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Substitution for Canned Pumpkin

Updated on May 18, 2011

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.

Fresh Pumpkin

Fresh pumpkin is an excellent substitute for canned. Choose a small "pie" or cooking pumpkin, not the one of the large varieties grown for jack-o-lanterns. Crack it open with a knife. Remove the seeds and strings. If you want to boil it, peel the pumpkin and cook it in lightly boiling water until tender. If you want to roast it, you don't have to peel it. 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.

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. To substitute acorn squash for pumpkin, 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 an hour. Scoop out the flesh and puree it in a food processor. Squash replaces pumpkin well in soups and stews.

Sweet Potato

Sweet potato is not a relative of pumpkin, but it has many of the same properties. To use sweet potato instead of canned pumpkin, wash the potatoes, pierce them a couple of times with a fork, and roast the 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. Sweet potatoes replace pumpkin well in pies and cheesecake.


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.


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    • VirginiaLynne profile image

      Virginia Kearney 5 years ago from United States

      I love to eat acorn squash as a side vegetable. I cook it in water either in the microwave or on the stove. Eat with butter substitute and a sprinkle of salt or cinnamon sugar.