I’ll admit, I’m an instant pot convert. I was skeptical that this thing can cook ANYTHING but within a week I’d used mine every single day, sometimes twice a day to cook up zero effort food for my family. When it came time to whip up pumpkin puree for some of my favorite recipes, I assumed it’d work much like the oven and I’d have to clean and chop the pumpkin before cooking.
Nope. It’s a lot simpler than that. You can cook a whole pumpkin in just a few minutes without ever touching a knife. No more cleaning out messy pumpkin guts. No more risky moves with a chef’s knife trying to chop through tough raw pumpkin flesh. Just pop it in, push the button and you’re ready to go!
Start by selecting a rather compact pie pumpkin. After a bit of testing, I found that my 6 quart instant pot can safely cook a 5 pound pumpkin. As pie pumpkins go, that’s on the larger end of things. Most recipes will tell you to start with a 2.5 pound pumpkin, which is a more common size to find in the supermarket.
The pumpkin pictured here is on the larger side. It’s a 4 pound pie pumpkin.
To cook a whole pumpkin in an instant pot, start by breaking off the stem. That takes away extra height, and makes sure that your instant pot lid will close securely.
Add an inch of water into your instant pot, and insert the steamer basket. This keeps the bottom of the pumpkin away from the heat element and ensures even cooking all the way through the pumpkin.
For smaller pumpkins, you’ll obviously need less time than with larger ones. Most online recipes will tell you that a whole pie pumpkin will cook in 12 minutes at high pressure, but they’re assuming a 2 to 2.5 pound pumpkin. My larger pumpkins took considerably longer, and a 5 pound pumpkin needs about 25 minutes at high pressure.
Estimate about 5 minutes per pound, starting at 12 minutes for small pumpkins and up to 25 minutes for the largest pumpkin that will fit in a 6 quart instant pot.
Since everything stays contained inside the pumpkin, there’s no mess inside the pot.
Once the time is up, and you’ve allowed at least 5 minutes of natural depressurization, go ahead and release the steam. Open up the instant pot and use a spoon or knife to peel back the skin of your pumpkin. It should come away easily.
Slice the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds and stingy goop. Since the strings were cooked, they no longer cling to the inside of the pumpkin and they should come away easily.
Puree the pumpkin flesh in a food processor and in as little as 30 minutes with almost no mess, you’ve gone from a whole pumpkin to pumpkin puree.