How To Carve a Pumpkin Perfectly (+ Free Pumpkin Carving Templates)

The weather is cooling, pumpkin spice lattes are all the rage again, and it’s time for Halloween costume planning. Which means it’s also time for one of my favorite fall activities: pumpkin carving! Our family gets very competitive when it comes to creative pumpkin carving, and I’m always looking for great templates and ideas from around the web. So I thought I’d gather my favorite FREE pumpkin carving templates to share with you.

Check them out in the slideshow, and once you’ve found your perfect pattern, read on…I’ll show you how to carve that pumpkin perfectly.

If your kids are outgrowing simple pumpkin carving designs (or heck, you want to sharpen up your carving skills), it’s probably time you invested in fancier pumpkin carving tools to achieve designs like these. While the patterns are pretty simple, the right tools will make your designs look polished.


Pumpkin carving sets are easy to buy in stores or online and typically include everything you need to carve the perfect pumpkin. This Pumpkin Masters Deluxe Pumpkin Carving Set costs under $20, and with 21 pieces, contains everything you’d ever need to carve a pumpkin. (There are small and sharp pieces included, so these tools are best left to older kids and adults.)


Print out the pattern you plan on using and have it on standby.

To prep any pumpkin for template carving:

Step 1: Cut a hole in the top for a lid, angling the knife/saw inward toward the bottom center of the pumpkin so that your pumpkin top rests nicely on top of your carved pumpkin.

Step 2: Scoop the seeds and strings out with a spoon. Pumpkin carving kits will include a spoon with a serrated side—these work really nicely for quick gunk removal.

Step 3: Evaluate your printed template and cut about an inch around it to avoid excess paper getting in your way.

Step 4: Affix your printed template to your pumpkin using   straight/pearl head pins. Make sure to affix the template to the pumpkin in at least 5-6 places around the template, so it’s secure and flush against the pumpkin. Hint: If your pumpkin is really bumpy, wet a paper towel and brush your printed template with water lightly ON THE BACK of the template (so you don’t smear the ink if you printed it out on an Inkjet printer). This will make your template more pliable.

Step 5: Using a pushpin, poke holes through the pattern no more than 1/8 of an inch apart. You’re essentially tracing/transferring your pattern onto the pumpkin using holes.

Step 6: Once you’ve “traced” the entire pumpkin with your pins, remove the pattern and begin poking larger holes where you just poked pins with your nail. Start from the center of the design and work your way out. If you’re wondering why you wouldn’t just start sawing away at your pinholes, it’s because especially with delicate patterns, your pumpkin surface will start to get weak, especially in places where the cuts are really small. Poking the pattern thoroughly with a nail will ease the pressure that your knife will inflict on your pumpkin and help you avoid breakage.

Step 7: Once you’ve re-traced your pumpkin with a nail, begin sawing with a small carving knife.

Step 8: To remove pumpkin pieces, gently push them into the pumpkin.

Happy (and safe) carving!

More Pumpkins for Halloween:


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