6 of Our Favorite Pumpkin Varieties For Growing and Eating
Pumpkins are popular for carving, but that’s not all they are good for—in fact, far more people enjoy eating pumpkins in autumn than carving them.
Carving pumpkins is a great tradition (and we have the best Jack ‘O Lantern varieties) but it’s time that cooking pumpkins get their moment in the spotlight, too!
Fall is the perfect time to indulge in delicious pumpkin recipes. Plus our bodies crave nutrient-dense calories this time of year, in tune with the vegetables that are coming into harvest—potatoes, winter squash, and pumpkins. Pumpkins (aside from being irresistibly delicious) are one of the healthiest vegetables you can incorporate into your diet.
Keep reading for a buyer’s guide to the best pie pumpkins, as well as some of our favorite pumpkin recipes (that aren’t pumpkin-spiced).
The many benefits of eating pumpkin
Forget kale—the abundance of vitamins and minerals in pumpkins is reason enough to indulge in the festive superfood this season.
Regulates digestive system
A low-calorie food rich in fiber, pumpkin is an excellent way to naturally regulate the digestive system. Ironically, pumpkin helps with both constipation and diarrhea. A filling, nutrient-rich (and not to mention delicious) food that doesn’t pile on the calories (unless your pumpkin food calls for indulgent added sugars and fats).
Pumpkins are rich in vitamin C and several other antioxidants that have cancer-fighting properties, helping to keep breast, prostate, lung, throat, and stomach cancer at bay.
Promotes heart health
Pumpkins are one of the most heart-friendly foods since pumpkin flesh contains potassium, a mineral that works to regulate blood pressure lessening the risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart disease.
Immune-boosting vitamins and minerals
The presence of vitamins C and E and the minerals folate and iron have immune-boosting properties, so pumpkin is a great food to enjoy during cold and flu season.
Great for eye health
Like carrots, pumpkins are rich in the orange pigment beta carotene, an antioxidant that our bodies convert to vitamin A, which is known to improve eye health and vision.
Not only are pumpkins delicious, but you’d be amazed at the health benefits that come with incorporating this nutrient-dense native vegetable into your diet. So bring on fall and all things pumpkin.
6 of our favorite edible pumpkin varieties
1. Small Sugar
Possibly our sweetest pumpkin, Small Sugar is just the right size for roasting in the oven. The vigorous vines are heavy producers, forming many under-10-pound fruits that are ripe for picking 95 days from transplant. Small Sugar’s smooth texture and rich flavor make it a perfect variety for pies and soups.
Our most symmetrical and smooth-skinned pumpkin, this All-America Selections winner is a versatile pumpkin that can be used for either carving or cooking. Each vine produces about four long-handled, medium pumpkins roughly 90 days from transplant.
Interested in an exotic, delicious, heirloom? Look no further than the French heirloom Musquee de Provence. Slightly flattened and ribbed with beautiful bronze and green, this pumpkin is renowned for its delicious taste and versatility in recipes.
Another All-America Selections winner, Blue Prince is worth growing for its gorgeous and unusual pale blue color, if not for its velvety orange flesh. The ten-pound fruits are the perfect size for cooking, and the non-stringy flesh makes scooping out the insides for roasting that much easier.
If you like eating pumpkin seeds, you have to grow Pepitas. The beautiful green-mottled, spherical pumpkins are as pretty as they are tasty. The pale yellow flesh cooks up nicely, but the real prize with this variety is the hull-less seeds that, when roasted, make a wonderful snack. One of the quickest pumpkins to mature and among the most prolific varieties, Pepitas pumpkins are harvestable about 85 days from transplant.
This specialty heirloom is native to the Southern Appalachians, and we’re proud of it! Deliciously sweet, some consider its taste profile to be a cross between sweet potato and butternut squash. The oblong, blue-tipped fruits can weigh anywhere between eight and 15 pounds and the rich orange flesh makes a sugary sweet pie that (dare we say it?) we prefer to pumpkin! Candy Roaster matures in 97 days and stores for up to five months.
You really can’t go wrong growing any pumpkins, but in our opinion, these six varieties are the cream of the crop. For more information on how to grow, cure, and harvest pumpkins, check out this article.
3 quick and easy pumpkin recipes (that aren’t pumpkin bread)
If sweet bread and cookies come to mind when you picture cooking with pumpkins—think again! Not that we don’t love pumpkin treats, but to get the most nutritional benefits from eating pumpkin, serve this savory vegetable sans sugar and unhealthy fats.
Keep reading for a few simple pumpkin recipe ideas—feel free to tweak and customize these recipes to suit your dietary needs and taste preferences!
Roasting is the easiest way to prepare pumpkin, and it is the basis of pumpkin puree, which is foundational to many pumpkin recipes!
- One 5 lb pumpkin
- Olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
- Carefully cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds and “guts.” Reserve the seeds to roast separately!
- Rub olive oil and a dash of salt on each half of the pumpkin. Place each half flesh-side down on a greased baking sheet.
- Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 50-60 minutes. A larger pumpkin may need more time, and a smaller pumpkin may need less. The pumpkin is done when the skin is soft enough that pressing it with a spoon leaves an indentation.
- Carefully flip the pumpkin halves over and allow them to cool completely before scooping out the cooked pumpkin flesh with a spoon.
- If you like, you can use an immersion blender or a mixer to blend the roasted pumpkin into puree.
Roasted pumpkin seeds
One of the simplest recipes to make, roasted pumpkin seeds are a great way to use up the leftover seeds when you cut open a pumpkin for carving or cooking. You can cook any pumpkin seeds, but the hull-less Pepitas Hybrid seeds are the best tasting, in our opinion.
Start by rinsing the pumpkin seeds in water, then allow the seeds to dry completely before roasting—wet seeds won’t crisp up as much as seeds that were dry at the get-go.
- Pumpkin seeds
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper
- Garlic powder, paprika, and other seasonings of your choice
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Coat the pumpkin seeds in olive oil and your preferred seasonings. (We think salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika make the perfect combo!) Toss to combine.
- Spread the seeds out in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for about seven minutes.
- Remove the seeds from the oven and use a spatula to stir and flip the seeds.
- Roast the seeds for another seven minutes or until the seeds turn golden brown.
- Allow to cool before snacking!
Use the recipe for the roasted pumpkin above to make a delicious puree.
- One 2-3 lb pumpkin
- 1 yellow onion
- 4 garlic cloves
- 3 cups bone broth
- 1 cup whole milk or half and half
- Make pumpkin puree and set aside. Alternatively, you can cube the pumpkin and boil it in the broth until tender when pierced with a fork.
- Roughly chop the onion and garlic.
- In a stockpot, sauté the onion and garlic over medium-high heat until soft and fragrant.
- Add pumpkin puree and broth to the pot, and bring to a boil.
- Remove from heat and add cream.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with pepitas and a drizzle of cream.
Spice it up by adding a generous amount of curry spice!
You can make this recipe vegan by substituting one can of coconut milk for whole milk.
Don’t stop with these few recipe ideas—you can incorporate pumpkin into any recipe that calls for winter squash—think chili, pasta, or lasagna, just to name a few. If you love to bake, there’s no shortage of recipe ideas for pumpkin baked goods, like cookies, muffins, and pies—even granola!
There’s hardly a more nutritious vegetable that is seasonally available, so embrace sweater weather and refresh your favorite cool-weather recipes with this underrated superfood.
Now that we’ve convinced you to make pumpkin foundational to your fall diet, stock up on your favorite pumpkin varieties today!
All pumpkin seeds are 31% off through November 4th, 2023, and after reading this you’ll be armed with all the knowledge you need to grow beautiful pumpkins in your own backyard.