Fall is the season when all things pumpkin-related start making an appearance. This is the time when people start grocery shopping for their much-awaited Thanksgiving dinner.
Considering that pumpkin-related dishes are a staple, puree, and pie fillings are likely to be out of stock in some stores. As a result, you have no choice but to wonder if you can use either of the two as a fantastic substitute.
That said, keep reading to learn more about pumpkin puree vs. pumpkin pie filling!
Is Pumpkin Pie Filling the Same as Pumpkin Puree?
The first question that pops into your head is whether pumpkin pie filling is the same as pumpkin puree. Technically, the two are the same since they use the same ingredient.
However, pumpkin pie filling is a concoction of cooked fruit blended with flavoring agents and spices. It often contains sugar, making it taste more like a dessert instead of its original earthy flavor.
Furthermore, pumpkin pie filling has all kinds of spices—cinnamon, allspice, ginger, black pepper, and clove. So, the mixture’s flavor definitely doesn’t come from the fruit alone.
In comparison, a pumpkin puree is only cooked pumpkin, flesh blended in a food processor to create a thick yet smooth paste. Plus, there are no sweeteners or spices, so you’re only getting the fruit’s rich flavor.
Can You Use Pumpkin Pie Filling Instead of Puree?
Unfortunately, you can’t substitute pumpkin pie filling if the recipe calls explicitly for puree. It’s because the former has various amounts of sugar and spices that you can no longer alter.
Moreover, pumpkin pie filling, from the name itself, is specifically for pumpkin pies. Using it in other dishes, especially savory ones, can bring a unique taste you might not enjoy.
You can only use pumpkin pie filling as a substitute for puree when you’re making pumpkin pie-inspired desserts. With that, here are some dishes that you can try:
1 – Pumpkin Pie Bars
Pumpkin pie bars are similar to brownies. They’re decadent, filled with all the spices of a pumpkin pie filling, and incredibly scrumptious.
You can make them by incorporating butter, sugar, flour, baking soda, and baking powder to create a crust and crumb. Afterward, you can sandwich the pumpkin pie filling with the mixture you’ve created and then bake it.
2 – Cinnamon-Sugar Spiced Pumpkin Pie Donuts
Pumpkin pie filling can also create donuts. To do this, combine vegetable oil, eggs, sugar, flour, and baking powder in a bowl.
Transfer the mixture to a donut pan coated with nonstick cooking spray, then bake it in the oven. Next, generously cover them in cinnamon sugar.
3 – Pumpkin Hand Pies
Pumpkin hand pies are similar to an empanada. They’re mini pastry pockets filled with pumpkin pie filling. To make this, roll out a pre-made pie crust and cut circles using a cookie cutter.
Then, put a dollop of the pumpkin pie filling in the middle of a circle, then seal it using another pie crust sheet. Brush the pastries with an egg wash, then bake them in the oven.
Can You Use Pumpkin Puree to Make Pumpkin Pie Filling?
Yes, you can definitely make pumpkin pie filling using puree! You just need to have all necessary spices and other ingredients like cream, eggs, and eggs.
On top of that, you can choose between homemade or canned puree. Either of the two will alter the taste and texture of the filling because you’ll customize it to your preference.
However, you can’t use the puree as is because it’s watery. Plus, no proteins will coagulate, meaning your pie filling wouldn’t become custard-like.
So, follow these simple steps to create your own pumpkin pie filling:
- In a bowl, add two cups of pumpkin puree.
- Add three eggs, ¼ cup of milk, and a cup of heavy cream, then stir.
- Afterward, incorporate a cup of light or dark brown sugar.
- Mix in a tablespoon of cornstarch and your spices of choice (e.g. cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, black pepper.)
- Adjust the sweetness and spice level according to your liking.
Is Pumpkin Puree Healthier Than Pumpkin Pie Filling?
In general, pumpkin provides tons of health benefits and nutrition to your body when you consume it.
As mentioned earlier, pumpkin pie filling contains sugar and other sweeteners, so they’re less healthy than puree. Nonetheless, it doesn’t remove the fact that the fruit, whatever form it comes in, offers these benefits:
1 – A Strengthened Immune System
Pumpkins are rich in vitamin A, which comes in the form of beta-carotene. It’s a carotenoid that acts as an antioxidant.
So, beta-carotene regulates the level of free radicals in your body. When you have high amounts of free radicals, especially when exposed to smoke and toxins, you become at risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Furthermore, beta-carotene helps increase the immune cell numbers and activity in your system.
A study by Chew discovered that beta-carotene boosted the production of lymphocytes in a healthy human adult after taking a 180-gram supplement for a week. Plus, he stated the carotenoid doesn’t only improve the immune system of humans, but animals as well.
2 – Improved Skin
Humans have carotenoids on their skin. They provide protection against harmful UV irradiation.
However, the beta-carotene level will significantly drop if you have pancreas problems (pancreatitis), chronic lung diseases, and intestine disorders. An unhealthy lifestyle, like being a smoker, lowers the dermal carotenoid on your skin.
As a result, it’ll put your skin at risk of hyperpigmentation and even skin cancer due to the lack of protection.
Consuming food high in beta-carotene, like pumpkin, will promote epidermal regeneration. It won’t only protect your skin from diseases, but it’ll become soft and supple.
Other skin benefits of beta-carotene include reduced fine lines and wrinkles, as well as acne.
3 – Supports Heart Health
Pumpkins have fiber and potassium in them. These carbohydrates and minerals are fantastic in lowering your body’s cholesterol levels, resulting in a healthier heart.
The fruit has soluble fiber. When it becomes a thick gel in your intestines, it slows down digestion.
Slow digestion keeps your blood sugar from spiking up. In addition, the gel traps the fats so the cholesterols won’t get absorbed.
There’s no direct link between potassium and reduced cholesterols. However, studies show that increasing the intake of said mineral can lower the chances of getting a cardiovascular disease, like high blood pressure.
4 – Protects Eyesight
As we age, it’s normal for our eyesight to diminish. Luckily, pumpkins are an excellent source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which are antioxidants that help us maintain healthy eyes.
Lutein and zeaxanthin protect your eyes from UV rays by acting as light filters. Furthermore, they absorb excess light energy.
Consuming food rich in these antioxidants will lower your risk of getting age-related macular degeneration and other chronic eye diseases.
5 – Reduces CInflammation
Pumpkins have magnesium, a mineral that plays a role in various enzyme reactions in your body. It aids muscle and nerve production, as well as energy production.
When you become magnesium-deficient, you experience oxidative stress. It’s a disturbance in the balance between free radicals and antioxidant defenses.
It often leads to chronic inflammation. Luckily, the mineral reduces inflammation by lowering the levels of interleukin-6, CRP, and other inflammatory markers in your body.
Now you know the distinction between pumpkin puree vs. pumpkin pie filling!
Unfortunately, you can’t use pumpkin pie filling as a substitute for puree. However, you can use the latter to create the said filling!
Whatever form the pumpkin comes in, it won’t change the fact that it’s a healthy fruit that shouldn’t leave your Thanksgiving dinner!
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.