Canned is cool, but cooking with actual pumpkins, from scratch, is better. Maybe you went pumpkin picking and ended up with a few too many. Or you carved some pretty amazing jack-o’-lanterns and now you have a pile of pumpkin innards on your table. Fear not: Here are 16 ideas to turn fall’s iconic porch decoration into something delicious. Most of these recipes start with a base of pumpkin purée (see number 1 below) that is simple to make and keeps for months in the freezer.
1. Pumpkin Purée
Follow Pioneer Woman's easy instructions and pumpkin purée can be on your table in less time than it takes to walk to the store to pick up a can. Freeze it in ice trays and you’ll have cubes of homemade pumpkin flavor to add to your recipes for weeks.
2. Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
Pumpkin does two primary things to a cake batter: keeps it deliciously moist, and serves as the best medium for the kind of spices that taste perfect in cool weather (allspice, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon). Here, pumpkin and spice combine for cupcakes. Top with Pumpkin–Cream Cheese Frosting for the best of all fall treats. Get our Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes recipe.
3. Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake
Pumpkin pie will always and forever have a special place in our hearts. There are times, however, when we crave opening up our dessert squad to some new favorites. That’s when this delicious (and beautiful) cheesecake re-enters our world. Get our Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake recipe.
4. Pumpkin Tortelloni with Sage and Pumpkin Seeds
San Francisco chef Thomas McNaughton taught us this next-level fall recipe. Flavorful, sweet Cinderella pumpkin (seasoned with a bit of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cider vinegar) becomes the best pasta filling ever. A brown butter and sage sauce finishes them off beautifully. Get our Pumpkin Tortelloni with Sage and Pumpkin Seeds recipe.
5. Pumpkin Pie Flans
Sour cream adds a subtle depth of flavor to this smooth custard mix, with traditional pie spices: cinnamon and allspice. Caramel in the bottom of the ramekins turns into a topping and sauce in one, when the finished custards are inverted onto serving plates. A few crumbled graham crackers make a perfect garnish. Get our Pumpkin Pie Flans recipe.
6. Pumpkin-Spice Liqueur
Better than any artificial syrup you can get from a coffee chain, this booze-based fall cordial captures the earthy-sweet flavor of pumpkin and the holiday taste of sweet spices. Use a good-quality aged rum, such as Appleton or Flor de Caña. Get our Pumpkin-Spice Liqueur recipe.
Save the seeds from jack-o’-lantern carving and spread them out on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 7 minutes, checking frequently to make sure they’re not burning. Take a peek at our guide for interesting flavors to try out.
Use some of the aforementioned purée (see number 1) to add some great nutrition to a breakfast smoothie, the way Pham Fatale does. Combine pumpkin purée in the blender with ice, spices, and milk (dairy- or nut-based) with a little honey or agave or maple syrup to sweeten.
9. Pumpkin Seed and Nut Brittle
This CHOW recipe is a great way to get some healthy nuts and seeds into dessert.
10. Pumpkin Butter
If you think apple butter’s good, wait until you try its pumpkin cousin. This recipe is loaded with seasonally appropriate spices (ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg) and makes an amazing spread for toast.
11. Pumpkin Dip
Served in a hollowed-out pumpkin, this dip looks great as a centerpiece and is a no-fuss no-bake treat you can whip together in minutes. It goes great with any kind of cookie or even apple slices.
12. Pumpkin Bread
Banana, zucchini—why not pumpkin bread? For better flavor, use your homemade purée instead of canned in this CHOW recipe.
Photo: Chris Rochelle / CHOW.com
13. Roasted Pumpkin
Delicious tossed with olive oil and shallots or even turned into soup. Our CHOW recipe for the latter is a great way to use up the pieces of the jack-o’-lantern you discarded in the name of art.
14. Pumpkin Fries
Instead of sweet potatoes, make fries from pumpkin! The color is amazing and you can experiment with different seasonings like onion powder, curry, garlic, cayenne, and more.
15. Pumpkin Chips
Get rid of the guilt and make pumpkin chips your new go-to afternoon snack. Use a mandolin slicer to make them uniform and you won’t be able to tell the difference between store-bought Terra Chips and your own baked-not-fried alternative!
16. Pumpkin Pudding
Use your homemade purée (see number 1) to make this simple pumpkin pudding. Warm or chilled, this comforting dessert is a homey addition to an autumn dinner party.
Caitlin M. O'Shaughnessy is a New York City–based food writer and editor at Penguin who has worked on and recipe-tested several cookbooks. She is currently in search of NYC's best ramen, and is one of the few people who admit to disliking brunch.