The Icons: Sugar Pumpkins
Actually an overarching subcategory, sugar pumpkins include varieties like Baby Pam, Autumn Gold, and Fairy Tale. They’re also the type of pumpkin that you are probably most familiar with, but they don’t particularly excel in any category when baked. That being said, they’re easily accessible and have a high pumpkin seed yield, so they shouldn’t be ignored entirely. If you’re going with a sugar pumpkin, we’d recommend Baby Pam, which balances sugar and starch wonderfully.
The Princess: Cinderella
Garnering its name from the 1950 Disney film, Cinderella pumpkins are becoming more popular due to their bright color and subtle sweetness. Although they’re an offshoot of sugar pumpkins, Cinderellas have a moister flesh and larger size than their relatives, making them excellent options for pumpkin pie.
- Pro Tip: If you select Cinderella pumpkins, be aware that they have a thicker rind than many other varieties.
The Blue: Jarrahdale
Botanically a cross between the aforementioned Cinderella pumpkin and a Blue Hubbard, many chefs swear on the orange hued Jarrahdale. Its instantly pleasing texture is creamy and dense without sacrificing sweetness, plus its bright orange flesh can give your dish a beautiful presentation.
- Pro Tip: Although you may be tempted to choose the largest pumpkin you can get your hands on, smaller pumpkins are better suited for baking. Choose a Jarrahdale that is 7 pounds or less for the strongest flavor profile.
The Economical: Long Island Cheese
Similar to other cheese pumpkins, the Long Island Cheese variety is relatively large, often averaging over 10 pounds. With that noted, they’re good options if you need to make a large amount of pumpkin puree, but pair better with savory baked dishes like quiche and cornbread.
The Festive: Lumina
If you really want to emphasize the spooky spirit of Halloween, the white hued Lumina pumpkin is the variety for you. By balancing a prominent “pumpkin” flavor with smooth texture, Luminas are a clear culinary favorite among white pumpkins.
- Pro Tip: Luminas have a comparatively shorter shelf life, so act accordingly.