homemade pumpkin spice liqueur
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The best pumpkin recipe ideas obviously must include pie, but there’s so much more fall’s most iconic fruit is good for—especially if you start with a whole, fresh pumpkin.

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.

1. Pumpkin Purée

pumpkin puree

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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.

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2. Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

pumpkin spice cupcakes with spiced pumpkin cream cheese frosting

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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.

Related Reading: All the Best & Weirdest Pumpkin Spice Products You Can Buy Online Right Now

3. Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

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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

4. Mini Pumpkin Bowls with Baked Eggs


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.

5. Pumpkin Tortelloni with Sage and Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin Tortelloni with Sage and Pumpkin Seeds

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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.

6. Pumpkin Pie Flans

Pumpkin Pie Flans

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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.

7. Pumpkin Spice Liqueur

homemade pumpkin spice liqueur

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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.

8. Pumpkin Spice Latte


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.

9. Roasted Pepitas

nacho cheese pumpkin seeds

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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.

10. Pumpkin Seed and Nut Brittle

Pumpkin Seed and Nut Brittle

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But here’s one more for good measure: Our Pumpkin Seed and Nut Brittle recipe is a great way to get some healthy nuts and seeds into dessert. Just watch your dental work.

11. Smoothies


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.

Related Reading: Apple Butter Beyond Toast: Uncommon Uses for Fall’s Favorite Condiment

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

creative ways to use pumpkin bread this fall

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Banana, zucchini—why not pumpkin bread? For better flavor, use your homemade purée instead of canned. Get our Pumpkin Bread recipe, and see uncommon ways to enjoy it too.

15. Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Roasted Pumpkin Soup

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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

sweet potato fry recipe

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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

Homemade Sweet Potato Crisps with Smoked Paprika (Barbecue Sweet Potato Chips)

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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.

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.
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