Easy Way to Bake a Whole Pumpkin or Winter Squash

It’s October so we are starting to see many beautiful winter squash at farmers’ markets. We even have a few ready to harvest in our backyard. 

Don’t be afraid to buy a whole big squash. You don’t need a power saw to butcher the squash, you can bake it whole and then cut it (SO MUCH EASIER!)  Once baked, the squash is easy to cut into chunks for use in soups, stews, empanadas, pies, etc. 

Check out this gorgeous pumpkin! It would have been pretty difficult to cut it into chucks. It had a thick hard skin. 

To begin, you do want to puncture the pumpkin or squash with a sharp knife. Create 4-5 cuts. This will allow steam to escape. (Even this is challenging with some pumpkins so use your sturdiest knife.)

Take out the middle rack in your oven. Place pumpkin on a baking sheet and put in a 375 degree oven. Bake for 60-90 minutes. You want to be able to cut into the pumpkin easily, so check by stabbing the pumpkin with knife after 60 minutes. If it is still difficult to puncture, bake for an additional 30 minutes. 

Mine came out perfectly! See the way the pumpkin meat is pulling away from the skin!?  

Gently scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff. 

Here’s what remains: 

You can use this right away or cut into chunks and put in the freezer for use throughout the winter. I know you may only have one thing in mind: pumpkin pie. But I enjoy pumpkin in savory dishes, like soups and stews. Pumpkin pairs wonderfully with chipotle or roasted green chile. Put some chunks in a white bean, green chile stew. Or add small pieces of pumpkin to pozole. Pumpkin also tastes great as a filling for tacos, quesadillas, or tamales.  

And, don’t throw away the seeds. You can roast them for snacks.