It’s pumpkin season, and there are many uses for these oversized orange pumpkins other than using a toothed jack-o’-lantern. (Yes, pumpkins hail from the gourd family.)
By no means do we suggest you skip the time-honoured tradition of carving that happy or scary face into a hollow gourd. Daily carving. Grab a pumpkin. After all, they are at their cheapest at this time of year.
When grocery stores and farmers markets fill up with pumpkins this time of year, buy two. Carve one and save the other for one of our 21 uses for pumpkins. You can use one squash for roasted seeds, pie and maybe even soup, depending on its size.
Pumpkins: It’s not just for Jack-O’-Lanterns anymore
Whether it becomes a delicious snack, home décor, or science project, pumpkin has endless possibilities. While true hoarders love the idea of reusing a carved pumpkin after Halloween, it’s not the best idea. In warmer southern states, pumpkins are likely to be tender and past their peak growth after being exposed to the elements for a week or more. Plug, bugs.
Eat your pumpkin
We found a pumpkin recipe for every bit of pumpkin—even the guts.
While carving pumpkins isn’t quite as tasty as other types (like sugar or butternut squash), it still works for any of these dishes. They have thinner skin, though, which makes it easier to care for them.
You’ll find the best pumpkin prices at farmers’ markets, independent seasonal kiosks and church pumpkin patches. The average pumpkin costs about $3 but expect to pay more for a large pumpkin.
1. Make pumpkin puree
Although it doesn’t seem appetizing on its own, pumpkin puree is a versatile use for fresh pumpkin.
It’s incredibly versatile: You’ll be able to use puree in pumpkin pies, bread, and soups—even delicious pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. Pumpkin puree is the basis for most of the delicious dishes on this list.
Making puree is simple: Boil, bake or steam the pumpkin, according to Good Housekeeping. If you’re in a cold climate and the carved pumpkin is still well enough to lighten, be sure to cut and discard any burnt sections or remaining wax if you light it with a candle.
The puree freezes well for future use. Store in zip-closed freezer bags, partially filled and flattened for easy stacking.
2. Pumpkin Spice Latte
Seduced by the versions on offer in seemingly every coffee shop? Instead of spending $5 on a pumpkin latte that might not contain any pumpkin at all, make your own.
There are a lot of recipes to prepare it yourself. Here is a favorite.
- 3/4 cup milk, ideal 2%, latte (if you’re making coffee with milk, 1/2 cup milk will give you a 2:1 coffee/milk ratio)
- 1 shot espresso latte (or 1 cup of drip coffee)
- 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice mix (or mix with cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg mixture)
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Optional: cinnamon sticks and/or pumpkin butter for garnish
Measure the milk and pour it into a saucepan on your stove. Add pumpkin pie spice, maple syrup, pumpkin puree, and vanilla extract. stir well. Heat the mixture over a medium/hot heat, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, drink coffee or espresso. For café au lait, use a pumpkin spice blend like one from Dunkin’ Donuts or Trader Joe’s.
Remove the milk from the stove as soon as it is hot, or about to boil, and use the milk froth to froth it. The mixture should double in volume and create a nice lather. If you don’t have a foaming machine, you can find one online for less than $20 (like this one) or use your own blender.
Once the milk is frothy, mix it in a cup with espresso or coffee. Garnish with pumpkin pie spice. If desired, add a cinnamon stick or sprinkle a little pumpkin butter.
3. Enjoy a pumpkin cocktail or pumpkin beer
For those looking for something a little stronger than a latte, leave it to Food Network pioneer Ray Drummond to come up with 15 cocktails that feature pumpkin as the main ingredient.
4. Bake the Pumpkin Lasagna
Need a fall dinner idea for family or company? Try this delicious vegan pumpkin lasagna.
home taste He calls it a “comfortable fall dish” – who doesn’t love those?
5. Make pumpkin butter
This seasonal meal is delicious on toast, smoothies, or oatmeal. You can make it all year long if you freeze extra pumpkin puree.
Check out this simple pumpkin butter recipe on Oh She Glows. Bonus if this is important to you: It’s vegan.
6. Snack on roasted seeds
It’s a classic snack for a reason. A handful of roasted pumpkin seeds is a delicious way to get your iron, magnesium, zinc and a healthy dose of fiber.
Roasting them is simple—dry the seeds and bake them on a baking sheet with olive oil and salt—but play with the toppings to find the toppings that work best for you: salt, pepper, chili powder, or cinnamon are all good options. The hardest thing to make is to scrape off the sticky strings after digging them out of the pumpkin.
This is one of the many recipes found on pumpkin.
7. Make vegetable broth with guts
While the flesh and seeds are often common foods, the stringy insides of the squash usually go straight to the trash (or compost). no more!
Try adding them to other vegetable pieces (carrot heads, onion ends) to make a delicious broth.
8. Bake pumpkin intestine bread
If you’re looking for something a little heartier than soup, try this recipe for pumpkin bread from Diana Johnson of Eating Richly. I figured it would cost about two dollars to make two loaves.
9. Cooking Pumpkin Risotto
Another way to use that guts: pumpkin eaters. Scroll down to find this delicious pumpkin recipe, which Gothamist editor Nell Casey quotes from The New York Times.
10. Make Pumpkin Pickle
If you’re obsessed with pickles, you’ll want to give these kids a try. For a sweeter pickle with desserts or cheese dishes, make a Pumpkin Sugar Pickle from Serious Eats.
Looking for something with a little more kick? Try our South Indian Pumpkin Pickles from Promenade Plantings.
11. Pumpkin skin dry up in flakes
Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten the pumpkin skin.
This is a great way to make pumpkin chips that are bursting with color, crispness, and flavor.
Decorate with pumpkins
You can’t go wrong with using pumpkins in your decor throughout Thanksgiving. Try one or all of them all season long.
12. Use pumpkins as serving bowls
Label this idea under “Wonderful:” Save on decorations (and wash dishes) by using pumpkins as serving bowls for soup or cider.
Here’s an easy way to make a Sanam Lamborn pumpkin bowl from My Persian Kitchen.
13. Turning a Pumpkin into a Planter
Keep the fall festivities going by using a pumpkin as a planter for a small potted plant.
The planter will last for several weeks, after which you can plant it directly in your garden until it decomposes.
14. Create a Pumpkin Feeder
Birds might also love to celebrate the change of season with a different decor, give them a new dining room and make our neighbors smile with this simple bird feeder from Instructables.
15. Thanksgiving table decoration
No need to spend extra money on table decorations – plan to keep a pumpkin or two, and you’ll be all set. Use Pinterest for ideas and inspiration. In its natural orange, it is warm and traditional. Spray paint it white and the pumpkin becomes as elegant as a fairy tale.
Your pumpkin will make it to Thanksgiving, as long as you choose wisely. A healthy, uncarved pumpkin “can last 8 to 12 weeks,” Cornell University horticulturist Steve Reiners told NPR.
16. Make Pumpkin Snowmen
Why not try this cute and crafty way to give some post-fall purpose to your pumpkins. You’ll start winter decorating early — or if you’re feeling entrepreneurial, you can even try selling your creations.
If you don’t want to cook or decorate with pumpkins, what else can you do? Try one of these fun ideas.
17. Relax with a pumpkin face mask
Late Halloween party? Recharge your skin with the good-for-you pumpkin vitamins A, C and E.
Simply add honey and milk, according to this simple recipe from Beautylish. Add these non-pumpkin ways to your list of ways to save money with DIY beauty products!
18. Building a pumpkin catapult
Here’s a great way to make the ultimate use of a smoky, carved pumpkin that has withstood the heat or cold in your front step. Build a pumpkin catapult, also known as a catapult.
(Just make sure there is enough wide open space.)
19. Turn a pumpkin into a canvas
This is a great opportunity for kids to have fun creating art using pumpkins, especially if they are young to carving tools.
The best part? All you need is butcher, craft paper, some paper plates, stickers or paint. The Artful Parent provides plenty of detail. Decorating the pumpkin without carving it keeps it in good shape to cook with.
20. Save the seeds
Not a fan of eating seeds? Instead, save them to plant in your garden next spring.
Growing your own pumpkins will save you money — and let you enjoy more homemade desserts next year.
21. Compost your pumpkin
At the very least, your leftover pumpkin can help you grow a great garden next year. Cut it into smaller pieces and toss it in a compost heap, then mix it into the soil the next spring.
Former Penny Hoarder employees Heather van der Hoop and Katherine Snow Smith contributed to this report.