This is a basic and easy recipe to make your own pumpkin puree that works with most pie pumpkins and butternut squash. There's little hands-on work involved and the result is amazing. It keeps for several days refrigerated in an airtight container and can be frozen. Use it just like you would canned pumpkin.
For those who want to use a more natural pumpkin puree when baking or have a hard time finding it canned (depending on where in the world you live this can be hard), here is how you can make it at home.
It takes only 1 ingredient and 3 easy steps: bake, process and drain.
What pumpkins to use
Pumpkins come in different skin colors and sizes.
- I love to use butternut squash, sugar pumpkin (the typical orange one below) or English pumpkin (the green one, that can have different names depending on where you live).
- What pumpkin doesn't work? The ones that have a pulp that is stringy, like spaghetti squash or acorn squash, as it will not have a smooth consistency after it's pureed.
How to cook the pumpkin or squash
Although there are several ways to cook it, I strongly recommend the oven.
This is my favorite way because the flavor is more concentrated, it retains the least amount of moisture, and there's practically no hands-on work on your part.
- Take the whole butternut squash or pumpkin and roast it at 350° until super soft, wrinkled and a knife very easily pierces it. It should be very soft inside. The amount of time varies a lot depending on the size and type, but my experience is no less than an hour. This doesn't involve any work on your side; simply pop it in the oven. I use a piece of aluminum foil to line the pan because it's easier for cleaning afterward as the juices stay in the paper and not in the pan.
- Cut it in half and scoop out the pulp with a spoon (images 1 and 2, below).
Steaming or boiling
- You can steam it until very soft and mash it. Just the pumpkin, peeled and cut into pieces. No salt or any other ingredient. I do this sometimes when I buy already cut squash or pumpkin, but it takes longer to drain. I use a steamer or a 2-piece pasta cooking pot, one that has a steamer incorporated, with an inch of water in the bottom.
- You can boil it (no salt) and then mash it, but it retains too much water and it's not ideal for baking. Even after you drain it, it will have lost flavor.
WATCH THE STEP-BY-STEP VIDEO 👇🏻
This is a highly recommended step if you want a smooth homemade puree. It might sound like an extra one, but the result is way better. And it's more a waiting game than a hands-on process.
When the pumpkin or butternut squash is so soft that you can easily pierce it with a knife, open it, remove the pumpkin flesh with a spoon, and process it first. This will make it ultra-smooth which is perfect for your favorite pumpkin recipes.
- Food processor: it's my choice because there will be a large amount of pulp. Use the steel blade and process away until you have a very smooth consistency (image below)
- Blender and immersion blender: they also work. Be careful because, depending on the type of pumpkin you use, it will have little liquid, and it might be harder to achieve a smooth mixture without forcing them too much.
- After that, let it drain (image above) until it thickens and is similar in texture to canned pumpkin.
- You will need a bowl and a colander that fits leaving a space in the bowl for the extra liquid to drain.
- Depending on the colander I sometimes use a cloth that I have for this type of thing.
The drained fresh pumpkin puree lasts for several days (I leave it up to a week) in the refrigerator in a sealed container. Always taste or smell it before using it. You will find it acidic when it starts to go bad.
You can freeze it, but I don't recommend it much as you will have to drain it again when you defrost. If you're up to that step, by all means make a large batch and freeze it.
What to do with the pumpkin seeds?
Don't throw them away! They can be dried out and roasted with different flavors and used for salads, to top pumpkin bread before baking, as a snack. Find how to do it in this post for how to roast pumpkin seeds, step-by-step.
Frequently asked questions
They are if you compare plain canned pumpkin with plain puree. That means pumpkin is the only ingredient in both. When you start adding extras (sugar, spices, etc.) they will probably differ both in flavor and sometimes texture. Many times canned pumpkin puree is confused with canned pumpkin pie filling, which is already flavored and ready to dump onto the pie crust.
In theory, you can, but in practice you'll be better off using pie pumpkins, which have a softer, smoother pulp. As opposed to more fibrous ones like spaghetti squash or acorn squash.
Yes, you can! I use an immersion blender or food processor for a super smooth pumpkin puree. You can also use a potato masher or food mill, but it's a little more laborious.
So many recipes call for pumpkin puree, from pies to baby food. Some we love here are this easy pumpkin pie, pumpkin whoopie pies, pumpkin muffins with chocolate chips and my favorite fall cake ever, the apple pumpkin crumb cake.
Butternut squash puree (shown in this post) is the perfect substitute, but also sweet potatoe or yam puree. The flavor of the last two will be sweeter and different, but they can be used interchangeably. Some recipes you might want to try are this gingersnap sweet potato pie and the sweet potato cinnamon bread.
MORE PUMPKIN RECIPES FOR YOU:
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Very easy to make, it's perfect for all the baking recipes. You can follow the instructions whether you use pumpkin or squash.
- 1 whole pumpkin or butternut squash
- 1 piece aluminum paper, optional
- Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C
- Wash and scrub the pumpkin or squash, and put it in a baking sheet. You can line it with aluminum paper for easier cleaning afterward.
- Baking it: it takes a while, at least an hour, sometimes half an hour more (it depends on the size and type of pumpkin) until it can be very easily pierced with a knife. The inside should be very soft.
- Remove from the oven and cut it in half.
- Remove the pulp with a spoon and put it in the bowl of the food processor.
- Processing: process until it's creamy. It will still be very wet, that is fine.
- Transfer to a colander set atop a bowl. You can add a cheesecloth before adding the pulp.
- Draining: let the pumpkin pulp drain until the puree is thick. It will take a while.
- Transfer the thick puree to a sealed container and keep refrigerated until ready to use. It keeps for several days.
You can also steam it until very soft and mash it. Just the pumpkin, peeled and cut into pieces. No salt or any other ingredient. I do this sometimes when I buy already cut squash or pumpkin, but it takes longer to drain. I use a steamer or a 2-piece pasta cooking pot, one that has a steamer incorporated, with an inch of water in the bottom.
Or you can boil it (no salt) and then mash it, but it retains too much water and it's not ideal for baking. Even after you drain it, it will have lost flavor.
You can freeze it, but I don't recommend it much as you will have to drain it again when you defrost. If you're up to that step, by all means, make a large batch and freeze it.
Keywords: pumpkin puree