How to Cut a Pumpkin

Two Methods:Cutting a Baking PumpkinCutting a Halloween Pumpkin

Cutting up a pumpkin to bake with or to start a fun Halloween jack-o-lantern is easy with the right tools and a little guidance. You can learn how to get your pumpkin started for both purposes.

Method 1
Cutting a Baking Pumpkin

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    Cut the pumpkin in half to one side of the stem. If you want to bake with a pumpkin, learning to cut it properly for roasting or baking is the first step. Basically, you're just going to cut the pumpkin in half, and the easiest way to do this is usually by sitting the pumpkin upright on a steady surface, then cutting straight down the middle.[1]
    • Insert the knife and carefully cut straight down toward the blossom end, stabilizing the pumpkin on a towel. Push firmly, working the knife down through the flesh of the pumpkin. Cut it entirely in half.
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    Alternatively, cut the pumpkin across the "belly." It's also fine to cut a pumpkin across the middle, though it's a little more difficult to keep the pumpkin stable this way, making it a little more dangerous. Put out a towel, stabilize the pumpkin on it, then cut it carefully.
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    Remove the seeds. Use a metal spoon to scoop out the seeds from the inside before you start baking the pumpkin. Most smaller baking pumpkins won't have a lot of seeds in them to remove, or they might be easier to remove after you've roasted. That's perfectly normal.
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    Roast the pumpkin, or cook it according to your recipe. Baking pumpkins can be placed cut-side down in a roasting pan greased with just a little olive oil, then roasted at 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes, or until you can pierce the flesh with a fork easily.
    • Let the roasted pumpkin cool slightly, then peel off the outside skin and puree the soft flesh inside if you want to make pumpkin pie ultimately.
    • Check out this article for more information about baking with pumpkins for pies, soups, and other dishes.

Method 2
Cutting a Halloween Pumpkin

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    Use an appropriate knife. To get started carving a pumpkin, you need to remove the "lid" and hollow it out. For this job, you can usually use any number of basic kitchen knives. A serrated bread knife, a small chef's knife, or any knife with a definite point.
    • Sharp knives are easier to work with and safer than dull knives. Use caution, move slowly, and stabilize the pumpkin before you get started. While carving can be done by kids, this first part should usually be done by adults.
    • To carve a pumpkin, you'll need a variety of other tools, which can usually be purchased at Halloween stores. Secret tip: Use a clean serrated dry-wall knife for the detail work.
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    Stabilize the pumpkin on a flat surface. Spread out some paper towels or newspaper on the kitchen table, or another sturdy flat surface on which you can work at carving your pumpkin. Opening up the top of the pumpkin can be somewhat dangerous, if the knife slips, so make sure that you've got it stabilized.
    • Lay out a hand towel and double it over, then put the pumpkin on top of that. This should help to keep the pumpkin from rolling as you cut into it.
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    Insert the point of the knife at an angle. Pick a point about 2-3 inches to one side of the stem, and insert your knife at about a 45 degree angle. Push your knife through until you've penetrated through the flesh of the pumpkin. You'll only need to push it in an inch or two.
    • In some pumpkins, you may be able to cut straight in from the top, instead of at an angle. Pay attention to the curve of the particular pumpkin that you're cutting into. Remember that you want the lid to sit comfortably on the top of the pumpkin, and not fall in.
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    Continue cutting around the stem. Pull the knife back out, shift it to one side and push it back through, continuing to slowly and carefully cut around the stem in a circle. You can cut several straight lines, cutting a kind of six-sided shape around the outside, or you can try to cut a smooth circle. Both ways work fine.
    • Sometimes, cutting straight lines will help the lid sit a little better. If you cut a smooth circle, try to carve a notch somewhere, in the back if you like, so that you can fit the lid back on easily.
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    Pull the lid off by the stem. Once you've gone around the stem and gotten back to your starting place, grab the lid firmly by the stem and pull upward. With a little elbow-grease it should come loose.
    • If there's not enough stem to grab onto, use a butter knife or a regular table knife (something that's dull) to pry under the lid and pull it up.
    • There should be some strands of pumpkin fiber that might tug on the lid, but it should come up pretty easy. Run the knife around again a couple times if it's not coming off.
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    Scoop out the pumpkin, then start carving. Once you've gotten the lid off the pumpkin, you're ready to get your hands dirty. Use a metal serving spoon to scrape out the interior, saving the seeds for roasting pumpkin seeds, if you want. Then design your pumpkin and start carving.
    • Dab a little petroleum jelly on the inside edge of the pumpkin lid to help keep it from rotting more quickly.[2]
    • Read How to Carve a Pumpkin for some fun templates and more information about carving pumpkins.


  • Make sure your knife is sharp enough. Cutting with a dull knife is more dangerous.


  • Pumpkins rot very quickly when cut. Doing this too far in advance will leave a stinky mess before Halloween.

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Categories: Halloween Pumpkins