What’s the Difference Between a Carving Pumpkin and a Pie Pumpkin?

Variety of pumpkins and squash arranged for a fall displayJacqui Martin / Shutterstock

You’ve gone to the pumpkin patch to pick the perfect shape and size for your carving extravaganza, but is this the same type of pumpkin you would use for baking?

There is, in fact, a difference between a pumpkin you carve and a pumpkin you can eat. Learn all about what sets these two types of winter squash apart, and whether you can use them interchangeably.

What is a carving pumpkin?

Carving pumpkins are used to create fun or scary lanterns. They have a much thinner outer shell and less flesh on the inside. This makes them easier to sculpt and create all kinds of fun and spooky designs.

You’ll also notice that they are more stringy than pie pumpkins and contain more water, making them less ideal for creating treats. So pick the most giant pumpkin you can find and get out your carving tools because Halloween is almost here!

What is a pie pumpkin?

A pie pumpkin in the center, with a basket of gourds and a large carving pumpkin in the background.Emilee Unterkoefler

Pie pumpkins are used for baking or baking and are also called sugar pumpkins. They are smaller and are often used to decorate or paint rather than sculpt. While they make adorable porch decor, they’re best when roasted in the oven and baked into your favorite fall desserts.

You can find sugar pumpkins at the supermarket or at a farmer’s market stall. They have more flesh, are not as stringy as carving pumpkins, and contain less water, which gives them a smoother, more delicious flavor.

So if you have any cooking hobs, grab some sugar pumpkins and preheat this oven. Roasting a pumpkin can be done in a few simple steps.

Can you use one for the other?

Of course, you’re more than welcome to use a large carving pumpkin for roasting and mashing, but we don’t recommend it. Because bigger pumpkins are full of water, you’ll need to rid off all that liquid before you create most dishes.

Carving pumpkins aren’t as high in sugar as pie pumpkins, so they’re not ideal for all the treats you’ll want to whip up. The thicker amount of pumpkin meat in a sugar pumpkin is exactly what you want and need.

When it comes to carving a pumpkin out of sugar, we wouldn’t recommend it either. Sugar pumpkins are denser and have a thicker skin, which makes carving more difficult and dangerous. For safety’s sake, stick to carving pumpkins to, well, carve.

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