How to cut a Pumpkin

Stabilize the pumpkin on a flat surface. Spread out some paper towels or newspaper on the kitchen table, or another sturdy flat surface on which you can work at carving your pumpkin. Opening up the top of the pumpkin can be somewhat dangerous, if the knife slips, so make sure that you’ve got it stabilized.

  • Lay out a hand towel and double it over, then put the pumpkin on top of that. This should help to keep the pumpkin from rolling as you cut into it.


Insert the point of the knife at an angle. Pick a point about 2-3 inches to one side of the stem, and insert your knife at about a 45 degree angle. Push your knife through until you’ve penetrated through the flesh of the pumpkin. You’ll only need to push it in an inch or two.

  • In some pumpkins, you may be able to cut straight in from the top, instead of at an angle. Pay attention to the curve of the particular pumpkin that you’re cutting into. Remember that you want the lid to sit comfortably on the top of the pumpkin, and not fall in.

Continue cutting around the stem. Pull the knife back out, shift it to one side and push it back through, continuing to slowly and carefully cut around the stem in a circle. You can cut several straight lines, cutting a kind of six-sided shape around the outside, or you can try to cut a smooth circle. Both ways work fine.

  • Sometimes, cutting straight lines will help the lid sit a little better. If you cut a smooth circle, try to carve a notch somewhere, in the back if you like, so that you can fit the lid back on easily.

Pull the lid off by the stem. Once you’ve gone around the stem and gotten back to your starting place, grab the lid firmly by the stem and pull upward. With a little elbow-grease it should come loose.

  • If there’s not enough stem to grab onto, use a butter knife or a regular table knife (something that’s dull) to pry under the lid and pull it up.
  • There should be some strands of pumpkin fiber that might tug on the lid, but it should come up pretty easy. Run the knife around again a couple times if it’s not coming off.


Scoop out the pumpkin, then start carving. Once you’ve gotten the lid off the pumpkin, you’re ready to get your hands dirty. Use a metal serving spoon to scrape out the interior, saving the seeds for roasting pumpkin seeds, if you want. Then design your pumpkin and start carving.