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A close up of two hands carving out a design on a pumpkin

Pumpkin carving: how to carve like a pro

Ever wondered how to create a really intricate spooky design on your pumpkin for Halloween, rather than the usual simple, chunky face?Well, we've asked our expert, Emma Smart, to give us a step-by-step guide.


Pumpkin carving 10-step masterclass

Warning: Guess what? Pumpkin carving involves using a sharp knife, so kids should get grown-ups to help!

You'll need

  • medium to large pumpkin
  • sharp paring knife (ie a vegetable knife)
  • ice cream scoop
  • computer with internet access, and a printer
  • masking tape
  • pen 


Two hands holding a pumpkin and cutting out a hole in the top with a knife


Cut a circle in the bottom of the pumpkin.

A hand holding a pumpkin and one hand scraping out the inside of the pumpkin


Scoop out the contents, leaving the wall of the pumpkin about 15–20mm thick. An ice cream scoop works really well.

A picture of a pumpkin on a table with a paper stencil stuck on


Find a stencil of the design you want. There are loads on the web – try Googling ‘pumpkin stencils’.

Print out the stencil and use masking tape to attach it to the pumpkin. Make sure the hole in the pumpkin is at the bottom.

A hand pulling off a stencil from a pumpkin with a pen in their hand


Use a pen to make a dotted lines along all the lines on the stencil. When you do this make sure your pen pierces the paper each time, so that you’re left with dotted lines on the pumpkin’s skin.

Take the stencil off and keep it to refer to when you’re carving.  

One hand holding a pumpkin steady whilst the other cuts through the pumpkin with a knife


While referring to the stencil, score a line round the edge of your design with your sharp knife.  

One hand steadying a pumpkin whilst the other carves out the stencil with a sharp knife


Carve away the black bits of the design to a depth of about 5mm – don’t cut all the way through the wall of the pumpkin! Top tip: it’s easier if you carve from the centre of the black areas towards your scored lines.

A pumpkin glowing in the dark


Rub Vaseline all over the outside of the pumpkin, including the design – this will help it last longer.

If you’re going to use a candle in your pumpkin, you’ll need to make a hole in the top otherwise the candle won’t get enough oxygen to burn!