It's easy and inexpensive to make your own pumpkin puree from scratch! With these simple step by step instructions you can ditch the can and have a stash of homemade pumpkin puree to use in cakes, pies, muffins, and more.
This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Holla, it’s pumpkin season!
Today I'm going to let you in on a little secret: it's totally easy to make your own homemade pumpkin puree! If you don't know how to cook a pumpkin, fear not! I'm going to break it down for you with step by step instructions that will make it easy as (pumpkin) pie.
Table of contents
Why make homemade pumpkin puree
I've been making homemade pumpkin puree for years, and I mostly do it because I think it's fun! But it's a lucky thing that I do, because now I live in a country where canned pumpkin puree is nearly impossible to find - and if you do find it, it's incredibly expensive.
Maybe you, like me, can't find canned pumpkin. Or maybe you've got a giant pumpkin that you don't want to go to waste. Maybe you want to live the homesteader / prepper life and feel good about making your own.
Whatever the reason, homemade pumpkin puree is inexpensive, and super easy to make, store, and cook with. Let me show you how!
What kind of pumpkin is best for pumpkin puree?
You've got options, my friends! The pumpkin pictured here is a Muscat pumpkin, which is also referred to as a Fairytale pumpkin because it looks like the one Cinderella went to the ball in.
The canned pumpkin puree that you buy at the store is typically sugar pumpkin, which is great for pumpkin pies. Check at your farmer's market or produce stand for different kinds of pumpkin. I've roasted and pureed Blue Hubbard and Hokkaido pumpkins too, with delicious results.
I routinely cook my Halloween pumpkins as well though it should be noted that these are not as sweet or flavourful as other varietals. The puree is still great in muffins or pies though!
What do you need to make pumpkin puree from scratch?
- A big ol' pumpkin. Or a small one. It's up to you!
- A roasting pan big enough to fit your pumpkin into it once cut.
- A food processor or blender to puree the roasted pumpkin.
- A strainer basket and cheesecloth (or similar) to drain the pumpkin.
- Some silicon food storage bags or other containers for freezing.
Note! These instructions are for baking or roasting your pumpkin in the oven. I have found this to consistently yield the best results for the least effort, and it works regardless of how big your pumpkin is.
I don't recommend steaming your pumpkin, as the steam adds too much moisture. However, if you would rather make Instant Pot Pumpkin, I've got you covered.
How to cook a pumpkin
First, Cut your pumpkin in half. If it’s really big it may help to take the ends off first, but this one I just chopped right in half. Now roll up your sleeves so you can scoop out the stringy guts and the seeds. I use my ice cream scoop to scrape out the insides, but any large spoon will do.
Save this gunk in a bowl to sort through later if you want to roast the seeds.There’s so much good nutrition in pumpkin seeds, and they’re delicious to boot!
Now place the cut pumpkin halves cut side down in a large roasting pan. If your pumpkin is really big you may need to cut it into quarters, or you may need more than one pan.
This pumpkin fit into my roasting pan snug as a bug in a rug!
Roast your pumpkin for about an hour. You want it to be at least fork tender, but I like to wait until the pumpkin has collapsed, and the skin is blistered and pulling away from the flesh.
There will probably be some liquid in the bottom of your pan; the amount will vary depending on how long it has been since your pumpkin left the pumpkin patch. A very fresh pumpkin can hold an amazing amount of liquid.
Once your pumpkin has cooled sufficiently so that you can handle it, peel the skin off of the flesh. The skin should come off quite easily; I normally start at the edge or by pulling up on a blistered section, and it will come off in strips.
Transfer the roasted pumpkin flesh into a food processor and puree until smooth. You will likely have to do this in batches, depending on the size of your pumpkin.
In order for your roasted pumpkin purée to have the same consistency as canned pumpkin would, you need to drain some of the liquid out. Line a colander with cheesecloth or thin dishcloth, set it over a large bowl, and let it sit for 2-3 hours.
Once drained, you're ready to use your pumpkin!
How to freeze pumpkin
Freezing pumpkin means you can put your homemade pumpkin puree to good use all year round! Simply portion your pumpkin purée into 1 or 2-cup servings and stash in the freezer for baking, smoothies, soups, or anything else you'd normally used canned pumpkin for.
I use reusable silicon freezer bags for this part, but you can use glass jars if you leave enough head space in them. Check out this comprehensive guide on How to Freeze Pumpkin if you want to learn more.
Pro tips / recipe notes:
This will totally depend on the size of the pumpkin you started with. This beauty yielded about 8 cups of purée once it was drained.
According to food safety guidelines, you can freeze homemade pumpkin puree for up to six months. I have certainly frozen mine for much longer than that before, but only for baking where oven temperatures will kill any harmful bacteria.
Pumpkin isn’t acidic enough to safely can in a water bath canner. Botulism is not your friend. Trust me, just freeze it.
However, if you’ve got a high pressure canner at home that can reach the extreme temperatures necessary to ensure safety, you can can pumpkin chunks, but not pumpkin puree. My girl Sarah at Sustainable Cooks has a post that will show you how to safely can pumpkin.
You sure can! A lot of folks will say they're too stringy or not flavourful enough, but I always cook mine and use the puree in muffins, pies, etc. For more info, check out our guide on How to Cook a Jack O'Lantern.
What can I use homemade pumpkin puree to make?
Here are some of our favourite pumpkin recipes for you! Be sure to check our full archive of Pumpkin Recipes for inspiration.
Homemade Pumpkin Puree Recipe
- 1 medium pumpkin sugar pumpkin or muscat pumpkin
- Preheat your oven to 200°C / 400°F.
- Cut your pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits.1 medium pumpkin
- Place the pumpkin cut-side down into a roasting pan.
- Place in the oven and roast until the skin has blistered and the pumpkin flesh is very soft.
- Remove from the oven and let cool.
- Peel the skin away from the pumpkin flesh, and transfer in batches to a food processor.
- Puree until smooth.
- Line a strainer with a cheese cloth (or similar) and strain the pumpkin over a bowl for 2-3 hours, until thick.
- Transfer the puree into freezer bags in 1 or 2 cup portions.
- Freeze for 3-6 months.
- How much pumpkin puree will one cooked pumpkin yield? This will totally depend on the size of the pumpkin you started with. This beauty yielded about 8 cups of purée once it was drained.
- How long will homemade pumpkin puree last in the freezer? According to food safety guidelines, you can freeze homemade pumpkin puree for 3-6 months.
- Can I can my pumpkin puree? Pumpkin isn’t acidic enough to safely can in a water bath canner. Botulism is not your friend. Trust me, just freeze it.
- Can I cook my Halloween Pumpkin? Yes! Please do! Note that Halloween pumpkins aren't as flavourful or sweet as, say, a sugar pumpkin, but you can still use the puree in muffins, pies, etc.
This recipe was originally published October, 2010. It was retested, rephotographed, and updated on October 2, 2018. Most recently updated October 9, 2022.