The Ultimate Halloween Pumpkin Carving Guide 2024

Halloween pumpkin carving

Master the Art of Pumpkin Carving for Halloween 2024

For a truly spooky Halloween, one traditional element is a must-have: the iconic Jack O'Lantern!

Halloween pumpkin carving

Whether you have a garden, a house with stairs, or even a window overlooking the street, the eerie glow of a carved Halloween pumpkin should not be missed.

And the fun doesn't stop at carving! The leftover pumpkin pulp can be transformed into a delicious pumpkin soup or baked into a scrumptious cake.


Difficulty: Moderate - Allow plenty of time


  • A pumpkin
  • A large, sharp knife
  • A small, sharp knife
  • A spoon
  • A pumpkin carving set (optional)
  • A pencil to sketch the face
  • A bowl for the pumpkin innards
  • A pumpkin carving template (if needed)

Standard kitchen knives are perfectly suitable for carving pumpkins, provided they're sharp. For optimal results, consider using a specialized pumpkin carving set.

Halloween pumpkin carving

What Types of Pumpkins Can Be Used for a Jack O' Lantern?

Essentially, any pumpkin that can be hollowed out and carved is suitable. However, many ornamental pumpkins are too small, too thin, or have surfaces that are too long and uneven for detailed decorations. Unless you're a skilled carver, who crafts intricate nativity scenes in walnut shells or inscribes names on grains of rice, the rule of thumb is: the bigger, the better!

Halloween pumpkin carving

As such, the large edible pumpkins available in every supermarket during fall are your best bet. They're large, easy to hollow out, and bonus - they're delicious too!

The pumpkin "innards" can be used to make a fantastic soup.

Almost all the pumpkin varieties available are edible. However, many of the so-called ornamental pumpkins aren't suitable for consumption due to the presence of a bitter substance called cucurbitacin.

Recommended varieties include:

Giant pumpkins, Hokkaido pumpkins, and of course, the so-called Halloween pumpkin (Jack O'Lantern). But why not consider a darker musk pumpkin?"

Halloween pumpkin carving

Cut a sufficiently large lid from the pumpkin. 

A traditional and commonly used pattern is the simple zigzag.

Halloween pumpkin carving

Create the pattern by repeatedly stabbing the pumpkin with the knife blade until you've gone all the way around.

Halloween pumpkin carving

Remove all the guts from the pumpkin.

This is best done by hand, but if the slimy texture is too much for you, feel free to use a large spoon.

Halloween pumpkin carving

Now it's time for creativity! Draw a face on your pumpkin.

First, examine the head from all sides to find the best place for a face. When inspiration strikes and you know exactly what you want Mr. Jack O'Lantern to look like, you're ready to go. Remember, only sufficiently large holes will be visible from a distance and are also easier to carve.

Halloween pumpkin carving

You can also use a template.

Attach it with tape to the appropriate spot and trace the motif. This is best done with a perforation wheel, like the one included in a pumpkin carving kit.

Halloween pumpkin carving

Carefully cut out the holes with a sharp, small knife.

For best results, cut steeply into the shell to avoid slipping on the hard surface. Leave the cut pieces in the pumpkin for stability, if needed.

Halloween pumpkin carving

Using a small handsaw can be effective, especially if the pumpkin wall is quite thick.

Halloween pumpkin carving

A little patience is required for intricate details.

Halloween pumpkin carving

For some details, remove only a thin layer of the hard shell and flesh.

This will create color variations, just like professional carvers do!

At the end, press all the cut elements out of the pumpkin.

Halloween pumpkin carving

The Halloween pumpkin is ready! 

There are countless ways to create the Jack O'Lantern. To get you started, here are a few templates for you to download.

This might also interest you:

Choosing and Storing Your Halloween Pumpkin

Choosing and Storing Your Halloween Pumpkin

Tips for Preserving Your Carved Halloween Pumpkin

pumpkin hollowing

Exclusive Pumpkin Faces Free Download Templates

Pumpkin Faces Free Download Templates

Jack O’Lantern: The Symbol and Tradition of Halloween

Stingy Jack and The Origin of the Jack O' Lantern