7 Pumpkin Carving Tips & Tricks
It’s time to get into the spirit of Halloween and carve up some pumpkins.
Whether you’re going for triangular eyes and a toothy grin or something a little more intricate, these pumpkin carving tips will have your creations looking their best for all those trick or treaters headed your way.
These tips will help you carve the perfect pumpkin
Pick the perfect pumpkin
Choose a fresh pumpkin with a sturdy green stem and a flat bottom. Avoid pumpkins with bruises, soft spots, and bugs.
Pumpkins come in all shapes and sizes, so take advantage of oddly shaped ones to inspire unique carving designs.
Wait to carve
Buy your pumpkins ahead of time, but wait to carve them. You’re working with a perishable food item that starts to decompose once you cut into it.
If you can, wait until October 30—or two to three days earlier—to carve your pumpkins.
Have a plan
Before you make the first cut, it’s a good idea to know what you’re doing. Sketch out your design on a piece of paper and tape the paper to the pumpkin.
Once you’re happy with placement, poke tiny holes along the lines you want to carve. Use a fork or a sharp pencil to make the holes. A rolling marker found in pumpkin carving kits comes in pretty handy!
Don’t cut the top (or bottom)
Cutting a hole in the top of your pumpkin messes with the structural integrity of the pumpkin—often ending in collapsed sides and tops that fall in. It also cuts off the vine that supplies the fruit with nutrients and moisture.
While cutting off the bottom is a better way to go, it’s also pretty messy. To avoid liquid from oozing all over, cut a hole in the back of the pumpkin instead.
Scoop out everything
When you’re cleaning out the guts, make sure you scrape out every seed and string. Anything left behind will start to get moldy and spread to the walls of the pumpkin.
Use a scraper to thin down the inside walls of the pumpkin, paying close attention to the side you’re going to carve into. If you don’t have a store-bought scraper, an ice cream scoop or large spoon will work really well.
Taking the time to thoroughly clean out the inside will make the carving process much easier—especially for kids. It also helps the walls stay dry for a longer period of time.
Get creative with tools
A sharp serrated kitchen knife is great for pumpkin carving, but you may want to expand your carving tools if you plan to create intricate designs.
Anything that is sharp will be useful. Paring knives, X-ACTO knives, lemon zesters, and clay sculpting tools are a few possibilities. Small saws, like the ones that come in kid’s carving kits, are really great for creating delicate designs.
Create a chimney
To help your pumpkin shine brightly, create a chimney at the top of your pumpkin. Cutting a small hole will help bring in oxygen to fuel the flame, and let out heat and smoke.
If you prefer to forgo the flame, use battery operated votives to light up your pumpkins. Battery operated LEDs get really bright and don’t give off any heat—helping your carved pumpkin last through the night.
Placing tin foil beneath each pumpkin will help reflect your light of choice.
We love carving pumpkins! Every year, our staff holds a friendly pumpkin carving contest. Come by the week of Halloween to see what we’ve carved up.