10 Uses for Leftover Halloween Pumpkins

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Wondering what to do with your old pumpkin after Halloween? It turns out there are some really great uses for leftover Halloween pumpkins! Read on for a few easy and creative options.

It’s that time of year: spooky season! And of course, it isn’t quite Halloween without the jack-o-lanterns! Over the years, pumpkins have become such a huge part of our culture’s Halloween decorations, and each year families purchase more and more. They’re a great addition to fall and Halloween decorating.

If in the past you’ve just tossed those pumpkins in the trash, you’re not alone. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, about 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins in the United States end up in landfills.

In the past I’ve been hesitant to buy real pumpkins each fall because I don’t want to waste them! It turns out there are actually many different ways to repurpose these festive decorations.

jackolantern sitting on top of a pile of pumpkins

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10 Uses for Leftover Halloween Pumpkins

Want to make a change this year? Try this list of ideas for repurposing, reusing and recycling your pumpkin after Halloween, and put those lantern pumpkins to good use!

1. Repurpose Your Pumpkin Into Treats

Have uncarved pumpkins you want to recycle? Toasted pumpkin seeds are a healthy snack that are simple to make, and you can also use the fresh pumpkin puree in any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin. One 2 ½ pound pumpkin is equal to about 15 ounces of canned pumpkin. All you need is a baking sheet!

Pumpkin puree is surprisingly easy to make, too. Start by cutting the pumpkin down the middle. Scoop out the extra seeds and set them aside. Place the pumpkin cut-side down on a baking dish or along with a cup of water and bake for about 90 minutes at 350 degrees. The flesh of a pumpkin will become very tender this way. Just scoop out the roasted flesh and blend it in a food processor with a little pumpkin pie spice.

Note: Be sure to give those uncarved pumpkins a quick wash before you recycle them into food!

a bunch of pumpkins

2. Feed the Wildlife with your Leftover Pumpkins

Your old Halloween pumpkin can also be a tasty snack for your neighborhood critters and local wildlife, especially squirrels, deer and rabbits. Simply cut your pumpkin into fourths or small pieces and place the pieces around your yard. They’ll love this tasty treat!

Old pumpkins can also be turned into a pumpkin bird feeder for our feathered friends! Cut a pumpkin in half horizontally, scoop out the inside and fill it with bird seeds. You can either leave it as it is, or hang it from a tree.

sheep eating an old pumpkin

3. Donate Your Pumpkins

There are plenty of places that would love to take those old pumpkins off your hands. Reach out to your local animal shelters, zoos, community gardens or a local farm. Pumpkins make great snacks for animals, and are also perfect additions to compost bins.

Some towns do pumpkin collection drives after Halloween, so be sure to check your local paper too. Another option is reaching out to organizations like Pumpkins for the People, which may have drop-off sites in your area. These organizations compost them to keep them out of landfills.

4. Use Them for Compost

Speaking of compost, pumpkins are a fantastic addition to your compost pile, and a fantastic way to recycle your Halloween jack-o-lantern’s. Pumpkins are mostly water, so they decompose quickly. If you want to speed the process up, get the family involved with smashing them first!

If you’ve never composted before, the process is actually really easy! I recommend ordering a compost bin. Our family owns this countertop compost bin and we love it!

Having a countertop compost bin makes it much easier to collect our everyday scraps. You’ll also want to create an area outdoors for the actual composting. There are a bunch of different options, but this outdoor compost bin is inexpensive and easy to set up.

While pumpkin composting is pretty simple, be sure you remove the seeds first so the pumpkins don’t rot in your compost bin. You can either roast the seeds, or save them for next year and try to grow your own pumpkins!

Just rinse the pulp off the seeds and allow them to dry fully. Store them in a container or envelope in a cool, dry place until you’re ready to plant them.

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5. Turn Your Pumpkins into Art Projects

Have a contest with your family or neighbors to see who can create the most intricate or creative designs with their pumpkins using only paint and household materials.

My boys love to create silly faces with puff paint and glitter! You can also pair this activity with a preschool pumpkins unit study to further some learning time.

6. Create Fun (and Festive) Floating Candles

Did you know that pumpkins can float? Small pumpkins are perfect for tea light candles. Just remove the stem, use a tea candle to trace the outline, and scoop out the depth you need for the candle to sit snugly inside. Place them in your Thanksgiving punch bowl for a little extra fun.

7. Warm Up with Pumpkin Soup

Turn that uncarved pumpkin into the perfect fall soup. This recipe from All Recipes is one of our favorite pumpkin recipes (and is a great way to use that fresh pumpkin puree you just made).

a slice of pumpkin pie on a table with pumpkins

8. Bake Some Pumpkin Bread or Make Pumpkin Butter

Use the above recipe for pumpkin puree and whip up a batch of pumpkin bread as a gift for friends or neighbors. This pumpkin bread recipe is amazing and has over 10,000 positive reviews! It’s a delicious way to use your pumpkin after Halloween.

You can also use your old Halloween pumpkin to make pumpkin butter. While this delicious recipe calls for canned pumpkin, you can make your own pumpkin puree to use with it instead.

9. Create an All-Natural Air Freshener

Pumpkin spice is pretty much the “official scent” of the fall, so why not DIY your own all-natural pumpkin spice air freshener! Just rub a little bit of spice inside your carved out pumpkin (like cinnamon) and light it with a small candle inside.

10. Use Your Old Pumpkins as Thanksgiving Décor

Duh! Uncarved pumpkins can last a shockingly long time, so they should still be good for your Thanksgiving décor! Pile them on an end table or arrange them in the middle of your dining room table. Create your own Thanksgiving themed centerpiece using them.

You can also recycle your Halloween pumpkin by turning it into a pumpkin vase or pumpkin planter! Cut a hole in the pumpkin that is the width of a mason jar (or a small vase). Scoop out the stringy guts of the pumpkin. Place the mason jar inside of the pumpkin, fill it will water and whatever flowers you like. You can also use just the bottom half of your pumpkin too. Voila!

There are so many things to do with pumpkins after Halloween!

I hope this list gives you some ideas of uses for leftover Halloween pumpkins. There are so many ways to recycle them!

How are you using your old pumpkin? Comment below and share your ideas!

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  1. These are all great ideas! My pumpkins will be used for decor for as long as they are good, but I like the idea of donating them too.

  2. Great ideas! We have always put are used pumpkins in the woods by our house for the animals to eat. I never thought about floating pumpkin candles. I will be trying that out!

  3. What great ideas. I never knew there was such places that collect pumpkins and using them as compost is a fabulous idea I hadn’t through if that.

  4. These are really clever pumpkin ideas you’ve found, I love it! I’m the same way with using plastic pumpkins because I felt the same with wasting real ones.🎃 Not anymore now, I can’t wait to get some and use them for decorations. Thank you for sharing! 😊

  5. Great ideas!!! I have four pumpkins on my front porch and 2 pie pumpkins i’d like to try making something with. We usually have moose stop by for a treat, so we’ll put the pmpkins in a safe place for them. Thanks for the recipe, too. It’s nice to try a successful one, when one is trying something new.

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