Making pumpkin pie for the holidays? You’re faced with two primary options: canned pumpkin or fresh. If you’re like me, you opt for the canned variety every time. It’s simple, comes in exactly the right proportion for so many pumpkin recipes and saves a lot of work. But on the other hand, scratch-made everything always seems to taste so much better.

It was finally time to settle the debate I have with myself every November: Is canned pumpkin or fresh pumpkin better, and which makes a better pie?

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Fresh Pumpkin Puree vs. Canned Pumpkin

pumpkin puree grahicBrianna Griepentrog/Taste of Home

Before I dive into how fresh and canned options taste, let’s sort out how they are similar and different.

Pumpkin Puree

First and foremost: Canned pumpkin and pumpkin puree are the same thing. These terms are often used interchangeably in recipes (you may also see the term solid-pack pumpkin). All these terms mean 100% steamed and pureed pumpkin—no extras, no add-ins (nope, not even in the canned variety).

But How Are Fresh and Canned Pumpkin Different?

Fresh pumpkin is made with a sugar pie or baking pumpkin—not the kind of pumpkin you’d use for a jack-o-lantern. These pumpkins are smaller with sweeter flesh. To make pumpkin puree, the foundation for most pumpkin recipes, you roast the pumpkin and then puree it in a blender or food processor. With this method, you control the texture of the pumpkin. Also, bear in mind that fresh pumpkin can create varying results depending on the pumpkin you choose; there can be different water and sugar content in every pumpkin, which can affect the flavor and texture.

Canned pumpkin is made of steamed, pureed pumpkin or a blend of pumpkin and other squashes. Because it’s produced en masse, the texture, consistency and flavor tend to be universal.

Testing Pumpkin Pie Made with Two Kinds of Pumpkin

Read more: Preparedness Pro | Coral's Blog – Food Blog – Cooking Guide

To test fresh pumpkin puree against canned pumpkin, the Taste of Home Test Kitchen whipped up two pies using this highly-rated classic pumpkin pie recipe. I had a handful of pumpkin enthusiasts join me for a tasting of the two pies.

Fresh Pumpkin Pie

TOH.com19 4295 Pumpkin 11 05 4Brianna Griepentrog/Taste of Home

The fresh pumpkin pie definitely looked different than the pumpkin pies you usually see on the Thanksgiving treat table. It had a duller hue than the average pie and wasn’t quite as visually appealing.

Slicing into this pie, though, was a real dream. I was able to pull out a perfect slice on the first try (a real feat). But the true test, of course, was the flavor. A bite of this pie was noticeably different than your standard holiday dessert. First off, the texture was much different. While the pumpkin was pureed, it did still retain some squash texture. A few of my colleagues likened it to apple sauce, and they weren’t wrong. For some, this extra bite was a pro; for others, a distraction.

As for the flavor, it was distinctively different. The spices really popped against the fresh pumpkin. The spice fans on the testing panel really appreciated this extra oomph of warmth. This being said, the pumpkin flavor itself wasn’t very pronounced. This option is likely better for folks that prefer more pumpkin spice to pumpkin.

Score: 8.5/10

Canned Pumpkin Pie

TOH.com19 4295 Pumpkin 11 05 5Brianna Griepentrog/Taste of Home

Refer: Watermelon Juice | Coral's Blog – Food Blog – Cooking Guide

This is what a classic pumpkin pie looks like: a gorgeous deep orange. Compared side by side with its fresh counterpart, everyone preferred the appearance of this pie.

But how did it taste? Just right. This pie was absolutely silky. It was creamier and sweeter—and no, no extra cream or sugar was added. The canned pumpkin also provided a more pronounced pumpkin flavor. The spices—cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and clove—all came through but were much more balanced in this version of the pie. This perfect balance between pumpkin and spice as well as the smooth texture made this a winner in the side-by-side test.

Score: 9.5/10

What’s Better: Fresh or Canned Pumpkin?

TOH.com19 4295 Pumpkin 11 05 3Brianna Griepentrog/Taste of Home

While the two pies both got good marks, the canned pumpkin did win out. The canned option had a more powerful pumpkin flavor and a silkier texture. While some of my colleagues preferred the apple sauce-like texture of the fresh, I can’t say all that extra work of cleaning, roasting and pureeing a whole pumpkin is worth it, especially during a busy holiday season. In fact, even if I couldn’t find canned pumpkin, I might use one of these simple swaps before thinking about roasting a pumpkin myself.

If you’re a serious baker or really love pumpkin, trying your hand at a fresh version of this classic pie is a fun challenge, though I’d recommend sticking with the canned stuff in the long run.

And if you really love a good baking challenge, join our new baking community, Bakeable, where we release new baking challenges every month.

Refer: How To Cook The Perfect Rump Roast | Coral's Blog – Food Blog – Cooking Guide

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