Pumpkins aren’t just for carving when you know how to make delicious pancakes, salads, soups, sauces, pies and baked dishes.
Pick the right pumpkin
Did you know pumpkins that make the best jack-o’-lanterns don’t make the best pies? Big, bright deep-ribbed orange pumpkins great for carving have tough skin, stringy flesh, and are often the least flavorful. For cooking and baking, choose smaller standard pie types with sweet, deep orange flesh and a smooth texture.
Most popular cooking pumpkins
Small Pie Pumpkins, with a variety of names, Small Sugar Pumpkins, Baby Pam Pumpkins, New England Pie Pumpkins, Spooktacular, and Mystic Pumpkins are some examples of round, small to medium size pie pumpkins. Traditional varieties like these are an excellent choice for creating a great dish. Most of these varieties have a bright orange skin and unique stems from straight to curved that are popular for fall decorations.
Other varieties of pumpkins
A few newer varieties of ornamental pumpkins are becoming increasingly popular as pumpkins for cooking and baking:
Lumina Pumpkins are medium-sized white pumpkins with light yellow flesh and mild pumpkin flavor. In my opinion this is best when wanting to add mild pumpkin flavor to your dish. Add a ghost white lumina pumpkin to your fall display for striking contrast and use it later for cooking and baking.
The Fairytale Pumpkin is a very unique ornamental pumpkin with a distinctive coach-like shape and warm russet color perfect for decorating, baking and cooking. The bright orange flesh has great robust pumpkin flavor, which makes it a great choice for cooking and baking.
The Jarradale Pumpkin is a flattened grayish-blue variety from Australia. The bright orange flesh has great robust pumpkin flavor, which makes it a great choice for cooking and baking. It’s strange coloration and unusual shape will enhance your fall displays until you’re ready to cook with it.
You’ll notice I feature fresh and canned pumpkins in the following recipes. Many people like the convenience and availability of the canned variety. It’s up to you. For a step-by-step guide to cutting ornamental pumpkins see How to Cut Pumpkins for Baking and Cooking.
Grandma Helen’s Pumpkin Bread (canned pumpkin)
Pumpkin Cheesecake (canned pumpkin)
And finally—don’t discard the pumpkin seeds
You can make a variety of flavored pumpkin seeds: Try a traditional version – Roasted Pumpkin Seeds or a spicy version – Spicy Chipotle Chili Pepper and Black Pepper Roasted Pumpkin Seeds. But don’t stop there—use your imagination and make your own special seasonal snack.