Is pumpkin a fruit or vegetable? What if I told you the answer may surprise you?

Pumpkin is a fall favorite for many- but Pumpkins are the fruit of the plant Cucurbitaceae Pepo- which includes many different varieties of pumpkin and winter squash.

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In the fall you start to see pumpkins everywhere. It becomes of the staple of many meals and treats- both savory and sweet. You will find Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Pumpkin Soups on menus all over town.

So– we all know tomatoes are fruits. But have you ever stopped to think about what makes a vegetable versus what makes a fruit? And where a pumpkin falls based on those definitions?


Is Pumpkin a Fruit or Vegetable? Find out what the difference is and why the asnwer isn't so clear.


Is a Pumpkin a Fruit or a Vegetable?


So first let’s look at the technical definition of a fruit, according to Merriam Webster: “the usually edible reproductive body of a seed plant

If you were to get out your Webster’s dictionary,  and look up the definition of “pumpkin” you would be told that pumpkin is the fruit of certain cultivars of the Cucurbitaceae family.

But it’s not quite as simple as that. Is a pumpkin (or squash) really a fruit? Well, that depends based on who you are asking and what their criteria is for deciding.


According to Science: Pumpkin is a fruit

Scientifically speaking, a fruit is the part of a plant that develops from the flower and contains the seeds of the plant.

According to botanical definitions, the fruit of a plant is what allows the plant to reproduce. It develops from the ovary of the flower and contains the seeds the plant needs to reproduce into future generation.

By this botanical definition, pumpkin is a fruit.

It develops from the flower of the pumpkin plant and contains the seeds.

This is obvious when you carve your Halloween Jack-o-Lantern and have to scoop out all those slimy seeds before you can put in your candle!

This this same definition lots of other “vegetables” are also fruits: all squash, beans, peppers, cucumbers, okra, and of course, tomatoes.


So if a pumpkin is a fruit. Then what is a vegetable?

All other parts of the plant- roots, leaves, stalks, flowers, etc- would be vegetables.

Examples include lettuce (leaves), carrots (roots), celery (stalk), or flowers (artichoke).

These are all botanically vegetables.


pie pumpkins on table


So in the garden- the pumpkin is the fruit of the plant. But bring it inside to the kitchen, and you may get a different answer from culinary experts.


According to Cooks: Pumpkin is a vegetable

In the kitchen and in the culinary world pumpkin would be described as a vegetable. Their less scientific criteria classifies fruits and vegetables based on sweetness and sugar content.

Fruits have a more delicate flavor. They have a softer texture and are sweet or tart in taste.

Pumpkins are considered a vegetable because it is lower in sugar and usually used in more savory dishes.

Of course- pumpkin, especially in the fall gets used for all sorts of sweet dishes like my favorite Pumpkin Pie and we all know how obsessed the world is with everything Pumpkin Spice!

And even in the case of tomatoes, the law sided with the cook’s definition for the difference between fruits and vegetables when deciding if tomatoes are a fruit or vegetable.


Does It Really Matter if You Call a Pumpkin a Fruit or Vegetable?

NO! Pumpkins are delicious and have a lot of nutritional value- so no matter if you think a pumpkin is a fruit or a vegetable keep on eating them and keep on growing them!

Pumpkin is packed with vitamin A- and 1 cup will give you more than your daily needed amount. You will also gets vitamin C and dietary fiber in your pumpkin puree.

Squash and pumpkin is also a great source of minerals like potassium, magnesium, and iron.

1 cup of pumpkin puree contains approximately:

49 Calories
0 Fat
12 g Carbohydrates
3 g Fiber
2 g Sugar

So no matter if you call it a fruit or a veggie, don’t let it stop you from enjoying your favorite pumpkin-filled meals!