What to Do With Seasonal Pumpkins: 21 Fun, Creative Ideas


    It’s the season of the pumpkin and there are so many uses for these oversized orange pumpkins that go beyond a toothed jack-o’-lantern. (Yes, pumpkins are from the pumpkin family.)

    In no way do we recommend that you skip the time-honored tradition of carving that happy or scary face into a hollowed-out pumpkin. Carve diem. Take the pumpkin. After all, this is the time of year when they are cheapest.

    If grocery stores and farmers markets are full of pumpkins at this time of year, buy two. Carve one and save the other for one of our 21 pumpkin uses. You can use a pumpkin for toasted seeds, cakes, and maybe even soup, depending on how big it is.

    Pumpkins: They’re not just for Jack-O’-Lanterns anymore

    Whether it’s a tasty snack, home decor, or a science project, your pumpkin has endless possibilities. True penny hoarders like the idea of ​​reusing carved pumpkins after Halloween, but it’s not the best idea. In the warmer southern states, the pumpkin is likely mushy and is well past its prime after being exposed to the elements for a week or more. Plug, bug.

    Eat your pumpkin

    We came up with a pumpkin recipe for every part of your pumpkin – even those stringy entrails.

    While pumpkin carving isn’t quite as flavourful as other varieties (like sugar or cake squash), they still work for any of these dishes. However, they have thinner skin, which makes them easier to care for.

    Pro tip

    You can find the best prices for pumpkins at farmers markets, independent seasonal stalls, and church pumpkin fields. The average pumpkin costs around $ 3, but you have to pay more for an oversized pumpkin.

    1. Make pumpkin puree

    While it doesn’t sound appetizing on its own, pumpkin puree is a versatile use of fresh pumpkin.

    It’s incredibly versatile: you can use the puree in pumpkin muffins, bread, and soups – even a delicious Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. Pumpkin puree is the basis for most of the delicious dishes on this list.

    The puree is easy to make: boil, bake, or steam your pumpkin, according to Good Housekeeping. If you find yourself in a cold climate and your carved pumpkin is still good enough to relax, be sure to cut off and discard any burnt sections or scraps of wax when you light it with a candle.

    The puree can be frozen well for later use. Store in zippered freezer bags that are filled and partially flattened for easy stacking.

    2. Brew the pumpkin and spice latte

    Tired of the versions that seem to be offered in every café? Instead of dropping $ 5 on a pumpkin latte that might not contain a pumpkin at all, make your own.

    There are many do-it-yourself recipes out there. Here’s a favorite.


    • 3/4 cup milk, ideally 2%, for the latte (if you are making cafe au lait, 1/2 cup milk gives a coffee / milk ratio of 2: 1)
    • 1 espresso shot for the latte (or 1 cup of drip coffee)
    • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice mix (or mix your own with cinnamon-ginger-nutmeg mix)
    • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
    • 1 teaspoon pumpkin puree
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • Optional: cinnamon sticks and / or maple pumpkin butter as a garnish

    Measure out the milk and pour it into a saucepan on your stove. Add pumpkin pie seasoning, maple syrup, pumpkin puree, and vanilla extract. Mix well. Heat the mixture over medium / hot heat, stirring occasionally.

    Meanwhile brew coffee or espresso. For café au lait, use a pumpkin and spice mix like one from Dunkin ‘Donuts or Trader Joe’s.

    When the milk is hot, just before boiling, remove the milk from the stove and froth it with a milk frother. The mass should double and form a nice foam. If you don’t have a frother, you can find one online for less than $ 20 (like this one) or use your blender.

    As soon as the milk is frothed, combine with espresso or coffee in a cup. Garnish with pumpkin pie spice. If you want, add a stick of cinnamon or drizzle with a little maple pumpkin butter.

    A pumpkin beer sits next to two pumpkins.
    Getty Images

    3. Enjoy a pumpkin cocktail or a pumpkin beer

    For those looking for something stronger than a latte, leave it up to Ree Drummond, the Food Network pioneer, to create 15 cocktails that use pumpkin as the main ingredient.

    4. Bake a pumpkin lasagna

    Do you need a fall dinner idea for the family or the company? Try this delicious vegetarian pumpkin lasagna.

    Taste of home calls it a “calming autumn dish” – who doesn’t love that?

    5. Make pumpkin butter

    This seasonal delicacy tastes delicious on toast, in smoothies or on oatmeal. You can do it year round if you freeze extra pumpkin puree.

    Check out this easy pumpkin butter recipe on Oh She Glows. Bonus, if that’s important to you: It’s vegan.

    6. Snack on roasted seeds

    They’re a classic snack for a reason. A handful of roasted pumpkin seeds is a delicious way to get iron, magnesium, zinc, and a healthy dose of fiber.

    Toasting them is easy – dry out the seeds and bake them on a baking sheet with olive oil and salt – but play with the toppings to find one that works for you: salt and pepper, chili powder, or cinnamon are all good options. The hardest part about making them is getting rid of the clinging strings after digging them out of the pumpkin.

    Here is one of many recipes in pumpkin verse.

    7. Make vegetable broth with the bowels

    While the pulp and seeds are often popular foods, the fibrous insides of pumpkins usually go straight to the trash (or compost). No longer!

    Try adding them to other pieces of vegetables (carrot tops, onion ends) for a flavorful broth.

    8. Bake pumpkin seed bread

    If you’re looking for something heartier than soup, try this pumpkin bread recipe from Diana Johnson at Eating Richly. She calculates that it costs about $ 2 to make two loaves of bread.

    9. Cook the pumpkin risotto

    Another way to use this courage: pumpkin risotto. Scroll down to find the recipe for this delicious pumpkin risotto that Gothamist editor Nell Casey made from the New York Times.

    10. Make pumpkin cucumbers

    If you are obsessed with cucumbers, these babies should be checked out. For a sweeter cucumber with desserts or cheese platters, make Pickled Sugar Pumpkin from Serious Eats.

    Looking for something with a little more kick? Try these South Indian Pumpkin Pickles from Promenade Plantings.

    11. Dry the pumpkin skin into chips

    Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten the skin of the pumpkin.

    Here’s a great way to make pumpkin chips that are bursting with color, crispness, and flavor.

    Decorate with pumpkins

    You can’t go wrong with pumpkins in your decor until Thanksgiving. Try any or all of these during the season.

    12. Use pumpkins as serving bowls

    File this idea down under “brilliant”: Save on decoration (and washing the 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. Turn a pumpkin into a planter

    Keep the fall festivities going by using your pumpkin as a planter for a small potted plant.

    The planter will last for several weeks, and then you can plant it right in your yard to decompose.

    14. Build a pumpkin bird feeder

    Maybe even the birds like to celebrate a change of season with different decor. Offer them a new dining room and make our neighbors smile with this simple bird feeder from Instructables.

    People enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with pumpkins on the table for decoration.
    Getty Images

    15. Decorate the Thanksgiving table

    No need to spend extra cash on table decorations – plan on keeping a pumpkin or two and you’re done. Use Pinterest for ideas and inspiration. In their natural orange they look warm and traditional. Spray them white and pumpkins will turn out elegant and fairytale like.

    Your pumpkins will make it by Thanksgiving, as long as you choose wisely. An uncut, healthy pumpkin “can last 8 to 12 weeks,” Cornell University gardener Steve Reiners told NPR.

    16. Make Pumpkin Snowmen

    Why not try this cute, nifty way to give your pumpkins a purpose after the fall? You’ll start your winter decorating early – or if you’re feeling entrepreneurial, you can even try selling your creations.

    Get creative

    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 at a Halloween party? Recharge your skin with pumpkin’s best-for-you vitamins A, C and E.

    Following this simple recipe from Beautylish, all you have to do is add honey and milk. Add these non-pumpkin ways to your list of ways to save money on DIY beauty products!

    18. Build a pumpkin catapult

    Here’s a great way to take one last look at the smoke-scorched, smelly carved pumpkin that weathered the heat or cold on your doorstep. Build a pumpkin catapult, also known as a trebuchet.

    (Just make sure you have enough space.)

    19. Turn a pumpkin into a canvas

    This is a great opportunity for kids to have fun creating pumpkins, especially if they are a little young at carving tools.

    The best part? All you need is some butcher or craft paper, some paper plates, stickers, or paint. The Artful Parent has a lot of details. If you decorate the pumpkin without carving it, it will stay in good shape to cook with.

    20. Save the seeds

    Not a fan of eating the seeds? Instead, hold them in place to plant in your garden next spring.

    Growing your own pumpkins will save you money – and you can enjoy even more homemade goodies next year.

    21. Compost your pumpkin

    At the very least, you can grow an incredible garden with your leftover pumpkin next year. Cut it into smaller pieces and throw it in the compost heap, then mix it into your soil next spring.

    Former Penny Hoarder employees Heather van der Hoop and Katherine Snow Smith contributed to this report.


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