What is Really in Canned Pumpkin?

It's not the same kind of pumpkin you are thinking of.

Do you know what I can't stand? Food fear-mongering. Sure, we all need to know the facts if a food is unsafe to eat (for instance a salmonella recall), but other than that, most food is food. As I was searching on my newsfeed this morning I came across an article shouting, "I Just Found Out Canned Pumpkin Isn't Pumpkin At All, And My Whole Life Is Basically a Lie." Intrigued, (and who wouldn't be? Most people in America have eaten pumpkin pie before) I clicked on the link and low and behold, the article went on to dramatize that pumpkin puree is not actually made from pumpkin. It's made from squash. Meaning that pumpkin spice lattes are actually squash lattes, and so on.

Do you know what pumpkin is? It's a squash. This argument makes no sense what-so-ever.

What is in Canned Pumpkin Puree?

The next time you are at the grocery store, take a look at the cans of pumpkin puree on the shelf. More often than not, it's probably a can of Libby's pumpkin puree, which wears the label: 100% Pure Pumpkin. While this is true, it's not the jack-o-lantern pumpkin you are thinking. Instead, Libby's uses Dickinson pumpkin, also known as the crookneck pumpkin in their pumpkin purees. This squash can weigh 10 to 30 pounds and features a thick orange flesh (similar to butternut squash) which is relatively smooth.


So is it technically a pumpkin? According to the FDA, any "golden-fleshed, sweet squash, or mixtures of such squash with field pumpkins" is considered 100% pure pumpkin.

Will this big news stop bakers and pumpkin-lovers in their tracks? Most likely not. Sure, that pumpkin flavor you love in your pumpkin cookies, smoothies, cheesecake, pumpkin pie filling, and pumpkin bread may not be made of the same fresh pumpkin you plan on turning into a jack-o-lantern, but it is still delicious.

Plus, it has no preservatives and is surprisingly beneficial for your health. Canned pumpkin puree is a good source of fiber, a good source of vitamin A, and packed full of potassium.

Family Favorite Pumpkin Recipes

Pumpkin Cheesecake


Can you think of anything more classic than your own pumpkin pie? This is one of the best canned pumpkin recipes, starting with a delicious pie crust and is filled with a mix of pure canned pumpkin and spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. This pie recipe is the epitome of autumn!

Get the recipe here.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins


Chocolate chips and pumpkin pie spice make these homemade pumpkin muffins irresistible!

Get the recipe here.

Savory Pumpkin Casserole


It's that time of year when everything is filled with pumpkin, including savory dishes. This pumpkin casserole is a favorite recipe to share around the table.

Get the recipe here.

Editor's Note: Products featured on Wide Open Eats are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.This post was originally published on September 24, 2020.