Homemade Pumpkin & Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

You know what I’ve been doing this week? Welcoming in Autumn. It’s now September 24th, which means it’s officially acceptable to flood my house with pumpkins and gourds and sunflowers and cinnamon candles even if it is still over 90 degrees outside. And that I did, all the while cranking the AC and putting pots of soup and chili on the stove. I love this time of year!

One of the things I love the very most about fall is the fall food. (By the way, we’ve put some of our favorite fall dishes on our side bar and we’ll be adding lots more so keep taking a peek over there and re-discover some old favorites!) But above all, fall baking. Apples and ginger and cinnamon, and pumpkin. Lots of pumpkin. Which is why I was completely dismayed when I heard that Libby’s was having a major canned pumpkin shortage this year! Ack! I cannot survive the next 2 months without pumpkin puree, and neither will you, seeing as half of the recipes I’ll be posting involve it! So I thought a post on making your own pumpkin might come in handy. If you can’t find canned pumpkin in the stores, chances are you can find a real pumpkin. And making your own puree is actually really easy and pretty inexpensive. If you can’t find either, email me and I’ll sell you one of the cans I have for $37.99. 10% off if you’re a follower 😉

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

The best pumpkins for making your own pumpkin puree are these little guys:

Sugar pumpkins. You should be able to find them in the produce section of most grocery stores right now and they’re pretty inexpensive. They’re almost too cute to eat! Almost…

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice pumpkin in half and remove stem. You can cut it in quarters if you want, or just leave it halved. It doesn’t really matter. I cut mine in quarters so you could see the insides better.

Step 2: Using a spoon, scrape out all of the stringy stuff and the seeds. If you want to toast the seeds (shown below), make sure to save all this junk in a bowl and not the trash can! You’ll be left with just the pumpkin rind and the flesh as shown here:

Step 3: Spray a foil-lined baking sheet with non-stick spray. Place your pumpkin cut-side down on the sheet.

Also, during this step, I would recommend covering the pumpkin with another piece of foil. I’ve never done that before, but I noticed the sticker on my pumpkin advised doing so. And I figure those pumpkin people might know a little somethin’ somethin’ about roasting pumpkin. Mine sometimes turn out a bit dry and I think covering them with foil might help keep some extra moisture in. On the flip-side, depending on your pumpkin, it may be overly moist instead. See the solution to that in step 6!

Step 4: Cook pumpkin in your 350 degree oven for 50-60 minutes or until it’s tender when pierced with a fork. When done, remove from oven and let cool on the baking sheet.

Step 5: Use a spoon to scrape out the flesh and discard the skin/rind. It should be super soft and easy to scoop right out, kind of like scooping out an avocado.

Step 6: Place pumpkin pulp in a food processor and process until smooth. (Or you can just mash it with a fork or potato masher) Now. If your pumpkin is on the dry side, you can add a little water (or juice depending on what you’re making) at this point to get the consistency you want. My pumpkin was dry and I was aiming for the consistency of canned pumpkin so I slowly drizzled in about 1/4 cup of water until it had the right feel. If it’s too moist, just put your puree in a strainer to let some of the moisture seep through.

At this point you can use it in any recipe that calls for pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin. (Check out some of my faves at the end of this post!)

FYI: I used a 2-lb. pumpkin and it yielded 1 3/4 C puree. And if you are trying to gauge- One 15 oz. can equals 1 3/4 cups pumpkin puree and one 29 oz. can (the biggie) equals 3 1/2 cups pumpkin puree. So my 2lb pumpkin was almost exactly equal to one can.

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

I’ve never been much of a pumpkin seed-toaster, but I figure if you’re going to the effort of cooking your own pumpkin, you may as well use every last part of it! In my little 2-lb. pumpkin, I got 1/2 C seeds.

1/2 C pumpkin seeds, clean and dry
1/2 T butter
1/4 t olive oil
1/4 t celery salt
1/4 t onion powder
1/8 garlic powder
1/8 paprika
pinch cayenne
Kosher salt

Now there seems to be a couple schools of thought on pumpkin seeds. The one that says you should boil them in salted water before roasting and the one that doesn’t bother with that step. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about so I boiled half of them and left the other half unboiled. After they were toasted I honestly couldn’t notice any difference, so I’m not going to bother with boiling. All you boilers out there, tell me why! I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.

There are also 2 schools when it comes to baking, low and slow or hot and fast. I’m going for instant gratification her,e so I’m gonna do hot and fast. By the time I got my pumpkin mess cleaned up and the seeds cleaned and ready to cook, my pumpkin was almost done cooking. So I took it out and turned the oven up to cook the seeds. However, if you wanted to, you could cook your seeds at 350 right along with your pumpkin and it would just take a little longer.

Let’s get on with it…
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter and add olive oil to it. Place seeds in a small bowl and toss with butter and seasonings (except kosher salt). Lay in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. (You can, of course, use any seasoning mix you want–be creative!)

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Or if you totally forget about them like I did, they will be um…darkish brown… Give one a try and sprinkle on kosher salt if needed.

Hopefully you’re in the mood for Autumn now! Here’s some of my favorite pumpkin-related things. Oh, and tonight I made the yummiest treat with this homemade pumpkin! I’ll share it with ya next Friday. And don’t forget to be back here Monday when we’re gonna show you the COOLEST thing! It involves a little freebie for every last one of you, so be here!

Pumpkin-y Goodness:
Pumpkin Alfredo Sauce
Crumb-Topped Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bites
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Pumpkin Ice Cream & Ice Cream Sandwiches

woman in denim shirt holding a salad bowl
Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

Read More

Join The Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Questions & Reviews

  1. For what it's worth, my mom has always used other garden squash (hubbard or banana) to make pumpkin cookies and such. With the spices, you can't tell the difference!

    Love the blog. I was trying to time it just right to become the 1000th follower, but went out of town for a few days and missed my chance. 🙂

  2. Hippie family- Yes!

    And for the people asking about pumpkin pie, I bet that would work great too. I'd do them in a crust!

  3. Good question Katie. One 15 oz. can equals 1 3/4 cups pumpkin puree and one 29 oz. can (the biggie) equals 3 1/2 cups pumpkin puree. So my 2lb pumpkin was almost exactly equal to one can.

  4. I was wondering how much puree is in a can of pumpkin? I'm eyeing up your recipes and don't know how much pumpkin to use.

  5. Could you please put the recipe for your Almond Toffee Tart in your recipe index? I found it by clicking on "older posts" several times. But it would be easier to find in the future if it were in the indexed list. Thanks!

  6. I have done this for several years, and I use my pumpkin mostly for baking. If this is what you are using themin and you want a great flavor boost use apple juice or white grape juice instead of water to puree the pumpkin. It gives it a great boost without changing the flavor!

  7. Oh my gosh!! I am 27. I moved to Mississippi in the 2nd grade from Michigan. Up north we toasted pumpkin seeds all the time! Down here in the south, its just not done apparently! I am so happy to finally see a recipe for them! We never could get it right.

  8. Just discovered your blog –love that you have embraced pumpkins and fall flavors despite warm weather…it may still be warm for many of us reading this blog, but your site definitely feels like fall!

  9. Too funny… As I am writing this comment, I am waiting for pumpkin seeds to cool from the oven so that I can taste them. I made pumpkin puree this afternoon. Great step-by-step directions and pictures!

  10. You make it look so easy Sara! Thanks for the step-by-step! I absolutely LOVE your blog and it is making me very anxious for fall. Now if I could just get our SoCal weather to agree : )

  11. I've heard about the pumpkin puree shortage too, but it hasn't hit our area yet. I've been planning to try my hand at making my own pumpkin puree for a while now, and I appreciate your tutorial. It looks fairly simple!

  12. I was at Costco today. And did a double take. I got Libby's pumpkin puree–3 pack of the 29 oz. cans for about $5. But Winco has been out for MONTHS! The shelves are totally empty where the canned pumpkin should be.

  13. Sara you're a great decorator…always love how lovely you make our home! Thanks for celebrating my favorite season with such class!

  14. Lindsay, you're like me! I'm obsessed with anything pumpkin flavored- except the pie, lol. That's why I make a pumpkin cheesecake every year for Thanksgiving!

    About the pumpkin, I think the only difference is that in one method you clean the pumpkin before and the other you do it after. And if you want to toast the seeds it would probably be better to cut it open. But ya, it might keep it more moist keeping it whole. Then again, it seems like more people have a problem with it being *too* moist, so who knows!

  15. Mmmm, I love pumpkin everything! Except, weirdly, pumpkin pie–can't stand it.

    Question: do you know what the difference is in doing it this way as opposed to just sticking the whole pumpkin in the oven, and THEN cutting it and scooping out the seeds, etc.? That's how I do it.

    I'm thinking the whole pumpkin method takes longer (I think it takes 90 min) but maybe it keeps the flesh moister??

  16. It looks like I finally have to admit it's fall because that pumpkin puree looks so good!

    I love your fall decor! I guess it's time to succumb and get with the season 😉

  17. Thanks Sara–since I can't find any canned pumpkin I've been wondering how to do it w/ a fresh pumpkin! And we even picked cute little pumpkins during E's field trip yesterday!

  18. I just saw a news clip that said canned pumpkin is on its way! The shortage was due to a small crop last year. This year's crop is plentiful & the harvest is underway. They will start shipping out more canned pumpkin next month!

  19. Okay Myrnie, are you serious? Because if you are you have just made my day, lol. I posted about my feather wreath on my FB page and got so much crap about it! (Okay, mostly from men, but still) People apparently don't understand that it's all about avian decor this season! haha. I am in LOVE with that wreath. I just got it at Pier One. They have one in blues and greens too and they're both gorgeous. The feathered/sparkly butterfly (also from Pier one) was my 3 year old's addition!

    Yvonne- I'm so happy you loved the chocolate zucchini bread. I have made it way too many times this season!

    Leslie- glad that tip helped!

    Libby- I did a double take when I saw your name. I was like, what? Libby's saw my post and they're going to offer me 12 cases of free pumpkin?? haha

    Thanks for the comments everyone!

  20. Wait, you're posting about pumpkin puree? I want to hear more about that fabulous feathered wreath! Love the peacock blue with the fall colors 🙂 (Oh, and the puree is great, too.)

  21. Wow! I had no idea making pumpkin puree was that easy! Thanks for the tip. I will have to do this if I can't find any canned pumpkin.

  22. Thanks for posting the pumpkin puree process. It toke me lots of experimenting over the years to get that just right. One thing that you did that I thought was genius was scraping the flesh out after baking with a spoon! WoW! I've always peeled it and cubed the flesh, but your way seems much less tedious and time consuming. I LOVE fresh pumpkin and baking with it. So much so that My kids don't even know canned pumpkin exists! LOL! I have to say that I make a mean pumpkin pie and it's just NOT the same with the canned stuff. 🙂 Happy pumpkin season to ya!

  23. I have been watching the folks at my local farmers market get ready for fall. I spotted the pumpkins out last night as I drove past! YAY! I can hardly wait till it's not 90 anymore!

  24. loved your chocolate zucchini bread! made it yesterday and the best part [aside from the flavor] was that it didn't crumble and cut very nicely. thank you!