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4 Best Ways to Peel a Pumpkin (2023)

You can peel a raw or cooked pumpkin. It can be whole or sliced. To learn the best way to peel pumpkin, be clear on why you need it peeled.

Whole, raw, peeled pumpkin
There are many ways to peel a pumpkin.

You found the perfect pumpkin. It’s the right size and shape. But what is the best way to peel the pumpkin?

The easiest way to peel pumpkin is to peel it after it cooks because the skin will fall off effortlessly. The best way to peel a raw pumpkin is by tackling it in segments instead of peeling it in one piece.

Be clear on why you want the pumpkin peeled. You may discover that you don’t always need to peel it before cooking it.

You don’t necessarily need to peel a pumpkin before roasting it. However, you must peel it before adding pumpkin chunks to the soup.

This article will teach you the best tools for peeling a pumpkin, directions to peel it raw, and how to peel it cooked.

Essential Tools to Peel a Pumpkin

Every tool listed here must be sharp. Pumpkin skin is tougher than other vegetables.

  • Vegetable scrubber. Always scrub the pumpkin under running water with a vegetable scrubber before cutting it. Buy here.
  • Serrated piranha swivel peeler (by Kuhn Rikon). You will love the super sharp serrated blade that cuts into the pumpkin skin. The swivel action helps the peeler glide around the pumpkin grooves and ridges.

    Smaller pumpkins and butternut squash peel effortlessly with this peeler. Peel away from yourself with this tool. Buy here.
  • Piranha Y-Peeler (by Kuhn Rikon). The sharp serrated blade of the Y-peeler allows you to peel tougher skins in larger pieces. Peel toward yourself with this peeler. Buy here.
  • Sharp knife. You may need more than one knife for this job.

    With a sharp butcher knife, you can cut the top off the pumpkin or cut it in segments. It is not the easiest knife to peel with, though.

    Depending on the size of the pumpkin, I find that a chef knife or a paring knife gives better control when peeling. These knives make it more manageable to peel a raw pumpkin segment.

    Buy Cutco chef knife. Buy Cutco paring knife.
  • Cutting board. Protect your counter. Use a cutting board. Buy here.
  • Paper towel or cloth towel. Prevent the pumpkin from sliding around by placing a paper towel on the cutting board. Buy paper towels. Buy tea towels.

Tasty Tips Before You Start

  • Choose a fresh pumpkin. Not one that has been decorating your front porch for a month. Make sure it is firm and hearty.
  • Choose a pumpkin variety meant to be eaten. Tasty types include sugar pumpkins or pie pumpkins. They are readily available at your local farmers market and grocery store every autumn.

    Avoid gigantic pumpkins best suited for carving and decoration.

How to Peel a Raw Whole Pumpkin

  1. Scrub the pumpkin with a vegetable peeler under cool running water. Then dry it.
  2. Place a paper or kitchen towel on a cutting board. Set the pumpkin on top of the towel.
  3. Choose your peeling instrument (peeler or knife).
  4. Peel. See the following instructions for the different types of peeling tools.
Peeling a whole raw pumpkin with a swivel peeler, y-peeler, and sharp knife.
Which tool will you use to peel a whole, raw pumpkin?

Serrated Peeler

The flexible swivel motion is the advantage of this type of peeler. However, this tool is difficult to use with very large or tough pumpkins.

If you are using a serrated peeler (highly recommend Kuhn Rikon piranha swivel peeler):

  • With the pumpkin on the cutting board, hold the stem firmly with your non-dominant hand and the peeler in your dominant hand.
  • Start an inch or two from the top of the pumpkin and peel in a downward motion (away from you).
  • Rotate the pumpkin and continue to peel downward.
  • Go back and find missed spots and peel.
  • Peel the top closer to the stem as much as possible. Do the same on the bottom.

Y-Peeler

The Y-peeler can handle tougher skin and larger pumpkins. Its disadvantage is its inability to move around curves and corners like a swivel peeler.

If you are using a Y-peeler (highly recommend Kuhn Rikon piranha Y-peeler):

  • With the pumpkin on the cutting board, hold the pumpkin stem firmly with your non-dominant hand and the peeler in your dominant hand.
  • Tilt the pumpkin slightly back into yourself so that the bottom of the pumpkin is exposed.
  • Start an inch or two from the bottom of the pumpkin and peel toward the top of the pumpkin. It will feel like you are peeling towards yourself.
  • Rotate the pumpkin and continue to peel upward until the pumpkin is peeled.
  • Peel closer to the stem and bottom of the pumpkin. You may find it easier to switch to a smaller serrated peeler. The piranha swivel peeler is good for the job because it is flexible enough to match the pumpkin’s curves.

Sharp Knife

Use a sharp knife if you don’t have a good vegetable peeler or the pumpkin is too tough for the peeler you have.

If you are using a sharp knife:

  • Decide if a chef or paring knife is best for the job.
  • With the pumpkin on the cutting board, hold the stem firmly with your non-dominant hand and the knife in your dominant hand.
  • Start an inch or two from the top and carefully cut in a downward motion (away from yourself). Try to cut thin slices of the skin off.
  • Rotate the pumpkin and continue to peel.
  • You may need to switch to a smaller knife to peel around the stem and the bottom of the pumpkin.

How to Peel Raw Pumpkin Segments

Peeling raw pumpkin with y-peeler, swivel peeler, and paring knife.
Peeling a raw pumpkin in segments is much easier than tackling the whole thing.

It is usually much easier to peel pumpkin segments than to peel the whole pumpkin. But it takes a few more steps to get to the peeling part.

  1. Scrub the pumpkin with a vegetable peeler under cool running water. Then dry it.
  2. Place a paper or kitchen towel on a cutting board. Set the pumpkin on top of the towel.
  3. Cut the stem off the pumpkin with a sharp butcher knife. Then cut the pumpkin in half.
  4. Scrape out the seeds and strings. Save the seeds for roasting.
  5. Begin peeling each half. Or cut the half in quarters or slices before peeling.
  6. Follow the steps above based on which peeler or knife you use.

    Remember, the swivel peeler peels away from you. The Y-peeler peels towards you. And the knife can peel in either direction.

What to Watch Out For

  • Wobbly pumpkin pieces. When you cut the pumpkin, you lose the flat pumpkin bottom that remained in place (for the most part).

    Fix it: Find the flattest edge to balance on while you peel. It may be easier to cut flat edges on your pieces.
  • Pieces that are so small, peeling is difficult. If you cut the segments too small before peeling them, it may be challenging to peel them without your fingers getting in the way.

    Fix it: Keep the pieces the correct size. They should be large enough segments to safely peel but small enough that managing the peeling process is easy.

How to Peel a Whole Cooked Pumpkin

Peeling is not difficult when the whole pumpkin is cooked.

Peeling a whole cooked pumpkin with a y-peeler or a sharp knife.
The skin comes off easily when pumpkin is cooked.
  1. Remove the cooked pumpkin from the pan and place it on a cutting board to cool.
  2. When it is cool enough to work with, use a sharp knife (best choice) to cut into the peel. Then use your fingers to pull the peel off in strips. You shouldn’t need the knife for more than starting a peel.
  3. Rotate the pumpkin and continue to cut and peel the skin strips off.
  4. After peeling, cut the top off. Then cut the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds and strings.
  • A knife is the best tool for this job. However, if you prefer, use a Y-peeler. A swivel peeler is not a good option.

What to Watch Out For

  • The heat. Cooked whole pumpkins are extremely hot. Depending on the pumpkin’s size, you will need to wait up to 20 or 30 minutes for it to be cool enough to work with.

    Fix it: Take the time to cool the pumpkin before peeling it.
  • The seeds and strings. It can be messy to pull out the strings and seeds without scraping out the cooked pumpkin as well.

    Fix it: Be aware that removing strings from a cooked pumpkin will be a messy job. If you don’t want to deal with it, cut the pumpkin and remove the seeds and strings before cooking it.

How to Peel Cooked Pumpkin Segments

Peeling cooked pumpkin segments is the easiest method of all. The seeds/strings are gone, and the pieces are small and manageable.

Cutting a cooked pumpkin wedge to get ready to peel it..
The easiest way to peel pumpkin is to cook and peel it in segments.
  1. Scrub the pumpkin with a vegetable peeler under cool running water. Then dry it.
  2. Place a paper or kitchen towel on a cutting board. Set the pumpkin on top of the towel.
  3. Remove the stem from the pumpkin with a sharp butcher knife. Then cut the pumpkin in half.
  4. Scrape out the seeds and strings. Save the seeds for roasting.
  5. Cut the pumpkin into quarters or segments and then cook it.
  • Microwave the pumpkin for 6 to 8 minutes for a 2-pound pumpkin. A larger pumpkin may need even more time.
  1. Cool the pumpkin for a few minutes after it cooks so you don’t get burned.
  2. Remove the peel by scraping the pumpkin flesh off. Or by cutting segments and then peeling off the skin.

Does Softening Pumpkin in the Microwave Make Pealing Easier?

You may have heard that throwing a small pumpkin in the microwave softens the pumpkin, making it easy to peel. This is what I found.

  • Microwaving for 2 or 3 minutes may soften the pumpkin a bit. However, it does not make it easier to peel with peelers or a knife.
  • Microwaving a small pumpkin for 6 to 8 minutes cooks it enough that the skin easily slides off.

FAQs About Peeling Pumpkin

Do you have to peel pumpkin for soup?

Technically, pumpkin peel is edible, but that doesn’t mean it tastes very good. Peel your pumpkin before putting it in soup. Then the soup will be more palatable, and the texture will be smoother.

Do you need to peel pumpkin?

Peeling pumpkin is not always necessary – at least before you cook it. Cooked pumpkin is easy to separate from its peel.

Do you peel pumpkin before roasting?

It is not necessary to peel pumpkin before roasting it. Roasting halves or segments and then removing the peel is easy.

However, if you like browning and caramelization on all sides of the pumpkin, it should be peeled first. Otherwise, the surface will be roasted. But the flesh touching the peel will be softer and won’t be browned.

Craving More Pumpkin?

  • Best ways to eat pumpkin. Looking for the best way to eat pumpkin? You can eat almost the whole pumpkin. Get ideas for sweets, savory dishes, drinks, and substituting.
  • Pumpkin snickerdoodles. If you love snickerdoodle cookies and pumpkin, you are in for a nice fall treat. Try pumpkin snickerdoodles for a twist on the soft and chewy, slightly tangy, classic cinnamon sugar cookie.
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds. Don’t throw out the seeds from a fresh pumpkin. Instead make a healthy snack and roast the pumpkin seeds. Tasty, salty, crispy, and crunchy, the pumpkin seeds are a unique autumn snack.

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Yield: 1 pumpkin

How to Peel a Pumpkin

Whole, raw, peeled pumpkin

You can peel a raw or cooked pumpkin. It can be whole or sliced. To learn the best way to peel pumpkin, be clear on why you need it peeled.

Ingredients

  • 1 small cooking pumpkin

Tools

  • Vegetable peeler
  • Swivel or Y vegetable peeler (or a sharp knife)
  • Cutting board
  • Paper towel or tea towel

Instructions

These instructions are for peeling a whole, raw pumpkin. See notes for peeling segments. See post for instructions on peeling a cooked pumpkin.

  1. SCRUB the pumpkin with a vegetable peeler under cool running water. Then dry it.
  2. PLACE a paper or kitchen towel on a cutting board. Set the pumpkin on top of the towel.
  3. CHOOSE your peeling instrument (peeler or knife).
  4. WITH the pumpkin on the cutting board, hold the stem firmly with your non-dominant hand and the peeler in your dominant hand.
  5. START an inch or two from the top of the pumpkin and peel in a downward motion (away from you) if you are using a swivel peeler. Peel from the bottom in an upward motion if you are using a Y-peeler. Cut from the top in a downward motion if you are using a knife.
  6. ROTATE the pumpkin and continue to peel.
  7. CHECK the pumpkin and find missed spots and peel again.
  8. PEEL the top closer to the stem as much as possible. Do the same on the bottom.
  9. CUT the stem off the pumpkin.
  10. CUT the pumpkin in half.
  11. REMOVE the seeds and stringy fibers.
  12. CHOP or COOK the pumpkin however you would like.

See how to roast pumpkin cubes.

See how to pressure cook pumpkin.

Notes

To Peel Raw Pumpkin Segments

  • Cut the stem off the pumpkin and them cut the pumpkin in half.
  • Remove the seeds and stringy fibers.
  • Cut the pumpkin into pieces.
  • Peel the individual pieces.

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