Pumpkin pie and sweet potato pie are scrumptious desserts that you’ll often see during special occasions like Thanksgiving or Halloween.
Considering that both pies look almost exactly the same, there are instances where you might get them mixed up at first glance.
However, the two pies have distinct differences, such as taste, texture, and nutritional value. In this post, we highlight everything you need to know about pumpkin pie vs. sweet potato pie, so stick around.
The first noticeable difference between a pumpkin pie and a sweet potato pie is taste. From the name itself, you can already deduce that the two have varying flavors.
Sweet potatoes are sweet and creamy because of their natural starch content. However, the glucose transforms into maltose while you cook them, giving the dessert an even sweeter flavor.
Plus, sweet potatoes possess a unique earthy and nutty flavor. As such, along with the sweetness of the vegetable comes a savory kick that many enjoy.
On the other hand, pumpkin pie has milder notes; creamy, sweet, and spicy. The thing is, the dessert doesn’t get all of its flavors from the fruit itself.
A pumpkin pie filling consists of different spices, like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and allspice. When consumed, you’ll be able to taste these ingredients’ varying flavors.
People often get confused when they look at sweet potato pie and pumpkin pie because of their appearance. It’s because their fillings are of the same shade, even if they have toppings on them.
Both pies sport a single crust with an orange-colored filling that resembles the autumn season. Plus, people often top them with whipped cream, cinnamon, and nuts.
With that said, you’ll be unable to distinguish whether it’s a sweet potato pie or a pumpkin pie just by looking at the pies alone.
Another distinct difference between a sweet potato pie and a pumpkin pie is texture. One is denser, while the other is lighter and airy.
A sweet potato pie filling is lighter because the insides of the vegetable get fluffier and softer as it cooks. Additionally, when you use an electric mixer, you incorporate more air into the mixture as you combine other ingredients, such as sugar, eggs, and milk.
In comparison, a pumpkin pie is denser because the fruit is already heavy to begin with, even when cooked. Moreover, adding heavy cream to the filling alters the texture in the sense that it becomes thicker.
As a result, a pumpkin pie gives off a heavier mouthfeel, although it coats your tastebuds with a creamier flavor. Sweet potato pie, on the other hand, is lighter and almost melts in your mouth as you consume it.
Yes, sweet potato pie and pumpkin pie use almost the same ingredients. Since they’re not similar to a fruit pie that only needs sugar, you need to use eggs to create a custard-like filling for these desserts.
Aside from pumpkins and sweet potatoes, their fillings’ other main ingredient is eggs. This is the component responsible for making the concoction thick and solid.
Eggs have protein in them that coagulates whenever they get exposed to high temperatures (between 144°F and 149°F.) So, it impacts the viscosity of the filling mixture, solidifying as it bakes—giving it the custard texture.
In addition, sweet potato pie and pumpkin pie use milk, sugar, and other flavoring agents like vanilla extract.
Some people add cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves to their sweet potato pies too. In contrast, pumpkin pie has more spices like allspice and black pepper.
Sweet potato pie takes longer to make than pumpkin pie, though the way you go about making both is quite similar.
If you’re going to make the pies from scratch, you have to prepare the dough. Additionally, you have to boil the pumpkins and the sweet potatoes, 15 minutes for the former and 50 minutes for the latter.
You still have to peel the sweet potatoes individually, which will take more time. If you’re using pumpkins, you can immediately place them in a food processor or blender.
Next, you have to combine other ingredients like eggs, sugar, spices, and other flavoring agents of your choice. Then, you can place it in an oven for the filling to set and for the crust to cook.
Since these pies normally take an hour or more, you can lessen your preparation time by using canned sweet potatoes and pumpkins instead. Plus, you can buy pre-made pie crusts available at your local grocery.
Since both are custard pies, you can keep them in the refrigerator for up to 2 days if you want to enjoy the best quality possible. They don’t advise storing them in the freezer because the filling will become watery, and the crust will become soggy.
You can’t store it at room temperature for more than 2 hours. The FDA and USDA claim that leaving egg-rich pies for extended periods will put them at risk of developing harmful bacteria.
With that said, here are a couple of tips on how you can properly store your sweet potato pie and pumpkin pie:
After baking your sweet potato or pumpkin pie, you should let them cool first on a countertop or a table until they reach room temperature.
Immediately putting hot food in the fridge can increase the appliance’s internal temperature. As a result, it can put all your food in the “Danger Zone,” where bacterias are likely to grow.
According to the USDA, the temperatures that benefit microbes and germs are between 40 °F and 140 °F.
There’s a tendency for pie crust to break when you wrap it too tightly because there’s a lot of pressure on the structure.
If you want to preserve the shape and texture of your sweet potato or pumpkin pie, you should loosely wrap it in aluminum foil or plastic wrap.
You can also place it on a pie plate with a lid if you want to ensure that it’s secure.
Both sweet potatoes and pumpkins provide tons of health benefits. If you’re conscious about your health, knowing what these nutrients and vitamins are will help you identify which ingredient is more suitable for you.
Sweet potatoes are a fantastic source of vitamins A, B6, and C. Moreover, this root vegetable has tons of fiber and potassium as well.
Vitamin A helps your eyes maintain a clear cornea. Also, it boosts the production of white blood cells, strengthening your body’s immune system.
On the other hand, vitamin B6 is essential for brain development and keeping your immune and nervous systems healthy. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant that blocks the harmful effects of free radicals.
Additionally, its potassium content helps regulate your body’s fluid balance, nerve signals, and muscle contractions. Lack of this essential mineral will result in abnormal heart rhythms, weakness, and paralysis.
Considering that sweet potatoes have fiber, they prevent you from getting constipation. It softens and increases the size of your stool because this carbohydrate doesn’t get absorbed by your body.
Pumpkins are also rich in vitamins like vitamins A, C, E, and K. On top of that, they contain copper, iron, magnesium, and riboflavin.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that shields your cells from the effects of free radicals. As such, it helps prevent chronic health problems such as cancer, cataract, and cardiovascular diseases.
In addition, vitamin K aids in the production of proteins necessary for blood clotting and the building of bones. Prothrombin and osteocalcin are a few examples of proteins that heavily rely on the said vitamin.
Pumpkins provide copper, which is an essential trace mineral necessary for you to stay healthy. It helps maintain the stability of your immune and nervous systems.
Pumpkins have iron, too, which your body needs to produce hemoglobin, a protein in your blood that carries oxygen. Plus, a pumpkin has magnesium, a mineral that regulates biochemical reactions in your body, like protein synthesis.
Comparing pumpkin pie vs. sweet potato pie is like comparing squids and octopuses, they have similarities, but they differ in lots of aspects.
Not only do they resemble the wonderful autumn season because of their orange-colored filling, but their earthy flavors are also something you don’t want to miss out on during Thanksgiving.
One thing’s for sure: these pies are so tasty that they make you crave them all year round!
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.