How to Carve the Perfect Pumpkin

pumpkin carvingsHalloween time means pumpkin carving time. For many households, pumpkin carving time is the main event in October, for all ages. Some want to place their creations on the front porch steps, others have carving parties or contests. One needs to learn how to carve the perfect pumpkin. So, whatever your household does, carving a pumpkin is the Halloween tradition. Last year we went to my cousins house where he had a pumpkin carving party in his pole barn. His kids, along with kiddo, schoolmates and parents all got to pick a pumpkin out of my cousins patch. It was a lot of fun and I was able to score buckets upon buckets of seeds since he left them all over for folks to toss their insides into. I used those seeds to make homemade seeds for canning which I used for Christmas gifts and I also canned my own pumpkin.  I’m very sad that the storms over the summer and the cooler weather we had towards the end of summer (along with more rain) cause a lot of damage to his pumpkin patch. Not only does he do the carving party for his girls classmates, he also donates a lot to a  local school and charity. It’s pretty sad news. So, I’ll be hitting up the farmers market to pick out a few pumpkins this year. My father-in-law counts on his homemade seeds every year so we can’t disappoint! 

pumpkin-patchFor carving your perfect pumpkin:

You will need:

  • Pumpkin
  • 1 carving tool such as a knife with a serrated edge
  • 1 scooping tool such as a spoon
  • Newspaper
  • Tape
  • Stencil
  • Candle

Selecting the Pumpkin

First you will want to decide what you plan to carve on your pumpkin. Once you decide, you can choose the size of your pumpkin based on the design. Tap the pumpkin. A hollow sound will be easier to scoop out.  Look for bruises to discoloration to be sure there is no rotting. You want your pumpkin to be as smooth as possible for learning how to carve the perfect pumpkin.  Pick a pumpkin that has a stem. A strong attached stem is a sign of a strong, healthy pumpkin. Plus, it adds character to your pumpkin after carving. Make sure the pumpkin has a flat bottom so it does not roll away after carving.

Cut Out the Top

Place the pumpkin on the newspaper. Using a long, thin blade knife or carving tool, begin cutting the top of the pumpkin around the stem. You want the hold to be large enough to allow your hand and scooping utensil in to scoop out the seeds and membrane.  Save the top, this will be your lid.

Scooping Out the Insides

Using your special pumpkin scraper that may have come with a carving kit, or your household spoon, reach inside the pumpkin, and scoop out all of the seeds and membrane strings. Leave the pumpkin wall about an inch thick. Make sure the bottom has been scraped flat for the candle to sit and not tip. Once you are done, wash and dry the pumpkin to help preserve the pumpkin and remove any mold.

Tip: Save the seeds! Those are excellent for roasting!

Using Stencils or Hand Drawing

If you are going to hand draw, draw your design on a piece of paper first. Use this as your stencil by taping it to the flat side of the pumpkin. If you are using a stencil, tape it on, picking the flattest side.

Carving the Pumpkin

To carve the perfect pumpkin, begin by using a sawing motion, and carve the smallest pieces first. Go slow and be gentle. Once the small pieces are out of the way, start from the center and work out. This helps with support on the edges when working with more intricate designs. Push the cut-outs with your fingers, not the saw.

Lighting the Pumpkin

Light your candle and place it on the bottom of your pumpkin. Replace the lid.


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  1. I am so bad at carving pumpkins. No matter how hard I tried they always come out lousy. My sister in law has a huge pumpkin carving party every year, so you think I would be good but I’m not.

    1. My cousin does the party and I just let hubs handle it. It seems like I am always breaking the carving knife. So, I just collect the seeds and do my own thing.

  2. We just started using stencils on our pumpkins last year. Our pumpkins look so much better now that we aren’t trying to just carve them up free-handed!

  3. I’m the worst at carving pumpkins, but it’s a tradition my husband loves to do with the kids. I’ll have to try some of these tips this year! 🙂

  4. I tried to do this once and it didn’t quite work out. I never tried again. Lol. I just might with these tips.

  5. My pumpkins always look terrible, but I have never used a stencil. This year I think I am going to make a perfect pumpkin!

  6. I am the pumpkin carver in our family. My husband claims that he has no artistic ability. I cannot wait to hit up the pumpkin patch this weekend.

  7. I absolutely LOVE pumpkin carving! In fact, I was just asked to Curate a board on Pumpkin Carving for Hometalk. It will be featured in their upcoming newsletter. If you cut the bottom out of your pumpkin instead of the top, you will eliminate the troubles of rolling away and not having a flat surface for your candle. I have loads of other tips too… like I said, it’s a passion. 🙂

    Your cousins parties and pumpkin patch sound like so much fun. Thanks for sharing.

    stopped by from the Home Matters Linky Party

    Life With Lorelai

  8. My husband is good, but I am horrible at carving, so I tend to do non-carving pumpkin things. 🙂 We are going pumpkin picking this weekend, btw! Yay!

  9. I really like carving pumpkins but by the time I am half way through i’m always like why did we do this every year. lol It is a lot of fun though and my daughter enjoys it. As a child we never carved pumpkins and even if I hate it I will do it for my daughter’s childhood experience.

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