Find out what you can use as a pumpkin replacement when you can't find any pie pumpkins.
Have you ever been in this scenario:
You are looking for a real pie pumpkin that does not come out of a can. You are a week before Thanksgiving. Where have all the pumpkin gone? You knew you saw a ton of them a few weeks ago, while aren't they here when you need them!
I have seen this before. Stores are stocked with pumpkins as early as September and all the way through Halloween. And then before you can bake your pumpkin pie, they are gone. Who is to blame? The store. The guy stocking the produce (never blame that guy!). The growers. Yourself?
Doesn't matter who is at fault, you don't have your pumpkin. You could do what most people do and settle for a can, or you could look at these as an opportunity to branch you into new territory that you may have tried out before.
In this post, I am going to share with you what you can use in place of a pie pumpkin (hint, you won't need a can opener for any of these options).
♻️ List of Substitutions
Here is my list of ideas of what you can use in place of a fresh pie pumpkin. I will go into more details about my favorite of these for substituting after the list.
- Butternut Squash
- Acorn Squash
- Hubbard Squash
- Long Island Cheese Pumpkin
- Honeynut Squash
- Sweet Potatoes
- Tiger Stripe Pumpkin
- Kabocha squash
- Delicata squash
If you are short on pie pumpkin for a recipe you can add in any of these other squashes or pumpkin to make for what you are short on. I wouldn't do that with swee potatoes though.
🌰 Butternut Squash
This is the easiest solution to your problem. Butternut squash are so plentiful this time of year you should have no trouble tracking one down. Butternut squash is sweet enough to pass for pumpkin.
It is also easier to slice through the most pie pumpkin. The orange color on the inside matches pumpkin enough that no one should notice. The texture is close enough as well.
You could try an acorn squash if you wanted, but I think butternut is the closet. Obviously do not make a pie out of a spaghetti squash. The texture of that would be way off.
A Honeynut squash is like a smaller, better butternut squash. They make a great replacement as well. Only reason I would put a butternut higher on the list is because they are just so easy to come by.
🔵 Hubbard Squash
Not as popular as butternut or as easy to find, but if you can find the large, often blueish color squash, it is known for being excellent for pie. I have seen several recipes for hubbard squash pie.
Hubbard squash may be slightly easier to track down after Halloween than than a pie pumpkin. Hubbard squash have a long storage capacity. I have seen then last through an entire winter and beyond without even being refrigerated.
I believe a lot of people are intimidated by them, so they end up sitting longer in the grocery store than do pie pumpkins.
🧀 Long Island Cheese Pumpkin
These pumpkins are often included in bins of decorative pumpkins at stores. But they are very much edible and my favorite pumpkin of all time. I would pick these over a pie pumpkin any day.
Study the photo above and if you see this pumpkin hanging out with a bunch of other weird looking pumpkins, grab it, display it, and then cook it!
Check out our blog post on Long Island Cheese Pumpkins.
🐅 Tiger Stripe Pumpkins
These cute little pumpkins pop up at Trader Joe's stores every fall along with all of their other amazing pumpkin goodies. They are pretty! Pretty edible! These don't make a lot pumpkin puree, but could be enough for a recipe. And they are really easy to work with and slice open.
Check out our blog post on Tiger Stripe Pumpkins
🍠 Sweet Potatoes
Maybe instead of making a pumpkin pie, you can make a sweet potato pie. Sweet potatoes are pretty cheap, especially around Thanksgiving. A sweet potato pie is made in the same fashion as a pumpkin pie and when it's cooked it looks extremely similar.
The taste will be different but it won't be so far off you can't make this pie. And I would be reluctant about mixing it with pumpkin if you are taking it to a holiday meal.
📏 How Much Replacement to Use?
No need to change or alter what your recipe calls for. Use the same amount of your replacement as you would a pie pumpkin.
❔ Is Fresh Pumpkin or Squash Better?
Of course you can (pun intended). However your end result will never be as good as it can be. I have eaten things with canned pumpkin and I can tell there is something lacking.
The can pumpkin lacks the dimension of flavor of fresh, you really can't beat it. I have heard some people say they can't taste the difference and maybe they can't and that's ok.
My personal experience has been I surely know when the real deal is being used as the depth of flavor is so much more. Still I would rather you go for a can and make the pie yourself then overpay for a grocery store pie that you can easily best yourself.
By using fresh you get more for money and you get seeds to roast. It's a win-win!
💵 Buy in Advance
What I recommend doing so you don't end up in a situation later, is to plan ahead. Buy your pie pumpkins as soon as they hit the stores. They have a long storage life.
I do this every year. I get a bunch of pie pumpkins, display them in my house, and cook them as needed. They easily last until Thanksgiving. Occasionally you might get one that ends up with a bad spot and starts to rot, so keep on eye on them. Even if that happens, cook the pumpkin now, and then freeze it and save it for Thanksgiving later.
🎃 Pumpkin Recipes
Maybe you already have a great pie recipe but you are looking for more ways to use fresh pumpkin. The easiest is to include it in my Pumpkin French Toast. Here are some other recipes to try: