3 Easy Substitutions for Canned Pumpkin

Can't find canned pumpkin? Don't worry! You can still make your favorite fall treats with these substitutions.

It’s every baker’s worst nightmare: You push your cart down the baking aisle looking for all the ingredients you need for your favorite fall recipes—and the store is out of canned pumpkin. If you love pumpkin bars or pumpkin pie, this really does feel like a bad dream.

But there’s some good news: There are substitutions for canned pumpkin puree. You can still make your favorite treats, just with a few tweaks. Here’s what you can use while your store restocks.

1. Fresh Pumpkin Puree

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While our Test Kitchen recommends using canned pumpkin whenever possible, it doesn’t mean that fresh pumpkin puree doesn’t have a place in your kitchen. Fresh pumpkin is the ideal alternative for recipes that call for solid-pack canned pumpkin.

To make pumpkin puree, first make sure you’re grabbing the right kind of pumpkin. Look for pumpkins labeled as pie, sugar pie or baking pumpkins (regular carving pumpkins don’t fit the bill here!). Then you’ll clean, roast and puree the pumpkin in a food processor.

It’s not difficult to do, but it’s definitely more time-consuming than popping open a can.

2. Canned Sweet Potatoes

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Canned yams or sweet potatoes can also be used in place of canned pumpkin puree. It’s a simple swap to make. Just drain the sweet potatoes and use them in the same proportion as the canned pumpkin.

Sweet potatoes and pumpkin do taste a little different, of course, but the texture and color are very similar. Also, once you layer on the baking spices, these differences won’t be as prominent.

3. Roasted Squash

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When all else fails, you can always roast up another type of squash and use it in recipes that call for pumpkin. Butternut, buttercup, honeynut and acorn squashes are all suitable substitutes. Each of these types of squash has a similar texture to pumpkin and some natural sweetness. To substitute these squashes for pumpkin, prepare them as you would pumpkin for fresh pumpkin puree: clean, roast, puree in a food processor. Use in the same proportions as pumpkin puree.

We get it if acorn squash pie doesn’t have the same appeal as pumpkin, but these substitutions can be especially useful in savory pumpkin recipes.

With these easy substitutions for pumpkin in mind, you don’t need to fret if you don’t see your go-to brand of pumpkin on the shelf. Just search for some canned yams or head to the produce department.

Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is a former Taste of Home editor and passionate baker. During her tenure, she poured her love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa also dedicated her career here to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.