Can I Make A Pumpkin Pie With A Carving Pumpkin?

“Can I make A Pumpkin Pie With A Carving Pumpkin?” is a common question that pops up in the Fall season. The simple answer is yes, you can! Carving pumpkins, often seen grinning on doorsteps during Halloween, can be turned into a tasty pumpkin pie.  But with anything that concerns substitutions in baking, there are many considerations involved.  

Understanding the Different Types of Pumpkins

Pumpkins come in two types.  Carving and cooking.  Each of them with its own characteristics and purposes.  

Cooking/Baking Pumpkins

pumpkin pie with a carving pumpkin

Cooking pumpkins, also known as sugar or pie pumpkins, are the number one choice for making pies and breads. They are usually smaller, round, and compact, making them easier to manage and prepare.

One important feature is their natural sweetness and rich taste, which really boosts the taste of desserts. Their flesh is dense with fewer fibers, resulting in a smooth puree. They also contain less water than carving pumpkins, guaranteeing a firmer and more even pie filling.

Carving Pumpkins 

Carving pumpkins, the traditional symbol of Halloween, are mainly grown for their decorating appeal. These pumpkins are usually larger and may have a longer or uneven shape, making them ideal for detailed carvings. When it comes to flavor, carving pumpkins has a milder and sometimes blander taste, which can create challenges in baking. Their flesh is stringier and contains more water, which may lead to a more grainier pie filling. Although they are mainly grown for decoration, they can be used in baking projects with the right preparations and adjustments.

The Main Differences in Baking

It’s important to understand that not all pumpkins are created equal when it comes to baking. Some are ideal for pie-making, while others are best for carving.


Pie pumpkins boast a natural sweetness and rich flavor, making them a top choice for desserts. On the other hand, carving pumpkins are more bland, so If you decide to bake with them, you’ll more than likely need to add more sugar or seasonings.

Pie pumpkins produce a smooth and creamy consistency that is just right for pies. However, carving pumpkins can be somewhat coarse or gritty, so If you choose to use them, you may need to blend or sieve them for a finer texture.

Moisture Content

Pie pumpkins are less watery, leading to a denser pie. Carving pumpkins has more water and might result in a too mushy or moist pie. You will need to drain the excess water.

Trying New Things

.While pie pumpkins are a favorite for traditional recipes, carving pumpkins let you experiment. Their mild taste can be a blank slate for trying out new flavors or ingredients.

Both types of pumpkins can be used in baking, but they will give different results. Knowing these differences can help you make the best pumpkin desserts. 

How To Make A Pumpkin Pie with a Carving Pumpkin

Using a carving pumpkin for your pie might seem unusual, but you can create a delicious dessert with the right steps.

 Picking the Perfect Pumpkin

While any carving pumpkin can be used, choosing one that’s fresh and free from blemishes or soft spots is best. A medium-sized pumpkin, which feels heavy for its size, is ideal as it’s likely to have more flesh.

 Prepping the Pumpkin

 Before starting, give your pumpkin a good rinse to remove dirt and pat it dry. Cut the pumpkin in half from top to bottom using a sharp knife. Use a spoon or a scooper to remove the seeds and the stringy bits. You can save the seeds for roasting later!

Cooking the Pumpkin 

Roasting: Place the pumpkin halves face down on a baking sheet and roast in a preheated oven at 375°F (190°C) for about 45 minutes or until the flesh is soft. 

Steaming: If you prefer steaming, cut the pumpkin into smaller chunks and steam until tender. 

 The Puree 

Once your pumpkin is cooked and slightly cooled, scoop out the flesh and blend it in a food processor until smooth. If the puree is too watery, you can strain it through a cheesecloth or let it sit in a strainer to drain the extra liquid. 

 The Pie Filling 

Gather your ingredients, which usually include eggs, sugar, spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, and your pumpkin puree. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth. Remember, since carving pumpkins are milder, you might need to adjust the amount of sugar and spices to get the perfect taste.

Baking the Pie

Pour the filling into a pie crust and bake in a preheated oven at 425°F (220°C) for 15 minutes. Then, reduce the temperature to 350°F (175°C) and bake for another 40-50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool and Serve

Allow the pie to cool on a wire rack for a couple of hours. This helps the filling set. Once cooled, slice and serve with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Pie

Creating the perfect pumpkin pie, especially when using a carving pumpkin, can be challenging. One of the first things to consider is the crust. Pre-baking the crust for about 10 minutes before pouring in the filling can help avoid that dreaded soggy bottom. And if you’re worried about the edges browning too quickly, a simple pie shield or a ring of aluminum foil can be a lifesaver.  Read this about soggy pie crusts.

When it comes to flavor, don’t just stick to the basics. While cinnamon is a staple, introducing other spices like nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and allspice can increase the flavor of your pie. Carving pumpkins, being naturally less sweet, might need a bit of a sweetness boost. Adding maple syrup, brown sugar, or a drizzle of honey can make all the difference.

Texture is another important factor of a perfect pie. If your pumpkin puree is too runny, passing it through a cheesecloth or a fine strainer can help get that desired creamy consistency. The number of eggs you add can also influence the texture; more eggs are custard-like, while fewer give a softer touch. 

Baking your pie on the middle rack in your oven will make certain that your pie bakes evenly.  Ovens can have slight temperature differences, and an oven thermometer can be a handy tool for accuracy. After baking, allow your pie to cool completely on a wire rack. This helps to make sure the filling sets just right without sinking in the center.

When it’s time to serve, add a dollop of whipped cream, or if you are an ice cream addict like my husband, classic vanilla can be a delicious option to elevate your pie. And if you’re thinking of storing your pie for later, the refrigerator is your friend. Your pie can even be frozen if you are planning ahead. Just make sure it is wrapped well. 

Final Thoughts

Turning a carving pumpkin into a tasty pie might seem odd, but it’s totally doable. Sure, it’s a bit different from using regular pie pumpkins, but with some care and a few tricks, you can make a really yummy pie.

Baking is all about trying new things and having fun. So, using a carving pumpkin for a pie is just another fun challenge. And who knows? You might end up liking it even more than the usual way.

So, if you have an extra carving pumpkin lying around or just want to try something new, give it a shot.

Have you made a pie out of a carving pumpkin?  Please leave me a comment below

And As Always

Keep On Baking!


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