How To Roast A Pumpkin (and Make Delicious Homemade Pie) | Confessions of a Stay-At-Home Mom

October 31, 2011

How To Roast A Pumpkin (and Make Delicious Homemade Pie)

Ok, so, over the last few years, there have been rumors of pumpkin shortages. I'm not sure if they are legitimate or if they are a really awful marketing ploy.  But there is no denying the empty spaces on the grocery store shelves where cans of pumpkin should be at certain times of the year.  There are whispers of another pumpkin shortage scare this year, but as of late, I am still seeing plentiful displays of canned pumpkins.

But when the pumpkin scares started, it got me thinking, "What if there were no cans of pumpkins?  What would I do for pumpkin bread? Pumpkin muffins? Pumpkin cookies?  And ::gasp:: PUMPKIN PIE?!?"

I'm quite sure that the earth would fall from its orbit, stop spinning on its axis and life as we know it would cease to exist.

So I did some research into making your own pumpkin puree (i.e.: the actual stuff that's in the can). I mean, all these corporations are making mucho bucks off of this, as pumpkin puree is a staple between September and December.  I'd heard that there were people who made their own, so it must not require a great amount of technology or know-how.

But I was intimidated. So although I'd promised myself for the past two years I would make a homemade from scratch (straight from the pumpkin!) pumpkin pie, I'd yet to do it.  I was afraid it would be too much work or that the margin of error would be too high.  

This year Hubby and I vowed to do it, and picked up the pumpkins from our local Growers' Market last weekend.  With a freak October snowstorm hitting our area this past Saturday, we thought there was no better time to attempt the roasting of our pumpkins for puree (and eventually pie). 

So we did.

And it was amazing.

And easy.

And I'm pretty sure we'll never go back to canned pumpkin again.

Then I figured, what is the point of having the wealth of this knowledge if I didn't share it with you?  I'm sure there are many of you, like me, who have been intrigued about roasting pumpkins and making your own puree, but intimidated and lacked the confidence.

Well, friends, fear no more. Today is your day!

Below is a step-by-step picture tutorial.  Read on after the tutorial for the recipe I used to make the most tasty pumpkin pie from my home-roasted pumpkin puree, as well as a few tips on picking pumpkins (and growing your own!)

How To Roast A Pumpkin 

Things you'll need:
  • 1 or 2 Small Baking Pumpkins
  • Large knife to cut pumpkins with
  • Ice Cream Scoop or large spoon
  • Baking Sheet (greased or with parchment paper)
  • Hand Blender or Food Processor
  • Cheesecloth
  • Colander
  • Large Bowl

Step 1: Cut your pumpkin(s) in half horizontally.

Step 2: Scoop out the guts 
(save the seeds for roasting/eating, or growing your own pumpkins next year - see tips below)

Step 3: Break the stems off (I just pulled it off with a bit of muscle)

Step 4: Prepare a baking sheet or shallow baking dish 
(I used parchment paper, but you can grease it instead)

Step 5: Place pumpkins cut side down on sheet (as seen above) and pierce skin with a fork

Step 6: Roast for 45-60 minutes at 350 degrees (until tender and a fork easily pierces the skin)

Step 7: Once the pumpkins have cooled, 
scoop out the pumpkin meat and place in a bowl 
(We used an ice cream scoop. 
Note the amazing caramelization.  ::swoon::)

Scooped meat in bowl, ready to be pureed

Step 8:  Puree the meat until smooth and fibers are broken down 
(I used my trusty hand blender, but you can use a food processor or regular blender)

Pureed pumpkin - so smooth and good!

Step 9: Drape a cheesecloth over a bowl 

Step 10: Pour puree into cheese cloth and wrap it up 
(like a little gift package). 
Let sit in a colander over a bowl for 
at least an hour to drain off excess moisture 
(you'll be surprised how much water is in the cooked pumpkin). 
Since we made puree from 2 pumpkins, we needed to make 
2 cheesecloth wrappings because we had so much puree.

After the puree is drained off, you can put the pumpkin in an air-tight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.  Depending on how much you yield, you can scoop 1 cup portions into a container or ziplock freezer bag and freeze for later use.

The puree is SO tasty!  The roasting really brings out deep flavor that cannot compare to the canned stuff!


Pumpkin Tips:

1) Do NOT use the large jack-o-lantern pumpkins. Larger pumpkins lack flavor and good texture.  When you are shopping around for roasting/pie pumpkins, look for smaller pumpkins (see my pictures above for a good example).  They may be labeled "Sugar Pumpkin" or "Pie Pumpkin." If you can, try to grab them from your local farmer's market, as they will be able to direct you to the perfect selection!

2) When I was researching, I saw lots of methods for roasting. Some involved roasting the pumpkins in an inch of water, others suggested drizzling with butter or olive oil. I say KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid.  I didn't add anything - just threw the pumpkins in the oven, and I was really happy with the results.

3) Draining the puree over a cheesecloth (or a fine sieve, if you have one) is imperative. All the recipes I saw mentioned the one downside to homemade pumpkin puree was that it was watery.  DRAIN OFF THE WATER!  I drained mine off for about 2 hours, and the consistency was perfect.

4) If you aren't happy with the flavor, don't give up. Sometimes you can get a dud pumpkin or a bad variety.  Try again!  Don't give up until you get it right!

5) Save yourself the money next year and grow your own pumpkins!  Easiest way to do this?  Take the guts/seeds from when you scooped out your roasting pumpkins, and place them in a strategic area of your yard (or get a pumpkin and let it rot). Let the materials decompose, forget about it, and then be surprised when in mid-to-late summer, you start to see pumpkin leaves sprouting from the ground in that exact area!  I've known several people who (accidentally) did this (my mom being one of them), and it totally works.  Imagine my mom's surprise when she found pumpkins growing in her front flower beds after a pumpkin secretly decomposed there last year!  For more info on tending to a pumpkin patch: Garden Guides Pumpkin.

6) When using puree in recipes, remember that 1 can of cooked pumpkin = 1-3/4 cups of homemade puree!

Pumpkin Recipes

To make yesterday's amazingly delicious pie, I just used the Libby's Pumpkin Pie recipe. In place of 1 can of pumpkin, I used 1 3/4 cups my puree:

Libby's Pumpkin Pie Recipe

  • 1 (9 inch) unbaked deep dish pie crust
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • **1-3/4 cups homemade Puree)
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can Evaporated Milk

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Combine sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs lightly in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into pie shell.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F.; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. 
  4. (Do not freeze as this will cause the crust to separate from the filling.)

My sister, Melissa, has a LOT of pumpkin recipes on her website. Here is her Pumpkin Recipe index: Lissabee's Pumpkin Recipes.

I would love to know how your 

Home-Roasted Pumpkin Puree turns out!  

So please come back and comment to let me know!  

And please pass along any pumpkin recipes you have.
 I will gladly add them to this post!!

Happy Halloween!

To find more cool home projects and ways to "refresh your nest", check out all the great links at:

Making Lemonade


  1. This was an awesome post. I totally gave up cooking, but I'm forwarding it to my sister. I was really into baking chocolate chip pumpkin bread for three years in a row and if I ever get back to my Donna Reed ways, I'll hit this up. I also need to buy myself (really Slasher) a hand blender. Like now.

  2. Julie@teachinggoodeatersNovember 6, 2011 at 1:06 PM

    Great Post! I love the way you showed the process step by step. We have two small pumpkins on our porch and I had just told my husband that I wanted to roast them (but had no idea what the process would be...) Last year a friend mentioned that she was roasting pumpkins to make pumpkin pies. Quite honestly, I was a bit impressed. She said that pie tasted so much better with fresh pumpkin. I was not convinced... until she gave me some of her fresh puree and I used it in my pumpkin roll- oh my - so good!

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