Everything you need to know about canned pumpkin

canned pumpkin

Everything you need to know about canned pumpkin ~ Have you stocked up? Because you never know, the great pumpkin shortage of ’15 could rear its ugly head again at any time…be prepared, that’s my motto. 

a can of pumpkin

This time of year canned pumpkin becomes a staple in our house, and on any given shopping trip there’s always a can or two in my grocery cart.

And for good reason, right now I’m adding it to almost everything, from pancakes and muffins to cakes  and even rum!

crock pot pumpkin butter in small jars

Crock Pot Pumpkin Butter

What exactly is in canned pumpkin?

It’s a more interesting question that you might think…canned pumpkin isn’t always ‘pumpkin. The FDA allows companies to use a range of winter squash in their canned puree including hubbard and butternut. This is because the term pumpkin has no agreed upon botanical or scientific meaning. It’s true ~ Snopes it!

Before you get all hot under the collar about this, take a breath ~ canned pumpkin manufacturers will combine the best and most flavorful of any given year’s harvest for their products, so you aren’t missing out on anything. If you’ve ever taken the time to roast, peel, and puree your Halloween pumpkin you’ll know that it isn’t always worth the trouble 😉

The ability to mix and match varieties means that we won’t have to do without if there’s a dud pumpkin crop on any given year. I’m all for it!

Slices of Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

The Best Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Is canned pumpkin healthy?

Yes, surprisingly so. My can of pumpkin puree lists one ingredient: pumpkin.

Pumpkin is a super food, just like other winter squashes. It’s nutrient dense, low fat, full of fiber, and low in calories. Obviously when you mix healthy pumpkin with sugar and fats to make sweet treats it’s not particularly good for you, but as an ingredient, it’s up there with the best of them. That gorgeous golden color signifies awesome amounts of Beta Carotene.

Make sure you buy 100% pure pumpkin puree, not pie mix, they’re completely different! Just read the label carefully because often the cans look alike.

Butter Pecan Pumpkin Souffle

Butter Pecan Pumpkin Soufflé

Can I make my own pumpkin puree?

  • You sure can, but from my experience it isn’t worth it. It’s a laborious job, because you’ve got to cut, seed, cook, scrape, and puree your squash. And in the end you’re left with something that’s often more watery, and with less flavor, than the canned stuff.
  • If you look into it, you’ll find that canned pumpkin is actually higher in nutrients than the fresh made…and the canned puree actually works out to be cheaper, so why bother?
  • If you’re following recipes developed with canned pumpkin, using fresh pumpkin puree can be a problem because it’s definitely more watery. Best to cook it down in a saucepan to thicken it up before using.
  • Bottom line, I recommend doing it at least once just for the experience. It’s a fun project to do with kids, and  I outline the process for you here.  If you grow your own pumpkins, or have access to great fresh pumpkins, go for it. You can freeze the extra for later. But if you’re considering conscripting your Halloween pumpkin for dessert, nix the thought 😉  You want to choose small ‘sugar’ or ‘pie’ pumpkins specifically bred for making into puree for cooking.

removing the top from a fresh pumpkin

The Great Stuffed Pumpkin

What to do with a can of pumpkin puree

I thought you’d never ask! I’ve got a million and one ideas for using pumpkin puree on the blog, all of them insanely delicious 🙂  Here’s a short list to get you started…


Pumpkin Cornbread sliced into wedges on a wooden board

Pumpkin Cornbread

How to use Pumpkin as a healthy substitute in baking

  • Pumpkin can be used in place of oil in baked goods and cake mixes. Use it in the same amounts.
  • To substitute for eggs, sub 1/4 cup pumpkin puree for each egg.
  • To sub for butter, use just 3/4 of the amount of butter called for. Alternatively you can use half pumpkin and half butter.
  • Just for fun I’ll often substitute pumpkin puree for mashed banana in my breads and cakes.

pumpkin blondies

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies

Is canned pumpkin good for dogs?

  • Yes, and dogs love it. It can help with digestive issues, urinary health, and weight loss. (You can read all about giving pumpkin to dogs here.)

A basic recipe for a healthy pumpkin dog treat:

  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
  •  1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  1. Mix everything in a bowl unll the dough comes together. It helps to use your hands at the end to thoroughly mix the dough. Add a touch more pumpkin puree if the dough seems too dry to come together.
  2. Let sit, covered, for 10 minutes, to allow the flour to absorb the pumpkin.
  3. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick.
  4. Cut shapes with a dog bone cutter and place on a cookie sheet.
  5. Bake at 350F for about 15 minutes or until crisp.
  6. Biscuits will keep a week at room temperature, or up to a month in the refrigerator (makes 1 1/2 dozen.)

homemade pumpkin dog treats



canned pumpkin pin


pumpkin recipes image


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    Leave a Reply

  • Reply
    October 7, 2019 at 5:41 am

    Let’s try this without all the iPhone autocorrects. Sorry all! Lazy two-fingered, one line typist here.

    I love the diversity in these recipes! Thank you! I make a pumpkin change to one of my family’s favorite recipes and that is to my mom’s NY cheesecake. I make the cake as usual, however, right before pouring the batter into the pan, I take one cup batter, one can pumpkin purée, one tsp Chinese Five Spice, 1/2 tsp Ceylon cinnamon and mix in a separate bowl. I add that mixture to the springform pan first and level it. Then pour the remaining batter on top. Cook as usual. Turns our great time and again. I don’t mix it into all the batter because it seems to disappear into the overall taste, whereas, this way, there’s a little pumpkin bite in there. It also looks layered which is very pretty.
    Happy cooking, y’all! Thanks again, Sue!

    • Reply
      October 7, 2019 at 7:33 am

      Love this Diane, I have a pumpkin cheesecake coming out soon, I’m renewing my love affair with cheesecake after a long break from it. Your recipe sounds lovely, especially with those spices.

  • Reply
    Jennie Lubeck
    October 6, 2019 at 7:28 am

    I cook pumpkin every year and stock my freezer. I let the cooked and pureed pumpkin sit in a cheesecloth lined colander to release the water before I bag it, 2 cups to a freezer bag. Straight pumpkin is great for upset canine stomachs and my dogs love it.

    • Reply
      October 6, 2019 at 7:39 am

      The draining is key, I think. I do love the color of fresh pumpkin puree!

  • Reply
    October 4, 2019 at 7:45 am

    Best is Lakeshore, hands down.

    • Reply
      October 4, 2019 at 8:02 am

      Haven’t tried it!

  • Reply
    Denise Jansma
    October 4, 2019 at 5:35 am

    Wonderful article! Can’t wait to make the crumb cake and will try the dog treat recipe for my great-granddog. Thank you for sharing!

    • Reply
      October 4, 2019 at 8:02 am

      You’re welcome 🙂

  • Reply
    Tricia B
    October 4, 2019 at 4:13 am

    I’ve already started stocking up on cans of pumpkin! I bet my fur children would love these biscuits – a must try!

  • Reply
    October 3, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    My son is allergic to peanuts so we are nut free. I think I will try this with sunflower butter. I bet my pup will adore them. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Reply
      October 3, 2019 at 3:00 pm

      That should work great Amanda.

  • Reply
    October 3, 2019 at 10:24 am

    Many dogs are allergic to wheat, many dog food makers now make grain-free, oats are great, not whole wheat, pumpkin is fantastic for dogs with sensitive tummies. When I buy canned pumpkin, it is organic, maybe with some ginger, also great for the tummy.

    • Reply
      October 3, 2019 at 10:53 am

      Love the idea of adding ginger…

      • Reply
        Lynn Brant
        October 5, 2019 at 4:48 am

        Actually, according to many vets and AKC, grain-free is a passing trend that CAN cause damage to your furbaby’s heart. The most common allergy in dogs is beef! Y’all can read up on it. Only ten percent of PEOPLE are allergic to wheat so, unless you KNOW your pooch is allergic, I’m thinking this recipe sounds great.

  • Reply
    Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch)
    October 3, 2019 at 9:02 am

    Hi Sue, this is a really good article. Thanks for all of the pumpkin info. And I’m going to make those dog treats. I’ve been looking for a reliable recipe, and I trust yours.

    • Reply
      October 3, 2019 at 9:27 am

      Our dog loved them!

  • Reply
    October 3, 2019 at 8:31 am

    can you use another flour instead of wheat?

    • Reply
      October 3, 2019 at 9:27 am

      I would suggest rice, oat, or chickpea flour, but I’d check with your vet if your dog has sensitivities or allergies.

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