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 18 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—but that also means you can totally use canned pumpkin if you prefer.
Follow easy instructions for steaming or roasting, whichever you prefer, 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 cube trays and you’ll have little pops of homemade pumpkin flavor to add to your recipes for weeks, or freeze by the half cup for future baking projects. Get the Pumpkin Purée recipe.
Cuisinart Elemental 8-Cup Food Processor, $99.95 from Williams Sonoma
For perfectly smooth puree.
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.
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.
Related Reading: 18 Great Thanksgiving Dessert Ideas That Aren’t Pie
Petite pumpkins make perfect edible bowls for anything you might stuff in a squash (or for soup), but you can eat them for breakfast when you bake eggs in them. The bacon and butternut squash hash on the side is the perfect accompaniment with rosemary or sage. Get our Mini Pumpkin Baked Egg recipe.
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.
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.
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.
Making a homemade version of this widely beloved Starbucks drink is cheaper, tastier, and healthier than buying it out—and it uses a bit of pumpkin puree for authentic fall flavor. Spike it with the liqueur above if you’re so inclined. Get our Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte 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 pumpkin seed flavors to try out—but don’t stop there; you can make pesto, salsa, and other delicious treats from these too. See what to do with pumpkin seeds for more ideas and recipes.
Use some of the aforementioned purée (see number 1) to add some great nutrition to a breakfast smoothie. Combine pumpkin purée in the blender with ice (or frozen banana), pumpkin pie spices, and milk (dairy- or nut-based) with a little honey or agave or maple syrup to sweeten. Get the Pumpkin Pie Smoothie recipe.
12. Pumpkin Butter
If you think apple butter is 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. (You can make it in the slow cooker too, if you prefer.) Get the Pumpkin Butter recipe.
13. Pumpkin Dip
Served in a pumpkin shaped bowl, this sweet 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. Bonus points if you serve it inside an actual pumpkin. Get the Pumpkin Dip recipe.
14. Pumpkin Bread
Delicious tossed with olive oil and shallots or even turned into soup. Our Chowhound 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. Get our Roasted Pumpkin Soup recipe.
16. 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. Get the Pumpkin Fries recipe.
17. 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! Get the Pumpkin Chips recipe.
18. Pumpkin Pudding
Use your homemade purée (see number 1) to make this simple pumpkin pudding. This comforting dessert is a homey addition to an autumn dinner party. Get the Pumpkin Pudding recipe.
Check out all the best of pumpkins on Chowhound for more reasons to love this fall fruit.
Related Video: The Easiest Crustless Pumpkin Pie You’ll Ever Make
Caitlin M. O’Shaughnessy wrote the original version of this story in 2014. It has been updated with additional images, links, and text.