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How to Roast Pumpkin Cubes for Salad

Pumpkin is back in season! Are you ready for all things pumpkin? Get started by learning how to roast pumpkin cubes for salad. It’s just like roasting any squash.

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Roasted pumpkin bakes at a high dry heat resulting in a browned, caramelized, savory finish. Use it to top any salad, but you will especially love it on quinoa salad with roasted pumpkin and feta.

How do you roast pumpkin cubes? Wash, peel, and cube the pumpkin. Then toss it with some fat and sprinkle it with seasonings. Roast it in the oven, cool, and toss on your favorite salad.

This post will teach you all the crucial details for roasted pumpkin success.

What Kind of Pumpkin Should You Use?

Whole pie pumpkin on a cutting board.

What are the best pumpkins for cooking? The best-tasting pumpkin varieties are small round sugar pumpkins. Your grocery store might call them pie or sweet pumpkins.

These pumpkins are round and about 6 inches tall and 8 inches wide. But the sizes can vary. They are easier to peel and chop than a large pumpkin is.

Giant pumpkins meant for carving do not taste as good as sugar pumpkins. In addition to not tasting great, Jack ‘o lantern pumpkins also have a lot of stringy innards that are annoying to remove. Plus, peeling? What a pain!

Try to find your cooking pumpkins at a farmers market or specialty grocery store. These markets may have a wider selection of pumpkin varieties.

Just remember to choose a pumpkin that is small enough to work with. A few delicious pumpkin varieties to try are:

  • White Casper pumpkins. These may be larger than sugar pumpkins, but their shape is smooth enough to peel. Peeling is the preferred method before roasting pumpkin cubes.
  • Cinderella pumpkins. Shaped like the carriage in the fairy tale but still easy to peel.
  • Butternut squash. Ok, I know it isn’t pumpkin. But pumpkin is really a squash, so I’m including it on this list.

You may also be interested in the best ways to eat pumpkin. Roasting is just one of the many ways to eat it.

Tools You Need

Don’t forget these essential tools to make your job easier.

  • Vegetable scrubber. Buy one here.
  • Sharp knife. Use a sharp paring knife if you are peeling it with a knife. Use a large sharp butcher knife to cut the pumpkin in half.
  • Cutting board
  • Vegetable peeler (optional). If you choose to peel the pumpkin before roasting it, you need a heavy-duty peeler.

    Kuhn Rikon is the brand I use, love, and recommend. Use either their piranha swivel peeler or the y peeler. Both will let you effortlessly remove the pumpkin skin.
  • Bowl to hold the pumpkin seeds. If you love roasted pumpkin seeds, be sure to keep these seeds for later.
  • Roasting pan or sheet pan. Use a large enough pan so the pumpkin cubes can lie in a single layer.
  • Parchment paper. This isn’t necessary, but I always like to use it to protect my sheet pan from the oil and high heat. Plus, you know the roasted pumpkin will never stick to it.

Ingredients

  • Sugar or pie pumpkin
  • Some type of fat. Butter (or clarified butter) is tastiest. But you can also use olive or coconut oil.

    Use approximately 1 tablespoon of fat for every cup of pumpkin.
  • Salt and pepper is the classic. But you can season the pumpkin cubes any way you would like. Try brown sugar, cinnamon, garlic, or chili powder.

How to Roast Pumpkin Cubes (Peeling Instructions)

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
  1. Scrub the pumpkin with a stiff vegetable scrub brush. Don’t skip this vital food safety step.

    Depending on where you bought your pumpkin, there may be more dirt and debris on it than some. A vegetable brush will remove all of that.
Pie pumpkin being scrubbed with a vegetable brush under running water.
Don’t forget to clean the pumpkin before peeling it.
  1. Pat the pumpkin dry.
  1. Peel the pumpkin. It is easier to peel the pumpkin when you have a good grip on the stem. I’ve tried peeling it before and after cutting the stem off. And believe you me, my friend, it is much easier when you have the stem to grab to hold the pumpkin steady as you peel.

    Will any old vegetable peeler work? Unfortunately, you need a heavy-duty peeler for a pumpkin.

    A pumpkin has tough skin. Give it the respect it deserves. And make it easy on your hand and wrist too. Get all the info on peeling pumpkin.

    Choose either a serrated piranha swivel peeler or piranha Y vegetable peeler, made by Kuhn Rikon.
  1. Place the dry pumpkin flat on the cutting board with the stem facing up. Grip the stem with your non-dominant hand and hold the vegetable peeler in the other hand. Starting at the top, use the vegetable peeler to peel in a downward motion.
Two pumpkins getting peeled side-by-side with different vegetable peelers.
  1. Stop and rotate the pumpkin when needed. Continue in a straight path around the pumpkin until it is peeled. Peel the top on the curves and then peel the bottom.
  1. Cut off the stem. It may be easy to cut it right off in a straight chop. Or you may need to cut around the stem as if you were ready to carve it.
The top cut off a peeled pie pumpkin.
  1. Cut the pumpkin in half from the top (where the stem was) to the bottom.
Two cut halves of a peeled pumpkin with the seeds and string still inside.
  1. Remove the pumpkin seeds and any hanging strings. Place them in the reserved bowl.
Spoon scraping out the pumpkin seeds and string into a bowl.
  1. Cut the pumpkin halves into slices. If the pumpkin slices are still stringy, cut a thin layer off the slice with a paring knife. Then cut the pieces into about 1-inch cubes. Place the cubes in a large bowl or a large zip-top bag.
Three progression shots showing slicing and cubing the peeled pumpkin.
  1. Add the melted butter to the pumpkin and stir to coat it. Season with salt and pepper (or your other seasonings).
  1. Place a sheet of parchment paper on the sheet pan. Spread the cubed pumpkin in a single layer in the pan. Generously sprinkle the pumpkin with kosher salt and black pepper. Or whatever seasoning you want.
  1. Roast in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring once or twice for even cooking. Check periodically, especially if you start to smell cooked pumpkin. The pumpkin should be lightly browned and tender when pierced with a fork.
Roasted pumpkin cubes on a baking pan.
  1. Remove the pumpkin cubes from the oven and turn the oven off.
  1. Let the pumpkin cool fully or partially, depending on the salad recipe. Then toss the cubes into your salad.

How to Roast Pumpkin Cubes (without peeling the pumpkin first)

If you don’t have a heavy-duty peeler or you don’t want to do the difficult job of peeling, you can still get roasted pumpkin cubes.

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
  1. Scrub the pumpkin with a stiff vegetable scrub brush. Then dry it.
  1. Cut the top off the pumpkin. Then cut the pumpkin in half from the top to the bottom (not around the middle.)
  1. Remove the pumpkin seeds and scrape out the strings.
  1. Cut each pumpkin half into crescent strips (about 1-inch wide).
  1. Brush each strip with melted butter (or your fat choice). Don’t skip the sides on the strips.
  1. Generously season with salt and pepper. Don’t forget about the sides.
  1. Place the pumpkin slices on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper.
Pumpkin wedges brushed with butter and sprinkled with seasoning on a baking tray ready to go in the oven.
  1. Roast in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until the pumpkin is fork-tender and lightly browned.
  1. Remove the pan from the oven and turn the oven off. Let the pumpkin cool for about 5 minutes or until you can touch it without getting burned.
  1. Without cutting all the way through the peel, cut the pumpkin slices into chunks. Four or five per slice is average for a small pumpkin.
Roasted pumpkin wedge with peel cut into segments. The cut does not go through the peel, only the pumpkin flesh.
  1. Pull the peel off the precut slices. It should be easy to remove.
  1. Use the pumpkin chunks in a salad or other meal.

How to Store Roasted Pumpkin Cubes

If you aren’t eating the roasted pumpkin immediately, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

How long does roasted pumpkin last? When correctly stored, roasted pumpkin lasts up to three days. Reheating is easy in the microwave.

Can You Freeze Roasted Pumpkin Cubes?

It is easy to freeze roasted pumpkin cubes. The following steps will allow you to freeze the cubes without the pieces sticking together. Then you can pull out the exact amount you need rather than thaw the whole thing.

  1. Cool the pumpkin cubes thoroughly. Warm pumpkin that goes in the freezer changes texture. Plus, it makes the pumpkin stick together. This makes it challenging to take out only the pumpkin you need.
  1. Layer a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan. This can be the same pan you roasted the pumpkin on. Make sure it is clean, though.
  1. Place the roasted pumpkin cubes in a single layer on the pan.
  1. Put the pan in the freezer for 1 hour. This is often called flash freezing.
  1. Remove the pan and immediately transfer the partially frozen cubes to an airtight container or zip-top freezer bag.
  1. Return to the freezer and freeze completely. The cubes should not stick together, which makes it easier to remove just what you need.

How to Thaw Frozen Pumpkin Cubes

Depending on what you will be using the pumpkin cubes for, you may or may not need to thaw them first. If they will be added to soup or a casserole, simply throw in the frozen cubes before cooking.

To thaw the pumpkin cubes for other recipes:

  1. Remove the amount you need from the freezer. Thaw for at least an hour or overnight.
  1. Reheat in the microwave, toaster oven, oven, or stovetop.

Variations

This recipe will produce roasted pumpkin that is delicious on its own or mixed in a salad. However, you can season the pumpkin before roasting it to change the flavor. Here are some suggestions.

  • To add sweetness, sprinkle in brown sugar, maple syrup, or honey. Use 1 to 2 tablespoons per 2 cups of cubed pumpkin.
  • Curry powder. Depending on how spicy you like things, use ¼ to 1 teaspoon of curry powder per 2 cups of pumpkin.
  • Cinnamon and nutmeg
  • Cumin and paprika
  • Chili powder

How to Use Roasted Pumpkin Cubes

In addition to salad, you can use roasted pumpkin cubes in pumpkin soup, any casserole, or as a veggie side dish.

FAQ

How many cups of pumpkin in a sugar pumpkin?

There are approximately 4 cups of raw pumpkin flesh in a small 3 pound pumpkin. This can vary based on the pumpkin variety and the amount of seeds and strings inside.

Can cooked pumpkin be left out?

Cooked pumpkin should not be left over for longer than two hours. According to the FDA guidelines, all perishable food should follow the two-hour rule. Eat or refrigerate it within two hours to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

How long does pumpkin last when cut?

Once a pumpkin is cut, it will last three to five days (sometimes longer) if it is refrigerated. Be sure to keep raw, cut pumpkin in an airtight container.

If the pumpkin has been cut in half but not peeled, you can wrap the half in plastic wrap.

How do you know if pumpkin has gone bad?

If the pumpkin starts to get soft, smells, shows mold, or becomes discolored, assume it has gone bad and throw it out.

Can’t Get Enough Pumpkin?

If you love pumpkin, check out these pumpkin posts.           

  • Pumpkin snickerdoodles. Just when you thought snickerdoodles couldn’t get better, pumpkin entered the picture. Check out these soft, fluffy pumpkin snickerdoodles. You won’t be able to eat just one.

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Yield: varies depending on pumpkin size

How to Roast Pumpkin Cubes for Salad

Bowl of roasted pumpkin cubes with whole pumpkin in the background.

You can roast pumpkin and eat it as you would any other squash. Roasted pumpkin cooks at a high dry heat for a browned savory finish. Finished cubes are ready for any seasonal salad.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • Whole pie or sugar pumpkin
  • 3 tablespoons of melted butter, clarified butter, or olive oil (*see notes)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional sweeteners or spices

Instructions

  1. PPREHEAT the oven to 425°F (220°C). Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan.
  2. SCRUB the pumpkin with a stiff vegetable scrub brush to remove any dirt or debris. 
  3. PAT the pumpkin dry.
  4. PEEL the pumpkin. Place it on the cutting board with the stem facing up. Grip the stem with your non-dominant hand and hold the vegetable peeler (*see notes) in the other hand. Starting at the top, use the vegetable peeler to peel in a downward motion.
  5. STOP and ROTATE the pumpkin when needed. Continue in a straight path around the pumpkin until it is peeled. Peel the top on the curves and then peel the bottom.
  6. CUT OFF the stem. It may be easy to cut it right off in a straight chop. Or you may need to cut around the stem as if you were prepping it to carve.
  7. CUT the pumpkin in half from the top (where the stem was) to the bottom.
  8. REMOVE the pumpkin seeds and any hanging strings. Place them in the reserved bowl.
  9. SLICE the pumpkin halves into crescent pieces. If the pumpkin slices are still stringy, cut a thin layer off the slice with a paring knife. Then cut the pieces into about 1-inch cubes. Place the cubes in a large bowl or zip-top bag.
  10. ADD the melted butter to the pumpkin and stir to coat it. Season with salt and pepper (or your other seasonings).
  11. SPREAD the cubed pumpkin in a single layer in the prepared sheet pan. Generously sprinkle the pumpkin with kosher salt and black pepper. Or whatever seasoning you want.
  12. ROAST in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring once or twice for even cooking. Check periodically, especially if you start to smell cooked pumpkin. The pumpkin should be lightly browned and tender when pierced with a fork.
  13. REMOVE the pumpkin cubes from the oven and turn the oven off.
  14. COOL the pumpkin fully or partially, depending on the salad recipe. Then toss the roasted cubes into your salad.

Notes

  • A serrated piranha swivel or piranha Y vegetable peeler (made by Kuhn Rikon) work the best. You need something heavy-duty. Alternately, use a paring knife.
  • Use 1 tablespoon of melted butter for every cup of raw pumpkin. Use more if the seasonings have difficulty sticking to the pumpkin cubes.

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