The second September hits, it’s uber tempting to grab a shopping cart at your local grocery and go to town loading it up with the pumpkins out front of the store. Tiny pumpkins, great pumpkins and everything in between — honestly, we’ll take them all. Between carving, decorating and baking, they’re all gonna get used, right?
Let us stop you right there. If you’re thinking of using the same pumpkins intended for carving to make a pie, you’re entering into a trap. Not all pumpkins are created equal.
Not to worry, lovers of fall and all things pumpkin spice. It’s pretty easy to separate the jack-o’-lantern pumpkins from the pie pumpkins once you know what you’re looking for.
In contrast to the flesh-packed pie pumpkin, carving pumpkins, commonly referred to as jack-o’-lantern pumpkins, were designed to make it easier to, well, carve. Jack-o’-lantern pumpkins have a thinner shell and typically have less flesh (or pumpkin guts) on the inside. The flesh is grainier and stringy. The inside of a carving pumpkin tends to contain more water than pie pumpkins.
Jack-o’-lantern pumpkins, also called carving pumpkins, are less fleshy and easier to carve:
- Thinner shell
- Less flesh/guts inside
- Grainier/stringier flesh
- Contain more water than pie pumpkins
Pie pumpkins, also called sugar pumpkins, are smaller in shape than the monstrous pumpkins you’d find at your typical pumpkin patch. Pie pumpkins are commonly found in the grocery store in the produce section or at farm stands. This small, round pumpkin is packed full of flesh that makes it a good choice for cooking. The pulp also has a better texture (less grainy) and is sweeter.
Compared to carving pumpkins, pie pumpkins, aka sugar pumpkins, are smaller and easier to bake:
- Small and round
- Normally found in the grocery store or at farm stands
- Full of flesh that’s good for cooking
- Pulpy, sweeter flesh on the inside
Next up: The 6 best pumpkins for baking
Originally posted November 2012. Updated October 2017.