Published on 07 Nov 2023

How to Cook with Pumpkin: Tips, Ideas & Recipes

Nope, no pumpkin pie recipes to see here. As hard as it may be to believe, there are so many other sweets, savory dishes and even drinks you can make with fall’s go-to gourd, other than that classic Thanksgiving dessert. So, when you’re craving pumpkin flavor, set aside the standard crust and try one of these culinary inspirations instead. Keep reading to learn how to cook with pumpkin (and get tips, ideas and recipes)!

1. Bake pumpkin into breads, biscuits, brownies and bars.

pumpkin biscuits

If you think classic banana bread couldn’t possibly get any better, try adding pumpkin puree—along with maple syrup, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice—to the mix. The resulting Pumpkin Banana Bread is super moist, full of flavor and uber satisfying.

When the sweet craving is in full force, however, whip up a batch of 4-Ingredient Pumpkin Brownies or try crispy Pumpkin Spice Bars, made with rice cereal and marshmallows.

And for a little savory with your sweet, make these Pumpkin Biscuits, spread with honey cinnamon butter for an extra divine bite.

2. Try it with chocolate.

Pumpkin Truffle Balls

It might sound strange, but savory pumpkin and decadent chocolate really do belong together. Test the flavor combo yourself with these Chocolate Pumpkin Truffle Balls—pop-in-your-mouth treats filled with a mix of pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice (plus cashew butter and maple syrup), and covered in a chocolate shell.

And speaking of tasty bites, make pumpkin as a fudge with this Pumpkin Spice Freezer Fudge recipe; no chocolate, but lots of sweet.

3. Serve pumpkin as a snack.

Pumpkin hummus

When you want a something refreshing and sweet in the afternoon, Pumpkin Pie Applesauce—made with two quintessential autumn fruits—works perfect.

If you prefer a more savory snack, consider a creative twist on a favorite dip: Pumpkin Hummus replaces chickpeas with roasted pumpkin cubes and is seasoned with cumin, garlic and salt. Then it’s blended with lemon juice into a hummus-like texture. Pair it with crispy Pumpkin Cranberry Crackers for an extra pop of pumpkin.

4. Eat it as an entrée.

pumpkin chili

Of course you can enjoy a Simple Pumpkin Soup for lunch, or opt the Spicy version for a little kick. But if you want to take your midday or evening meals up a notch, here are heartier pumpkin recipes:

Black Bean Quinoa Pumpkin Soup loads protein, nutrients and tons of seasoning into every spoonful; fancy-sounding Pumpkin Risotto made simple in an Instant Pot; and Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chicken Chili, which packs some serious heat.

5. Freeze pumpkin treats.

Pumpkin pie ice cream

I scream, you scream, we all scream for Skinny Pumpkin Ice Cream—particularly when it’s made fresh from only four ingredients: pumpkin puree, of course, plus frozen bananas, maple syrup and pumpkin spice.

If you have more time and are feeling a little more ambitious, learn to how to cook this Pumpkin Icebox Cake that features layers of pumpkin mousse, maple mousse and graham crackers, sprinkled with walnuts and frozen to icebox ready.

6. Enjoy a pumpkin brew.

Pumpkin cream cold brew

Leave those sugar-loaded coffee concoctions at the shop and make your own Skinny Pumpkin Latte—complete with whipped cream on top.

Prefer your brew chilled? The also-Skinny Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew includes maple syrup and only weighs in at only 107 calories.

7. Pair it with cream cheese.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin

Pumpkin offers a natural sweetness; cream cheese is tart and tangy. Together, they are proof positive that opposites attract, complementing each other in a variety of treats and sweets.

Dig into moist Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins; layered Mini Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pies complete with a healthy homemade crust; and Cream Cheese Pumpkin Roll—a show-stopping dessert that’s as fun to slice as it is to eat.

8. Pumpkin-spice your shakes and smoothies.

pumpkin protein shake

Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves—that’s the mix that makes pumpkin spice, and it’s what you can use to flavor this Pumpkin Spice Latte Protein Shake and that Pumpkin Spice Smoothie.

Or, swap your cup for a bowl and enjoy a Pumpkin Spice Smoothie Bowl. The base is made from pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice, frozen bananas, nonfat milk and some vanilla extract. The topping is a medley of chopped pecans, granola crumbles, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries; and the combo, delicious.

Stock up on Nutrisystem protein shakes to use as the base of your pumpkin creations! >

9. Eat the seeds.

Homemade Roasted Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

No need to waste the insides of your jack-of-lantern masterpieces. Instead, learn how to cook pumpkin seeds!

Roast the seeds and toss plain ones into your salad for extra crunch. You can also enjoy them seasoned as a healthy snack (try this Sweet and Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seed recipe), or include them as part of your breakfast Pumpkin Parfait.

You can also pair the pumpkin with chia and sesame seeds (plus healthy oats, golden raisins, cinnamon and honey) to create this super crunchy Pumpkin Seed Brittle.

10. Make spoon-able desserts.

pumpkin mousse

If you prefer smooth and creamy, 3-Step Pumpkin Mousse is a beautiful choice—blended from cottage cheese, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and sugar, then topped with a light whipped topping and cinnamon.

If you’d rather a little bite in your spoon, enjoy this Slow-Cooker Pumpkin Rice Pudding, guilt-free.

Now that you know how to cook with pumpkin, read this article to learn more about the health benefits of this fall fruit and then download our printable pumpkin recipe book here! >

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