An easy recipe for savory baked pumpkin, seasoned with olive oil, garlic, and chili powder.
It's such a wonderful side dish. Oven-roasting is one of my favorite ways to make this tasty winter squash!
When you think about pumpkin, do you only think about pumpkin pie? If so, you're missing out! Pumpkin can take on either sweet or savory flavors, and it makes a wonderful, hearty, and satisfying savory side dish, perfect for fall and winter.
You'll only need FIVE simple ingredients to roast a pumpkin! The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Sugar pumpkin: Small pumpkins are more flavorful. They do vary in size, from 2 lb. to 5 lb., but whatever their size, as long as they are marked as "sugar pumpkin" or "sugar pie pumpkin," that's what you need.
Olive oil: I love cooking with this delicious oil. Melted butter is another tasty option.
Seasonings: I use kosher salt, chili powder, and garlic powder. In this particular recipe, I prefer garlic powder to minced fresh garlic, because it more evenly coats the pumpkin.
So how do you roast pumpkin? In this easy recipe, the pumpkin is seasoned with olive oil, garlic, and chili powder. Then it's baked in a hot oven until tender. This flavor combination is phenomenal!
Please scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
Your first step is to slightly soften the pumpkin in the microwave, then carefully cut it in half and remove the pulp and seeds.
Next, you cut each pumpkin half into four 1-inch-thick moon-shaped slices. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the skin off. Cut the peeled pumpkin slices into cubes.
Place the pumpkin cubes in a large bowl and coat them with olive oil and spices.
Transfer the seasoned pumpkin pieces to a parchment-paper-lined rimmed baking sheet. Roast them until fork-tender, about 30 minutes at 425°F, tossing them halfway through.
An alternative method
Another option, shown in the video below, is to skip the peeling, slicing and cubing. Simply cut the pumpkin in half, remove the pulp and seeds, and place it cut-side-down on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.
As before, cook the pumpkin until fork-tender, about 30 minutes at 425°F. The result is not so much a side dish as a cooked pumpkin that you can then use in other recipes.
It's best to use a small sugar pumpkin when making this recipe. The bigger the pumpkin, the less flavor it has. You want a small pumpkin with firm, deep orange flesh. It's best to use the big pumpkins for Jack-o-lanterns, not for cooking.
As mentioned above, sugar pumpkins come in various sizes. I wrote this recipe for a 2-lb. pumpkin which is quite small. But in the video below, I am using a 5-lb. pumpkin. It needed 2 minutes on each side in the microwave to soften enough to cut. And I used half of it for baking pumpkin chunks and roasted the second half whole.
Frequently asked questions
To prevent sogginess, you'll want to cook the pumpkin at high heat. That's why I use a 425°F oven. It also helps to cube the pumpkin prior to baking it. This helps achieve crispy edges on the pumpkin pieces.
I'm a big fan of roasting it. Cooking the pumpkin in a hot oven creates the best texture and it also caramelizes the pumpkin and brings out its mildly sweet flavor.
It depends. The first method I outlined here is to peel the pumpkin, cube it, and bake the cubes. The second method, of halving the pumpkin and then roasting the halves, leaves the peel on. You only remove it after cooking.
Variations and substitutions
I really like this recipe and almost always follow it exactly as written. One thing I sometimes do is to replace the chili powder with smoked paprika. It's really good.
You can also add a pinch of dried thyme to the spices. And as mentioned above, melted butter can successfully replace the olive oil.
Using up the seeds
Whichever way you decide to cook your pumpkin, don’t forget to keep the seeds! Wash them and roast them. Freshly roasted pumpkin seeds are such a wonderful treat. Yes, cleaning them is a bit tedious, but I think it’s well worth the trouble.
Anything goes with this side dish. It's as versatile as potatoes. Since I cook the pumpkin in a 425°F oven, I do like to serve it with a main dish that I can cook in the same oven. So I often serve it with one of the following:
Leftovers keep well in the fridge, in an airtight container, for 3-4 days. Reheat them gently, in the microwave on 50% power.
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Savory Baked Pumpkin with Olive Oil and Chili Powder
- 1 sugar pumpkin (2 lb.whole, 1.5 lb. cleaned)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (or melted butter)
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon chili powder (or smoked paprika)
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Set an oven rack to the lowest position. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Wash and dry the pumpkin. Place it in the microwave and microwave it for one minute on high, to soften.*
- Carefully, using a very sharp chef’s knife and back-and-forth sawing motions, cut the pumpkin in half (slice a sliver from the stem side first if you don’t want to cut through the stem, which is difficult to do).
- Use a large metal spoon to remove the pulp and the seeds. If some stubborn pulp remains, cut it with kitchen scissors. If desired, save the seeds to make roasted pumpkin seeds.
- Back to using the sharp knife and the sawing motions, cut each pumpkin half into four one-inch-thick moon-shaped slices, discarding the ends.**
- Using a vegetable peeler, peel the skin off, then cut each pumpkin slice into 1-inch cubes.
- Place the pumpkin cubes in a large bowl. Add the oil and spices and use a large spoon or your hands to evenly coat the pumpkin chunks.
- Arrange the pumpkin cubes in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake them until tender, about 30 minutes, tossing them halfway through. Serve immediately.