Do you remember that time when there was a canned pumpkin shortage and we all needed to find pumpkin puree substitutes for our fall baking? Those were dark times, friend, but you might be surprised to learn that there are a lot of vegetables that can be substituted for pumpkin in baking—and you won’t even miss it.
Pumpkin Recipes Are More Versatile Than You Think
Pumpkin pies, pumpkin bars, pumpkin bread—how can you substitute the pumpkin when they have pumpkin in the name?! The truth is, pumpkin itself has a very mild, earthy flavor; it’s the pumpkin spices we add to baked goods that we associate with pumpkin flavor, not the actual vegetable. This means you can substitute vegetables with similar color, texture, and flavor, add that signature pumpkin spice blend, and the result will taste so similar, no one will guess that you didn’t use pumpkin puree.
Oh, and Libby’s Pure Pumpkin Isn’t Even Made With Pumpkin!
It’s made with Dickinson squash, which is more closely related to butternut squash than pumpkin. Shocker! Other brands of canned pumpkin puree also commonly use other winter squashes or even blends of a few different varieties. If you can’t find pumpkin puree at the grocery store, you’re totally fine swapping in a can of butternut squash or any of the other pumpkin substitutes listed below.
What Can I Use Instead of Pumpkin?
Luckily, if you’re in need of a substitute for pumpkin puree, you have plenty of options! What you’re looking for is another vegetable that will match the taste, texture, and color.
Can butternut squash substitute for pumpkin?
Yes! Butternut squash puree is the best substitute for pumpkin puree. You can usually find it with the canned vegetables at the grocery store (as opposed to pumpkin puree, which you’ll find in the baking aisle). If you can’t find it in a can, you can buy butternut squash and roast it until it’s tender, then puree it for your pumpkin recipe.
Can you use acorn squash instead of butternut squash?
Butternut squash is best if you need a substitute for pumpkin, but acorn squash will do in a pinch, although the color of your baked goods will be a bit paler. You can also use Hubbard squash, kabocha, or buttercup squash.
Can sweet potato substitute for pumpkin?
Yes, sweet potato puree works as a one-to-one substitute for pumpkin puree. You can even make the swap in your favorite pumpkin pie recipe!
Can you use fresh pie pumpkins?
Yep, fresh pie pumpkins—also known as sugar pumpkins—can be used as a substitute for canned pumpkin puree. Don’t use the big pumpkins used for carving and decorating—they’re not cultivated for flavor. Cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and pulp, then cover the cut sides with foil. Bake, cut side up, for about an hour at 325ºF, or until tender. Cool, scoop the flesh from the shell, and puree the flesh in a blender or food processor.
Can you substitute carrots for pumpkin?
Kind of! You can substitute carrots in a cake, bread, or muffin recipe, but you’re going to notice the difference in a pie. That said, carrot pie is definitely a thing, just know that it doesn’t taste quite the same as pumpkin pie!
Can you substitute pumpkin pie filling for puree?
Only use pumpkin pie filling in recipes that specifically call for it. Pumpkin pie filling (or pumpkin pie mix) is already seasoned and sweetened, so it will throw off the taste of your recipe if you use it in place of pumpkin puree.
How to Replace Pumpkin Puree
Replacing pumpkin puree with any of the substitutes listed above is simple—you use the exact same amount. So you can substitute a cup of pumpkin puree with a cup of carrot puree, sweet potato puree, or squash puree.
If you’re starting with fresh vegetables rather than canned, you’ll need to steam or roast them, then puree them in your blender or food processor. If the resulting puree is thinner or more watery than canned pumpkin puree, you can line a sieve or colander with a paper towel or cheesecloth and place the puree inside to let some of the excess moisture drain off for 15–20 minutes before you bake with it.
Your best bet is using canned butternut squash as a substitute for canned pumpkin puree, because the consistency, flavor, and color matches closely with pumpkin. That said, any of the substitutes mentioned above will work!
If you’re looking for more….try these pumpkin recipes next!