What Is Pumpkin Puree—and How Do You Cook With It?

Here’s what you need to know.

Pumpkin season is on! And if looking at a big, round, orange gourd is intimidating to you, worry not. Pumpkin puree, that is, steamed and pureed pumpkin, is simple enough to make. And if you don’t want to start from scratch, it’s easily purchasable in cans at most supermarkets year round. Pumpkin puree is made from the cooked insides of the squash—the good, soft, sweet parts—that can be used in a wide range of recipes, sweet, savory, baked, boiled, and more. 

To make pumpkin puree from scratch, start by using a sharp chef’s knife or a cleaver to slice the pumpkin in half. If it’s too hard, start by removing the top. Then, scoop out all the seeds (rinse, dry, and save them to roast later – they’re delicious and nutritious), and add the pumpkin halves flesh-side down, on a rimmed baking sheet. Add a cup of water to create steam, and bake at 300 degrees for one to two hours, until the pumpkin is soft. Allow it to cool, scoop out the flesh, and puree it in a bowl with a hand blender or standing blender.

Too much work? Canned pumpkin puree can be just as tasty, vibrant in color, and enjoyable as homemade. Here’s how to use both. 

Related: 45 Canned Pumpkin Recipes That Are Incredibly Easy to Make

<p>BURCU ATALAY TANKUT/Getty Images</p>


Nutritional Benefits of Pumpkin Puree

Pumpkin puree is pure squash, so the health benefits are ample. Firstly, pumpkin is full of fiber, which can be great for your gut health and can help you feel fuller longer. A single serving of pumpkin has over 200 percent of your daily recommended value for vitamin A, which can be great for your vision and eye health, and possibly help prevent cancer. Like many orange fruits and vegetables, pumpkin also contains high amounts of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that can help with cancer prevention as well. And because pumpkin is naturally sweet, homemade pumpkin puree without added sugar may help you cut back on processed sugars and can be a nice replacement for sweetness in baked goods and more.

How Long Does Pumpkin Puree Stay Good For?

Pumpkin puree stays good for up to four days in the refrigerator. Make sure it’s stored in a tightly sealed food storage container. If you expect to have leftovers, consider moving the pumpkin puree to the freezer.

Can You Freeze Pumpkin Puree?

Pumpkin puree can freeze easily, and will last in the freezer for up to six months. To freeze, add pumpkin puree in a thin layer to plastic storage bags, squeezing out the air to create a flat surface. Once the puree is frozen, the bag can stand up on its own, or be easily stackable in your freezer. It will also defrost easily. Pumpkin puree can also be frozen in ice cube trays, covered, and popped out as needed. 

Related: 30 Perfect Pumpkin Recipes You'll Want to Eat All Year Round

How to Cook With Pumpkin Puree

Pumpkin puree can be the star of any recipe if you want pumpkin-forward flavor, or added in moderation for some creaminess and sweetness. Pumpkin puree can also be added to smoothies or milkshakes for some autumnal flavor.

If you want to add pumpkin puree to your regular meal routine, start by stirring some into morning oatmeal along with some cinnamon for a fall flavored breakfast, or spread pumpkin puree on toast and drizzle with honey instead of using jam. Pumpkin puree can be stirred into stews, chilis, sauces, braises, and more, and can easily be incorporated into slow-cooking recipes.

Pumpkin Puree Recipes

Now that you know all about how to store and how to cook with pumpkin puree, give these pumpkin puree recipes a try!

Pumpkin Bread

<p>Antonis Achilleos</p>

Antonis Achilleos

A loaf of pumpkin bread is the perfect table cake come fall. Just cut off a slice for breakfast, a snack, or dessert, and enjoy it plain or with some cream cheese spread on top.

get the recipe

Cinnamon Spiced Pumpkin Muffins

Grace Elkus
Grace Elkus

Similar to pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins use pumpkin puree to infuse the baked goods with pumpkin flavor and keep them moist. These muffins are infused with autumnal spices and topped with sugar for a bit of sweetness and spice.

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Pumpkin Cheesecake

John Kernick
John Kernick

A creamier take on traditional pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake with graham cracker crust is maybe the best fall dessert. Make it for a potluck, holiday party, or just a casual weeknight when you need a boost—it only takes about 20 minutes of hands-on time to create.

get the recipe

Related: 12 Festive Pumpkin Spice Recipes Perfect for Fall

Pumpkin Leek Soup

Francesco Lagnese
Francesco Lagnese

Pumpkin puree is a natural in soups, melding in nicely and adding so much richness, creaminess, and flavor. This leek soup is sweet and earthy, with a mellow flavor that will have your spoon continuing to reach for more.

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Turkey Pumpkin Chili

Caitlin Bensel
Caitlin Bensel

This is fall in a bowl (or better yet, a bread bowl), and you’ll want your coziest sweater on to enjoy it. Ground turkey and white beans add nice protein and texture to this mild chili that has some pumpkin sweetness and plenty of potential for seasonal toppings.

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Ricotta Roll-Ups in Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

Victor Protasio
Victor Protasio

A classic red sauce recipe gets an orange upgrade thanks to easy homemade pumpkin sauce. Sage pairs nicely with the creamy, mild cheese and pasta, making for a super satisfying, and beautifully presented, cold weather dish.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is canned pumpkin the same as pumpkin puree?

Canned pumpkin is pumpkin puree that has been canned. It is the same ingredient. 

Is pumpkin puree the same as pumpkin pie mix?

No. Pumpkin puree is typically 100 percent pumpkin and is unflavored. Pumpkin pie mix (also called pumpkin pie filling) contains seasonings such as nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice; sweetener and perhaps a dairy element, like condensed milk or coconut cream. 

How do I substitute canned pumpkin for pumpkin puree?

Canned pumpkin and pumpkin puree can be used in the exact same way. In other words, if your recipe calls for one cup of pumpkin puree, you can use one cup of canned pumpkin as a replacement. 

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