Fifteen Spatulas

Fresh vs. Canned Pumpkin: I put them to the test!

fresh pumpkin vs canned pumpkin for pie

Is fresh pumpkin worth the effort, or should you just used canned pumpkin?

A few nights ago I laid in bed, eyes wide open, pondering that very question (because thinking about food before bed is way more fun than counting sheep).

For the longest time I had never bothered to use anything other than canned pumpkin. Mostly because so many recipes just say to use canned pumpkin by default. It seems like the common thing to do.

I mean seriously, which do we all WANT to be better? The canned pumpkin, obviously. All you have to do is open a can. It’s so quick and simple. Fresh pumpkin requires extra work.

a sugar pumpkin for fresh pumpkin pie

But hey now, it’s not that much extra work, and I decided that it was time to see if the extra work is worth it. This extra work is basically just to cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds, roast, and puree. Not difficult at all. So I set out to compare the two, to figure out whether fresh or canned pumpkin is the way to go.

In order to test, I first had to prep the pumpkin (make sure you buy a designated sugar or pie pumpkin). I scooped the seeds out with a melon baller (much like I did with my Maple Butter Roasted Acorn Squash). Save the seeds if you want to make roasted pumpkin seeds.

use a melon baller to seed a fresh sugar pumpkin

Place the pumpkin halves on a sheet pan to roast until tender.

how to roast fresh sugar pumpkin for puree

Scoop the roasted pumpkin from the skin, and puree in a food processor until smooth, like this:

fresh pumpkin puree from sugar pumpkin

Once I had the pumpkin puree cooked like this, my husband and I both did a blind taste test.

Here were my notes:

  • WOW pumpkin is not sweet at all. We think of it as sweet because it’s often used in desserts, but this stuff needs some sugar!
  • Both of these pumpkin purees taste far too yucky to tell which one is better, at this point. No more tasting until I add some sugar.
  • For now I will observe with my eyes, and I noted that the colors are very different.

So what I did is I made the exact same recipe for pumpkin pie, except I used the fresh pumpkin puree for one, and the canned pumpkin puree for the other.

This was the canned pumpkin mix:

canned pumpkin pie recipe

And this was the fresh:

fresh pumpkin puree for pumpkin pie

I stirred it all together, and here you can see the canned pumpkin mixture on the left, and the fresh on the right.

They vary quite a bit in color, don’t they?

side by side comparison of fresh and canned pumpkin

Here’s where my husband and I did another blind taste test, tasting the raw pumpkin pie filling (sweetened up this time).

Blind Taste Test #2 Notes:

  • This stuff tastes so much better with all the ingredients mixed in!
  • It is now painfully obvious which one is the canned and which one is the fresh, even though my eyes are closed and I don’t know which is which. There is a weird flavor with the canned pumpkin that now that I notice it, is pretty off-putting.
So I put the two pumpkin fillings into two identical pie crusts, on a sheet pan so that they could both bake evenly, on the same oven rack:

flaky pie crusts for pumpkin pie

Here’s what they looked like after being baked. The colors aren’t as different anymore. If someone brought me the pie on the left, even though it’s not as bright of an orange, I would still know it’s pumpkin pie.

side by side comparison of pumpkin pies

Finished product blind taste test #3:

  • What’s most funny about this experiment is that going into it, I thought there would be a clear answer based only on taste. What I found is that the biggest difference is the texture.
  • The canned pumpkin has a sort of cottage cheese/ricotta texture, whereas the fresh pumpkin has a more sweet potato-like, thicker, more velvety texture.
  • I personally think the fresh pumpkin pie texture is better. My husband agrees.
  • The canned pumpkin pie taste is seriously driving me crazy now. I’m not sure I can eat canned pumpkin again, because that canned pumpkin flavor is just so strong and unappetizing to me.

Pumpkin pie recipe using fresh pumpkin puree

So tell me, have you compared canned and fresh pumpkin, side by side? Maybe it’s time to see what you prefer! Have fun and let me know which you like better =)

My favorite pumpkin pie

Yield: 1 standard pie

My favorite pumpkin pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 small pie pumpkin, to yield 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 pie crust (you can use my recipe here)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the pumpkin in half, scrape out the seeds with a melon baller, then bake on a sheet pan for about 1 hour until fork tender. Scoop out all the pumpkin from the skin, and puree in a food processor until smooth. Measure out two cups of pumpkin puree, and set aside for later. EDIT: if you wish to have a thicker, denser pumpkin pie, let the pumpkin puree strain in a colander (line it with cheesecloth or a damp, thick paper towel) for an hour or so, to remove some of the water from the pumpkin puree.
  2. Bump the oven heat up to 400, and place your pie crust in a standard 9-inch pie plate. Blind bake the pie crust for 20 minutes, and be sure to either prick the dough all over with a fork, or fill the pie crust with a piece of parchment weighted down with pie weights, to keep the crust from bubbling up as it bakes.
  3. While the crust parbakes, make the pumpkin pie filling. Place 2 cups of the pumpkin puree, heavy cream, sugar, cinnamon, salt, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, ground cloves, eggs, and egg yolks in a bowl and whisk until smooth.
  4. Remove the par baked crust from the oven, and turn the heat back down to 350. Place the pumpkin pie filling into the par baked pie crust and place it in the oven (yes, you are starting the pie out at an elevated oven temperature, that's intentional), and bake the pie for 45-50 minutes (you know it's done when you jiggle the pan, the center part of the pie jiggles, but doesn't look liquidy). Let the pumpkin pie cool at room temperature for at least 2 hours before eating (this part is important). This will help set the texture of the pie and let the flavors develop a bit. Enjoy!
http://www.fifteenspatulas.com/fresh-vs-canned-pumpkin-i-put-them-to-the-test-my-pumpkin-pie-recipe/

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Comments

  1. Putting It All on the Table posted on November 5, 2012 at 9:04 am (#)

    I have been pondering this as well since I am getting pumpkins in my CSA winter share. Thanks for doing the taste test! I will use fresh pumpkin this year.

    • Joanne Ozug replied on November 5th, 2012 at 9:28 am

      How fun! I need to find a CSA!

  2. Char James-Tanny posted on November 5, 2012 at 9:08 am (#)

    I make fresh pumpkin every year (I usually buy at least three sugar pumpkins and freeze the results in 2-cup portions) for pies and breads at Thanksgiving. I’ve never done a side-by-side test.

    And I don’t have a problem with the lack of sweetness, but maybe because I make a lot of squash at this time of year. To me, it tastes so much better…so much more “pumpkin-y” than the canned stuff.

    BTW, you can add some spices while roasting (like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, mace)…just sprinkle them over the top. They bake in and the pumpkin tastes even better :-) (I usually make it both ways, mostly because I forget to spice the first pumpkin.)

    • Joanne Ozug replied on November 5th, 2012 at 9:25 am

      Hi Char, My favorite squash, buttercup, is very sweet on its own, so I was just surprised that the fresh pumpkin wasn’t the same way. I find sweet dumpling to be very sweet also. Love your idea of adding the spices during roasting! Thanks!

  3. Jen @ Savory Simple posted on November 5, 2012 at 9:14 am (#)

    I actually can’t stand canned pumpkin. It has a metallic canned flavor to me. I recently canned a whole bunch of fresh pumpkin and that’s what I’ll be using for a long time!

    • Joanne Ozug replied on November 5th, 2012 at 9:26 am

      Glad to hear I’m not the only one! That’s smart to can a bunch all at once.

      • Elizabeth replied on November 5th, 2012 at 2:06 pm

        Actually canning pumpkin is not the safest. You can pressure can cubed pumpkin but reputable canning books warn against canning mashed or pureed pumpkin . Freezing is the recommended method. I would not go with recipes off the internet unless from someplace like Ball. Check with your county extension agent for good advice.

        • Elizabeth replied on November 5th, 2012 at 2:08 pm

          In case you are wondering about my answer in the context of store bought canned pumpkin that is canned at higher steam and temp pressure than we can achieve at home, so is safe.

  4. Karen posted on November 5, 2012 at 9:22 am (#)

    One hint when using fresh pumpkin…let it sit in a strainer over a bowl for a few hours before adding to a recipe. Fresh pumpkin has a much higher water content than canned…and as a result, some recipes can be runny, or not “set” properly when you use it unstrained. It takes a little bit of planning ahead…but the results are DEFINITELY worth it!

    • Joanne Ozug replied on November 5th, 2012 at 9:27 am

      Karen, I love that tip, thanks for sharing! I would love a thicker and denser pumpkin pie =)

    • Char James-Tanny replied on November 5th, 2012 at 9:49 am

      I was just coming back to add this comment :-) (I couldn’t believe I forgot to mention this!) I usually drain it after I puree it and before I freeze it.

      (And if you really want to help push the water out, put a plate on top of the pumpkin in the strainer and then set a can of something on top of the plate.)

  5. Linda Kintz posted on November 5, 2012 at 9:33 am (#)

    Although this does sound like a lot of work I am still going to give it a try. I think fresh is always better then canned.
    Thank you again for a wonderful recipe.

  6. Suzie posted on November 5, 2012 at 9:35 am (#)

    I have used both for many years I found the white pumpkins were sweeter and had a richer color. I use to make loaves and loaves of pumpkin bread from fresh pumpkin. Everyone loved the bread. Never told my secret ingredient was the fresh pumpkin.

  7. Mary posted on November 5, 2012 at 10:26 am (#)

    My mother-in-law made a fresh pumpkin pumpkin pie about 20 years ago and the texture was superb! Since it was the first time she used a fresh pumpkin, she peeled it before cooking. Therefore the color was more of a custard pie and was yellow. Every since, I have used fresh pumpkin, cooked with the skins, then peeled, to make my Thanksgiving desserts. One has to plan ahead, since pumpkins usually can’t be found by November 1st. I have roasted and steamed on the stove & prefer to the stovetop method. Of course, straining in a colander is necessary. I allow the pumpkin to cool while setting in the colander before peeling.

    • Elizabeth replied on November 5th, 2012 at 2:01 pm

      Oh you’re lucky her pie was good. My MIL also used fresh pumpkin but the pie was horrid, stringy watery and tasteless. I think I took one bite the first time and never again. I know she just used the jack o lantern pumpkins and I would not doubt if she had cooked up the carved pumpkin post Halloween and used that.

      • Lisa replied on November 5th, 2012 at 8:58 pm

        I have always used jack-o-lantern pumpkins with great results. In fact I have sold up to 50 pumpkin pies in a season using them. Of course, they were never used for actual jack-o-lanterns. She may not have pureed it correctly, or drained enough liquid out of it.

        • Mary replied on November 5th, 2012 at 10:10 pm

          I have also used jack-o-lantern pumpkins, too. Having not tasted side-by-side to a sugar pumpkin, I don’t notice a difference. Although, now that my kids are grown, I usually don’t buy bug pumpkins anymore, so I just buy the sugar pumpkins.

          • Elizabeth replied on November 6th, 2012 at 10:40 pm

            Yes I think she just used a potato masher and definitely did not do the draining off of the extra liquid. I also cook up whatever shows up in the garden. My pumpkins all come from volunteers, from what ever seeds ended up back in the garden from compost etc. My husband is sure we have a hybrid pumpkin-zucchini…it is bright orange but very long with a rounded end. We didn’t try carving, just laid it out on the step as it could not stand.

            • Elizabeth replied on November 6th, 2012 at 10:41 pm

              Oh, she did have a food processor, but never used it.

  8. Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts posted on November 5, 2012 at 10:27 am (#)

    I have never actually roasted a pumpkin. I might have to convince y mom to do it this year for Thanksgiving.

  9. Liz @ The Lemon Bowl posted on November 5, 2012 at 10:48 am (#)

    Love that you did this side by side comparison. Truthfully, I always used canned because I love the health benefits of pumpkin and use it all year round BUT it is good to know that fresh is best at the end of the dya.

  10. Angie @ Big Bears Wife posted on November 5, 2012 at 11:26 am (#)

    I’ve never done a side by side comparison of the two, but I always use canned pumpkin for baked goods and I use real pumpkins for pumpkin pie. I love that you tested them.

  11. Nicole @ Lapetitebaker posted on November 5, 2012 at 11:57 am (#)

    This is great! I went to a restaurant the other day and ordered their pumpkin pie for dessert which started a whole debate on canned pumpkin vs fresh pumpkin with my friends. Through you’re research, I think we have a clear winner.

  12. Libby posted on November 5, 2012 at 11:58 am (#)

    Joanne, I discovered baking with fresh pumpkin many years ago when my old boss’ wife made pumpkin muffins. My boss asked us if we could tell what type of muffin it was. We couldn’t tell because all of us was used to using pumpkin out of a can and not fresh! What a difference in taste. Since then, I have always bought a fresh pumpkin during this time of year and cooked it up to use in my baking. I actually cook up my pumpkin meat in a small amount of water on the stove. Yes, it does absorb much water but I let it drain as much as possible before using.

  13. Averie @ Averie Cooks posted on November 5, 2012 at 1:38 pm (#)

    Fabulous comparison post! Ive read from others who have made their own that it’s not worth it – now, I beg to differ. Canned ‘pumpkin’ puree, i.e. Libbys and similar, tends to actually be a blend of squashes, not pumpkin. So it seems you prefer real pumpkin to canned squash…I think if I had the choice, I’d agree. I need to roast my own now!

    • Lanakila replied on April 22nd, 2013 at 12:32 pm

      Pumpkins are squash!

  14. Cherie posted on November 5, 2012 at 2:17 pm (#)

    Very interesting! Thank you for taking the time to compare. I will try this myself very soon.

  15. Patricia posted on November 5, 2012 at 2:22 pm (#)

    I wondered about this before, thanks for sharing.

  16. Susan posted on November 5, 2012 at 3:48 pm (#)

    Thanks for the taste test! If I have a squash at home, I’ll roast it and use it, but when I’m in a pinch, I go canned. I usually buy organic and the color is more like your homemade puree – I think that’s really the way to go for a fresher pumpkin taste if you need to go canned. I’ve even found the consistency different than regular canned.

  17. Patricia posted on November 5, 2012 at 3:50 pm (#)

    I have used both canned and fresh. Hands down, the fresh pumpkin is far more tasty than the canned. In fact, I haven’t used canned in years. No comparison as far as I am concerned. The texture and flavor of fresh cannot be compared to canned. When I make pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving you know which pumpkin I will be using.

  18. Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking posted on November 5, 2012 at 4:31 pm (#)

    I love your thoroughness with testing each puree – both pies turned out beautiful and I bet very tasty! So interesting!

  19. Anita at Hungry Couple posted on November 5, 2012 at 5:48 pm (#)

    What a fun experiment. :) In terms of texture, though, have you considered simply running the canned puree through a blender like you did with the fresh? The only time I’ve made my own was when I was making pumpkin risotto and planned to use the emptied, roasted pumpkin as the bowl. In the risotto, I didn’t detect any difference but I think I’d have to do a side by side like you did.

  20. Rose Trevathan posted on November 5, 2012 at 6:26 pm (#)

    I’m going to have to try a side by side of my moms canned rec and yours…I’ll admit I love my moms rec so we will have to see…I’ll let you know what I come up with :) I absolutely love your stuff, ALWAYS awesome!

    Rose T.

  21. Pablo posted on November 5, 2012 at 7:07 pm (#)

    Great tips. Any use for pumpkin in savory dishes ? Soups ? Stews ?…

  22. Ann Mc posted on November 5, 2012 at 8:31 pm (#)

    Okay – this was awesome! Thank you for doing the leg work for the rest of us….now we can all go buy fresh pumpkins!

  23. Lisa posted on November 5, 2012 at 8:51 pm (#)

    I have always used the fresh pumpkin. However, I have always used the big jack-o-lantern pumpkins for my pies. They taste amazing! I don’t understand what the big deal is about the pie pumpkins. I’d be interested to see someone do a taste test between the pie pumpkin and jack-o-lantern pumpkin.

  24. CSL posted on November 5, 2012 at 9:08 pm (#)

    I’ve been baking pumpkin pies from scratch for years now! My sister always had a bunch of leftover pumpkins from halloween (used for decorations and never cut out), so she brought them to me. I roasted, pureed and frozed in ‘can size’ batches for the pies, cookies, pancakes, dressings, etc, etc.
    Never knew how much of a difference it made, ’till one Thanksgiving I decided not to bake my own pie, and instead buy one. . . Huge mistake! Even the kids had something to say about the store bought pie. Really! Everybody complained and almost did a full blown sit out protest. Ok, that was a bit too much.

  25. Veronica posted on November 5, 2012 at 10:18 pm (#)

    I am so glad you did this test. I have been thinking of the same thing lately. Like, why don’t people make pumpkin pie with the pumpkins they buy? I always hear people talking about roasting the seeds and never using the pumpkin to make puree. Anyway, I am really going to try this. I do prefer the color of the canned one, just because I’m so used to the puree looking dark and I feel like it makes it look better(more “baked”/ toasty), but w.e if the other method tastes better than that’s what matters most. Holidays will never be the same again. =)

  26. Suzanne Perazzini posted on November 5, 2012 at 10:29 pm (#)

    We don’t get canned here so I can’t do this test. Fresh usually is better. Who knows what they do to processed food that changes everything.

  27. Andie posted on November 6, 2012 at 9:37 pm (#)

    Been cooking fresh pumpkin for years. Its funny my kids would have a fit when they were little if someone else would bring the pumpkin pie. They would say its not real. To me fresh pumpkin is smoother and milder than can. I perfer to add a little extra spice to my pumpkin pies. I plan to start cooking my pumpkins this week. yum

  28. Erin posted on November 7, 2012 at 9:04 am (#)

    I actually bought an organic pumpkin and made fresh puree for the first time. I was stunned at the difference in taste! I never noticed the weird metallic-ish taste that the canned stuff… even the organic BPA free cans. To make life even easier, just wash the outside of the pumpkin, put it on a sheet pan and roast away. It’s super easy to split the pumpkin and remove the seeds afterward it’s roasted.

  29. Meg posted on November 7, 2012 at 1:52 pm (#)

    My boyfriend and I made a pumpkin pie from scratch last year, and I agree that fresh pumpkin tastes better! I guess that’s true of most things, eh? But I have to say that the canned taste doesn’t bother me too much. Maybe because I didn’t try them side-by-side!

  30. Kristi @ My San Francisco Kitchen posted on November 7, 2012 at 4:52 pm (#)

    Love this! I actually always tend to like fresh pumpkin in my recipes better.

  31. Susi posted on November 7, 2012 at 7:06 pm (#)

    I may have missed it in the comments. I make several pumpkin pies this time of year. I have always used canned but want to try fresh pumpkin. I love the pie recipe I use though. Can I just substitute the fresh pumpkin for the canned or do I have to make other changes to the recipe? I am unsure if fresh pumpkin can be substituted in other recipes I may make as well. Thanks!

    • Mary replied on November 8th, 2012 at 2:08 am

      I have always substituted equal amounts.

      • Susi replied on November 9th, 2012 at 10:57 am

        Thank you! I think I am going to give fresh pumpkin a try this year. Sounds simple to prepare

  32. CJ at Food Stories posted on November 8, 2012 at 10:58 am (#)

    I love to do these kinds of experiments in my kitchen, too :-)

  33. Mary posted on November 22, 2012 at 3:14 pm (#)

    Yesterday, I tried something NEW. A friend gave me this tip- Bake the sugar pumpkin WHOLE! It was so much easier, too.
    No water needed in the roasting pan with no need to drain excess water from the finished puree, either.
    Peeling was a synch and cleaning the stringy, seedy was easier, too, because it was soft.

    I got the idea from a friend, so I didn’t actually follow any written directions, but this is what I did:
    Stabbed the pumpkins with about 6 times with a knife.
    Roasted at 350 degrees for 90 minutes (started checking at an hour, though).
    Allowed to cool about 30-60 minutes.
    Peeled. Mostly with my fingers, but also used a knife, in places.
    Cut in half and scooped out stringiness & seeds.
    Pureed in food processor.
    My 3 sugar pumpkins made 7 cups of pumpkin puree.

    For those who want to see pictures with directions, try this website: http://heavenlyhomemakers.com/how-to-cook-a-whole-pumpkin-to-make-pumpkin-puree

    • Joanne Ozug replied on November 22nd, 2012 at 4:49 pm

      Thanks for sharing this Mary. I will definitely try it!!!

      • Laurel replied on November 22nd, 2013 at 11:15 am

        I’ve been doing that for years, but I’m so lazy I only stab them twice. I cook them at about 400 for an hour or until I like the way they feel when I stab them. It also works for kobucha and other small squash. Then I either roast the seeds or put them in my smoothies for added protein.
        BTW you should try this with one of those small dark green stripey pumpkin shaped squash, they’re denser and sweeter.
        Great post!

  34. Vanessa posted on December 11, 2012 at 3:23 am (#)

    Try using Japanese kabocha squash, it’s naturally sweeter, so you don’t need to add much sugar. The texture is creamier too.

    • Joanne Ozug replied on December 11th, 2012 at 10:32 am

      That’s a great idea, Vanessa. I’ve been thinking about trying Buttercup Squash too, since that’s a bit sweeter as well.

  35. missy@What'sGoingOnHere posted on December 17, 2012 at 9:27 am (#)

    My friend sent me here, glad to meet you! We did the same test before I found you and got the same results.
    I also did a taste test on which breed of fresh pumpkin is better: Sugar Pumpkin or the Cinderella Pumpkin?
    http://www.whats-going-on-here.com/2012/11/01/fresh-pumpkin-pie-taste-test/

  36. Barbara posted on April 10, 2013 at 9:14 am (#)

    I guess I’m just cooking dumb, but there was no mention on the temp of the oven to roast the pumpkin or an approx time it takes for it to be tender.

    • Joanne Ozug replied on April 10th, 2013 at 9:18 am

      Huh? It’s the very first line of the recipe. “Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the pumpkin in half, scrape out the seeds with a melon baller, then bake on a sheet pan for about 1 hour until fork tender. Scoop out all the pumpkin from the skin, and puree in a food processor until smooth. Measure out two cups of pumpkin puree, and set aside for later.”

    • Barbara replied on April 10th, 2013 at 10:28 am

      Sorry. I didn’t read that because I assumed it was just the recipe for the pie only.

      • Joanne Ozug replied on April 10th, 2013 at 11:53 am

        No worries at all, I was just very confused =)

  37. Malina Bowen posted on June 2, 2013 at 1:52 pm (#)

    I grew up as a farm girl and so naturally I had fresh pumpkin pies! They have always been the tastiest.

    Well, I’ve grown up and moved to the city and thought to make my own from canned pumpkin one year. I like to taste the ingredients, so I had a spoonful of stuff from the can and needless to say, I puckered up and that ended up going straight into the trash can. It doesn’t even smell good. I couldn’t get the taste out of my mouth for an hour. It definitely is worth the extra work if you want a delicious pie.

    In regards to the recipe, my mom never pureed the pumpkins. She just mashed them up lightly with an old manual potato masher or wisk. The texture is even better (at least, in my opinion).

    Big tip: You can freeze the pumpkin! Do a big batch one day and it’ll save you time and convenience. Since we had a lot of pumpkin on the farm, what didn’t sell to the locals or get eaten fresh was cooked up and frozen in ziplock bags with enough to make 1 or 2 pies per bag. Not as good as fresh, but still WAY better than canned.

    • Joanne Ozug replied on June 2nd, 2013 at 8:15 pm

      Cool to hear your story, Malina. Thanks for sharing. I did not have any luck freezing the pumpkin, but maybe it’s okay when it’s actually baked with the other ingredients.

      • Laurel replied on November 22nd, 2013 at 11:20 am

        I’m sorry you didn’t have any luck freezing the pumpkin but wonder how you did it. I can only get kabocha (sp?) squash and pie pumpkins a couple of weeks in the year so I bake, puree and freeze in mason jars (leaving about 3 inches for expansion). I’ve used them a year later with no problems. In fact, I made a pie last week out of my last jar. Delicious. Did you freeze in plastic? Just curious.

  38. barbara posted on July 7, 2013 at 1:34 pm (#)

    Hello, I have always used fresh pumpkin and even though the prep work is more time consuming, I prefer it over canned. I cannot stand store bought or for that matter bakery pumpkin pie, the taste just isn’t there. I also use fresh pumpkin when making pumpkin bread, a favorite by all.

    • Joanne Ozug replied on July 8th, 2013 at 1:32 pm

      Hi Barbara, it is great to hear your opinion. I guess it’s one more example of fresh being better! I can’t stand canned pumpkin anymore after having fresh! There is a weird taste to the canned stuff.

  39. Shannon posted on August 28, 2013 at 8:49 pm (#)

    Hi, great test!! My mom always pressure cooked pumpkin and put it in the freezer so we could have fresh pumpkin pie all year long! Her recipe is also very custard-creamy like so I could never eat anyone else’s pumpkin pie, especially those made with canned pumpkin! Thanks!

  40. Melanie @ carmelmoments.com posted on September 13, 2013 at 2:56 pm (#)

    What a cool comparison. I definitely want to try fresh pumpkin this year. Thanks!

  41. Debi posted on September 13, 2013 at 5:11 pm (#)

    Many years ago I would always use fresh pumpkins for pies. Years of raising a family and running them to and fro, I started to just open a can of pumpkin. But, now that you mentioned it, I do remember a lighter color and a much smoother texture. I am going to the farmer’s market tomorrow and I now have sugar pumpkin at the top of my list. Thanks for sharing this and reminding me of how fresh is better than canned.

    • Joanne Ozug replied on September 16th, 2013 at 11:22 am

      Hi Debi, I have to admit that I’m a little worried that when I start having kids I won’t be able to keep cooking like I do now! I can’t imagine how busy life gets, and how much more important kitchen shortcuts are (like using canned). So I understand that sometimes that’s just easier, because even though preparing fresh pumpkin isn’t difficult, it’s definitely time consuming. Hope you enjoy your fresh pumpkin as a treat!

      • Libby replied on October 25th, 2013 at 7:03 pm

        I cook and bake way more now that I have kids than before, though my youngest is now 2. I could see it being more difficult with a newborn!!

  42. Caroline posted on September 13, 2013 at 8:06 pm (#)

    Joanne, this is a fantastic post! I’ve used both, but not side by side, but I thought the texture of the fresh was so much nicer too. I am intrigued now…I want to do my own taste test now!

    • Joanne Ozug replied on September 16th, 2013 at 11:23 am

      Hi Caroline, awesome! You should, it’s a fun little experiment!

  43. Matyldakr posted on October 17, 2013 at 5:50 pm (#)

    I would love to do the whole testing thing, but I have never even seen canned pumpkin puree because I live in Europe, so I always have to make my own. I usually freeze it, because I can only buy or harvest pumpkins in the fall

  44. Libby posted on October 25, 2013 at 6:57 pm (#)

    I had never even heard of a pie pumpkin before this post. I’ve roasted and puréed three now, soon to be four! Your pie recipe is the bomb, though I’ve been too chicken to attempt a homemade crust. I’ve made pie, pumpkin chili, pumpkin banana bread, pumpkin pancakes, and soon to make pumpkin cookies! And I’m definitely making the pie again soon! Thanks for turning me onto the wondrous joy of fresh pumpkin!! It’s really so easy, I’m addicted!

    • Joanne Ozug replied on October 26th, 2013 at 12:33 pm

      Hi Libby, I’m glad you’re having lots of fun cooking with pumpkin!!!

  45. Josie posted on November 4, 2013 at 10:15 am (#)

    Thanks for conducting this test and posting for all to see. I’ve read elsewhere that making fresh pumpkin is not worth it, but I agree most canned products taste a bit tinny. I was worried that the texture might be too wet, but you say the texture is better, so I’m going for it. Thanks!

  46. Kara posted on November 18, 2013 at 11:58 pm (#)

    Growing up, my mom always used fresh pumpkin. Whenever we had other people’s pumpkin pie I always thought it tasted funny (because they used canned). One year when I was in my late teens my mom started using canned as a short cut and the pies were just never the same. Now that I’m an adult (and the one in charge of our family’s Thankgiving dinners) I always use fresh!!! So glad there are other people who notice the difference!

    • Joanne Ozug replied on November 19th, 2013 at 4:59 pm

      I agree Kara, once you have fresh you can’t go back to canned!

  47. Jocelynne posted on November 21, 2013 at 10:53 pm (#)

    I definitely prefer fresh! It can be a bit of a pain to roast the pumpkin, wait for it to cool, puree it, then strain it, but it’s tooooootally worth the effort. The taste and the texture of pumpkin pie made with fresh pumpkin is absolutely amazing. I’m so sad I only had the chance to make a pie with the fresh stuff once this year, but I will definitely be freezing a lot of fresh pumpkin puree next pumpkin season!

  48. Susan posted on November 23, 2013 at 10:52 am (#)

    All fresh pumpkins are not created equal. I used fresh for the first time a couple years ago… bought one special variety pie pumpkin at the farmer’s market and then worried it wouldn’t make enough so got another at the Safeway (a sugar pumpkin for pies). When I roasted them both, the difference was astounding… The special pumpkin was sweet and so good, I had to stop myself from eating it. Next to that pumpkin, the store “sugar pumpkin” for pies was basically flavorless . Turns out the special one made enough to fill the whole pie, so I went with that. My friend who doesn’t much like pumpkin pie said it was the best pumpkin pie she’d ever had. I’m getting another of the “special” pumpkins this year for a recipe that calls for canned, and I’m going to reduce the sugar.

    • Joanne Ozug replied on November 24th, 2013 at 9:17 pm

      I have discovered this as well. I had a sugar pumpkin last week that was DELICIOUS with nothing added to it. Quite a contrast from the first sugar pumpkin I tried, which was flavorless and bland. I guess you have to try to find a quality one.

  49. Scott posted on November 23, 2013 at 9:45 pm (#)

    My girlfriend has to travel overseas this week, so we celebrated Thanksgiving today and it was my first time cooking turkey, stuffing, and all the trappings. I’ve never made pumpkin pie, but I had a lot of success with your tiramisu recipe so I was excited to try this. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any stores still selling pumpkins (even checked pumpkin patches an hour away) so I had to settle for canned, but it was still delicious. I followed your pie crust recipe too and it was 100% flaky perfection. First time making pie crust and can’t imagine the texture coming out any better. Thanks!

    • Joanne Ozug replied on November 24th, 2013 at 9:13 pm

      Hi Scott, hope you had a nice early Thanksgiving with your girlfriend! That’s awesome you nailed the pie crust (it’s not easy, especially for the first time) and enjoyed the pie too (and the tiramisu). Cheers!

  50. Corey D posted on November 25, 2013 at 9:55 pm (#)

    This is amazing! Thank you! I received a 25 pound Cinderella pumpkin in my CSA share this fall, and although lovely to look at, I’ve been wondering what the heck to do with the thing. I did some reading online and it seems (although it retains a lot of water) the Cinderella pumpkin can be used in pie. I roasted it in the over, cooled it, and pureed it, then tasted it and honestly thought I made a terrible mistake. I just didn’t love the flavor. I’m glad to know that once combined with other pie ingredients it’s quite good. Can’t wait to finish it off tomorrow. Thanks for this post! So helpful!

    • Joanne Ozug replied on November 26th, 2013 at 5:29 pm

      Hi Corey, interesting, I’ve never heard of Cinderella as a pumpkin variety! As another commenter noted above, the flavor of pumpkins can really vary. Hopefully the pie turned out well.

  51. Alaine posted on December 6, 2013 at 3:03 pm (#)

    I decided to try fresh pumpkin this year and used your recipe rather than the good ole recipe found on the can. Holy wowsers! What a delicious pie! I think I’ve made about 6 pumpkin pies since November 1st, and have one in my oven right now. The taste, texture, and overall appearance is just beautiful. My kids, who have never liked pumpkin pie, keep asking me to make more using your recipe and fresh pumpkins. Thanks for sharing!

    BTW – I did freeze my pumpkin because I had so much. I only freezed the puree no longer than 2 weeks. I couldn’t tell a difference between the frozen and fresh. Neither could my family.

    • Joanne Ozug replied on December 7th, 2013 at 12:57 pm

      Hi Alaine, that’s so wonderful! Glad you’ve discovered how wonderful fresh pumpkin pies are, and it sounds like you and your family really enjoy them! And thanks for the note on the frozen pumpkin…don’t know why my frozen pumpkin experience came out so horribly.

  52. Kim Johnson posted on December 22, 2013 at 9:26 pm (#)

    Thank you foe all the good information that I have been looking for just found your site I am looking forward to all I will learn thank you will be making these pies in the morning 1 big question How do I know what kind of pumpkin I have? an also i use 2eggs an 2egg yolks for each pie? thank YOU :)

    • Joanne Ozug replied on December 24th, 2013 at 9:17 pm

      Hi Kim, when you are at the grocery buying pumpkins they will specify what kind you’re buying (look for sugar or pie pumpkins). And yes, that’s correct about the eggs.

  53. Shirley Bailey posted on September 14, 2014 at 7:53 pm (#)

    Very nice and helpful article. It answered my questions for the most part. I have a freezer full of fresh pumpkin puree and wasn’t sure about using it for pie. Should I strain it in cheese cloth to remove the extra moisture? and is the bake time the same for fresh and canned. Thank you for a very nice article.

    • Joanne Ozug replied on September 16th, 2014 at 10:28 am

      Hi Shirley, yes the bake time should be comparable. Cheese cloth is perfect as far as removing the extra moisture, but you’ll have to make sure you don’t remove too much of the moisture. It’s kind of a guessing game, but basically you want the puree to have moisture, it just shouldn’t have so much that it’s seeping clear liquid, if that makes sense.

  54. Hani@haniela's posted on September 26, 2014 at 7:06 am (#)

    I’ve been thinking of making fresh pumpkin puree for years! I make it with butternut squash that we grow but having the comfort of buying the pumpkin puree in the store I thought it just wouldn’t be worth it. This is a really timely post and now I will try to make my own pumpkin puree. Thanks for the post Joanne, it cleared up some doubts I had and since everything I make is in pretty big batches I think I can freeze the puree for winter months with not problems. Thanks again.

    • Joanne Ozug replied on September 29th, 2014 at 6:35 pm

      Hi Hani! I’m totally amazed you grow butternut squash. Sounds like you have a great garden!

  55. Byrd posted on September 28, 2014 at 8:17 pm (#)

    Great recipe! Loved the texture. 

  56. Tina posted on September 29, 2014 at 1:20 pm (#)

    I’ve always used fresh pumpkin, because I’ve always found the canned product to have a really funky taste that comes through no matter what you’re making. A couple of years ago, I switched from the usual round pumpkins to using either Hubbard squash or, even better, butternut squash. I roast it just the same way but I’ve found that the texture is even silkier, especially with the butternut. It still tastes like pumpkin, but the texture is fabulous!

    • Joanne Ozug replied on September 29th, 2014 at 6:59 pm

      Yes, agreed! Great tip about the hubbard and butternut squash.

  57. Eveline posted on September 29, 2014 at 2:31 pm (#)

    Loved your post. I had never tried canned pumpkin (since I’m not american) in all my life until I marry an american guy and moved to the country. Last Holidays I wanted to make my pumpkin stuffed shells, which I used to make all the time with fresh pumpkin. I asked my mother in law to buy pumpkins and she brought me a canned one. My first thought was… oh gosh, I can’t believe it. I can’t say it was that bad but surely there’s no comparison with the fresh one. 
    Thanks for sharing your results, I definitely agree with you :)

    • Joanne Ozug replied on September 29th, 2014 at 6:59 pm

      Thanks for your lovely comment, Eveline!

  58. nicole posted on October 2, 2014 at 9:23 pm (#)

    I took the plunge last year and used fresh pumpkin in desserts. I was told by everyone that had them how it was the best tasting pumpkin *fill in the blank* ever. I don’t want to go back to canned at all!

  59. Jodi K. posted on October 3, 2014 at 3:44 pm (#)

    Absolutely without a doubt….Fresh Pumpkin!!

  60. Michael posted on October 9, 2014 at 12:44 pm (#)

    Thank you so much for posting this!  I just did the exact same test this week, but instead of fresh pumpkin, I used butternut squash vs. canned pumpkin. Both pies were good, but to me, the butternut squash was the clear winner.  It is sweeter, richer, has a better texture, and more complexity.  I could also taste that weird canned flavor of the pumpkin after comparing, but everyone I’ve given both pies to try side by side prefers the canned pumpkin. Maybe it’s familiarity, maybe it’s psychological, or maybe they genuinely like the canned pumpkin better. Either way, I think I’m sticking with butternut squash as my pumpkin pie filling.

    • Joanne Ozug replied on October 16th, 2014 at 5:58 pm

      Hi Michael, I enjoyed reading your comment. I have had a few squash pies (also, sweet potato pie), and I’m not quite sure how pumpkin became the go-to, because I agree that texturally and in terms of flavor, other types of squash can be more fun.