How To Cook Pumpkin Leaves

Did you know that pumpkin leaves are edible? Not only are they delicious, but they are also nutritious. Pumpkin leaves are low in calories,  high in iron, protein, calcium and vitamin A and C.

  pumpkin leaves

Health benefits of pumpkin leaves:

  1. Boost the immune system
  2. Improves eye health
  3. Supports lactating mothers
  4. Lowers cholesterol levels
  5. Anti-bacterial compounds
  6. Anti-ageing
  7. Increases fertility
  8. Aids in digestion
  9. A great source of protein
  10. Fights against cancer

Pumpkin leaves are a very popular green in Zimbabwe and we call this dish muboora. I grew up on these greens, my grandmother grew and cooked them all year round. There are many ways of preparing pumpkin leaves, and can be added to stews, and soups. In most African countries, pumpkin leaves are either cooked in oil and tomatoes  or peanut butter. The peanut butter version is my all time favourite way of cooking pumpkin leaves.

After hunting for pumpkin leaves for a very long time with no luck, I decided to grow my own just for the purpose of eating the greens. I had my first harvest last week, and made this recipe for the first time in over 10 years. It was deliciously amazing and a big hit with my 18 months old daughter.

Pumpkin greens require a bit of work before cooking because they are covered in fuzz, with a fibrous spine. and a prickly texture. When picking pumpkin leaves, choose the younger leaves at the end of the plant as they are nice and tender. Make sure to get a big bundle as they cook down.

Once you have picked your pumpkin leaves, thoroughly wash them as they often carry soil and other little bits so make sure you wash the leaves individually multiple times under running water. Do not skip this step, because chewing soil won’t be very pleasant.

The next step after washing is to peel off the outer fibres from the stems down to the back of the leaves. And now your pumpkin greens are finally ready for cooking.

Here’s a more detailed description I found on how to peel off the fibres:

“Holding the leaf upside down by its stem, you see that the stem is hollow. Use your thumbnail to split half or a third of the stem and snap it backward so that the flesh breaks cleanly, but the outer fibres do not. Pull gently, removing the fibers from the outside of the stem and the back of the leaf. Repeat until you have de-strung a good pile, because, like all greens, pumpkin leaves cook down quite a bit.”

How To Cook Pumpkin Leaves


  • A big bundle of pumpkin leaves, washed, peeled and chopped
  • 2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 cups of water
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the chopped pumpkin greens and boil with a lid on for 5 minutes or until wilted. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in the same saucepan, add the chopped onion, garlic, tomatoes and paprika and cook for 2 minutes or until the tomatoes are almost done.
  3. Add the pumpkin leaves back into the saucepan and mix everything through until well combined and simmer for 2 - 5 minutes.
  4. Season with salt. Serve as a side dish and enjoy!

What do you think of this recipe? Are you going to give it a try? I would love to know how you go if you decide to try it so please do leave me a comment. 


  1. Ru says:

    Love your blog, thanks for sharing this awesome recipe, I need to learn how to peel the leaves properly.

    1. Yeukai says:

      Thank you Ru, I’m glad you like the recipe. You should already know how to peel the leaves properly 😉

  2. Vee says:

    Do you necessarily have to add soda in the boiling water?

    1. Yeukai says:

      Hi Vee. You don’t necessarily have to add it. I didn’t use it in this recipe, but you will find other recipes that call for it. All the soda does is soften the pumpkin leaves especially if you are using the bigger leaves. But if you are using the small tender ones, you don’t need it. I will add this into the recipe and let people know they can use soda if they wish to. I don’t like how the soda makes the pumpkin leaves all mushy, I like to maintain some crunchiness and I hear that the soda destroys the nutrients in the vegetables.

  3. Ange King says:

    Hi, What are you serving them with on this page? Looks delicious!

    1. Yeukai says:

      Hi Ange. I served them with cauliflower rice and chickpeas. Thanks for your comment!

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