top of page
  • Writer's picturePV

Pumpkin Prep - roasting & steaming

Ahh, the pumpkin season is finally here! If you're into pumpkin spice and you're looking forward to adding pumpkin/squash to your food (for instance the pumpkin spice golden oats, or your lunches and dinners) or drinks (pumpkin spice drink/latte/tea) I highly recommend preparing some pumpkin in advance so that you can have it on hand whenever you feel like it. Once it's ready, you can then store it in your fridge for a couple of days or freeze it for later if you make too much and don't plan to use it for anything else at that time. (I share my favorite freezing trick towards the end of this post).

The guide below applies to all kinds of pumpkin and squashes, but depending on the size of the one you're using you might need to adjust the cooking time- if it's bigger and thicker it'll take a bit longer, if it's a smaller one and/or thinner pieces it will probably take less time. Also depending on the kind of a pumpkin you're using, you might be okay eating its skin as well, (for example, a well cooked butternut squash and Hokkaido pumpkin's skin is safe to eat). My favorite pumpkins to cook with, for both sweet and savory dishes, are the butternut squash and the Hokkaido pumpkins. I especially like to use butternut squash over the more traditional pumpkins, because I like its slightly sweeter taste, but I've found that Hokkaido pumpkins are also very tasty and work okay with anything from dinners to desserts. When it comes to the 'regular' pumpkins, I find that they usually need some sort of aid in the form of herbs, species or natural sweeteners (depending on what you're using them for), as I find that by themselves they don't taste as great.. Because when it comes to the butternut squash for instance I can easily eat it plain, as it is, with no added anything- salt, sugar, herbs or spices- I absolutely love it by itself, but of course, like I said I also add it into both sweet and savory dishes.

There are a few ways you can prepare your pumpkin, I recommend either steaming it or oven roasting/baking it. Both of them are great, but I feel like the roasting brings out a little more of the sweetness due to sugar caramelization. Steaming seems to cook faster, however, there's usually a bit more prep involved. It's up to you what you choose to do. My only suggestion is to stay away from boiling pumpkin in water (unless of course you're making a soup or a one-pot dish like a stew) because you lose a terribly big amount of nutrients cooking it this way, I'd opt for steaming over boiling if you don't want/can't use an oven.


The steaming process is pretty straight forward. Peel and dice the butternut squash, (make sure you remove all the seeds and the fibrous strands), and place the cubes into a steamer inside of your pot. Add in the appropriate amount of water so that the squash isn't immersed in it, but the whole bottom of the pot is covered and there is enough water that the steam can easily form without burning your pot. Remember to cover the pot with a fitted lid otherwise the steam will escape and you'll just end up boiling up all the water without actually cooking anything. Bring the water to boil and steam the squash until it's soft when you pierce a fork through it. The time it takes depends on the amount of squash, the size of your pieces and the kind of steamer you're using, but generally it should be about 20 minutes.(If you're using organic butternut squash and if you wash it thoroughly beforehand you may leave the skin on and eat it provided you steamed it long enough for it to get soft, it might take a bit longer than 20minutes.)

Oven Roasting/Baking

When it comes to roasting pumpkins I usually do it one of two ways:

The first way, roasting pumpkin halves, is easier but the pumpkin will only be okay to use for pumpkin puree after it's done. That's because you'll have to scoop the pulp out with a spoon and that in itself is basically a puree.

The second one, roasting pumpkin cubes, is a bit more time consuming because you do need to dice the pumpkin beforehand. However, this way is more versatile, because on top of being able to puree it you can still use the roasted pumpkin pieces in your lunch or dinner or chuck some into your oatmeal as well. Although personally, I find that I often add the pureed one to my meals just as well.

Oven Roasting- pumpkin halves (or big chunks)

1- Preheat the oven to 200C/390F and prepare your baking tray by placing a piece of parchment paper on it.

2- Prepare your butternut squash by first washing it well. As mentioned above, if you do it the first way, just cut the whole squash in half, lengthwise, scoop out and discard the seeds and the fibrous strands and place the two halves on the baking tray, cut-side up. (If you're using a different type of pumpkin, you may find that cutting it in halves isn't the best option, I often cut it in quarters then or even in random big chunks that I can still place on their 'back', on the skin, the in-side up. (see photos for reference) 3- Bake on the middle shelf of your oven at the regular (top/bottom) setting for about 30-60 minutes, depending on your oven and the size of the pumpkin. Check on it once in a while. It's done when it's all smooth inside when you stick a fork or a knife in it. Note: It's completely normal to see some of the juices filling in the hollow parts of the squash. You can drink that juice when it cools down, it's usually very tasty, depending on the sweetness of your pumpkin. 4- When the pumpkin is done roasting, place the baking tray on a cooling rack and allow the pumpkins to cool down. 5- Once cooled, scoop everything out of the pumpkin "shell" into a blender and blend until you reach a smooth puree consistency. It shouldn't take long as the pumpkin should already be all mushy anyway. If you don't care for the uniform puree consistency, you can just use the pulp that you scoop out straight out of the pumpkin "shell".If you're using an organic butternut squash and you washed it well beforehand you may want to blend it along with the skin that should have softened enough to become edible, but that's optional.

Oven Roasting- pumpkin pieces

1- Preheat the oven to 200C/390F and prepare your baking tray by placing a piece of parchment paper on it.

2- Prepare your butternut squash by first washing it well. 3- Peel the skin off your squash (optional) and then dice everything into small, bite-size pieces/cubes. Discard the seeds and the fibrous strands from the middle. 4- Spread the cubes on the baking tray evenly and bake on the middle shelf of your oven at the regular (top/bottom) setting for about 30 minutes, depending on your oven and the size of the pieces. Check on it once in a while, it's done when you can insert a fork into the cubes and it's all smooth inside. The juices can begin to caramelize a bit so you might see a little brown here and there, but as long as the pieces are still moist (as opposed to being completely dry and burnt) it's okay. 5- When the pumpkin pieces are done roasting, place the baking tray on a cooling rack and allow everything to cool down. 6- Once cooled, you can either place everything into a container the way it is or you can blend it into a puree. Or you can do what I often do- save some of the pieces and puree the rest.

No salt, no oil, no spices

Notice that we don't add any salt or spices or even oil here when roasting the pumpkin. The reason behind is that this way we have the option to use the pumpkin pieces and the puree for both sweet and savory dishes afterwards. However, if you know that you're roasting your pumpkin ENTIRELY for a savory recipe then it's definitely okay to sprinkle it with a pinch of salt, add some herbs and spices of your choosing and even drizzle it with a bit of oil.

(In the first 3 photos the pumpkins are roasted plain, no added salt, oil, herbs or spices. In the last photo, I knew I was using the leftover pumpkin I had entirely for dinner, so it was baked covered with herbs and spices)

The possibilities are really endless when it comes to adding roasted pumpkin to your food, that's why I tend not to add anything when roasting. In the case of pumpkin puree you can use it for oatmeal, like I do in this recipe, you can use it for making a pumpkin spice drinks such as pumpkin spice latte, you can use it in baking desserts, in making sauces as well as spreads. The pumpkin cubes can also be used in oatmeal, they can be used in your savory lunches and dinners as well. And, of course, they can also be transformed into pumpkin puree if need be.

A note on freezing

You can freeze your steamed or roasted squash pieces or puree as they are or you can divide everything into portions. This way you only defrost what you need instead of being left with a ton of pumpkin puree next time you just want a little bit for your latte, your oatmeal, pancakes or dinner.

I like to freeze it into balls the size of one ice-cream scoop (about 2-3 Tbsp each) or I measure out the amount on a scale or in a cup and freeze it so that I later have frozen puree in say 100g-, 150g-, 1 cup- or 1/2 cup-worth chunks. You do it by freezing the balls or the desired amounts separately, in separate containers or even on a tray. Once they are frozen you can place them all into one container/bag. This way you always have some on hand and you take out only as much as you need. I personally defrost the scoop-size 'balls' for pumpkin spice drinks- usually one 'ball' for one pumpkin spice latte or pumpkin spice golden milk. One 'ball' is also a perfect amount to add to your oatmeal. The bigger amounts, 1/2 cup, etc., I usually defrost for soups, sauces and desserts.


bottom of page