How To Carve A Pumpkin: 10 Simple Pumpkin Carving Tips (2022)

How To Carve A Pumpkin: 10 Simple Pumpkin Carving Tips (1)

Pumpkin carving is one of my favorite parts of Halloween! My family and I carved pumpkins every year when I was a kid, and it’s a great family activity because you can do it at any skill level! I figured everyone carved pumpkins, but I found out last year that my husband had never carved a pumpkin before! So whether you’re a newbie pumpkin carver or an old pro, today I’m sharing my top ten pumpkin carving tips and tricks to help you end up with a perfectly carved pumpkin every time!

How To Carve A Pumpkin: 10 Simple Pumpkin Carving Tips (2)

I was just thinking it was time to carve pumpkins this year when I was contacted by Grampa Bardeen’s who offered to send me their new Family Pumpkin Carving Set, so of course I said yes! The carving set has all the tools you need to carve a great pumpkin, and it has enough tools that a family of 4-5 can carve together! I remember growing up that the hardest part of pumpkin carving was getting my brother and I to share the tools when we only had one or two saws, so this is great!

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The kit contains 10 saws of varying sizes, 3 poking tools for transferring a design onto your pumpkin, two different-sized scoops, three different sized hand drills for creating perfect holes, 14 free patterns, and a newsletter full of great tips. The saw blades are all coated in Teflon to protect the blades from the acidic pumpkin juice and also to make cutting easier (and the Teflon also makes cleanup a breeze!) You can find the Family Pumpkin Carving Set on Amazon for just $45. Based on our experience this year, I can tell you for sure we will never carve pumpkins with anything else again! These tools are AMAZING and if you take care of them, they will last for years so you can use them again and again!

How To Carve A Pumpkin: Top 10 Tips & Tricks

The basic steps for carving a pumpkin are pretty simple; just pick a pattern (or create your own!), transfer it onto the pumpkin, and cut it out! But even though the idea is simple, the execution can be a bit tricky, so here are my top 10 tips and tricks for getting a perfectly carved pumpkin every time!

1. Pick the perfect pumpkin

Picking the perfect pumpkin is mostly subjective; if you love it, then it’s the perfect pumpkin for you. But try to find a pumpkin that isn’t soft or bruised and has a clean, smooth surface on one side for carving. I like bright orange pumpkins best; they tend to be thicker and last a long time. JM likes duskier orange pumpkins; they’re a little bit thinner and easier to carve, as are yellower pumpkins. Also pay attention to the shape of the pumpkin; if you have a tall, skinny pattern, you probably don’t want a round pumpkin or your pattern won’t fit well!

Note: While pumpkins are still readily available in October, you might think about buying an extra pumpkin or two and keeping them until Thanksgiving. That way you don’t have to settle for the leftover, bruised pumpkins if you want to carve a simple geometric design and use them as part of your Thanksgiving tablescape!

2. Clean the pumpkin and soak it in water overnight

Scrub the dirt off your pumpkins with a coarse sponge, then soak your pumpkins in a bucket of water for about 8 hours or overnight. This will allow the pumpkins to soak up water and firm up, making it easier to carve them and making them last longer once they are carved. If you want, add a dash of bleach into the water to prohibit mold and bacteria growth in the pumpkins as well.

Note: Pumpkins float because they’re hollow! Flip the pumpkins over halfway through so that both halves of the pumpkin can soak up some extra water.

3. Cut the top (or bottom) off the pumpkin and scoop out the insides

Use a big, serrated knife to cut off the top of your pumpkin. (You can also cut a hole in the bottom of the pumpkin if you want to leave the top and stem intact, but I always cut the top off because that way I can stand the pumpkin on the counter while cutting and scooping out the insides.) The Family Pumpkin Carving Set comes with 2 really big saws meant for this part, so that’s what we used. Angle the bottom of the saw in as you cut so that the top of the pumpkin doesn’t fall into the hollow pumpkin cavity once you finish cutting. I also like to carve a tiny notch in my lid so I don’t have to rotate it around to get it to fit perfectly back together later. 🙂

(Video) 10 Awesome Halloween Pumpkin Carving Ideas

How To Carve A Pumpkin: 10 Simple Pumpkin Carving Tips (5)

Once you have the lid off, grab a scoop and start scooping out all the insides. Save the pumpkin seeds if you want to roast them! Scrape the scoop against the inside of the pumpkin to remove all the stringy pumpkin bits. If your pumpkin is super thick, you can scrape away some of the pumpkin flesh from the inside to make it easier to carve. And make sure you scrape out a flat surface on the bottom of the pumpkin so that the candle has a stable place to sit once you’re done!

4. Attach and transfer your pattern

Start by printing our your pattern on a piece of paper.The pumpkin carving kit came with a bunch of awesome patterns, but I really wanted to do a hissing cat, so I made my own!

How To Carve A Pumpkin: 10 Simple Pumpkin Carving Tips (6)

Decide which face of your pumpkin you’re going to carve on, and attach your pattern. Since pumpkins are round and paper is flat, the easiest way to do this is to center your design on the paper, fold a few pleats in at the corners so the paper lays flat against the pumpkin, and tape the corners down.

How To Carve A Pumpkin: 10 Simple Pumpkin Carving Tips (7)

If you look at the bottom of the pattern in the photo above you’ll see the lines are a little messed up from the fold, but don’t worry if this happens to you! When you transfer the pattern you can just “fudge” that line a little bit so that it is smooth on your finished pumpkin.

If you like the pumpkins JM and I made this year, I created patterns for you that you can download! You can find the cat pattern I used on my pumpkin here, or the winky emoticon pattern JM used on his pumpkin here.

Once the pattern is attached to your pumpkin, poke holes through the paper and into the pumpkin along the lines of the pattern. The holes don’t need to be super close together, but make sure they’re close enough that you don’t lose the detail of the pattern when you remove the paper. Remove the paper once you’re done transferring the design.

5. Carve your pumpkin!

Start with the most detailed part of the design. This means you get the hard part out of the way first, and if it’s the first part you cut, you can rest your hands on solid pumpkin rather than having to work around a bunch of pieces that are already cut out. If your pattern doesn’t have one part that is more detailed than any other, then (if you’re right handed)start at the left edge of your pattern and work towards the right so your hand can rest on solid pumpkin as you work. If you’re left-handed, start from the right side.

Basically carving a pumpkin is just removing pieces of pumpkin around your design so that the light can show through. Start by taking one of the general saws and push it straight down into the pumpkin at the beginning of the line you are carving. Then gently saw straight up and down, curving to connect the dots and follow the pattern. I usually set the pumpkin on the counter face up and rotate it as I move around the design so that I am always sawing straight up and down.

If you have sharp corners, just pull the saw out of the pumpkin and put it back in again pointing in a new direction to cut the next line; this way you don’t have to force the saw to make a sharp turn. Remember that you can always extend your cut into the section of pumpkin you are going to remove if you are having trouble carving sharp corners; it doesn’t matter because that part of the pumpkin will be removed anyway!

How To Carve A Pumpkin: 10 Simple Pumpkin Carving Tips (8)

(Video) How to Carve Halloween Pumpkins

Once you have an entire section of pumpkin cut out, pull that section out of the pumpkin. Run the saw around all the edges a second time to make sure the piece is completely free and if you need to, you can cut the piece into smaller sections and remove them one at a time to make it easier.

Continue carving your pumpkin and removing pieces until your entire pattern is carved. Don’t worry if the angle of your saw wasn’t perfectly perpendicular to the pumpkin; as long as you connected the dots on the surface of the pumpkin, you can always carve away more of the fleshy interior of the pumpkin later to let more light out through the holes.

6. Use a hand drill to remove stubborn pieces

If you have trouble pulling out the sections of pumpkin, drill one of the hand drills into the extra piece and use it as a handle to pull the piece out of the pumpkin.

How To Carve A Pumpkin: 10 Simple Pumpkin Carving Tips (9)

7. Clean up your pumpkin

Once you’re done carving, clean out any extra pieces that fell back inside your pumpkin. Then take a damp paper towel and wipe off the outside of the pumpkin. Pumpkin guts are kinda sticky, so make sure you wipe it down everywhere so it doesn’t dry on the outside of your pumpkin.

8. Rub vaseline on the cut edges

Use your fingers or another paper towel to rub some vaseline on all the cut edges. This will help seal in the water and keep your pumpkin from drying out too quickly. Pay special attention to any skinny pieces of your design (like the legs on my cat) because those will dry out first.

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9. Add some spices to the lid for a great fall scent when lit!

I did this last year, and it was awesome! Take a pinch of ground cinnamon and a pinch of ground nutmeg and rub them onto the lid of your pumpkin. This way when you light a candle inside the pumpkin and put the lid back on, the candle warms the spices and makes your house smell wonderful!

Note: If you cut out the bottom of your pumpkin to remove the seeds, just reach up in there and rub the spices on the roof of your pumpkin. It will still smell great!

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10. Add a candle, light it, and enjoy!

All that’s left to do is stick a candle in your pumpkin. If you don’t have a flat surface for the candle to sit on, unwind a paper clip, stick one end into the bottom of your candle, then stick the other end of the paper clip into the flesh of the pumpkin. The paper clip will hold the candle stable and upright so you can safely light it!

How To Carve A Pumpkin: 10 Simple Pumpkin Carving Tips (12)

Use a long match or a long BBQ lighter to light the candles inside your pumpkin, and enjoy!

(Video) 10 minute Pumpkin Carving! QUICK CARVE

How To Carve A Pumpkin: 10 Simple Pumpkin Carving Tips (13)

Bonus tip: If your pumpkin starts to dry out, remove the candle and put it back in a bucket of water. Make sure the cut side is face down and leave it in the water for a few hours.

Once you’re all done, clean up your carving utensils with soap and water and wipe down your counter or table to get rid of all the pumpkin goo. I’m pretty sure these tools are going to last forever; I’m really happy with how sturdy they are! If you want to get a Family Pumpkin Carving Set of your own, you still have time before Halloween! And if you’re an Amazon Prime member, shipping is free!

Are you carving pumpkins this year? Any idea what pattern you’re going to carve?

Disclosure: I received compensation from Grampa Bardeen’s in exchange for my honest discussion of their product. But I have never had an easier time carving a pumpkin than when I used their tools; I love them and plan to use them every year from now on! All opinions in this post are 100% my own; I would never write a post about something I didn’t think was useful or interesting for you guys, and Practically Functional will only publish sponsored posts for companies or products I love and believe in! 🙂

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Jessi Wohlwend

I believe that anyone can do crafts and DIY projects, regardless of skill or experience. I love sharing simple craft ideas, step by step DIY project tutorials, cleaning hacks, and other tips and tricks all with one goal in mind: giving you the tools you need to “do it yourself”, complete fun projects, and make awesome things!

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(Video) EASY & SIMPLE - CRAFT FOAM PUMPKINS CARVING TUTORIAL

FAQs

What is the easiest way to carve a pumpkin? ›

Then using either a pencil or a pen mark where you're going to slice the top of the pumpkin off then

What are the steps to carve a pumpkin? ›

How to Carve a Pumpkin Step by Step
  1. Cut into the pumpkin. Place your pumpkin on a solid surface you can wash (or spread newspaper to catch any drips). ...
  2. Pull out the guts and seeds. ...
  3. Draw your design. ...
  4. Cut out your design. ...
  5. Step 5: Condition your jack-o'-lantern. ...
  6. Step 6: Illuminate your jack-o'-lantern.

What are three tips for choosing an ideal pumpkin for carving? ›

1. Pick a pumpkin that's good for carving
  1. Look for a pumpkin with smooth, less bumpy skin. ...
  2. Avoid pumpkins that feel heavy for their size. ...
  3. Skip any pumpkins with soft spots, which can indicate rotting.
  4. Inspect the pumpkin for any nicks or cuts that may make it vulnerable to infection.
22 Sept 2022

How do you carve a pumpkin neatly? ›

Keep the saw perpendicular to the pumpkin while you're carving. For larger designs start in the

How do you carve a pumpkin for kids? ›

A Child-Friendly Way to Carve a Pumpkin - YouTube

How do I cut a pumpkin? ›

How To Cut A Pumpkin + Pumpkin Recipes - YouTube

How do you carve a circle in a pumpkin? ›

How to Carve a Pumpkin With an Apple Corer - YouTube

When should you carve a pumpkin? ›

"Carve no more than three days before Halloween," Evan recommends. If you plan to celebrate on the weekend before or after Halloween, pick a pumpkin carving date a few days before then. Carve too early, and your pumpkin will scare off trick-or-treaters with its rotten teeth!

What is the best carving pumpkin? ›

The Jack-O-Lantern pumpkin is the ultimate carving pumpkin, and likely the variety you're picking up at your local patch or grocery store. Their thin walls make them easy to cut and allow candlelight to shine through once you've finished your Halloween designs.

What makes a good pumpkin? ›

A fresh pumpkin should be solid to the touch. Avoid ones that have soft spots or sunken areas, as decay has already set in. Selecting good quality produce will ensure that your autumn display will be long lasting. High quality pumpkins have a firm, hard rind and are generally rich orange in color.

Are small pumpkins easier to carve? ›

Most people head for medium to large sized pumpkins and generally avoid the smaller ones. Their small size makes it easier to slip with a knife when they are carved.

Should I carve my pumpkin from the bottom? ›

Why you should always carve a pumpkin from the bottom - YouTube

When can kids carve pumpkins? ›

The recommended age to let your kids carve their own pumpkin is 9 to 12, depending on their strength and skill level, so keep your younger kids entertained and involved by having smaller pumpkins to paint while you carve out their designs.

How do you carve a pumpkin free hand? ›

Pumpkin Carving Tips & Tricks: Easy Ideas to Create Amazing ... - YouTube

How do you carve a pumpkin with a kit? ›

Pumpkin Carving Tips, Tricks and How To from the Masters ... - YouTube

What knife do you use to cut a pumpkin? ›

You cannot chop pumpkin safely with a thin bladed knife, or a flimsy knife, or a blunt knife. Choose a sturdy knife that has a deep heel (the bit by the start of the blade). Secure the chopping board by putting a damp cloth underneath it. Plunge the blade in by the stem and push down.

How do you cut the bottom of a pumpkin? ›

STOP Cutting the Top - Halloween Pumpkin Carving Tips - YouTube

What knife do you use to carve a pumpkin? ›

If you want actually useful, multi-purpose kitchen tools:

To carve your pumpkin, and especially for the part where you cut the top off, you're going to need a good, sturdy serrated knife.

Is it hard to cut pumpkin? ›

Pumpkins, like all winter squashes, have tough skin that makes them hard to peel and cut.

How do you cut a pumpkin with a knife? ›

How to Cut a Pumpkin - YouTube

How do you carve a knife with a pumpkin? ›

How to carve a scary pumpkin for halloween with knife only - YouTube

How do you carve a pumpkin so light shines? ›

Tips On How To Carve A Pumpkin (With Screwdrivers! Weird, Right?)

Do you put the lid on a pumpkin? ›

It might sound strange, but if you cut your lid from the bottom of the pumpkin rather than the top, it'll help keep your sides strong and stop them caving in. If you really insist on starting at the top, cut your lid out on a slant so that there's no chance of it falling inside the pumpkin when you put it back on.

How long will a pumpkin last once carved? ›

Generally, carved pumpkins last between 3 to 5 days, but weather and sunlight can play a huge role in your lantern's life. If you live in a colder climate, your pumpkin could last up to a week, but if it's exposed to heat, it may only last a few days.

How long will a pumpkin last after you carve it? ›

A carved pumpkin will last anywhere between three to 14 days. This depends on a multitude of factors, but two weeks is definitely pushing the limit and assumes that you live in a colder climate.

How long does it take to carve pumpkin? ›

Carving pumpkins is such a fun Halloween tradition for all ages that lets you make some spooky decor to light up the night. Since it only takes 30–60 minutes to carve a pumpkin, it's the perfect afternoon activity for you.

Are white pumpkins harder to carve? ›

“The white pumpkins are easier to carve, than the orange ones. The skin is less tough. Your knife will go right through it.”

Why did Halloween Wars get rid of pumpkin carvings? ›

Food Network Killed 'Halloween Wars' Pumpkin Carving Because of COVID.

Are black pumpkins edible? ›

Black futsus look like a pumpkin married a berry. You can eat it raw or cooked; it's commonly roasted. They are more nutty and earthy than sweet when raw, but they do get sweet as they roast.

Can I eat a carving pumpkin? ›

Can I eat carving pumpkins? You may have seen pumpkins in shops labelled 'carving pumpkins'. Don't let the sticker lead you astray, these pumpkins are perfectly edible. However carving pumpkins have been bred to be large, thin fleshed and robust.

What is the sweetest pumpkin? ›

Sugar pumpkins

Also known as pie pumpkins or sweet pumpkins, the sugar pumpkin is perfect for pies because they aren't as stringy and contain less water than other pumpkins. As their name indicates, the sugar pumpkin can be quite sweet compared to other pumpkins.

Will cut green pumpkins turn orange? ›

Place the green side to the sun – The sun will help the green part of the pumpkin turn orange. If you have a pumpkin that is only partially green, face the green side towards the sun. If the whole pumpkin is green, rotate the pumpkin evenly for an even change to orange.

How do you tell if your pumpkin is a sugar pumpkin? ›

Often just 2-4 pounds, sugar pumpkins (also known as pie pumpkins or pumpkin pie squash) are sweeter than larger carving pumpkins, making them perfect for all of your favourite pumpkin dishes. Their flesh is also firmer and less stringy than carving pumpkins.

Can I eat Halloween pumpkin? ›

You probably wouldn't want to eat these Jack O'Lanterns since they've been carved and sitting out. But this variety of pumpkin is perfectly edible and nutritious. Pumpkins of almost any variety have flesh high in fiber and beta carotene.

What does a sugar pie pumpkin look like? ›

Sugar Pie Pumpkins are bright orange and have a very light ribbing with well secured handles when mature. Vines can spread 1.8-2.4 m (6-8') long and grow approximately 61-76 cm (24-30”) tall. Most pumpkins, even the smaller heirloom pumpkins need a lot of room to grow.

Do you cut holes in top or bottom pumpkin? ›

Start cutting from the bottom, not the top.

Michael Natiello, pumpkin carving pro and creative director for The Great Jack-o'-Lantern Blaze, says cutting your "lid" from the bottom of the pumpkin helps prevent the sides from caving in later.

Is it best to cut a pumpkin from the top or bottom? ›

Cut from the bottom, not the top.

Cutting your 'lid' from the bottom of the pumpkin helps prevent the sides from caving in later and can also make it easier to move your pumpkin to different locations.

Is it better to empty a pumpkin from the top or bottom? ›

Some like to cut out the top, others prefer the bottom. You can do either, but we've found that a jack-o- lantern lasts much longer with a hole in the back. Use a large ice cream scoop or spoon to remove the guts. Smooth the insides with a clay modeling tool or a large spoon.

Can you use a regular knife to carve a pumpkin? ›

To carve your pumpkin, and especially for the part where you cut the top off, you're going to need a good, sturdy serrated knife. We like this one from OXO that's likely to be stronger and sharper than anything you'll get in a plastic carving kit.

How do you curve a pumpkin for Halloween? ›

How to Carve Halloween Pumpkins - YouTube

How do you hollow a pumpkin for Halloween? ›

Using a pumpkin saw—you can find one in any pumpkin carving set—cut a circle around the bottom of the pumpkin that measures at least 4 inches across. Once you complete the cut around the entire circle, gently move the cut piece back and forth to loosen it from the pumpkin. Remove the cut-out piece and discard.

How long does it take to carve a pumpkin? ›

Carving pumpkins is such a fun Halloween tradition for all ages that lets you make some spooky decor to light up the night. Since it only takes 30–60 minutes to carve a pumpkin, it's the perfect afternoon activity for you.

Is it better to carve pumpkin from top or bottom? ›

But we think the secret to carving the perfect pumpkin starts with cutting a hole in the bottom of the pumpkin rather than the top. This will also help make your pumpkin last longer.

How deep do you carve pumpkin? ›

Scoop the Seeds

Scrape the walls of your pumpkin until it is clean and the areas to be carved are about 1-inch thick. Tip: Save your pumpkin seeds for roast pumpkin seeds.

How thick should a carved pumpkin be? ›

The back wall of the pumpkin should be scraped as smooth as possible since this will reflect the light. The optimal thickness of the pumpkin wall is about 1 inch. When cleaning out the pumpkin, save the seeds.

How do you draw a face on a pumpkin? ›

Pumpkin Carving Basics: Drawing the Face - YouTube

How do you carve a pumpkin so light shines? ›

Tips On How To Carve A Pumpkin (With Screwdrivers! Weird, Right?)

Is there an easy way to scoop out a pumpkin? ›

How To Clean A Pumpkin in 2 Minutes - YouTube

Do you empty pumpkin before carving? ›

Clean out your pumpkin using your scoop or spoon to get out all of the seeds and pulp. Thin out the side of the pumpkin you will be carving - this will make it easier to get some of the finer details right. If you want to use a stencil, be sure to tape it onto your pumpkin before carving.

How far in advance should you carve pumpkin? ›

"Carve no more than three days before Halloween," Evan recommends. If you plan to celebrate on the weekend before or after Halloween, pick a pumpkin carving date a few days before then. Carve too early, and your pumpkin will scare off trick-or-treaters with its rotten teeth!

How long will a pumpkin last once carved? ›

Generally, carved pumpkins last between 3 to 5 days, but weather and sunlight can play a huge role in your lantern's life. If you live in a colder climate, your pumpkin could last up to a week, but if it's exposed to heat, it may only last a few days.

How long can you keep a pumpkin before carving? ›

Before carving: Freshly harvested or store-bought pumpkins can last 1 month at room temperature and 2 to 3 months if stored in a cool, dark, dry place. After carving: Pumpkins only last 3 days to 1 week before rotting, depending on the weather conditions.

Videos

1. Pumpkin Carving Tips & Tricks
(Crafts With Ellen)
2. Pumpkin Carving Tips - How to Carve a Pumpkin
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3. How to Carve a Simple and Scary Pumpkin Face 2
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4. It’s pumpkin season! Here are three tips for when to pick and make sure they last! #shorts
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5. Pumpkin Carving easy tutorial and tips for Halloween
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6. 150+ Halloween Pumpkin Carving Ideas for 2022
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