Ever wonder how to cook a pumpkin? The best, easiest way is to toss it in the slow cooker. This post will explain all the details!
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.
Cooking a fresh pumpkin is fun and simple. You should try it this fall just to say you did!
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. 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?
Tips and Tricks to Cook a Pumpkin
- 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.
- That being said, you can still cook the pumpkins you normally buy to carve!
- Most you-pick pumpkin patches will have a section of edible pumpkins/squash so be sure to ask if you go.
- Don’t forget to puree your homemade pumpkin puree in the food processor or blender for that smooth velvety texture.
- I love to use fresh pumpkin in my fresh pumpkin pie, homemade pumpkin pasta, pumpkin enchiladas, and healthy pumpkin muffins.
- You can use fresh pumpkin puree in any recipe calling for pumpkin, though the color will be a little different than using canned pumpkin.
- Homemade pumpkin puree freezes like a dream. Freezing it in one cup proportions is the best option for long-term storage.
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The Best and Easiest Way to Cook A Pumpkin
Ever wonder how to cook a pumpkin? The best, easiest way is to toss it in the slow cooker and let it cook on its own!
- Yield: 1 pumpkin makes about 1 1/2 cups
- 1 or 2 sugar pumpkins (3 to 5 pounds each)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
This is for sure the easiest way to cook a pumpkin but it isn’t the only way. You can also bake your pumpkin. It’s a bit quicker than this method, though there is a little more clean up involved. You can see my baked homemade pumpkin puree recipe here.
This post was originally published in October 2014 and has been updated and republished in October 2017.