Pumpkin carving is one of the best Halloween traditions, one that I continue to do every year no matter how old I get. The process of choosing a pumpkin at the pumpkin patch, scooping out the seeds, and carving a jack-o-lantern is so nostalgic and fun, bringing back the days of trick-or-treating and candy trading with your friends. When choosing your Halloween pumpkin, here are the best pumpkins for carving the ultimate jack-o-lantern.
We all have our preferences when it comes to jack-o-lantern pumpkins; some go for the round, smooth ones, while others might be partial to the bumpy, misshapen ones for a spooky Halloween look. Few things are better for autumnal front porch decor than DIY carved pumpkins.
This gourd has many variations, and the options can be overwhelming. Here's our look at some of the most common types of pumpkin and which to choose for carving.
Classic Orange Pumpkins
These are the pumpkins that come to mind when most of us picture a pumpkin. They can come in medium to large, and are found in shades ranging from a deep orange to a light, almost yellow orange. These are the perfect pumpkins for carving because of their smooth flesh and flat bottoms.
Along with this, their rind is thin compared to other varieties, so it's less difficult to cut through. These are the way to go for any beginner pumpkin carvers! Their pumpkin seeds are delicious when roasted, but these pumpkins won't do well when baked. Some common varieties you might find at the pumpkin patch or grocery store are Autumn Gold, Harvest Moon, Captain Jack, Howden, and Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins.
Pie pumpkins are true to their name, and are the best pumpkin for making desserts like pie and cookies. Also called sugar pumpkins and sugar pie pumpkins, these have dark orange flesh, and come in small sizes of about 4-8 pounds. Although these smaller pumpkins are great for baking, they don't make good carving pumpkins because of their small size. Some popular varieties are Sugar Pie, Cinderella, Baby Bear, and Dickinson.
Mini pumpkins are the adorable ones you'll find around Halloween time that weigh about two pounds and can be held in one hand. These ones can come in a variety of colors, from orange to white to green. These are great for decorating, with their festive and colorful appearance.
They also do well when roasted, but you should avoid using these for carving because of their tiny size. While it can be done, it's hard to fit a whole pumpkin design on such a small pumpkin, so your jack-o-lantern might be hard to discern. Some popular varieties of mini pumpkins are Baby- Boo, Jack-be-Little, We-Be-Little, and Munchkin.
Warty pumpkins are a great choice if you want a jack-o-lantern with character, that looks spooky before it's even carved. These commonly come in dark green, salmon or bright orange color, and some are mix of colors. They usually weigh around 10 lbs, but come in a range of sizes.
Although these are interesting looking and make for great Halloween decor, they're not the best pumpkins for carving due to their thick rind. These are better to use as a painted pumpkin or to simply put on your porch for decoration. They're also yummy when made into soup or roasted. Some common varieties of warty pumpkins are Knuckleheads, Bumpy Blue, Warty Goblin, Galeux d'Eysines, and Marina Di Chioggia.
Another kind of pumpkin to choose from is green pumpkins. These winter squash are less common than some of the other varieties, but they can be found at various pumpkin patches, farmer's markets and grocery stores. They range in size depending on the variety, but are often around 20 pounds.
Some popular kinds of green pumpkins are green striped cushaw and the heirloom variety fairytale. Despite their vibrant and unique color, these aren't a good carving pumpkin because of their hard skin. However, they're great for cooking or baking!
Blue pumpkins are one of the more unique colors, and they come in dark blue to blue-green shades. These aren't typically very large, and at average are 6 to 12 lbs. They originated in Australia but are now available around the world. Some common varieties are Blue Lakota, Blue Moon, Blue Max, Kabocha, Kakai, and Jarrahdale pumpkins. These are tasty in sweet and savory dishes, but their thick flesh makes them a bad choice for carving.
White pumpkin varieties are a spooky addition to your halloween decor, and they're yummy when used in baking. These are white on the outside and orange on the inside, and they can range from tiny to very large. Some common white pumpkin varieties are Baby Boo, Lumina and Full Moon. White pumpkins are some of the best pumpkins for carving because of their thin rind, which some say is easier to get through than that of the classic orange pumpkin.
Which Pumpkins to Choose for Carving?
The best pumpkins for carving are those with naturally thin rinds, smooth skin, and a large enough size for a design. Classic orange pumpkins and white pumpkins (not the mini ones though) are typically the best choice! Some of the most popular orange varieties for carving are the Jack-o-lantern and the Howden, while the Lumina is a great choice for a white carving pumpkin. Happy carving!