Is Canned Pumpkin The Same Thing As Pumpkin Puree?

If you're standing in a grocery store aisle, holding some canned pumpkin, and wondering if it works in your recipe that asks for pumpkin purée, that can only mean one thing: It's pumpkin season once again. Contrary to the whole point of most canned items, pumpkin is something that is tied inseparably to fall and the holiday season, despite its usefulness as a staple pantry item. According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, 90% of canned pumpkin is sold between October and January, and we're willing to bet that's all due to the enduringly popular pumpkin pie.

When things get hectic around the holidays, the appeal of the convenient canned pumpkin really becomes clear. Nobody wants to spend time picking out the right squash and carving out a gigantic gourd when they also need to check on the turkey and put together the green bean casserole. Taste of Home says the canned option also happens to taste better in your pie than the fresh stuff, with a better flavor and smoother texture. The one hang-up is knowing what exactly canned pumpkin is. You may have heard it's actually a squash, or maybe you heard it's not the same thing as pumpkin purée. Well, rest easy, pumpkin lovers, because you have nothing to worry about.

Canned pumpkin is just pumpkin purée

Canned pumpkin is actually a very pure and basic ingredient, and as The Spruce Eats says, it is just cooked and mashed with no other flavorings or additives. So yes, your canned pumpkin is just a can of purée, and you should use it in any recipe that asks for it. As for the squash question, make sure to look for labels that say 100% pumpkin if you want the purest pumpkin flavor. Kitchn notes some brands do mix in pureed squashes that are not technically pumpkins, like butternut or Hubbard, but brands with the 100% label are made with pumpkin squash, just not the big orange kinds you are used to picking out of the field.

Even if you do opt for a brand that is not 100% pure, canned options can be your entryway to eating more pumpkins. You are often turning the orange vegetable into purée in many recipes anyway, and Delish says that anytime you are cooking with it, you can just reach for the can and save yourself a lot of effort while often getting better results. It may go against a lot of your fresh cooking instincts, but canned pumpkin vs. fresh is one of those rare times you can just go with the easier option and still take the win on the taste. Just don't go assuming the same thing about pumpkin pie filling because that is a whole different question altogether.