Fall is in the air and pumpkin recipes are everywhere! I love eating pumpkin all year long, but in the fall the rest of the world (well, at least the country) joins me.
Do you know what makes pumpkin recipes even better?
Making your own pumpkin puree!
Seriously. If you’ve never tried making homemade pumpkin puree, then make this year your time to give it a try! You’ll be so glad you did.
Making your own pumpkin puree is better for your body and your budget. When you make homemade pumpkin puree, you don’t have to worry about any weird preservatives. Plus, it’s waaay cheaper than buying the canned stuff. And it’s easy!
The short video below will walk you through all the details OR for a complete picture tutorial just scroll down!
Originally published 11/11/2013
Our 2013 harvest included a couple hundred pounds of pumpkin. We carved three of them with the kids and donated one of the big ones (70 lbs) to a charity auction where it sold for $70! The rest we pureed and froze.
How we use homemade pumpkin puree
We use pumpkin puree instead of canned pumpkin for all things pumpkin, including:
- pumpkin bread and muffins
- pumpkin sheet cake
- pumpkin cookies
- pumpkin pancakes
- pumpkin pie
- pumpkin custard (pretty much just a deep pumpkin pie without the crust)
- pumpkin soup
How to make pumpkin puree step-by-step
Making your own pumpkin puree is really easy. If you don’t have much freezer space, you can still puree a pumpkin and keep the puree in the fridge for a couple weeks while you try all the yummy pumpkin recipes you find on Pinterest.
Don’t be fooled into thinking you can only use pumpkins labeled as “pie pumpkins” for this. Any pumpkins will work well and be healthy and delicious. Actually any winter squash will work just fine (banana squash, butternut squash, etc).
Start by cleaning and cutting your pumpkin in half and cleaning out the guts. Don’t be intimidated by the slime factor here. I promise it’s way easier than trying to squeeze your arm down inside a pumpkin to clean it out to carve a jack-o-lantern. Grab an ice cream scoop to scrape out all the stringy and seedy parts. You can save the seeds to roast later.
Lay your pumpkin halves on a cookie sheet with the skin side up. This keeps the meaty inside of the pumpkin nice and moist. You don’t need to worry about covering your pan with anything. The pumpkin juices wash off very easily.
Stick your pumpkins in the oven at 350 degrees. It will probably take around 45 minutes, but it will vary depending on the thickness of the meat. If you have large pumpkins (like I did), you may want to move your oven racks down lower (like I didn’t) to prevent scorching the skin (though it doesn’t affect the meat). You will want to check on them after 30 minutes to see how they are doing, though they could take up to an hour. When a knife goes into the meat effortlessly, you will know they are done.
The next part is my favorite. The skin just peels away! But before you get started, let the pumpkins cool for a while because they are hot! When you can actually touch them, you can easily peel most of the skin off with your hands (and it’s fun!). Sometimes you will need to use a knife on the edges.
As you peel off the skin, you can put the chunks of pumpkin meat into your food processor or blender. When I’m doing lots of pumpkin (which I usually am), I use a food processor, but a blender works fine too.
Meet Gonzo. I bet you can’t guess where he picked up that nickname! Does your food processor have a name? Gonzo has proven to be one of our most useful wedding gifts. Unfortunately, they no longer make him any more, but it’s similar to this food processor.
I put all the pumpkin puree into several large containers and stick them in the fridge while I wait to use or freeze the pumpkin puree.
Freezing pumpkin puree
There are a couple of different methods for freezing pumpkin puree. If you aren’t worried about specific measurements, you can just put the pumpkin puree directly into Ziploc freezer bags to freeze. For soup or large batches of baked goods this is fine.
Another method of freezing pumpkin puree is to measure the pumpkin puree as you put it in bags. Measuring the pumpkin puree makes it much easier when it comes time to use. Lay the bags flat as you freeze them so they store nice and compact.
Personally, I like to freeze pumpkin in batches in plastic containers. I love these Rubbermaid storage containers because the bottom of each container says how many cups it holds, so it is easy to thaw for recipes (they are also awesome containers for lunches, because they don’t ever leak). I find this method much easier than continually scraping out a measuring cup into a Ziplock bag, but with the convenience of measuring.
After the pumpkin puree is frozen in the containers, I let it begin to thaw slightly (about 15 minutes on the counter). After thawing for a few minutes it pops right out of the plastic containers. I double wrap each block in plastic wrap. Then, I fill each container up a again with more puree from the fridge and freeze another batch.
After each block is wrapped in plastic, I store them in the freezer in Ziplock freezer bags. I usually use mine within a year or two (in the chest freezer) without any problems
Making my own pumpkin puree allows me to do much more baking of fall pumpkin treats than I would if I had to buy a canned pumpkin each time. We just can’t get enough pumpkin!
Was this helpful? Want to say thanks?
I love providing free content to help you save money, pay off debt, and improve your finances. If you’ve found my work helpful and would like to support more great content, leaving me a tip would be much appreciated.
This post has affiliate links to products that I know to be awesome and think you’ll love too! If you make a purchase through one of my links, I will get a small percentage of the sale (at no extra cost to you) and be very grateful! 😉
At what temperature do you set the oven to cook pumpkin
Debbie Shearer says
I love this idea! I was still doing it the way my mom taught me, is to cut it, clean it, cut into smaller pieces and then try to peel each piece, with a knife and boil, I hated that! Took forever! Especially if you have a bunch of big ones! This is much quicker! I just did this with some big ones I have and especially now with grocery costs through the roof it will help us to save money and eat healthier! Thank you, thank you, Thank you!
I am really surprised you don’t strain your pumpkin before freezing. I strain as much liquid as I can so that my recipes do not end up with excess water from the purée.
I actually had better luck with this after freezing and thawing because that makes a lot more liquid come out of the puree and made it a lot easier to strain out without having to really squeeze on it.
Hi Steph.my granddaughter wanted to make a pumpkin pie with me, I asked from a pumpkin?… she was like…”wait pumpkin pie cones from a real pumpkin?” Haha!
I roasted one, but its pale in color, quite yellow in fact and very juicy. Will the extra moisture cause trouble for the pie?
Thanks for your help!
That’s hilarious Lisbeth! That’s normal to have your homemade puree be lighter in color and thinner. You can still use it the same, you just will have to add to the cooking time. 🙂
Hi want to try this recipe but l am wondering if l can can with a water bath instead of freezing? Thank you
Canning pumpkin is not recommended by the USDA. I believe there are USDA instructions for pressure canning cubed pumpkin, but not mashed or pureed pumpkin. So you’ll definitely want to freeze it or use it fresh. You can actually store pumpkins (or any winter squash) for months (up to a year in the right conditions), so sometimes that’s the easiest way to store pumpkin puree– as a pumpkin! 🙂
We did this! $5-6 pumpkin made us 14-2 cup containers frozen. Thank you for the idea!
Iris Wagner says
Thank you Stephanie! I followed your instructions for roasting the pumpkin, not rocket science, but worked perfectly. What I really appreciated was your handy frugal tips… the pumpkin juice did wash off easily; so I didn’t have to waste foil or parchment:-). Also, the freezing tip is great! Love to see a frugal person, especially from the younger generation! You rock – in case no one has told you yet today.
So competent… I will be trying more of your recipes😊
This year when you’re carving pumpkins (or scraping seeds out to roast your pumpkin) try using a canning lid to scrape. It works so well! Easy to hold and the edge is kind of sharp.
Easy pumpkin recipe – we add 15 oz of pumpkin puree to a cake mix (usually chocolate cause we like that). Mix it up and bake into super yummy cupcakes (it takes about 20-25 mins). With chocolate, they just taste like chocolate cupcakes, but low fat!
Thank you so much for sharing this. My family LOVES pumpkin bread and pie, and thought the canned stuff was the way to go. I always thought the pumpkin puree was hard. When I found your step by step instructions. I felt completely comfortable to try. I could not believe how much I enjoyed making it, and how much my family loves the homemade pumpkin bread. Now I cant wait till after Halloween so I can get more pumpkins cheap and make some to freeze.
Thank you so much for this!!!
I love doing this too! And don’t forget savory pumpkin dishes or stuffing mini-pumpkins. Yum!
Betty Tubbs says
I tried this last night my pumpkin was stingy so I assume I didn’t scrap enough of the inside out is it still ok to use
Eu fiz assim, demorou bastante pois minhas abóboras eram grandes (. Mais de 1 hora) mas foi ótimo, pois a casca dura solta toda e nem precisa processar, u, espremedor manual resolve, porque ficaram bem molinhas.
This was so easy, I used and immersion blender which worked well. Just use a deep pot to avoid splatters.
I have been making my purée for years. I get so many compliments on my pumpkin bread. If you have never tried fresh pumpkin, you should. You will never buy canned pumpkin again. I get the “guts” out then cut in up. I place it in my roasting pan, add some water and cover. I bake it for about an hour. I put it in the food processor till it’s smooth, then put it into a strainer and leave it to drain, sometimes for a couple of hours. Some pumpkins have a lot of water and some, not so much. In the past when I did not drain my pumpkin, my breads would not turn out to well. I have used all kinds of pumpkins, but I prefer jack-o-lantern pumpkins. They produce more pumpkin and they are cheaper. I can’t taste the difference between the pie pumpkins and jack-o-lantern types. I also wait till the day after Halloween and rack up on some cheap pumpkins. The good thing is you don’t have to cook them right away either. My brother in law gave me one that he used as decoration for a month and it was still just as good as I had just bought it fresh from the vine. It’s nice to hear that I’m not the only one who cooks their pumpkins.
I totally agree Sherry! Stores sell those tiny pumpkins that are marketed as “pie pumpkins,” but I’m convinced it’s just that– marketing. Big jack-o-lantern size pumpkins is that we always use too. One year after halloween our grocery store had a sign outside that said “FREE” so you better believe we loaded up the car! 🙂
Thanks for this wonderful reminder, Stephanie! I’ve done this pumpkin saving before but don’t get to it every year. I’ve used the best pumpkin chocolate chip muffin recipe and cheese cake recipe (we never forget to make these!) for over a decade. Both yummy and healthy (mostly). If you don’t mind my sharing here, they are both posted on my blog.
Thanks for your encouraging blog. It is a favorite!
Those sound yummy Angie. You can never have too many pumpkin recipes!
Darlyne Redd says
Thanks, Angie, for posting your recipes here. Will try!
I did this last year and it turned out great! I had pumpkin all year long. I still have one more bag of pumpkin plus two cans I never used. It really was super easy!
Awesome! I love having pumpkin available all year long!
[email protected] Whipkey says
Can I use 100% pure pumpkin instead of pumpkin puree ? Can’t find puree in any groc.
From wet and windy England!
We don’t have pumpkin purée available in the shops so this has truly inspired me!!!
Just in case you’ve never used fresh pumpkin puree before, you’ll want to keep in mind that fresh pumpkin contains a lot more juice than you’d think. I always strain a lot of the juice out before I freeze it or use it in a recipe. You can use a cheesecloth to do this, but personally I found that these reusable nut milk mesh bags work best and you can buy them for less than a couple bucks on ebay, just search for “strainer bags” and you’ll see a bunch to choose from.
Hi i wanted to make a pumpkin pie, i just bought a big pumpkin from Walmart honestly, is that sort of pumpkin ok to puree and make into a pie? Or should i just make dog treats out of it?
Hi Savannah! That kind of pumpkin is perfect! 🙂 One year after Halloween, our grocery store had “free” sign on the leftover jack-o-lantern-type pumpkins. We pureed them and filled the freezer.
So this was my first time making pumpkin puree and it’s not really puree. Help me trouble shoot? The pumpkins were bought early in October but hadn’t been carved so today I cut them in half, gutted and popped them in the oven. At 45-60 minutes, the pumpkins were knife tender but the skin was still attached. I let it cool but then had to use a knife, like with a potato, and cut the skin off.
Now for blending right? My blender isn’t blending a thing and I sold off my food processor for some $ to pay stuff down (regretting this move at this moment). So I cut the pumpkin up in smaller chunks and used a hand mixer. It’s tons better but not smooth enough for a puree.
Is it worth refrigerating and freezing it? Do I keep mixing on high? I’ve never made anything with pumpkin but didn’t want 4 pumpkins that hadn’t been carved to go to waste.
Could you post some pumpkin recipes and will my “not puree” work with those recipes?
Thanks for your help and guidance! 🙂
First of all Liz, congarats on trying something new (even if it didn’t turn out quite like you expected). I would say that it probably could have used a little more time in the oven if the skin didn’t come off the skin easily. Maybe your pumpkins were really thick.
As for the blending, you could add a bit of water to the pumpkin in your blender to help it get going. It’s also easier to blend if it isn’t completely cooled down (not steaming hot, but still warm). You might have to push it down bit a wooden spoon (but be careful not to touch the blender blades, of course).
Now that you’ve hand blended it, you might want to try putting it in the blender again to make it a little smoother. Add a couple teaspoons of water if it seems dry or really chunky. If it seems like it isn’t cooked enough, I would suggest putting it in the microwave to heat it and soften it (get it really hot). You could even use a potato masher to smash it up or stick it back in the blender.
It’s definitely worth keeping. Before freezing it, I would experiment with using the “puree” as it is (or with the troubleshooting above) and see how it works. When you know it works in recipes and is a decently smooth consistency, then freeze it (it will save you trouble later, if you get it right before freezing).
One of my favorite pumpkin recipes is Pumpkin Sheet Cake. We also make lots of pumpkin bread and muffins (recipe works great for both). Here is a favorite pumpkin pie recipe from Allrecipes.com. I also like this pumpkin roll.
Let me know how it goes or if you have other questions!
Jen @ ThisCrunchyLife says
I love pumpkin puree at home, but I find it is even easier to just throw whole pumpkins in the oven for a little bit longer – like 60-70 minutes–then cut and clean out the guts after cooking. I’ve been using mine to make a baked pumpkin pie quinoa porridge that my kids and my husband really love.
That’s a great idea Jen! Mine were definitely too big to put in whole (they were a little too close to the heating element even when they were cut in half), but that sounds like it would work well for smaller pumpkins. Thanks for sharing.
That sounds real good could you share the recipe