The Best and Easiest Way to Cook a Pumpkin

The best and easiest way to cook a pumpkin - tasty and cheaper than normal canned pumpkin!Have you ever tried to cook a pumpkin to use in a recipe instead of buying canned pumpkin from the store? I always think that it sounds like a fun idea but I rarely do it. A few years ago I cooked a small pumpkin in the oven and what didn’t stick to the pan tasted too roasted to enjoy in sweet dishes. My quest for a better option started early this year when I decided to plant sugar pumpkins in my garden. They grew well and now I have about a dozen sitting on my porch!

Sugar, sweet, or pie pumpkins are general terms for the smaller 3 to 5 pound pumpkins that are typically grown to be eaten. They’ll be labeled at the store as a pumpkin that is good for baking (generally with a sticker or label attached to them). Their flesh is firmer and sweeter than other varieties, which makes them a great choice for cooking. The insides are a lot less slimy, stringy, and wet than typical jack-o-lantern pumpkins, so prepping them is pretty painless.

The best and easiest way to cook a pumpkin - tasty and cheaper than normal canned pumpkin!After a bit of research I decided to try to cook a pumpkin in the slow cooker. My friends, this method is perfect. The pumpkin stays moist, it scoops out easily, there’s little clean up, and it practically cooks itself. Plus, they don’t get any charred or burnt spots, which I feel affects the flavor of the pumpkin. The day that I was in the kitchen trying out this method, I planned on cooking 2 of my pumpkins in my large slow cooker at once. When they were finished cooking and my warm slow cooker was still on the counter I grabbed 2 more pumpkins to cook just because it was so easy. I love this method!

Aren’t the pumpkins pretty?
The best and easiest way to cook a pumpkin - tasty and cheaper than normal canned pumpkin!

The Best and Easiest Way to Cook A Pumpkin
Makes: 1 pumpkin makes about 1½ cups
  • 1 or 2 sugar pumpkins (3 to 5 pounds each)
  1. Wash the outside of the pumpkin with warm water taking care to scrub off any dirt if necessary. Remove the stem and cut the pumpkin in half. Remove the seeds (you can save them to roast) and the stringy parts of the inside of the pumpkin with a spoon or an ice cream scoop.
  2. Place the pumpkin halves skin side up in your slow cooker and cook on high for 2-3 hours or until a fork pierces through the skin of the pumpkin easily. Allow the pumpkin to cool enough to handle and then scrape the flesh from the shell with a spoon.
  3. Use the fresh pumpkin as you would canned pumpkin. Mash the insides with a fork to remove lumps or you may choose to puree it in a food processor or blender before using to get a very smooth texture.
  4. Store pumpkin flesh in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 6 months. .
If the pumpkin isn't fitting well in your slow cooker feel free to cut it into a few more pieces.

I felt like I invented this method and then Carrie over at Bakeaholic Mama posted pretty much exactly what I thought! I’m going to give her credit for this recipe since she posted it first!

The best and easiest way to cook a pumpkin - tasty and cheaper than normal canned pumpkin!

This is for sure the easiest way to cook a pumpkin! Here are a few other recipes that I thought you would like today.
How to cook butternut squash in the slow cooker from Foodie with Family (great minds think alike, she just posted this yesterday!)
Pumpkin Challah from Bakeaholic Mama
Pumpkin Butter Cake (I grew up eating this and still love it. It starts with a cake mix too, which makes it extra easy!) from Bless this Mess
Pumpkin Cupcakes with a whipped cinnamon icing from Bless this Mess

Pumpkin Slow Cooker

27 comments on “The Best and Easiest Way to Cook a Pumpkin

  1. I need to get a bigger crockpot, I just have a teeny one I got as a wedding present. What size is yours? This method is brilliant! I’ve only baked a pumpkin once and I agree, the cleanup and all was a bit too much for me. Can’t wait to try this method!

  2. I bought a bunch of big ones after Halloween one year (when they were $1 a pumpkin) and roasted them all in the oven, scooped out the flesh, drained it to the right consistency and had little 1 cup baggies of pumpkin puree in my freezer to use in recipes for months! It was great to get so much pumpkin for so little money, but the hassle made me wary of trying it again. I’ll have to try it again in the slow cooker!

  3. I cook my pumpkins in the microwave. Cut them in half and clean them out. Put one half cut side down in a microwave-safe pie plate or similar dish, add about 1/2 inch of water and set in microwave. Cook on high for maybe 10 minutes, then 2-3 minute intervals, until pumpkin is squishy soft. (Pinch the shell) (You may have to add additional water during the cooking process) Remove from microwave, and scoop pumpkin from shell. I then process it in a food processor. It’s quick and easy!

    1. Nope, most pumpkins grown for carving are the variety called Connecticut Field pumpkins. Most Sugar pumpkins will be labeled as such in the store. You can cook your pumpkins though they are just a little less sweet! Enjoy!

  4. I put everything in the crock pot! All of my beets from the garden were cooked that way before freezing ( no foil, just cleaned and trimmed), acorn squash, kobacha squash, butternut. works great.

    1. I add lots of cinnamon, all spice, and a touch of cloves. More pumpkin pie spice uses some nutmeg but my husband doesn’t love it so I normally leave it out. But yes, in general, I just treat it liked the canned stuff. It has a higher water content though so if I feel like the recipe is sensitive I might let it drain a bit in cheesecloth before using.

  5. Yup, yup….worked like a charm! Either I was lucky enough to get exceptional sugar pumpkins this year or oven roasting them really changes the flavor, for the worse. Made a pumpkin pie that I didn’t have to drown 3 times in whipped cream to choke down……and your biscuits…..still droooooooooling……..

  6. I’m so GLAD I came across your post on Pinterest! I grew a variety of pumpkins for the first time, including the sugar pumpkins, and when temperatures soared over 100 here in Southern California for several days in a row, four of the pumpkins, for lack of a better term, “wilted,” on one side. Now I know what to do with them! I’ll cut out the ruined parts and toss them in a crockpot! Thanks for the great idea, and making me feel better about my previously known as ruined pumpkins…now they have a GREAT purpose!

    1. Yay!!! You will LOVE the fresh pumpkin. I like to even eat it as a side dish like you might mashed butternut sqaush because it’s just so different than canned pumpkin. Enjoy!