Using Fresh Pumpkin Instead of Canned

How to prepare fresh pumpkins for baking

Halved Pumpkin

The Spruce / Molly Watson

Want to expand your culinary horizons this autumn, or any time of year? Try using fresh pumpkin instead of canned pumpkin puree. There's something about a fresh pumpkin that can't be beaten, whether you add it to pumpkin pie or any other dish.

Select a few pumpkins to begin with. Choose the small ones―the large, jack-o-lantern types often have odd tastes and textures. They are edible but they are stringy, watery and the taste can be bland instead of the traditional taste you're used to. That's why you should pick a smaller pumpkin. (Libby's, the manufacturer of pumpkin puree offers their own Select Dickinson pumpkins.)

Choose a "sugar pumpkin" or "pie pumpkin." Some have names such as Ghost Rider, Baby Pam, Autumn Gold, New England Pie Pumpkin, Lumina, Cinderella, and Fairy Tale. Pick one between four to eight pounds; it's okay if the outside looks dull, just avoid bruises or soft spots. 

Cooking with Fresh Pumpkin Instead of Canned Puree

Just follow these simple directions to prepare your pumpkin for baking and see why baking with fresh pumpkin instead of canned is such a delight.

What You Need

  • Pumpkin(s)
  • Microwave oven
  • Metal fork or skewer
  • Very sharp knife
  • Spoon to remove seeds
  • Fork to mash pulp
  • A great recipe to use pulp

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: 25 Minutes

Here's How:

  1. Rinse the pumpkin.
  2. Place the pumpkin in the microwave.
  3. Microwave the pumpkin on high for two minutes.
  4. Remove from oven.
  5. Pierce the entire pumpkin skin deeply with a fork or metal skewer.
  6. Microwave it on high for another two to four minutes.
  7. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and wrap it in foil.
  8. Let stand for about 5 minutes.
  9. Slice open the pumpkin.
  10. Remove the pumpkin seeds.
  11. Scrape out the pumpkin pulp.
  12. Mash the pulp.


  • Don't use those huge pumpkins that are used for jack-o-lanterns. The meat is tasteless and dry.
  • Pick what is called a "Pie Pumpkin", which is the size of a softball or cantaloupe.
  • The entire pumpkin should be completely dotted from the piercing.
  • About two cups of pulp are needed to make a 9-inch pie.
  • A 15-ounce can of pure pumpkin holds about 1 3/4 cups of densely-packed pulp.