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. 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?

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

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 piehomemade pumpkin pastapumpkin 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.

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

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How to Cook a Pumpkin in the Slow Cooker


  • Author: Melissa Griffiths
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 pumpkin makes about 1 1/2 cups
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Description

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!


Ingredients

  • 1 or 2 sugar pumpkins (3 to 5 pounds each)

Instructions

  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.

Notes

  • If the pumpkin isn’t fitting well in your slow cooker, feel free to cut it into a few more pieces.

Keywords: slow cooker pumpkin recipe, easiest way to cook a whole pumpkin, how to cook a pumpkin in the slow cooker, easy pumpkin recipe

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 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.

Ever wonder how to cook a pumpkin? Best easiest way is to toss it in the slow cooker and this post will explain all the details!
38 Recipes for Busy Moms
45 Responses
  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. Jasmyn

    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. Peg Kniesly

    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. Nancy

    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. ..it works great.

    1. Sheree Hyde

      Please don’t waterbath pumpkin, pumpkin butter or butternut squash becausw it is too thick to process safely this way. It must be pressure canned in small pieces, not pureed. Cut it into small pieces, add water on light syrup and pressure can it. Thats the only way to be safe. Wish we could! I would have a shelf full!

    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. Deb C

    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. J Williams

    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!

      1. Stephanie

        Have you tried it on low? Maybe twice as long cook time? My days are such that i cant be there to turn it on then back 2-3 hours later to turn it off and i don’t have one of those fancy pots with the timer setting 🙂 thanks!

  7. Wendy Jerome

    First attempt at this
    My pumpkin is really big
    Will have to peel the shell off the meat first so no wasted time scooping
    Planning on adding cinnamon in the possessor for extra flavor

  8. Albert

    fastest way to cook a pumpkin for me , is in a pressure cooker …. get a new fancy one with digital LCD screen and all the settings ….. takes 4 minutes from when it gets up to pressure ……. waaaaaaaaaaay quicker, mind you its another gadget in the kitchen right ? lol I love to cook in a crock pot or slow cooker …… my waist line doesnt seem to mind though …

  9. Mira Leggett

    I love pumpkins! I’ve grown them, boiled them and sautéed them. The water from boiling can be used too. I will try your slow cooker method. Thank you!

  10. Blue

    Can you eat it without pureeing it? Like just chunked out on a plate as a side. If like to try it without the added sweetness most of us are accustomed to. Get the natural taste of it with salt maybe. Is this recommended? Thank you your video and article are wonderful and look amazingly delicious.

    1. Melissa

      Yes, yes, yes! Most people don’t but you sure can (and we do!). There are SO many kinds of pumpkins and hard squashes that you can cook like this with all kinds of different flavor profiles. I’d hit up the farmer’s market and find some recommendations on new to your pumpkins for eating. I have a recipe post for roasting pumpkins and squash too, it’s also a great way to cook them for eating!

  11. Corina

    I cook homemade pumpkin pies every year and this is by far the easiest way. I won’t cook my pumpkins any other way. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Janet Ellis

    You can also cook a pumpkin whole in the microwave. Remove the stalk, and slice off the top third of the pumpkin. Scoop out seeds etc. Add a clove of garlic, finely chopped, 1tsp. Cinnamon and a large knob butter. Replace the pumpkin top and cook for 30 mins until soft. Add salt and pepper to the inside, scoop and serve.

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Bless This Mess - About Me

I’m Melissa, and I want to help you feed your family wholesome food.

As a hobby farmer and mom of five, I’m all about keeping it simple in the kitchen. I want healthy meals that feed my family well, and then I want to get back to my (messy) life. Let’s work together to find something yummy for your dinner table.

Dinner Ideas for Busy Moms
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