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Can I microwave pumpkin with skin on?

Microwaving pumpkin with the skin on is absolutely possible, but there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure the best results. The skin of a pumpkin contains a lot of fiber and nutrients that can be lost if it’s removed. Microwaving the pumpkin with the skin on helps retain more of these beneficial elements. However, the thickness and texture of the skin plays a role in how well it microwaves. Not all pumpkin varieties are equally suited to being microwaved whole. With some tips on preparation, cook times, and the best pumpkin types to use, it’s easy to microwave pumpkin with the skin on and enjoy the convenience and nutrition.

What are the benefits of microwaving pumpkin with the skin on?

Leaving the skin on a pumpkin when microwaving offers some advantages:

More fiber

Pumpkin skin is a great source of fiber, even more so than the flesh. Fiber plays an important role in digestive health, gut bacteria balance, heart health, stabilizing blood sugar levels, and weight management. Microwaving the pumpkin without removing the nutrient-rich skin allows you to retain all that beneficial fiber.

More nutrients

In addition to fiber, pumpkin skin contains more nutrients than the flesh alone. The skin boasts high amounts of vitamin A, calcium, zinc, magnesium, and iron. Microwaving the whole pumpkin keeps all those extra vitamins and minerals intact.

Saves prep time

Removing the tough outer skin of a pumpkin can be time consuming and messy. Microwaving the pumpkin with the skin on eliminates this tedious prep task, saving you time in the kitchen.

Adds flavor

The skin can add texture and a subtle flavor contrast to the flesh of pumpkin when cooked. Some find it provides a richer, fuller pumpkin flavor compared to cooking just the flesh alone.

What kinds of pumpkins work best?

When selecting a pumpkin to microwave whole, pay attention to the thickness and texture of the skin:

Smaller pie pumpkins

Pie pumpkins are smaller, round varieties perfect for stuffing and baking. Their thinner skins become tender when cooked, making them a good choice for microwaving whole. The skin remains intact and edible. Common varieties include Sugar Pie and Baby Pam.

Thin-skinned heirlooms

Many heirloom pumpkins like Jarrahdale and Marina di Chioggia have been bred to have extremely tender, thin skins that cook up soft. Their skins are perfectly suited to being microwaved without needing removal.

Mini pumpkins

Tiny ornamental pumpkins or Jack Be Little’s are ideal candidates for quick microwave cooking with skins intact. Their petite size and delicate skins become tender during microwaving.

Butternut squash

With its thinner, more uniform skin, butternut squash holds up well to being microwaved whole. The skin remains firm but edible. Just trim away the very bottom and stem.

Avoid thicker, tougher skins

Large carving pumpkins have been bred for their tough outer shells, making them less suitable for microwaving whole. The thick skin may remain inedibly tough and woody. Acorn squash also has an especially hard rind that stays tough.

How to prepare pumpkin for microwaving

Properly preparing the pumpkin is key for evenly cooked results:

Wash thoroughly

Scrub the outside of the pumpkin well under cool running water to remove any dirt or debris stuck to the skin. Pat the outside dry.

Pierce the skin

Use a fork or knife to prick holes all over the surface of the pumpkin, piercing through the skin into the flesh. This allows steam to escape and prevents splitting.

Cut in halves or wedges

For larger pumpkins, cut them in half or into wide wedges before microwaving. This exposes more flesh directly to the microwave for more even cooking. Keep wedges 2-3 inches wide at the skin side.

Place skin-side down

Situate the pumpkin halves or wedges skin-side down in the microwave. This protects the delicate flesh from potential overcooking.

Add a bit of water

For extra moisture, add 2 tbsp water to the microwave-safe dish before cooking. This steams the pumpkin from the inside as it cooks.

Microwaving times for pumpkin

Microwave power, pumpkin size, and variety impact cook times. Refer to the guide below as a starting point:

Pumpkin Type Cook Time
Mini pumpkin (2-4 lbs) 4-7 minutes
Small pie pumpkin (4-6 lbs) 7-10 minutes
Medium pumpkin (6-8 lbs) 10-14 minutes
Large pumpkin (8-10 lbs) 12-18 minutes

Tips for determining doneness

Check for doneness by piercing the thickest part with a knife tip. If it slides in easily, it’s done. The skin should be fork tender but not fall off completely. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

How to scoop out and serve microwaved pumpkin

Removing the cooked pumpkin flesh is easy:

Cool slightly before handling

Let the microwaved pumpkin rest for 5-10 minutes before scooping to allow the steam to distribute through the flesh. Handle carefully as it will be very hot initially.

Scoop from the skin side

Use a large metal spoon to scoop the flesh away from the skin, leaving the skin intact in the dish. Be gentle to avoid tearing the tender skin.

Mash or puree the flesh

For a smooth consistency, use a potato masher or immersion blender to puree the cooked pumpkin flesh. Then simply use as you would canned pumpkin.

Add to savory dishes

Microwaved pumpkin pairs well in soups, stews, curries, and pasta dishes for extra nutrition and natural sweetness.

Or use in baked goods

Pureed, microwaved pumpkin can be substituted in equal amounts for canned pumpkin in all your favorite pies, cookies, muffins, and cakes.

Storing and freezing leftover pumpkin

Refrigerate up to one week

Place any leftover cooked, microwaved pumpkin flesh in an airtight container in the fridge. Use within 5-7 days for best quality.

Freeze for months

For longer storage, divide cooked pumpkin into freezer bags or containers, leaving 1-inch headspace. Freeze up to 4-6 months.

Thaw in the refrigerator overnight

When ready to use frozen pumpkin, place the container in the fridge. Thaw overnight before using in recipes. Cooked pumpkin should not be thawed at room temperature.


Microwaving pumpkin with the skin on is an easy way to save time while retaining nutrients. Pie pumpkins, mini pumpkins, butternut squash, and thin-skinned heirlooms are best suited for cooking whole in the microwave. Allow for steam venting, cook skin-side down, and scoop carefully to serve. With proper preparation and cook times, microwaved whole pumpkin can be used in both sweet and savory dishes for convenience and nutrition.