Your Guide to Canned Pumpkin Nutrition, Substitutions and More

Your Guide to Canned Pumpkin Nutrition, Substitutions and More

Fall is here, which means pumpkin everything?  Here is your guide to canned pumpkin nutrition and more. 

Find healthy Canned Pumpkin Recipes ideas here.

What is canned pumpkin?

You may be surprised to learn that 85% of the canned pumpkin you see in the grocery store is not technically pumpkin!  The majority of canned pumpkin is actually squash.  How is that possible?

First, pumpkin is one kind of squash.  Squash refers to four species of genus Cucurbita.  Pumpkin is one of the species that belongs to the Cucurbita genus.  Therefore, pumpkin is a type of squash.

The majority of canned pumpkin in the grocery store is either Dickinson squash or a blend of squashes

Another important thing to note is that labeling squash as pumpkin is completely legal.  The FDA allows the use of pumpkin on labels since pumpkins and squash are closely related.

“Canned “pumpkin” has for many years been packed from field pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo) or certain varieties of firm-shelled, golden-fleshed, sweet squash (Cucurbita maxima), or mixtures of these. Pumpkin and squash are sometimes mixed intentionally to obtain the consistency most acceptable to users.” 


Is canned pumpkin healthy?  Canned pumpkin nutrition

Yes, plain canned pumpkin is healthy.  It contains many healthy nutrients including vitamin A, fiber and others.  Half a cup equals 1 serving or 122 grams.  Each serving has 5% of the DV for potassium and 13­% of the DV for fiber.  Use canned pumpkin for more than just pie or bread.

Canned Pumpkin Nutrition Label
Canned Pumpkin Nutrition Facts Panel (Label)

As you can see, canned pumpkin has

  • Low fat level
  • No cholesterol
  • 2.5 grams of fiber per half cup
  • Contains 1.3 grams of fiber per half cup

Can you freeze canned pumpkin?

Yes, canned pumpkin freezes really well.  Frozen pumpkin will remain fresh for several months. 

When you are ready to use the frozen pumpkin, thaw in the refrigerator or in a bowl of cold water.  Freezing does not change the texture so you can use it the same way you use canned pumpkin.

Is pumpkin puree the same as canned pumpkin?

No necessarily.  Canned pumpkin normally contains squash puree.  This squash puree is normally a different type of squash than pumpkin, or a blend of squashes.

Smiling Flask with orange liquid

Canned Pumpkin is not necessarily the same as Pumpkin Puree.

Pumpkin puree is technically squash puree.  However, pumpkin puree would only be pumpkin that is cooked and pureed.  You can make pumpkin puree at home.

What to look for when buying canned pumpkin

Canned pumpkin is available year round (normally).  You can find canned pumpkin in most grocery stores and supermarkets.

Check the label to make sure you get canned pumpkin.  I made the mistake once of buying pumpkin pie filing instead of pumpkin puree.  I was making chili so it did not work in my recipe.  Avoid my mistake by double-checking the label.

what to look for when buying canned pumpkin to ensure canned pumpkin nutrition
What to look for when buying canned pumpkin to ensure you get the best canned pumpkin nutrition!

Canned pumpkin only contains one ingredient “pumpkin” (or squash as explained earlier).  Pumpkin pie filling normally has sugar and spices already added to it.  Also, some canned pumpkin may have added salts, so check for this as well.

Substitutions for canned pumpkin

Craving pumpkin recipes but cannot find canned pumpkin, do not worry.  You can substitute many things for canned pumpkin.

Since canned pumpkin from the store is pureed squash, you can substitute with other squash puree.  Almost any cooked and pureed squash will substitute easily for canned pumpkin.  For example, try butternut squash or acorn squash. 

If you do not have any squash on hand, try sweet potatoes or carrots.  These two options may make your dish slightly sweeter.  Depending on the type of dish you are making, adjust the other sweet ingredients in the recipe.

If color is not important, you can try yellow squash and even zucchini.  Make sure you to remove the seeds before pureeing. 

Can you eat canned pumpkin without cooking it?

Yes, as with any canned good, the contents inside the can are fully cooked.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know about canned pumpkin nutrition, you should give it a try. Here are 9 healthy canned pumpkin recipes.

Let me know what you think!

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