Susan Peterson is an award-winning writer and author of "Western Herbs for Martial Artists and Contacts Athletes."
What Works as a Substitute for Canned Pumpkin?
Canned pumpkin is not universally available. In Europe especially, canned pumpkin is rare. Even in some parts of the United States where pumpkin is native, finding canned pumpkin can be difficult in the spring and summer. If you wish to make a recipe calling for canned pumpkin and you can't find it, you can substitute fresh pumpkin, acorn squash, sweet potato, or even, for some recipes, applesauce. Canned pumpkin typically comes in 15 oz. cans. To substitute, use 15 oz. of any of the four alternatives.
1. Fresh Pumpkin
Fresh pumpkin is an excellent substitute for canned. Choose a small "pie" or cooking pumpkin—not one of the large varieties grown for jack-o-lanterns.
How to Prepare Fresh Pumpkin
- Crack open the pumpkin with a knife.
- Remove the seeds and strings.
- Boiling instructions: Peel the pumpkin and cook it in lightly boiling water until tender.
- Roasting instructions: No need to peel the pumpkin. Put it cutside-down in a shallow baking dish with a little water in the bottom, and bake it at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or until tender.
- Mash the pumpkin or puree it in a food processor. Be aware that you may have to adjust the amount of liquid in your recipe if you boil your pumpkin. Canned pumpkin has a moisture content more similar to roasted pumpkin.
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2. Acorn Squash
Acorn squash and field pumpkins, though not similar in appearance, are actually the same species. Consequently, their texture and cooking properties are very similar. Squash replaces pumpkin well in soups and stews.
How to Prepare Acorn Squash
- Split the squash in half with a knife and scoop out the seeds and strings.
- Roast the squash cut side down in a 350-degree oven until tender, typically at least 1 hour.
- Scoop out the flesh and puree it in a food processor.
3. Sweet Potato
Sweet potato is not a relative of pumpkin, but it has many of the same properties. Sweet potatoes replace pumpkin well in pies and cheesecake.
How to Prepare Sweet Potato
- Wash the potatoes; then pierce them a couple of times with a fork.
- Roast the potatoes in the oven until tender. If you roast sweet potatoes for long periods of time in an oven at 250 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, it will bring out their sweetness.
- Scoop out the flesh and mash it.
Applesauce is a possible replacement for pumpkin in baked goods. If you have a pumpkin bread recipe but no pumpkin, try using canned, smooth applesauce. It won't taste anything like pumpkin, but it has similar baking qualities.
- PLANTS Profile for Cucurbita pepo (field pumpkin) | USDA PLANTS
A PLANTS profile of Cucurbita pepo (field pumpkin) from the USDA PLANTS database
- Iowa State, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition: Creamy Pumpkin Soup
- Pumpkin - Vegetable Directory - Watch Your Garden Grow - University of Illinois Extension
- Johnson County - Cooking with Pumpkins
- Nutrition Study Explanation of Tables