Don’t toss those pumpkins because the holidays are over! Here’s five tasty ways to use those leftover squash

Large pumpkins on a table with small pumpkins so you can see the size difference

Got pumpkins? Here are 5 interesting recipes to try!

Halloween has passed, and the time to replace the fall decor with winter and Christmas is closing in. If you still have pumpkins and they’re going to need to make way for poinsettias soon, you might be tempted to toss, compost, or even feed them to the chickens. Wait!

Pumpkins are a great food packed with nutrition and have zero fat or cholesterol. Better yet, there are all kinds of dishes you can make with them. Not just sweet stuff like pies and poundcakes, but savory and spicy foods like chili, mac and cheese, even pickles!

Also, contrary to popular belief, it’s dead simple to prepare fresh pumpkin. Far easier than the time and hassle of going to the store to buy canned pumpkin (although canned pumpkin will work just fine).

Below are five recipes I tested and found to be the best combination of easy prep, great flavor, and novelty (“there’s pumpkin in that?”). I also added a few notes of my own that might be helpful to you.

Enjoy!

The Recipes

Before You Jump In – Pumpkin Puree

Most of these recipes call for pumpkin puree, which is about as easy as it gets to make from a whole pumpkin (click here for instructions).

But if you’re not working with a whole pumpkin (or even an ex-jack o’lantern), you can use store-bought canned puree. Just make sure it’s “pumpkin puree” and not “pumpkin pie filling” because they’re different.

On to the recipes!…

Pumpkin Chili

A bowl of chili with shredded cheese and green onion on top

Pumpkin Chili (Image courtesy of Old World Garden Farms)

This is a “Texas” style chili which means there are no tomatoes. That said, it’s a thick, filling chili with plenty of flavor courtesy of chipotle peppers, apple cider, and spices. The one change I made from the recipe as presented was to reduce the amount of cinnamon by half. I found the flavor a little overpowering in the first batch, but reducing it still left that exotic zip, without going all “pumpkin spice” on your tongue (if that makes sense).

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Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese

A bowl of hot macaroni and cheese

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese (Image courtesy of iamhomesteader.com)

I don’t know if there’s anything more comfort-foody and delicious than mac and cheese. I like this recipe because it takes a classic mac and cheese base and kicks it up a notch with pumpkin, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper. It’s a creamy, cheesy combo with sweet-spicy pumpkin flavor that really fills you up. If you want to save some time, I’m pretty sure you could skip making the pasta and cheese sauce from scratch by using boxed mac and cheese as well.

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Pickled Pumpkin

Two jars of cubed pumpkin sitting on a cutting board

Pickled Pumpkin (Image courtesy of robsonsfarm.com)

My husband says everything is made better by pickling. While I don’t agree with him on that notion (pickled candy bars? No thank you), I do have to agree that pickled pumpkins are much more tasty than I thought. They hold up well in the brine, so they’ve still got a little crunch, plus the vinegar and spices add a whole bunch of flavor that accents the pumpkin very well. There are all kinds of recipes for pickled pumpkin – sweet, spicy, hot, etc. I picked this classic white vinegar style because it’s basically the same as our giardiniera recipe, so I’ll be adding pumpkin to the list of vegetables in that garden mix.

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Pumpkin Dump Cake

A slice of pumpkin cake with ice cream on a platter

Pumpkin Dump Cake (Image courtesy of thenovicechefblog.com)

I must have been deprived as a child because I wasn’t familiar with the “dump cake” concept until recently. Despite the connotations of what a “pumpkin dump” could be, it’s basically a cake made by dumping the ingredients into a pan and cook it – no mixing, no mess, your oven does all the work. I made this recipe with the suggested spice cake mix, but in addition to the toffee pieces, I added butterscotch bits. The result was a decadent, rich, coffee cake that was great with a cup of coffee and some vanilla ice cream. If you like sweet cakes, you have to try this one.

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Pumpkin Dog Treats

A cookie stamped in the shape of a pumpkin sitting on a cutting board

Pumpkin Dog Treats (Image courtesy of wildwildwhisk.com)


I am a crazy dog lady and love spoiling them. But keeping them fully stocked on store-bought treats can get expensive, so I make treats for them at home. Usually it’s peanut butter and/or banana cookies, but they’re a little time-consuming, so I don’t make them as often as my fur friends would like. Then I found this super simple recipe (only 3 ingredients and 5 minutes to put it all together), which has the extra appeal of letting me get fancy with my cookie cutters. I know the dogs don’t really appreciate getting pumpkin and star-shaped cookies, but they appreciate the flavor well-enough to wolf the cookie down when they get one.

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Conclusion

So there you have it, the five best pumpkin recipes I like that aren’t a pie or bread. I know there’s plenty more out there, so if you’ve got a pumpkin recipe we should try, drop it in the comments below (with a link if you can)!

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author avatar
Terri Osterfeld
I'm Sage's wife and the real person in charge of Sage's Acre. He gets the yard, I get the house and the kitchen (unless I need him to do something in the house). I love making comfort food and baking, especially bread. I have no special training, but I did raise a herd of children and burned plenty before I perfected my technique. I love the simple, practical and homegrown. I also have a weakness for dachshunds (don't judge!).