Here’s What to Do with Your Pumpkins After Halloween

Updated: Feb. 06, 2024

Your kids will love to help chuck the leftover pumpkins!

It’s fall and that means we’re breaking out the apple cider, maple-flavored everything and of course—pumpkins. We’re ordering PSLs, baking pumpkin pies and, of course, carving jack-o’-lanterns for the front porch. You can learn how to preserve pumpkins to make sure the gourds don’t immediately slump into a sad, rotten mess. But once Halloween is over and trick-and-treating is done, what to do with the leftover pumpkins?

This is how long pumpkins will last.

Can you eat carving pumpkins?

Not if they have been carved with cut-outs in the flesh of the gourd. The pumpkins used for jack-o’-lanterns are not safe to eat since the flesh has been exposed to dirt, rain and insects. If left intact, the smaller variety of pumpkins (known as sugar pumpkins) can be roasted or pureed to be used in soups, salads, pies and other baked goods. But avoid using any pumpkins with outward signs of discoloration or deterioration.

Are pumpkins good for wildlife?

Your pumpkins are now soft, dull and falling apart. While this doesn’t make great decor for your front porch, you don’t have to toss them into the trash. It turns out your old pumpkins are perfectly suited to being food for hungry creatures!

If you’re feeling friendly, leave them out in the backyard for birds and other wildlife. If you have an open field or a patch of woods nearby, ask the owner for permission to drop off your old pumpkins.

You can find other ways to recycle your pumpkins, too, like turning them into planters or bird feeders.

Can you compost pumpkins?

Yes! If you can’t find any other use for them, compost the old pumpkins yourself or ask around the neighborhood to see if a gardener might have use for them.

If they’re not composted, pumpkins take up a lot of space in our landfills, adding about 900,000 tons to the 1.3 billion tons of global food waste created each year, according to the World Economic Forum. They also emit methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.

In other words, composting your pumpkins is more environmentally friendly. Just a little extra effort for a whole lotta good!