25 of the Best Ways to Use Leftover Pumpkins

The Best Ways to Use a Pumpkin!

Pumpkins are fun to grow in your garden, carve for Halloween, and cook up for delicious fall recipes. If you raise a bumper crop or find a great deal on these festive fruits in early November, you might be wondering how to preserve, eat, or otherwise use them up before they rot. I love growing my own pumpkins and over the years I’ve found plenty of recipes and frugal ways to put them to good use. So here is a fun list of the best ways to use a pumpkin before it goes bad!

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How to Cook and Use a Pie Pumpkin
Musquee De Provence makes tasty ‘pumpkin’ puree.

25+ of the Best Ways to Use Leftover Pumpkins!

Don’t toss your pumpkins in the trash after Halloween! There are plenty of ways to use pumpkins that haven’t been carved before they go to waste.

In my opinion, the best way to use a fresh whole pumpkin is to cook it and eat it! Maybe you have more pumpkins than you can consume right away… keep reading for more ideas!

Before you eat any raw pumpkin, make sure that it is freshly cut to avoid bacteria. See the section below on eating carved pumpkins.

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Try Some of These Ideas This Year…

  1. Make Pumpkin Puree to use or freeze for later
  2. Preserve pumpkin cubes with a pressure canner
  3. Dehydrate pumpkin slices
  4. Whip up a batch of pumpkin ice cream
  5. Make a pumpkin smoothie with frozen bananas, milk, pumpkin puree, and spices
  6. Bake some wheat-free dog biscuits
  7. Bake pumpkin bread or muffins
  8. Whip up a pumpkin pie or custard
  9. Slow cook some Pumpkin Butter
  10. Store your pumpkins in a root cellar for winter use
  11. Stir up some pumpkin soup
  12. Eat pumpkin-pecan ‘pie’ pancakes for breakfast
  13. Roast the pumpkin seeds
  14. Use a slow cooker to create a batch of pumpkin spice lattes
  15. Bake a savory fall pizza with pumpkin puree in place of the pizza sauce
  16. Feed pumpkin chunks to chickens, pigs, or goats
  17. Make Pumpkin Fries
  18. Store seeds to plant in spring
  19. Use pumpkins in place of winter squash in recipes
  20. Simmer a hearty pot of chili with pumpkin puree
  21. Create a pumpkin ‘tureen’ – Scoop out innards and fill with pumpkin soup, stew, or chili
  22. Make a pumpkin face mask (Mix 1 Tbsp honey, 1 Tbsp milk, and 2 Tbsp pumpkin puree. Slather on your face, leave on for 15 minutes, wash off.)
  23. Treat your skin to a pumpkin scrub (mix 1 Tbsp sugar with 2 Tbsp pumpkin puree. Scrub skin and rinse.)
  24. Condition your hair with pumpkin puree and honey (1 Tbsp honey to 1/2 cup pumpkin puree. Apply to scalp and hair, leave in 15 minutes, rinse.)
  25. Feed the wildlife – cut pumpkin in half, leave seeds and guts, add birdseed, and leave out for squirrels, birds, and chipmunks to feast on!
  26. Compost your extra pumpkins for a healthy soil amendment
Grow a variety of pumpkins and squash for fall decor.

Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree

It’s not hard to make your own pumpkin puree to use in recipes or preserve for winter. If you have more than you can use up right away, try preserving some for later.

Freezing is the easiest way to preserve your pureed pumpkin, but you can pressure can pumpkins by cutting into cubes instead of pureeing. I shared the instructions for both in my post How to Cook and Use Pie Pumpkins.

Did you know that you can also use any pumpkin, including the type sold for jack-o-lanterns, to make pumpkin puree? It’s true! You can make all the pumpkin puree you need for the year when these fruits go on sale after Halloween!

Dehydrate Your Pumpkins

Pumpkins can be preserved by pureeing or slicing and dehydrating for shelf-stable storage. Use your dehydrated pumpkin for dog treats, grind into a powder for smoothies, or grind into pumpkin flour!

To dehydrate pumpkin flesh: Cut in half, scoop out seeds and ‘guts’, peel, slice into 1/8″ thick strips, blanch for 1 minute, lay strips on dehydrator trays, and turn dehydrator to about 125 Fahrenheit. Allow to dry for 10 to 12 hours, or until it is brittle.

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Pumpkin Treats for Your Pets and Livestock

Many pets and farm animals love pumpkins as a healthy treat. Cut your pumpkin in half and set it in the chicken pen to give your flock a hobby for the day. Most poultry species (such as ducks, guinea fowl, and turkeys) will gobble up pumpkin flesh and seeds, both raw and cooked.

Most dogs can have dried pumpkin slices as a crunchy treat that helps clean their teeth. The vitamins and minerals in dried squash and pumpkin are great for them and there are hardly any calories. Make sure your dog isn’t prone to wolfing these down without chewing or they could get a piece stuck in their throat.

Pumpkin seeds are often touted as a natural de-wormer for poultry. However, to release the natural anti-parasite properties of pumpkin seeds, you’ll need to create a tincture. Here are the instructions from Backyard Poultry.

Try making some dog biscuits with pumpkin!

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best ways to use a pumpkin

Can You Eat Your Jack-o-lantern?

It doesn’t take very long for bacteria to start growing on a cut pumpkin. For this reason, it isn’t a good idea to eat your carved pumpkins. Instead, feed them to your livestock, leave them for the wildlife, or compost them and enrich your garden soil with them in the spring. Just don’t put that mushy old jack-o-lantern in the trash where it will take up landfill space.

After Halloween is over, you might be able to pick up pumpkins really cheaply and use these for making your own puree and other goodies. In my area, pie pumpkins don’t seem to be marked down until after Thanksgiving but field pumpkins (the kind used for carving) are a dime a dozen on November 1st!

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Grow Your Own Pumpkins!

I love growing different varieties of pumpkins, gourds, and winter squash in my garden each year. It’s fun to decorate our porch, front yard, and home with different colors, shapes, and sizes of these festive fruits!

Raising your own is a great way to save money, too. One packet of seeds is likely to produce dozens of pumpkins… more than most families need. With that many winter squash or pumpkins in your garden, you’ll have enough to deck out the whole yard, make your own pies and baked goods, and still have some to give away. Learn how to grow the best pumpkin varieties.


For the gardening or homesteading entrepreneur, pumpkins can also be a great cash crop. If you live on a busy road or sell veggies at the farmers market you can bring in some extra dough with a u-pick pumpkin patch or fall farm stand.

Check out How to Make Money from Your Homestead and Holiday Side Hustles for Your Homestead!

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    • Lisa Lombardo
    • Lisa Lombardo

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