I don’t know about you, but I love Thanksgiving. It’s a chance to gather with family and friends, eat delicious food, and enjoy the holidays.
One of my favorite parts is baking a good old traditional pumpkin pie. This begs the question; which do you reach for when making the classic thanksgiving dessert? A pumpkin or a squash?
The answer is probably “both” since they’re somewhat interchangeable in recipes. However, there are important differences between these two types of gourds that can affect how your recipe turns out.
So, squash pie vs. pumpkin pie? Let’s compare and contrast!
You may hear squash and pumpkin used to describe the same thing. Well, both squash and pumpkin are members of the plant family Cucurbita. However, pumpkin is a type of squash, while squash is not necessarily a type of pumpkin.
While both pumpkins and squashes technically qualify as gourds—a broad term for any member of the Cucurbitaceae family—several different types of each fruit differ in shape, size, and coloration.
This discrepancy can lead to confusion about what you’re actually buying at the grocery store; therefore I’ve broken down each difference so you know exactly what kind of gourd best suits your needs!
The first noticeable difference between pumpkin and squash is that pumpkin stems are hard and jagged, whereas squash stems are lightweight and hollow.
When it comes to appearance, the term “pumpkin” refers to a large round orange fruit used for decoration or cooking purposes. Squashes, on the other hand, come in many different shapes depending on the variety.
For example, some types are round like a pumpkin. Others have long strands like spaghetti, or thin slices like zucchini noodles (which can be used interchangeably with spaghetti).
Squashes also come in a variety of sizes. They can range in size from as tiny as your palm to large enough to feed a whole family. In addition, both pumpkins and squashes have thick skin. However, pumpkins have a smoother feel whereas squashes may sometimes have bumps on them.
Pumpkins are harvested in September. This means you’ll only be able to get your hands on this orange fruit in your local farmers market from September until November only.
Squashes, on the other hand, are harvested in winter. However, you can find them in stores during the summer, winter, and any other time of year!
Each of these fruits has many varieties of its own. For example, pumpkin variations include jack-o’-lanterns, sugar pumpkins, miniature pumpkins, giant pumpkins, and white pumpkins.
In contrast, there are winter and summer squash varieties. These include the famous butternut, acorn, kabocha, Hubbard, delicata, pumpkin, and spaghetti.
Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, can be eaten with or without their shells. After you’ve removed them from the pumpkin, I’d recommend soaking them for a few hours in water to help separate the pulp from the shells.
You can eat pumpkin seeds raw or you can toast them. Not only do they taste delicious, but they’re also rich in fatty acids.
The same is true for squash; all squash seeds are edible and healthy.Similar to how you would roast pumpkin seeds, you may roast the seeds from butternut squash, spaghetti squash, and acorn squash.
They make a delicious, crunchy snack that is packed with nutrients and is high in fiber and protein.
Pumpkins are frequently used as table fruit because of their rich, nutty flavor, which works well in both sweet and savory dishes. The pumpkin is a versatile and flavorful fruit that may be used to make creamy soups, classic pumpkin pies, or savory pumpkin seeds.
Squashes are frequently incorporated in savory dishes and are typically baked, fried, sautéed, or grilled. They may also be used in desserts like cakes and pies!
There are several varieties of this fruit, each with its own distinct flavor and texture. So, theoretically, there’s a squash for every dish!
Despite having the same calorie and protein content, pumpkin has fewer carbohydrates. It does, however, have a greater fat content.
Furthermore, pumpkin has more magnesium than squash. Squash, on the other hand, has 58% more calcium and 38% more potassium.
Yes! You can use winter squashes, including acorn and butternut, instead of pumpkins when baking pies. You can also substitute pumpkin for squash when making soups or baked goods like muffins and bread.
Keep in mind that these winter squashes have thicker skins than pumpkins. This means they may need to be roasted longer before using them in your recipes.
Squash is an excellent substitute for pumpkin in recipes, so if you want to try your hand at making a squash-based pie this Thanksgiving, go right ahead!
If you’ve ever wanted to make a pumpkin pie but didn’t have any pumpkins, then you can use butternut squash instead.
Butternut squash is the most popular choice when it comes to substituting for pumpkin in recipes like pies and soups. This is because of its sweet flavor and creamy texture.
The flesh is tender enough that you don’t have to worry about stringy bits of vegetable ruining your dessert experience (which can be a real bummer when all you want after spending hours making dessert is something delicious).
Butternut squash is an excellent source of vitamin A, potassium, and manganese. It also contains a wide variety of other vitamins and minerals that are essential for good health.
It has more calories and complex carbohydrates than pumpkin and more than double the amount of nutritional fiber.
It may affect your level of satisfaction because fiber can help you feel fuller for longer. Additionally, fiber helps gut health, a diversified intestinal microbiota. It also helps regulate and blood sugar levels after meals.
It may surprise you to know that the canned pumpkin you buy to prepare your traditional Thanksgiving dessert is usually squash. This is permissible since the FDA does not distinguish between pumpkin and squash in food labeling.
Most canned food producers prefer to use squash since it has more flavor and takes up less space. They just assume you won’t be able to notice the difference.
Truth be told, canned pumpkin puree doesn’t taste as delicious as canned squash. If you’ve ever tried it, you can immediately tell the difference! Canned pumpkin is usually stringy and more watery.
See, here’s the deal: You can use either pumpkin or squash in your pie filling. But if you want to ensure it has a rich, sweet flavor with a smooth texture, then butternut squash is the way to go.
It not only tastes great but it’s also loaded with vitamins and minerals that support overall health!
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.