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What Makes a Pumpkin Good for Cooking: A Guide to Cooking Pumpkins

Pumpkins are often associated with autumn, Halloween and pumpkin pie. But not all pumpkins are created equal when it comes to cooking. Some pumpkins are better for decorating, while others are perfect for cooking and baking. Cooking pumpkins, also known as pie pumpkins or sugar pumpkins, are smaller in size and have sweeter, softer flesh than their larger counterparts. In this article, we will explore what a cooking pumpkin is, its characteristics and how to use it in the kitchen to create delicious dishes and desserts.

Types of pumpkins for cooking

There are many types of pumpkin that are good for cooking, but not all are created equal. The best pumpkins for cooking are those that have sweet, smooth flesh with a low water content. These types of pumpkin tend to be smaller in size, making them perfect for recipes that require a smaller amount of pumpkin puree. Some of the most popular types of pumpkin for cooking include sugar pumpkins, cheese pumpkins and Cinderella pumpkins. Sugar pumpkins, also known as pie pumpkins, are the most commonly used pumpkin for cooking because of their rich, sweet flavour. Cheese pumpkins have denser flesh and a slightly nutty flavour, making them a great choice for savoury dishes. Cinderella pumpkins are a beautiful variety with a deep orange colour and sweet flavour, perfect for pies and other desserts. Other types of pumpkin that can be used for cooking include Long Island Cheese pumpkins, Fairytale pumpkins and Musquee de Provence pumpkins.

Nutritional value of cooking pumpkins

As well as being delicious, cooked pumpkins are packed with nutrients that are essential for good health. One cup of cooked pumpkin contains just 49 calories, making it a great low-calorie option for those watching their weight. Pumpkin is also a great source of fibre, with one cup providing 2.7 grams of fibre. Fibre is important for maintaining a healthy digestive system and can also help lower cholesterol levels. Pumpkins are also rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and iron. Vitamin A is important for maintaining healthy eyesight, while vitamin C is essential for boosting the immune system. Potassium is important for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels and iron is essential for maintaining healthy blood cells.

How to choose a cooking pumpkin

When choosing a pumpkin to cook with, there are a few things to look for to make sure you get the best one. Look for pumpkins that are small and heavy for their size, as this indicates that they are dense and have a good amount of flesh. The skin of a cooking pumpkin should be firm, smooth and free of bruises or soft spots. The stem of the pumpkin should also be intact as this helps to prevent bacteria from entering the pumpkin and causing it to spoil. Avoid pumpkins that make a hollow sound when you tap them, as this can indicate that they are overripe and may not be suitable for cooking. When shopping for cooking pumpkins, it is also important to note that they may be labelled as sugar pumpkins or pie pumpkins, both of which are good for cooking. Choosing a good quality cooking pumpkin will ensure that your recipes turn out delicious and flavourful.

Preparing a cooking pumpkin for recipes

Preparing a cooking pumpkin for recipes is a simple process that can be done in a few easy steps. To start, use a sharp knife to carefully cut the pumpkin in half from top to bottom. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and stringy flesh from the centre of the pumpkin. You can save the seeds to roast them later as a snack or as a garnish for your recipes. Once the pumpkin has been cleaned, place the halves cut side down on a baking tray and bake in the oven at 350°F for 45-60 minutes or until the flesh is tender. Alternatively, you can steam the pumpkin on the stovetop in a saucepan with a small amount of water until the flesh is tender. Once the pumpkin is cooked, scoop the flesh out of the skin with a spoon and either mash it with a fork or puree it in a blender or food processor until smooth. Pureed pumpkin can then be used in a variety of recipes, including pies, soups, stews and more. By following these simple steps, you can easily make a cooking pumpkin for all your favourite recipes.

Popular Cooking Pumpkin Recipes

Cooking pumpkins are a versatile ingredient that can be used in a wide variety of recipes, from sweet to savoury. One of the most popular cooking pumpkin recipes is pumpkin pie, a classic dessert perfect for autumn and holiday gatherings. Other sweet pumpkin recipes include pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins and pumpkin cheesecake. For savoury dishes, pumpkins can be used in soups, stews and casseroles. A popular savoury recipe is pumpkin soup, a creamy and comforting dish perfect for cooler weather. Pumpkin chilli is another delicious savoury recipe that combines the sweetness of pumpkin with the spicy flavour of chilli. Another savoury dish perfect for autumn is pumpkin risotto, a creamy and flavourful dish that is easy to make and perfect for a cosy evening in. No matter what kind of recipe you want to make, cooking pumpkin is a versatile and delicious ingredient that can be used in a wide variety of dishes.


In conclusion, cooking pumpkins are a delicious and versatile ingredient that can be used in a wide variety of recipes. Whether you want to make a sweet pumpkin pie or a savoury pumpkin soup, cooking pumpkins are the perfect choice to add flavour and nutrition to your dishes. When choosing a cooking pumpkin, look for one that is small, heavy and free of bruises or soft spots. With a little preparation, you can easily boil and puree a pumpkin to use in all your favourite recipes. So next time you are at the supermarket, pick up a cooking pumpkin and try adding it to your meals for a delicious and healthy twist.


What is a cooking pumpkin?

A cooking pumpkin is a variety of pumpkin that is well-suited for cooking and baking. These pumpkins are smaller in size and have a sweeter and smoother flesh than their larger counterparts.

What are some popular types of cooking pumpkins?

Some popular types of cooking pumpkins include sugar pumpkins, cheese pumpkins, and Cinderella pumpkins. Other varieties that can be used for cooking include Long Island cheese pumpkins, Fairytale pumpkins, and Musquee de Provence pumpkins.

How do I prepare a cooking pumpkin for recipes?

To prepare a cooking pumpkin for recipes, start by cutting the pumpkin in half and scooping out the seeds and stringy pulp. Bake or steam the pumpkin until the flesh is tender, then scoop out the flesh and mash or puree it until smooth. The pureed pumpkin can then be used in a variety of sweet and savory recipes.

What are some popular sweet pumpkin recipes?

Some popular sweet pumpkin recipes include pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, and pumpkin cheesecake.

What are some popular savory pumpkin recipes?

Some popular savory pumpkin recipes include pumpkin soup, pumpkin chili, and pumpkin risotto. Pumpkins can also be used in stews, casseroles, and othersavory dishes for added flavor and nutrition.

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