We’ve all had that horrible moment when we realize that we need a particular ingredient for the meal we’re making, and that ingredient isn’t in the home. Sometimes, this leads to a quick dash to the store, but at other times, you can substitute it for something you already have in the cupboard.
It’s great when that happens, so if you’re making a dish that involves pumpkin, you might be wondering, can you use pumpkin pie mix instead of pumpkin puree? This could save you a trip out if it works so let’s explore that.
Can you use pumpkin pie mix instead of pumpkin puree? Unfortunately, no, you can’t. Pumpkin pie mix has additional sugars and other spices, and will make the finished dish much too sweet because it contains a lot of sugar. If your finished dish should be sweet, you may be able to reduce other sources of sugar, but this may not work too well.
Why Can’t You Use Pumpkin Pie Mix Instead of Pumpkin Puree?
Sadly, this mix is just too sweet! Pumpkin puree is usually called for by savory recipes, and pumpkin pie mix – while it contains pumpkin – is just not a good swap. Your finished dish will be far too sugary to eat.
If you have found that you don’t have the pumpkin puree you need for a meal, there are other substitutions you can make, which we’ll cover shortly, but pumpkin pie mix is not a good one.
Likewise, if you want to do the swap the other way, you will have to add a significant amount of sugar and a few spices to make your finished pumpkin pie taste like it should.
What is Pumpkin Puree?
So, what’s in pumpkin puree? What are you trying to replicate? Pumpkin puree, as the name hints, is a hundred percent winter squash and nothing else. It has simply been cooked and pulped, not flavored in any way, so it’s perfect for savory pumpkin dishes and those where you wish to do the flavoring yourself.
You might be interested to learn that often, pumpkin puree uses other winter squashes in it. It may be made just using small pumpkins, or it might contain several kinds of winter squash. It will rarely be made from large pumpkins, because these tend not to have a great taste.
You may see pumpkin puree in cans (also just called canned pumpkin). This product is very popular in fall, and can be used for a whole range of dishes.
Try it in soups, smoothies and milkshakes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, and many other things. It is moist and rich and delicious, and many people like to use it for pumpkin pie too, so that they can flavor the pie to their tastes and add as much sugar and as many spices as they like.
What is Pumpkin Pie Mix?
Pumpkin pie mix is much the same as pumpkin puree, but the significant difference is that the pie mix has already got spices and sweetener added. That means you can’t really alter its flavor, and it is geared at being used as a pumpkin pie filler.
Usually, it will have nutmeg, cloves, ginger, sugar, cinnamon, and other additives. It tends to be quite sweet, which is why it isn’t easy to use as a substitute for pumpkin puree.
If your dish is a sweet one, you can try using the mix, but you will probably find the results disappointing. While your pumpkin dish may look right, it probably won’t taste as good.
Of course, if you are actually making a pumpkin pie, or something sweet like a milkshake, pumpkin pie mix may work out okay. Take all other sugar out of the recipe; the pie mix should be sweet enough once the evaporated milk has been added to it, so you don’t need (or want) extra sugar on the whole.
Do not make a huge batch of something using pumpkin pie mix when you were intending to use pumpkin puree, just in case it doesn’t work. When a lot of cooking is at stake, it’s better to go out and get the right ingredient, rather than risk a disaster with that much food.
What Can You Substitute Pumpkin Puree With Instead?
So, if you have suddenly realized that you need pumpkin puree and you only have pumpkin pie mix, what are your options?
It depends a bit on your recipe, but in most cases, butternut squash or sweet potato will work pretty well as a substitute for pumpkin puree. These squashes have a similar taste and texture, and you may not even be able to tell the difference if you use them.
Make sure you cook and mash them thoroughly to replicate the smooth texture of canned pumpkin, and this should work well for you. You can also do half and half, using some pumpkin puree and some winter squash like sweet potato to bulk out the recipe.
What Should You Do If You Bought the Wrong Kind of Canned Pumpkin?
This is easy to do, because both pumpkin pie mix and pumpkin puree come in cans with the word “pumpkin” on them. If you have bought pumpkin pie mix instead of pumpkin puree, you may wish to return to the store and exchange the product. This is your best bet at being able to finish your recipe well, especially if you don’t have winter squash.
If you have bought pumpkin puree instead of pumpkin pie mix, the exchange may not be necessary. You might be able to just flavor and sweeten the puree using a good recipe. It probably won’t taste exactly the same, but you should still be able to get a great result with this method!
You can’t use pumpkin pie mix instead of pumpkin puree in most cases. It may work if you also need to include sugar and spices (so you can just omit these), but it will often leave a dish unpleasantly sweet and tasting strange.
Experiment with other winter squashes, and always double check what you are picking up in the grocery store. It is often better to make your own pumpkin pie mix anyway if that’s what you want, so don’t grab the wrong can!