Carving a pumpkin: pumpkins on some steps in front of a house.

Step-by-step instructions and ideas on how to carve a spooky looking pumpkin for Halloween

A glowing pumpkin with a carved grin is an absolute Halloween classic and they are also great fun to make with children. They are great to use as decorations for Halloween. We'll show you how to carve an individual Halloween pumpkin in no time at all and how to keep your piece of Halloween artwork looking fresh.   

Which pump­kins are the best for carv­ing?

The classic pumpkins your get at Halloween are bright orange, large and round. Your Pumpkin should have a firm but not too hard outer skin, which will make them easier to carve. They should also be large enough for carving a face or different shapes on. In autumn, you can find these types of pumpkins in large quantities in supermarkets, and they are often advertised as "Halloween pumpkins". In most cases, these are giant pumpkins or garden pumpkins.


Bear in mind that...

A lot of pumpkins you can get at Halloween are edible even when the pulp isn’t always very tasty. Whereas smaller decorative pumpkins are generally poisonous.


Step-by-step instructions on carving a pumpkin:a woman removing pumpkinseeds and pulp from a pumpkin.

Step-by-step instructions & tips on carving a pumpkin

To make a spooky pumpkin for Halloween, you will need a suitable pumpkin for carving and a couple of tools as listed below:

  • 1 Saw knife

  • 1 Paring knife

  • 1 Large spoon

  • 1 To 2 large bowls for pulp and seeds from the pumpkin

  • 1 Marker pen ideally water soluble

Before carving your pumpkin, you need to thoroughly wash and dry it. Below you will find step-by-step instructions on how to carve a pumpkin:

1. Making a lid for the pumpkin: draw a lid on the top of the pumpkin around the stem. Then cut around the top of the pumpkin by following the drawn line. The slanted edge will prevent the lid from falling into the hollowed-out pumpkin.

2. Hollowing out your pumpkin: use the spoon to remove any pumpkin seeds and pulp. The sides of the pumpkin should then only be 2 to 3 cm thick.

3. Drawing a face onto the pumpkin: its best to use a water-soluble marker pen to draw a face on the pumpkin. This way you can wipe off the drawn lines after you have finished carving your pumpkin. Quick tip: very detailed pumpkin faces are more difficult to cut out.

4. Carving your pumpkin: carefully cut out the drawn-on face or shapes with a sharp kitchen knife or paring knife.

Tip: Although carved pumpkins look really good, they look even more impressive as a jack-o'-lantern. It's best to use LED tea lights as a safe alternative to real candles.

Carving a pumpkin with children: a family carving a pumpkin together for Halloween.

How to safely carve a pumpkin with children

Rainy and dull autumn days offer a perfect opportunity for you and your children to get creative for Halloween.

  • It’s always best if an adult carves a pumpkin for younger children. However, to help your child get involved they can decide what the pumpkin should look like or you could also paint the pumpkin together.

  • Older children can help with drawing a face or shapes onto the pumpkin as well as carving it.

  • If your child is already confident using a knife to carve the pumpkin, then he or she can do some of the smaller carving tasks. However, make sure to always supervise your child and help them with any difficult tasks.


Don't forget...

If you would like to carve pumpkins with your children every year, then it may be worth buying a small carving kit for pumpkins. Most sets include small saws and knives that are ideal and make it easier to carve a pumpkin.


What is the best way to pre­serve a carved pump­kin?

The best way to stop your carved pumpkin from rotting before Halloween is to carve it a few days before, such as 3 to 5 days before Halloween. Also, keep it out of direct sunlight and store it in the fridge or a cool, dry place at night.In addition, various home remedies can help to preserve a pumpkin for at least a few days.

Tip 1: use some vine­gar or cit­ric acid to stop your pump­kin from be­com­ing mouldy as this will help it look fresh­er for longer

  • Mix some vinegar or citric acid with water in a 1:1 ratio and pour the mixture into a sufficiently large bowl or bucket.  

  • Then put the pumpkin into the bowl with the hollowed-out top facing downwards so that the inside of the pumpkin is soaking in the liquid.

  • Leave the pumpkin to soak for at least an hour and then thoroughly dry it afterwards.

Tip 2: seal your pump­kin with some Vase­line or beeswax to pre­vent it from dry­ing out

After hollowing out your pumpkin and soaking it in some vinegar or citric acid, you can then apply some Vaseline or beeswax. The sealant protects the pumpkin from drying out and any dent marks and it also makes it look wonderfully shiny.

Which type of pump­kins are ed­i­ble?

Depending on the size of the pumpkin there will be a lot of pulp when you are hollowing it out. This is one of the reasons why people who are big fans of pumpkins wonder whether they are edible. If your chosen pumpkin is edible, they can generally be eaten. There are a lot of tasty pumpkin recipes you can try. However, since a lot of pumpkins are grown for their size and not for their taste, most of them are edible, but not particularly tasty. The texture is often stringy and they quite often taste very watery.

If you would like to use the pulp from your pumpkin, you should make sure that it is an edible pumpkin. Ideally, you should buy a tasty organic pumpkin (e.g. Hokkaido). If the pumpkin is edible, you can use the leftovers as described below:

  • Cooking with pumpkin: pumpkin soup is an absolute classic, but pumpkin risotto, pumpkin ratatouille or pumpkin lasagne are also delicious savoury pumpkin dishes.

  • Baking with pumpkin: there are lots of delicious savoury and sweet options to make such as pumpkin bread or some desserts such as pumpkin cake or a classic pumpkin pie, which are absolute Halloween classics.

  • Roasted pumpkinseeds: remove the pulp, wash the seeds and leave them to thoroughly dry. Next season them and roast them in the oven or fry them in a fryin

Con­clu­sion: carv­ing a pump­kin for Hal­loween made easy

Carved pumpkins with spooky grinning faces make fantastic decorations for Halloween. Pumpkins require little preparation and it is a great creative idea for dull autumn days, especially for children. To ensure that you can enjoy your spooky decoration for as long as possible, it's best to carve the pumpkin just before Halloween and treat it with a few household remedies. This will help to stop it from going off and keep it looking fresher for longer. 

Discover more articles:



(accessed on 02/08/2022)

(accessed on 02/08/2022),dry%20out%20and%20shrivel%20up.

(accessed on 02/08/2022)

(accessed on 02/08/2022)

Image sources: Chernetska