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How to Make Pumpkin Puree From Scratch—Better, Cheaper Than Canned

Hello fall baking! I can’t think of a better way to get started than with fresh, homemade pumpking puree—the star of the show in so many fall recipes. Of course there’s pumpkin pie (and oh what a difference it makes when we use homemade puree), pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pancakes, even pumpkin spice lattes. Yes, pumpkin puree is is one of PSL’s key ingredients. It is so easy to turn fresh pumpkins into homemade pumpkin puree.

Bright orange cooking sugar pumpkins for sale

But first, let’s answer some of your questions:

What is pumpkin puree?

It’s just as it sounds—pumpkin that has been roasted and then pureed until smooth. Roasting is necessary to soften the pumpkin before blending. While you could prepare this in the microwave (on high, 7 minutes per pound), I find that roasting makes pumpkins taste better.

Are fresh pumpkin puree and canned pumpkin the same?

Yes, If the canned pumpkin you purchase is 100% pumpkin, it’s essentially the same as pumpkin puree. Just make sure you aren’t grabbing pumpkin pie filling (they look alike on the supermarket shelf) if your recipe calls for pumpkin puree. Pumpkin pie filling contains sugar, spices, and other unknown ingredients and does not come close to tasting like pumpkin pie filling you can make using fresh pumpkin puree.

Are pumpkin seeds edible?

Yes, and so delicious, but don’t try to eat them raw. They need to be seasoned and properly roasted. Also known as pepitas, pumpkin seeds are very nutritious and super delicious. You can eat them as a snack or use them for salad toppers, in granola or to garnish soup. It would be a cryin’ shame if you were to toss out the pumpkin seeds!

How can I tell if I’m getting the right kind of pumpkin?

Sugar pumpkins (also called pie pumpkins in some stores) are small, and typically about 2 lbs. each. They’re darker in color than the jumbo jack-o-lantern type.

Homemade Pumpkin Puree Recipe


  • 2 whole small pumpkins

Select small, dark orange pumpkins (not those tiny, mini pumpkins used for decorations!), sometimes referred to as pie pumpkin or sugar pumpkin. Don’t even think about going for big jack-o-lantern pumpkins either. You will be horribly disappointed because they are too large, tough, and stringy for baking. And those big guys so not taste good. Sugar pumpkins are slightly sweet with a smoother texture.


  1. With a sharp knife, cut off the tops of the pumpkins, right below the stem, and throw that top part into the garbage.
  2. Next, cut the pumpkins in half, from north to south. Using a big spoon or even an ice cream scoop, scrape out the seeds and stringy insides. Place the seeds in a bowl to roast later (yum!), and toss the pulp and strings into the garbage. Repeat until all of the pumpkin halves are cleaned out
  3. Cut each of the halves into a couple of wedges.
  4. Lay a piece of parchment paper on a large sheet pan (cookie sheet). Spread out the pumpkin wedges on the pan, skin up or skin down, it doesn’t matter. Place the pan in the oven, set to 350 ℉. Roast for about 45 minutes, or until the pumpkin pieces are fork tender (very soft). Remove from the oven.
  5. Allow the pumpkin pieces to cool sufficiently, so that you can handle them safely. Using a knife, pull and or scrape the pumpkin from the skin. Toss the skins into the garbage.
  6. Place a few chunks of roasted, skinned pumpkin into a food processor if you have one, or a blender will work too, but you’ll need to add a bit of water. No food processor or blender? No worries. you can mash it up with a potato masher, or force it through a potato ricer or even a food mill.
  7. Pulse small batches of pumpkin until totally smooth. (If it seems to dry to get smooth, add a tablespoon or water. Too watery? Strain it through a fine mesh strainer to get rid of some of it.) As you complete a batch, pour it into a bowl, then continue until all of the pumpkin has been pureed.

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You can use this beautiful homemade pumpkin puree in all kinds of recipes calling for canned pumpkin puree, measure for measure. And of course you can do this with just one pumpkin! For me, if I’m going to expend the time and effort, why not make enough puree to last for a good while? That’s why I’ve recommended two small pumpkins.

NOTE: If you’re making pumpkin pie, strain the excess liquid by letting it sit in a fine mesh strainer (or cheesecloth) over a bowl for 30 minutes.

ANOTHER NOTE: Do not confuse this homemade pumpkin puree with canned pumpkin pie mix, which has spices and other ingredients added. And do not panic when you see the color of your homemade puree! Homemade pumpkin puree is more golden, a lighter shade of orange than what you are used to in the canned option from the supermarket.

Time and money

Homemade pumpkin puree is without doubt more time consuming than opening a can. And this time of year (the season is short!) when pumpkins are readily available homemade puree is considerably cheaper than canned purr.

But wait, there’s more! Homemade from fresh pumpkins is the best pumpkin puree ever, and that’s a pretty good bonus!

Shelf life

You can refrigerate fresh homemade pumpkin puree for up to three days. Or, freeze it in one-cup portions in zip-type freezer bags or ice cube tray for smaller portions, for up to 8 months, to enjoy the great taste of fall pumpkins for months to come.

That’s it! So easy to make homemade pumpkin puree.

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1 reply
  1. Sally says:

    I made pumpkin puree from large pumpkins many times. No, the color is no where near the same as store bought canned pumpkin. It’s also considerably thinner. (I haven’t done it in more than ten years.) I never tried draining the excess liquid, either, but it made fantastic, moist pumpkin bread! Also, I have used it after more than ten years in the freezer! NO problem. Yes, it was freezer burnt, but I run hot water over the frozen puree to wash off the outer freezer burnt part, and the rest is fine. Same goes for frozen, shredded zucchini. My pumpkin and zucchini breads are still delicious! My husband bought pumpkins for an awesome Halloween decorated party this year, so I’ll soon be freezing more pumpkin puree!


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