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How to Carve a Pumpkin

How to Carve a Pumpkin

Never carved a pumpkin before? We'll show you how.

  1. Spread a sheet of newspaper on your work surface.
  2. Then, using the long blade, cut around the stem of the pumpkin to create a lid, making sure to hold the knife at about a 45 degree angle to create a lip so that the inside of the lid will not fall down into the pumpkin cavity. The hole should be big enough so that you can reach your hand inside to scoop out the goop.
  3. Scrape the inside (seeds and stringy membrane) clean with a spoon, making sure that the bottom is as flat as possible, so that a candle can sit upright.
  4. If you are using a stencil, trim off the extra paper around the design, leaving a 1-inch border, and tape it on the face of the pumpkin. Using a nail or poking tool, transfer the design onto the pumpkin. With an X-Acto knife, carefully cut away the design. Need more help? Here are some clear, step-by-step instructions, with pictures, to help you. If you are not using a stencil, then use a permanent marker or crayon to draw a face onto your pumpkin.
  5. Use your paring knife to cut through the lines you made with your X-Acto, making sure you cut through where you need to only, and poke the cut-away pieces out.
  6. After carving, place a votive or small white candle inside the pumpkin on the base. If desired, you can also soak the pumpkin in a bucket of water for about 30 minutes to prevent the pumpkin from shriveling. Let it air dry completely, then rub a small amount of petroleum jelly on the cut areas to keep the edges from drying out before adding the candle.

Invite friends over and host a Pumpkin Planning Party with our guides below:

Click here for our Pumpkin Carving Essentials

Click here to learn how to host a Pumpkin Carving Party

Click here for Halloween-themed snacks for your party

Click here for to be inspired by our Halloween music and decorations ideas

How to Carve a Pumpkin

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I have amazing memories of my family sitting at the kitchen table carving pumpkins together. Apple cider to drink, roasted pumpkin seeds to make and jack-o-lanterns to carve.

While I'm no expert on carving pumpkins, here is how my family has always done it:

What you'll need:

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A good pumpkin, a stencil, scissors (if you want to cut out your design), tape, a bowl and a pumpkin carving kit.

1. Cut a whole at the top of pumpkin

#SpoonTip: Make sure you cut a hole big enough for you to scoop out the insides (I made this mistake with this pumpkin, it was difficult to use the scooper).

2. Scoop out the insides of the pumpkins

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But make sure that you save the seeds for this recipe.

3. Tape your design onto the pumpkin

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If this is your first time carving a pumpkin then choose a design without a lot of curves. But if you are feeling adventurous, choose something like the Spoon logo.

4. Use a carving knife from the carving kit and poke holes around the stencil

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This will make sure you are following the design when carving.

Here's what your pumpkin should look like after you've poked holes for the entire design.

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5. Start carving your pumpkin.

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#SpoonTip: Take out small sections of the pumpkin as you go along to help protect the parts of the design that you want to keep intact (like the Spoon in this instance).

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6. Voilà, your pumpkin is finished

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All you need now is a candle and then your pumpkin will be ready for all the Instagram photos.

When we think about pumpkins, most of us don&rsquot think about the difference between the jack-o-lantern we carve for the front porch, and the can of pumpkin we use for our favorite pie recipe. And indeed they are not the same - carving pumpkins, otherwise known as field pumpkins, are grown for looks rather than flavor, whereas pie pumpkins tend to be smaller, with thicker walls and sweeter flesh - perfect for easy roasting!

Field pumpkins are grown to be huge, round, vibrant in color, and relatively hollow. They have watery flesh that isn&rsquot as flavorful as pie pumpkins, and their seeds are difficult to de-string, which is why they aren't used for cooking.

Pie pumpkins, on the other hand, are difficult to carve due to their thick walls, but delicious to eat. That&rsquos why choosing carving pumpkins and baking pumpkins separately will give you the best results and the least stress.

Recipe and Directions

Step1 - Choose a pumpkin

It doesn't matter if one side of the pumpkin is nasty looking, just turn that side to the wall.

Step 2 - Get out your tools!

The pumpkin carving kits that are sold at Wal-Mart, target and some grocery stores are excellent. they usually cost between $2 and $4, and have a couple dozen designs in them (meaning you could carve as many as 24 pumpkins with one kit). You can keep the kit and re-use it next year, so don't be a tightwad and just carve an insipid smiley-face pumpkin, when you can make something really amazing!

The kits include all the tools needed, and they actually work better than ordinary kitchen tools! Click here to see kits, tools, books and templates for carving pumpkins carries a variety of kits and stencils. If the kit at left is sold out, just scroll down the page there. There will be other kits listed! And for 2 free stencils ( a happy face pumpkin and a spider, click here!

Step 3 - Stab your Pumpkin in the Head!

Step 4 - Rip your pumpkin's lid off!

Step 5 - Plunge your hand in and pull out the pumpkin brains!

Eeewwwww! I can just hear you. Yes, stick your hand into the glop, stringy, icky stuff and try not to think of it as "pumpkin brains". I said DON'T think of it as pumpkin brains. Too late. Oh, well.

Step 6 - Scrape the inside walls

Now, have one of the children start separating the seeds from the glop. kids seem to actually enjoy this menial task.

Step 7 - Cut the loose glop off from the pumpkin lid

Step 8 - Attach the carving kit's design template

Step 9 - Mark the design

Using the small plastic poker from the kit, press through the design inside the gray side of each shape. I make holes that are about 1/8 of an inch apart.

Step 10 - Remove the design paper

Step 11 - Cut out along the dotted lines.

Just like your paint-by-numbers kit, just follow the outlines - use your template to figure out where each shape starts and stops.

At right is a neat and inexpensive tool by Dremel that allows anyone do easily carve an intricate and impressive design.

Dremel 764-01 Pumpkin Carving Kit

The Dremel Pumpkin Carving Kit features a battery operated pumpkin carving tool, powered by the Dremel 6V MiniMite Cordless Rotary Tool, and six jack-o'-lantern templates. The new Pumpkin Carving Kit makes it faster and easier to carve stunning, artistic jack-o'-lantern designs. The battery operated pumpkin carving tool strips away a partial layer of the pumpkin's surface for a translucent effect.

  • As easy as tracing a drawing
  • Additional pumpkin carving tips available at dremel
  • 6.0V cordless MiniMite (requires 4AA batteries, not included)
  • 6 Free Templates included to start designing stunning carvings.
  • Carve intricate patterns in minutes

The finished pumpkin won't look too impressive until you put a light or candle in it.

And turn off the lights! Then it's pretty amazing, huh?

And you're done, Michelangelo! Put it in the window and wait for the applause!

How to Carve a Pumpkin Like a Pro This Halloween

There are many ways to decorate pumpkins these days, but the classic way to carve a pumpkin is to pick up a sharp kitchen knife and get to work. With Halloween approaching, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to carve a pumpkin, plus other options for those who want an easier (or safer) way.

Fall Flair More Clever Ways to Decorate with Pumpkins It’s that time of year when everything is coming up orange and pumpkins take center stage on our stoops and in our windows. Pumpkin carving can be a fun family affair even though children should not be responsible for the actual carving process since it can be a dangerous proposition when tiny hands meet sharp knives and thick pumpkin flesh.

The Origins of Pumpkin Carving

While you’re carving, share with your kids the history of pumpkin carving which began in ancient Ireland. It was the Irish who first brought this tradition to America from their green homeland steeped in mystical Celtic traditions. Since pumpkins did not exist in Ireland at the time, turnips were traditionally carved and placed on doorsteps with candles burning inside on All Hallow’s Eve as a way to ward off evil spirits and honor the dead.

Don’t Forget to Save the Seeds

When you scoop out the insides of your pumpkin, save the seeds and check out our top ideas on how to use pumpkin seeds.

How to Carve a Pumpkin

1. Select your pumpkin with an eye toward how you want to carve it. Taller pumpkins can work better for freeform faces whereas round pumpkins are more suited for intricate stencil designs. Also be sure there are no soft spots on the pumpkin, since that indicates it’s already starting to rot.

2. Wipe the pumpkin clean with a damp cloth before carving it.

3. Using a sharp paring knife, first cut off the top of the pumpkin to create a lid. Cut a small notch into one portion of the lid to make it easy to fit it and pumpkin back together again once the carving is complete.

4. Use a large metal spoon to scoop out the inside of the pumpkin. Reserve the pulp and seeds separately for future recipes or simply discard in your compost bin.

5. Optional step: To make the jack-o’-lantern last longer, spray the inside of the pumpkin with a bleach and water solution and let it dry completely before carving. You can give it another bleach treatment after carving if you’re worried it might rot too quickly, but if it will be sitting somewhere relatively cool and not carved too far ahead of time, it should be fine.

5. Draw your design on the pumpkin using a marker or ballpoint pen. This step is when you can involve small children since it will make them feel more invested in the process.

6. Carve the design using a sharp paring knife and discard the excess pieces or reserve them for recipes. Always cut away from your body in order to prevent injuries from slipping, and don’t grab the biggest knife you own (that’s overkill).

7. Pop a tea light into the pumpkin, replace the lid and await your trick-or- treaters. Battery-operated candles are safer than regular candles and also help the jack-o’-lantern last longer since they don’t heat up the inside!

Homemory Flickering LED Tea Lights, 12 for $12.99 from Amazon

These flameless LED candles provide a realistic flickering glow for your pumpkins.

Check out some of the best pumpkin carving tools if you want to get a bit more sophisticated and specialized with your tools.

Alternative Pumpkin Decorating Ideas

You can also try a surface carving kit, use pumpkin stickers to avoid carving at all, or try painting them with fun designs (or solid colors if you prefer).

See some of our other favorite pumpkin decorating ideas if you want to try your hand at pumpkin vases, pumpkin stacks, pumpkin candle holders, and more.

Related Video: If You Have Baby Pumpkins, Try Baking Eggs in Them!

Usage [ edit ]

When placed, a carved pumpkin automatically faces the player.

Farming [ edit ]

Pumpkin farming strategies parallel those of melons. Planted pumpkin seeds grow a central stem that, after maturing, generates pumpkins randomly on adjacent vacant dirt/grass/farmland/podzol/coarse dirt. If a pumpkin is harvested without also cutting the central stalk, another pumpkin generates afterward without requiring replanting or waiting for the stalk to mature again. If a carved pumpkin is desired, simply use the shears on the pumpkin on the ground, and then harvest it as normal.

Pumpkin stems take around 10 to 30 minutes to fully develop. They require a light level of 9 or higher to grow. Bone meal can be used on pumpkin stems to become fully-grown, but this does not produce a pumpkin immediately.

Helmet [ edit ]

A carved pumpkin can be equipped as a helmet without any actual armor value. It functions as a mask that allows the player to look at endermen without provoking an attack. When worn, it limits the player's viewing area to a mask pattern that resembles the pumpkin's carved face. The pattern does not appear in third person view, or via F1 key.

Dispensers [ edit ]

Dispensers can equip a carved pumpkin on a player, mob or armor stand with an empty helmet slot, within the block the dispenser is facing.

Building golems [ edit ]

Carved pumpkins can be used to make snow golems and iron golems as shown below. Snow golems require snow blocks for their bodies, while iron golems require iron blocks. The carved pumpkin must be placed last or the golem does not spawn. The orientation of the carved pumpkin does not matter while building an iron golem or snow golem. Iron golems cannot be built in water.

Crafting ingredient [ edit ]

Trading [ edit ]

Apprentice-level Farmer villagers buy 6 pumpkins for an emerald as part of their trades.‌ [ Bedrock Edition only ]

Apprentice-level Farmer villagers have a 2 ⁄3 chance to buy 6 pumpkins for one emerald.‌ [ Java Edition only ]

Enchantments [ edit ]

Carved Pumpkins can receive the following enchantments, but only through an anvil.

Name Max Level Method
Curse of Binding I
Curse of Vanishing I

Composting [ edit ]

Placing a pumpkin or carved pumpkin into a composter has a 65% chance of raising the compost level by 1.

How To Choose Your Pumpkin

Pumpkins come in many sizes. Most supermarkets sell everything from little cute baby pumpkins to massive specimens that’ll have you bent over like the hunchback of Notre Dame. Smaller pumpkins are best if you have limited room, or don’t like the idea of throwing away lots of leftovers. They’re not particularly easy to carve, however, with typically tougher skins and less room to work with. Larger pumpkins are less fiddly and more fun, to boot. However, the flesh and seeds are not so rich in flavour, so they’re best avoided if you’re hoping to impress with pumpkin soup. Shops often have a section for medium-sized pumpkins, which give you the best of both worlds.

How to Carve a Pumpkin like a Master

I love fall! And I really love all of the fun activities that come along with it. Like carving pumpkins. But, I’ll tell you a secret. Okay, it’s not really a secret, it’s just plain old admitting the truth. Carving pumpkins has almost always been one of my favorite Halloween traditions, but I stink at it as a mom. I probably average one in every three years carving pumpkins. And the years we have carved pumpkins? It’s almost always been ON Halloween! So, there’s pretty much no time to enjoy them all lit up. I know! Such a mom fail. But truthfully, if I’m going to fail at something, there could definitely be worse things.

As our kids have gotten older, I’ve been bound and determined to change this half-hearted effort I’ve made. And every time I think of my kids with knifes, I remember my twelve year old self getting a deep and nasty cut on my finger from carving Halloween pumpkins. I still have the scar to remind me. I do not want to repeat that with any of my kids! I remember my bad experience very vividly.

So, what is a mom to do? Thankfully there is a pretty awesome answer! I got the chance to try out some fun Pumpkin Master’s pumpkin carving kits. As soon as Max even saw a picture, he was so excited!

Then the kits came in the mail and the kids all spent hours thumbing through all of the patterns choosing which one they wanted to use on their pumpkin. And of course calling dibs on who got to use the Power Saw first. They could hardly wait until we could finally dig into those pumpkins.

We’ve had an exceptionally warm fall here. I’m grateful for every warm day we have because Idaho can have some brutal winters. Since it’s been so warm, we headed out to our backyard to carve them. Less mess for me and more chance to enjoy the sunshine.

The thing I loved about the kits is they have detailed instructions giving tips on how to carve the BEST pumpkin you can. The first tip? Cut your opening circle on the BOTTOM of the pumpkin. Genius!! Then when you light them, all you have to do is put the pumpkin over the light instead of reaching inside of the pumpkin. Also, it helps the bottoms be more level which stabilizes them.

We used the crayon that came in the Carving Party Kit to draw a circle.

Each kit is full of fun patterns that make carving intricate designs a lot easier. The pattern shows the difficulty level so it was easy for me to help my kids pick one that I thought would be closer to each of their levels.

Logan chose an easy one. It was a cute spider.

We taped the pattern on and he just had to color in the circles. After we took the pattern off, I used the crayon to connect all of the little dots giving him an easy to follow line.

The knives that come with the kits are really safe. I didn’t hesitate even for a minute to let my kids use them. I did wonder if I would have to help a lot, but it turned out that they all pretty much had it on their own.

Bria chose a ghost and we followed the instructions for getting the pattern wet and attaching it to the pumpkin. Normally, it suggests using plastic wrap, but we were out and used a press and seal wrap to keep it in place instead.

It took kind of a while for them to get their pumpkins finished. They worked so hard!

Max chose a bat. He definitely picked the hardest pattern. That kid practically laughs at any sign of difficulty. He is so willing to try anything – especially if he thinks it will be a challenge!

We learned a good trick with his when he was getting a little bit frustrated and I would actually recommend doing it this way. We took the little poking tool and poked little dots in the pumpkin along the pattern lines. Then we took the paper off and he just followed the dots to carve lines. We didn’t do this but it would be a good idea to take the crayon

and trace around the dots so that it doesn’t get confusing and you accidentally cut through a place that you weren’t.

I did a pumpkin myself, too. I used the Decorating Punches which I love, love, love! And of course I didn’t get any good in progress pictures of mine. I was too busy helping, taking pictures, and carving! Haha! The best I could find was this shot of the kids working. Mine is in the lower right corner.

All of the pumpkins turned out so good! Like better than I’ve ever seen our little family even get close too. And all of my kids did their own. Completely by themselves. Even Logan and he is 6!

Look at that pumpkin! A SIX year old carved it. By himself! I’m pretty impressed!

Here’s Max’s pumpkin. He was so proud when he finished! His took the longest and he was outside by himself finishing up for a while. He just couldn’t quit smiling when he got it done.

Hers is a little bit harder to see in the light, so of course I wanted to do a shot of all of them in the dark.

Aren’t they awesome! Without these fun kits from Pumpkin Masters I never could have been able to do this with my kids. One mom (their dad was at work) with three kids and knives? No wonder I haven’t been that into carving pumpkins in the past. But with these safe knives that take away my worry of the kids cutting themselves, we were able to have a great time and make amazing memories!

How to Carve a Pumpkin in 15 Minutes

I chose a medium sized pumpkin for this project. If you choose a really large one, it may take a bit more time to clean out the inside. But for my pumpkin, start to finish, took 15 minutes: tops.

Check out this super short video (about 20 seconds) to show you really how quick and simple it was to carve a pumpkin!

Isn't that amazing!? Seriously, my pumpkin-carving life is forever changed! I will be carving my pumpkin every year with power tools like this Rockwell Sonicrafter F30! It was so fast and so simple! And it really turned out quite well.

Rockwell sent me this Sonicrafter F30 for purposes of this blog post, and the best news is is that I get to give one away to you today too! Woot woot!

The Sonicrafter F30 is a corded multi-tool that is perfect for all sorts of DIY projects. It accepts other brands of accessories and has variable speed control. And even if you don't do a lot of DIY projects, this is perfect for carving your Halloween pumpkin!

And the best part is is that you can enter to WIN a Rockwell Sonicrafter F30 today! Woot Woot!

  1. If your pumpkin doesn’t have a flat bottom, go ahead and carve the bottom end out. Make it level so your pumpkin won’t topple over. With the bottom carved out, you can set it on top of a battery powered candle if you aren’t using a candle there’s no need to cut the top.
  2. If you cut the top out, make sure your knife is angled into the pumpkin, this will help the top stay on more securely.
  3. Scoop out the guts and seeds into a large bowl and save to make roasted pumpkin seeds later.
  4. Leave about 1-inch of flesh to carve, any less and you increase the chance of breaking while you carve, more and it’s much harder to carve.
  5. Saw firmly, but don’t strong arm it: turn the pumpkin with one hand, while sawing with the other to create smoother curves.

Pumpkins are vegetables and once they are cut they begin to deteriorate. If they are drying out you can spray them with water or vegetable oil, but you need to prevent mold, if possible. Keep your pumpkin out of the sun on hot, Indian summer days.