How to Make Zero Waste Pumpkin Puree

How to Make Zero Waste Pumpkin Puree
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It’s October! This is one of my favorite months. There’s Halloween right around the corner, one of the best holidays in the States I might add. The leaves are changing to all the brilliant hues of purple, red, gold, brown, and orange. The air is getting that crisp cold fresh scent of autumn. And there are pumpkins everywhere. So I decided to dedicate this month to all things Halloween and especially pumpkins because – well – pumpkins and Halloween are kind of like PB and J. You really can’t have one without the other or, more I should say, you can have one without the other but why would you want to?

So where’s the best place to start?

At the beginning with the basics: a pumpkin puree. Have you ever had fresh pumpkin puree? Sure you can buy cans of it at the grocery store all year round but, like many foods, really it’s so much better when made fresh. And there’s no reason not to! Making pumpkin puree with fresh pumpkin is so easy to do and requires minimal babysitting really.

You only need a pumpkin, a ginormous casserole dish with a lid or you can go old school with a half sheet baking tray and aluminum foil. But more on that later.

What Type of Pumpkins to Buy

This pumpkin was about 3 lbs. and yielded 2 cups of puree.

If you’ve never bought a pumpkin for cooking before, here’s a couple of things you should know. The large, beastly pumpkins for carving are not the same ones you should use for cooking. Sure, the meat is edible and the seeds are still worth saving, but the flavor will be bland and watery. What you want to be on the lookout for is the smaller pumpkins labeled either “sugar pumpkin” or “pie pumpkin.” They should be between 3 to 8 pounds and free of soft spots and big bruises.

If the pumpkin is healthy and the skin is firm, it should last from 8 to 12 weeks stored in a cool dry place. You’ve really got to procrastinate to let a whole pumpkin go bad! Once cut, it’s a different story. That fella will go bad in 5 to 10 days.

How to Keep This Sustainable

My old method using a baking tray and tin foil.

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So far this has been one of the more challenging things to keep zero waste funny enough. I certainly wouldn’t have thought so going in but hear me out. While pie pumpkins are much smaller than the Jack-o-Lantern size ones they are still big-ish. And that does cause a problem.

For most of my life I have always just used the baking tray and foil method. And that works just fine. In fact, I am still using it. But that is because I am still sitting on some aluminum foil that I have had for years. I have stopped using it for everything else and found ways around it in the kitchen. So this last roll has stuck around for a long time. Great, right?

My first experiment with using a casserole dish.

Well it has had me thinking. The purpose of the foil is really to act as a lid. So if I could find a large enough oven-safe container with a lid, I could get around the need for the foil.

Well, that is a little easier said than done. I tried the largest and deepest oval casserole dish I had, and it worked beautifully. However the pumpkin had to be small (a little under 3 lbs.) to fit with the lid on. Which is great if you don’t mind using only small pumpkins. But if you are like me, I make a ton of pumpkin puree and like to buy bigger pie pumpkins.

So I did a little digging and I found a few options that might work. A large oven roaster with a lid might be big enough to work like this stainless steel dome roaster (affiliate link). But if I (or you) can spare the cash, this cast-iron oval roaster (affiliate link) or casserole dish (affiliate link) would be well worth the money. Cast-iron is the best cookware out there in my opinion. And if you take good care of it, it will outlast you.

Let’s start bringing back family heirlooms!

Please keep in mind I haven’t tried any of these yet. But I am very confident that any of these options will work.

Making Pumpkin Puree from Fresh Pumpkin

Once you bring that lovely fella home, you can treat it like any other winter squash. You can microwave, steam, or bake it.  But for a pumpkin puree, it’s really best if baked in my opinion.

For one thing, I found cubing pumpkin to be really challenging and tended to lose more pumpkin peeling off the skin. And baking pumpkin has the shortest prep time too. You just wash it and cut that sucker in half. Scoop out all the seeds and stringy bits with either a spoon, ice cream scooper, or by hand (save the seeds though! I’ll be showing you what to do those here.). Place it on a baking tray or roasting pan face down, pour in a thin layer of water (optional if using a dish), cover it with foil or a lid, and pop it in the oven. Wait about 45 mins to an hour and if it can be pierced with a fork very easily (I’m talking like butter at room temperature easy), it’s done.

I usually pull it out and let it cool with the foil or lid still on for about 20-30 minutes. Once cooled, remove the skins (the skins should fall off on their own) and store the pumpkin as it is until you are ready to use it. Depending on how watery it is you can use a cheesecloth to strain out some of the liquid.

Once you are ready to make a puree, you can mash it with a hand masher, use a hand blender, throw it in a standing blender, or put it in a food processor. I personally use my Vitamix as it makes the pumpkin puree incredibly smooth and silky.

If you have a dish you plan to use it in soon, it will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. But pumpkin freezes very well too and will last a year.

And that about covers it!

If you give this recipe a try, I’d love to see your awesome creation! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to hashtag a photo on Instagram #sustainablesauceresses!

Or if you have any questions or feedback, you are always welcome to leave me a comment below. I’d really love to hear from you!

How to Make Fresh Pumpkin Puree

Learn how to make your own pumpkin puree from fresh pumpkins. This method bakes pumpkin halves in the oven.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Course: Staple
Cuisine: Vegan
Keyword: how to bake fresh pumpkin, how to bake pumpkin, making pumpkin puree from fresh pumpkin, pumpkin puree
Calories: 50kcal
Author: Tina


  • Half Sheet Baking Tray or Ginormous Roasting Dish with Lid
  • Foil
  • Chef's Knife


  • 1 pie pumpkin


  • Preheat oven to 400 F or 205 C.
  • Wash and scrub pumpkin.
  • With a large chef's knife, cut the pumpkin in half.
  • Scoop out the pumpkin seeds and any stringy bits (if desired).
  • Lay the pumpkin flat side down on the baking tray or casserole dish.
  • Pour a thin layer of water around the pumpkin.
  • Cover the tray or dish with foil or a lid.
  • Bake for 45-60 minutes or until the outer skin can very easily be pierced with a fork.
  • Let cool to touch and scoop the pumpkin out into a large bowl or standup blender.
  • Blend until smooth and transfer to sealed containers. Will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for a year.

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Happy Pureeing!

14 thoughts on “How to Make Zero Waste Pumpkin Puree”

  • 5 stars
    I am fond of the holidays as well more so Christmas and New Years. I appreciate your story post about making pumpkin puree. I really love pumpkin pie myself. I liked how you mentioned all the natural properties that are in a pumpkin and the pumpkin seeds themselves that are really good for the human body.

    • Hi Erick and thanks for the visit!

      I’m glad you found the information helpful. Really there is more that could be said about how much pumpkin can do for you but I didn’t want to write a novel about it. 🙂

      Thanks again for the visit and I hope you enjoy the recipe!

  • 5 stars
    Perfect timing! I love pumpkin pie and bread, but honestly, I thought it was more difficult to make the puree. And I didn’t realize it was a pie pumpkin. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Hi JB and thanks for visiting my post!

      Yes, I was really surprised when I started making my own pumpkin puree at how easy it was too. And it tastes light years better than the canned stuff. I’m really glad you found this post useful. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave me a comment below.

      Take care! Tina

  • 5 stars
    What a great way to jump into the fall spirit! This looks delicious. My wife and I like to make our own ingredients rather than purchase and I think it would be so much fun to make a pumpkin pie using our own pumpkin puree. Great post!

    • Hi David and thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!

      I am the same way. I try to make as much of our meals from scratch as I possibly can. It can’t always happen but in the case of things like pumpkin, once you realize how easy it is, there’s no reason to buy it canned! Plus, it makes a great activity to do with kids.

      Thanks again! Tina

  • 4 stars
    Thanks for all the information about pumpkin. I know the seeds are suppose to be really good for you and I just love pumpkin. My favorite recipe is Pumpkin Chiffon Pie. I’ve been making it every Thanksgiving for over 30 years. I have never tried making it with fresh pumpkin though. I guess I always thought it was a lot of work. You have shown me an easy way to do it. I think I will try this recipe this year,

    • Hi Lynn! Thanks for visiting my post and taking the time to comment!

      You know, I’ve never had a pumpkin chiffon pie before. That sounds supremely delicious though! I’ll have to find a recipe.

      I hope you try this out! I would be excited to hear how different your pie is using fresh pumpkin. The great thing about pumpkins is you can buy them now while they are at the store. And either you can store them in a dark, cool place and they should keep just to Thanksgiving or even Christmas possibly or bake them up now and freeze them until needed.

      If you have any questions, let me know and I will be glad to help out! Thanks again!

    • Hi Pearl and thanks for the visit!

      I’m a big fan of pumpkin pie myself! Although I have found a ton of dishes since then to use pumpkin, pumpkin pie is still a favorite. I used to think of pumpkin exclusively for sweets like pie, cookies, bread, and the like but after having a pumpkin soup and a vegan sandwich with pumpkin and hummus, I really like pumpkin in savory dishes too. So I’ve decided I just love pumpkin period. If you’ve not had a savory dish with pumpkin, I highly recommend it!

      Thanks again and I appreciate you taking the time to leave me a comment! If you have any questions when you give this a try, let me know. I’m always happy to help!

  • Gosh this looks so delicious. I love pumpkin all year around but autumn it is of course the perfect season. I have a baby girl and she loves pumpkin but we haven’t made pumpkin puree in a while! What do you do with the seeds?

    • Hi Allie! Thanks for the visit!

      That’s awesome you are making your baby’s food! I’ve got this pumpkin baby food recipe I will be posting soon that’s a little more than just pureed pumpkin so I hope you pay me a visit again.

      The seeds make a great snack once roasted. It’s one of the extra incentives to buy pumpkins and make your own puree. In fact, my very next post is going to be one on roasting pumpkin seeds. I won’t say this method or any method for roasting pumpkin seeds is quick but it is really easy to do. You should definitely pay me a visit in a few days and it will be up! I hope to see you then!

      Thanks again for visiting and leaving me a comment!

  • 5 stars
    I love pumpkin pie!! Although, I’m usually the lazy one and go out to buy the costco pies but they’re never as good as homemade. My girlfriend would be the one to make a homemade pie, I’ll have to let her know about pureeing the pumpkin next time 😉
    The only problem going into costco is seeing the vitamixs that we can’t afford haha. Those things will blend anything! Thanks for the post.

    • Hi Nate and thanks for the visit!

      I really love my Vitamix! They really will blend up almost anything. I haven’t tried it yet but they can even make nut butter and heat up soup while blending. I saved up money to buy mine and it was completely worth it.

      I hope you guys try this recipe out. If your girlfriend has any questions, please have her get in contact with me. I will gladly help!

      Thanks again!

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