I choose to dry roast it, instead of steam it or bake with water surrounding it. I found this an excellent choice because my Cinderella pumpkin released a lot of water! After trying this puree out in some recipes, I can’t wait to make some more for my freezer.

Pumpkin Puree for Pies and other Recipes

1 Cinderella Pumpkin, washed and cut down the middle, and seeded

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place your seeded and cut pumpkin, cut side down on a baking sheet (you can use two if you need too). Poke the skin side with a fork in several places on both pieces. Place in the oven and roast until soft (a fork should go through the skin and flesh with ease once it’s done). I had a fairly large pumpkin, so this took about 1 1/2-2 hours. Length of time will vary according to the size of your pumpkin.

Turn over your pumpkin halves… …once they are cool enough to handle and scoop out the flesh into a fine sieve set over a bowl.
Very gently turn over and stir to drain some of the excess water out. You may have to do this in batches, as it probably all won’t fit in at once. Once it looks fairly dry and isn’t dripping anymore. Dump into a food processor and process until smooth.

That’s it, folks!
If you end up with still too much water in your puree, you could line your sieve with cheesecloth and drain some more of it out. But I find that with the first draining, I can get it to the perfect texture.

Pumpkin pies, here we come!

*Update: A piano student very kindly gave me a sugar or pie pumpkin that was grown in their garden. I made it up for a few projects and found it very nice (it had a darker color and more pronounced pumpkin taste). Because it was so small, it didn’t take as much time to bake, and it was a bit drier (though this may have been because I got a little distracted and slightly over baked it). I ended up not having to drain it at all, but just added it to a blender with about 1/2 cup of water, and it was perfect!

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!


  1. Brandy says

    I am so glad you mentioned using the Cinderella! We are big pumpkin fans and plan to grow a small patch next year, but I wasn’t sure which type to focus on. I will definitely make sure there is a Cinderella vine or two in it since we primarily use our pumpkins for baking purposes.

    By the way, we have used this sort of puree as baby food anytime we’ve had an infant eating solids in autumn. If the infant was older, we even added a slight sprinkling of pumpkin pie seasonings as a treat. This was such an easy way to make pies or cookies for the family and feed the baby all at once!

    I love your blog. 🙂

  2. Anonymous says

    I did this with my butternut squash last year – of course with those you have to add water in order to get them to puree! Delish… and btw, there was a big difference between the squash I grew and the ones I bought, in both color and flavor. (I still have enough puree in my freezer for a couple of “pumpkin” pies).

  3. Mrs. U says

    Thank you for sharing this!! I definitely want to try my hand at it. I love anything pumpkin!! And I love to attempt to make anything homemade! Homemade is always healthier! 🙂

    Mrs. U

  4. Lori says

    Thanks so much for sharing. I saw this earlier in the week and came back to read it in detail because I need to make a pumpkin cake this weekend. 🙂

  5. Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home says

    Thanks for this great tutorial, Kimi! I’m about to turn on the oven and start baking a couple of pumpkins from my garden, to make pumpkin pies for Canadian Thanksgiving tomorrow night. I grew New England Sugar Pie Pumpkins, which are quite small and supposedly make excellent pies. I can’t wait to try it!

  6. Manda says

    Thank you so much for the helpful instructions! I use pumpkin puree all the time as an egg substitute in baking (my toddler has an egg allergy), but I had never attempted to make it on my own before. The results were excellent…I just need to get a bigger food processor!

  7. Julie H says

    Hi, I really enjoy your blog and make your Soaked Oatmeal recipe frequently. I did want to mention one thing about canned pumpkin, the heat applied during canning allows for more “bioavailability” of beta-carotene, which makes it more usable for our bodies. Fresh and canned pumpkin are both nutritious but I would say they both have similar and different benefits. Another canned food with great nutrition is canned tomatoes. Our bodies are able to easily aborb the lycopene from them versus fresh tomatoes. Likewise, cooking fresh tomatoes with olive oil allows for greater lycopene absorption than just consuming fresh.

    Have a blessed day!

    • Juliet says

      Just be careful with the plastic lining that is put in cans now (commercial-bought and Ball jars). Most have BPA in them and that leaches into your food. BPA has received a lot of attention the last few years…but who knows what other chemicals lurk in plastics and leak into your food–especially heat processed ones. I know this doesn’t concern everyone and some think it’s safe. I personally do not.

      Weck jars are a good alternative to the metal/plastic concerns in food processing. They have a reusable glass lid. I love mine; although, the did not work well canning applesauce this year. Maybe I did something wrong?

  8. mom23 says

    We just roasted our sugar pie pumpkins yesterday to make pies. They were much drier than your cinderella pics… I didn’t need to strain them at all so I think they just have less moisture to start with.
    The hard part for us was actually scooping the pumpkin out. We grew them in our garden from seeds the kids planted. My son was so excited to get the pumpkins and help me prep them for baking. They were so beautiful when we roasted them, but then we had to destroy the beautiful pumpkin shape to scoop out the pumpkin pulp. It was sort of sad….but I think we’ll recover when we eat the pie!

  9. says

    Pie pumpkins or cheese pumpkins are actually sweeter and smoother, so pureeing in a food processor isn’t always necessary. They do cook up a bit easier in a covered pot in the oven or slow cooker, if you use them again. 🙂

    We make white bean and bacon (or sausage) stew in the pie pumpkins. Martha Stewart has a recipe. They are amazing.

  10. Randie says

    I’m sorry I am fairly new to this cooking thing, but I’m trying. Obviously I’m suppose to take the seeds out of the pumpkin but normally when I clean a pumpkin out I scrap the walls. When doing this in order to make a pumpkin pie from scratch am I suppose to leave all the extra gunk in the pumpkin just take out the seeds? Don’t scrap the walls of the pumpkin clean?

  11. Heather says

    This was so easy! The skin will just peel off if you do it while the pumpkin is still warm, no waste…truthfully after de-seeding the pumpkins they went right in the oven. I used a 1950’s strainer to mash the pumpkin through and the outcome was amazing.

  12. Dianne Cowan says

    I just wanted to add my “me, too.” Sugar pumpkins aren’t very watery to begin with, so they don’t often need straining.

    This year at my farmer’s market I found something called a Caribbean pumpkin, which also made perfect pumpkin puree. (It had kind of a beige skin, and the top was a bit more tapered than the bottom.)

    It is worth having a can of pumpkin puree around the first time you make your own pumpkin puree so you can compare consistencies. If you haven’t had puree out of a can since last Thanksgiving, you might not remember exactly what the right texture is.

  13. jackie says

    I’d like to share a tip that I found a long time ago in a Vermont cookbook. If your pumpkin is too watery after processing, heat a large cast iron skillet. Add the pumpkin and stir, until it evaporates down to the consistency you desire. Works great and no messy straining.

    • Kathleen says

      Jackie, thanks for the tip using cast iron pan! After draining my pumpkin there still is liquid coming out! My Cinderella pumpkin weighed 2o lbs. and took 2 hours to roast., imagine!

  14. Amy says

    Hey! I went to the pumpkin patch near my house and they always have a huge assortment of pumpkins. I fell in love with the cinderella pumpkin and just put it in the oven. Never done this before so we will see how I do. I just wanted to say how nice the fresh cinderella pumpkin smelled compared to the kids’ carving pumpkins. The farmer also suggested the peanut pumpkin. Awesome looking and apparently the more “peanuts” on them the sweeter they are. That one is next… I’ll be sure to let you know how that one turns out.

  15. Emma says

    Hello out there, I have a question about my cinderella pumpkins. Can they be dryed: and if so how do I go about it. Any help will be greatly appretiated.Thanks Emma

  16. Judy from Pa says

    Blue Hubbard pumpkins, if you can find them, make great pumpkin pies and dishes. Blue Hubbard is sometimes called Winter Squash as these were the pumpkin/squash the pioneers grew. They will last over a winter if kept in a cool place like a ground cellar. The shell becomes harder as they age which is what caused them to lose favor with modern chefs.

  17. Vicki says

    Thanks for your instructions and pictures of roasting a pumpkin. Never did this before, but am going to today. I also appreciate all of the comments about pumpkings, very helpful!! Thanks, Vicki

  18. Vicki says

    Thanks for your instructions and pictures of roasting a pumpkin. Never did this before, but am going to today. I also appreciate all of the comments about pumpkings, very helpful!! Thanks, Vicki

  19. jennifer says

    I found the Cinderella pumpkin (rouge vif d’estampes) to be super watery. Prepared same way you did and was constantly draining liquid off it. Also found that I got surprisingly little squash from a pretty good sized fruit. Was tasty – particularly for a pie, but unless i can find it for cheaper in the future I’ll stick with other more common varietals. Thanks for the info.

  20. says

    Thanks for posting this! I had googled making a pie from a pumpkin and had to sift through way too many calling pumpkin from a can as from scratch. Processed foods are not from scratch.
    Bought my pie pumpkin from a local farmer- what fun!

  21. Megan says

    We grown about a hundred varieties of pumpkins primarily for the ornamental market. All of them are are bakeable and edible. Just as they have different shapes and colors, their flesh will have different appearance, flavor and texture characteristics, too. I try to bake/process a couple of different kinds at a time to make a custom mix.

    One thing we recommend is washing the exterior of the pumpkin before cutting to reduce bacteria transfer from the skin to the flesh. I also recommend tasting your batter before adding the eggs so you know if a little more/less sugar or other spices are needed to balance the “real” flavor.

  22. Kris Snider says

    Thanks for the great info. Making first homemade homegrown organic pumpkin pie to enjoy this holiday season. Happy Holidays!

  23. Jacquie Katz says

    As you strain your pumpkin ‘meat’, you might want to save the ‘juice’ and add it to your vegetable soup. In middle eastern souks, women always buy a chunk of pumpkin to add to soup and stew to sweeten and add depth to the flavor. I am a ‘clean out the refrigerator and if it isn’t moldy, throw it into the stock’ type. Pumpkin is always a welcome addition. Especially if you serve with spicy roasted seeds on top.

  24. Kathleen says

    My first attempt to roasting Cinderella pumpkin was very successful thanks to everyone who contributed to this web-site! I needed to slice my 20 lb. pumpkin in about 8 slices so that it would all fit in my oven, for 2 hours baking time. Now, I will be searching for some new recipes to try –


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