3 Mistakes to Avoid When Baking with Pumpkin Purée

updated May 1, 2019
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

You should pretty much always have a can of pumpkin purée on hand for cooking and baking. Not only does pumpkin purée act as a sweetener, a creamy moisturizer, and a fat substitute in everything from muffins to soup — but it also tastes delicious in everything!

But because canned pumpkin is unlike any other baking ingredient, it tends to be mistreated in recipes. These common mistakes will help you know how and when to use pumpkin purée for various baked goods.

1. Don’t use it as a blanket substitute for sugar and butter.

Baking is a science — so when you try to swap canned pumpkin purée for butter and sugar without also updating the amount of flour or leavening, the results will be wonky at best. Treating canned pumpkin as a miracle ingredient that can go anywhere and do anything is an actual recipe for disaster.

Try this instead: Use canned pumpkin purée in specific recipes that call for it or look for recipes that use applesauce as their moisture and fat and substitute the pumpkin puree 1:1 for the applesauce.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

2. Don’t use pumpkin pie filling in place of pumpkin purée.

I accidentally did this recently. You meant to grab pumpkin purée but you got pumpkin pie filling instead — but whatever, you can just use this, right? Not exactly! Every can of pumpkin pie filling has a different amount of sugar and spices and if you add it to a bread or muffin recipe you might get a very sweet and not-spiced-enough loaf.

Try this instead: Buy pumpkin purée! And if you do accidentally grab pie filling instead — turn it into pie using the recipe on the back.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

3. Don’t under-bake it.

Whether you’re baking pumpkin pie or pumpkin loaf, you’re fighting against the moisture in the pumpkin purée to get it baked through completely. Going by touch or feel alone can result in a cake or pie with a gooey center.

Try this insted: Always use a probe thermometer or a skewer to test the thickest part of your pumpkin loaf of pie. Bake loaves and muffins until they reach 200°F and pies to 175°F.