This is a super basic recipe for homemade pumpkin (or butternut squash) puree. It's easy and a great way to add an unprocessed ingredient when making those wonderful cakes and pies. There's little hands-on work and it's worth it!
For those who have a hard time finding canned pumpkin puree (I include myself), here is how you can make it at home.
It takes 3 easy steps: bake, process and drain.
No matter what type of pumpkin or butternut squash you use, you can make puree, unless the pulp is too stringy as it will not have a smooth consistency.
I love butternut squash or English pumpkin (images below). But most of you probably use the typical orange pumpkin which works fine too.
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 the pulp will be ready to scoop.
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.
I know these might sound like too many extra steps, but the result is way better. And it's more a waiting game than a hands-on process. Both are recommended no matter how you cook the vegetable.
When the pumpkin or butternut squash is so soft that you can easily pierce it with a knife, open it, remove the pulp with a spoon, and process it first (image above). This will make it ultra-smooth which is great for baking recipes.
- 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.
Video tutorial 👇🏻
The drained 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.
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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