Better-than-Pumpkin Squash Purée

published Oct 11, 2021
halloween
Squash Purée Recipe

Homemade squash purée tastes clean and bright compared to the canned version.

Makes2 to 3 cups

Prep15 minutes

Cook1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours

Jump to Recipe
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.
pumpkin puree, seen from the top down, with a wooden spoon with a scoop next to it.
Credit: Shilpa Uskokovic

The best type of pumpkin for homemade purée is actually … not a pumpkin! Hard winter squash make a superior purée to pumpkin (which often yields fibrous, watery results). If you insist on using pumpkin, seek out small sugar pumpkins at your farmers market or store. They work much better than the large carving pumpkins, which are best saved for your spookiest designs. 

I know it’s hard to make a case for homemade pumpkin purée when the canned alternative is incredibly cheap and relatively easy to find. So while I’m not here to convince you to permanently give up the canned stuff, I strongly urge you to make your own squash purée at least once because it’s a fun project (especially with kids) and it’s very educational when you learn what actually goes into it! Plus, it really is much more delicious and tastes clean and bright compared to the canned version.

What to Cook Using Pumpkin Purée

Put your hard-won stash of squash purée to good use! It’s great in the following:

  • Pumpkin bread or cake (top with cream cheese frosting for bonus points).
  • Pumpkin pie, of course!
  • A filling for fresh ravioli. Toss with brown butter and toasted pumpkin seeds for an extra-special meal.
  • Smoothies. A generous dollop will make your smoothie thick and creamy. Try a combination of pumpkin purée, cinnamon, banana, almond milk, and maple syrup.

Do You Need to Roast Pumpkin Purée?

The easiest way to cook the squash is to roast it whole for a few hours until soft and tender. This eliminates the need to hack a tough-skinned squash in half or to peel it precariously. Once the squash is roasted, it will be so tender you won’t even need a knife to cut it in half — a simple press with the palm of your hand or the back of a wooden spoon should crack it open. Scoop out the seeds and scrape the flesh, and you’re only step away from a smooth and luscious pumpkin purée.

Credit: Shilpa Uskokovic

Squash Purée Recipe

Homemade squash purée tastes clean and bright compared to the canned version.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours

Makes 2 to 3 cups

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1

    medium (2- to 3-pound) winter squash or pumpkin, such as red kuri, kabocha, or sugar

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

  2. Use a sharp paring knife to make shallow slashes along the surface of the squash (or pumpkin), 2 to 3 inches apart. Place on prepared baking sheet and roast until very tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. A skewer or chopstick inserted into the squash should easily pierce through the flesh.

  3. Set aside until cool enough to handle,1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes. Carefully tear or cut squash in half, then use a spoon to scoop out and discard seeds. Scrape the flesh from the skin into a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Process until smooth, about 2 minutes, stopping and scraping down the sides halfway through.

  4. If using a sugar pumpkin (which tends to be more watery), place the purée in a fine-mesh strainer and set over a bowl. Drain until the purée looks thicker, at least 1 hour.

Recipe Notes

Flavor variations: If you’d like to flavor the pumpkin purée with spices, add up to 1 teaspoon of any of the following spices (or a combination of the spices) to each cup of purée: ground cinnamon, ground cardamom, ground ginger, or five-spice powder.

Equipment variation: You can also use a regular blender or an immersion blender to purée the squash.

Storage: Squash purée can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw frozen purée overnight in the refrigerator before using.