Homemade Kabocha Squash Pumpkin Purée

How & Why to Use Squash, Not Pumpkin, for 100% Pure "Pumpkin"

It took four years but finally, I've found the trick to making 100% pumpkin purée from scratch –– switch to 0% pumpkin and 100% kabocha squash. The squash is roasted whole so there's no cutting into a large, unwieldy pumpkin or squash. The result is sweet, oh-so-pumpkin-y purée, perfect for making pumpkin pies at Thanksgiving and all our favorite pumpkin recipes before and after.

Homemade Kabocha Squash Pumpkin Purée ♥ KitchenParade.com, how and why to make pumpkin puree not from pumpkin but from kabocha squash.

Pumpkin Pie Filling, Made from Scratch. Homemade 100% Pumpkin Puree. Real Food, Fresh & Seasonal. Great for Meal Prep. Easy DIY. Low Carb. Low Fat. Weight Watchers Friendly. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Naturally Gluten Free. Whole30 Friendly.

The Homemade Pantry ♥ KitchenParade.com, a special collection of recipes for ingredients and dishes we could easily buy but choose to make from scratch at home because they taste better, cost less, have fewer or higher-quality ingredients or are simply more convenient.
This recipe fits into a special collection of recipes I call
The Homemade Pantry
stuff we could easily buy
but for one reason or another
(better taste, lower cost, more convenience, fewer ingredients)
choose to make from scratch
at home in our own kitchens.

Laugh If You Like.

But the best 100% pumpkin purée – made at home from scratch – is made from squash, not pumpkin.

Over the years, I’ve had mixed results baking a whole pumpkin. (Want more detail? See How to Roast a Whole Pumpkin from A Veggie Venture.)

  • True, the roasting part is easy.
  • Some times the cooked pumpkin is just wonderful.
  • But other times, it turns out watery and lifeless, even after draining out a surprising amount of liquid.

So I Switched from Pumpkin to Squash

So two years ago I switched to kabocha squash.

Finally! Each batch has been remarkable: thick and colorful with real pumpkin-y flavor.

Plus, you know how wine people will say that a certain wine has notes of hay or a lingering fruitiness? To my nose, kabocha-squash pumpkin purée is fruity with notes of pear.

Then – and this was a real revelation – I switched from a fussy “cut the squash into wedges and roast” technique to one that is unbelievably simple.

Just throw the squash in the oven. Whole. No cutting. No fussing. Just throw it in the oven whole.

Funny story? I first wrote this column before switching to the new simple method. I had to rewrite the column!

Besides sheer easiness, roasting kabocha squash whole has two other huge benefits, besides.

  • First, all the moisture stays inside the squash, so the flesh remains moist and flavorful instead of drying out.
  • Second, the squash flesh doesn't brown, this means the color of the purée is pretty golden orange rather than a muddy orange.

It's a Treat for Special Occasions. Or Is It?

Now please know, making pumpkin purée from scratch is no bargain.

In fact, even with relatively inexpensive $.79 a pound kabocha squash, the homemade purée is three times more expensive than a can of 100% pumpkin from the grocery store.

But it is a treat for special occasions, a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, say, or an extra-moist pumpkin bread.

So making pumpkin purée from scratch is an extra, a luxury even, so let’s not beat ourselves up if we’re happy with cans of inexpensive pumpkin purée.

My pantry holds a can or two or three all year long. It’s one of the few "whole food ingredients" to be found in the inner aisles of a grocery store.

So. Homemade pumpkin purée made from kabocha squash is remarkable but it’s not required.

But now that it’s so-so easy and so delicious? I'm completely smitten and make it all the time. I think you might too.

What Is Kabocha Squash? What Does a Kabocha Squash Look Like?

Kabocha Squash ♥ KitchenParade.com for homemade pumpkin puree

A few fun facts!

  • Kabocha (or kabocha squash) is also called Japanese pumpkin. It has a round squat shape, as if somebody sat on a round ball, slightly flattening it.
  • Botanically speaking, kabocha is a "winter squash." Its knobby outer skin is tough and inedible, especially compared to "summer squash" like zucchini whose skins are tender and delectable.
  • It has an intensely sweet flavor, compared to other squashes and pumpkins that are its botanical cousins.
  • After harvesting, a kabocha continues to ripen and sweeten for about three months when it reaches its peak sweetness. If eaten before the time lapse, the squash will taste dry and bland.
  • Kabocha are big, often weighing two or three pounds. The really big ones? Think eight pounds!
  • It's not always easy to find kabocha but it is worth seeking out. Some times? Trader Joe's carries them! Because of their size, I some times see them sold in quarters.
  • Sources: Personal Knowledge and Experience & Wikipedaia

How to Make Pumpkin Purée with Kabocha.

The detailed recipe is written in traditional recipe form below but here are the highlights. You can do this!

The Short Version Roast a whole kabocha in a 400F until soft, up to two hours. Process the soft flesh in a food processor until smooth.

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How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If homemade pumpkin purée hits the mark, go ahead, save and share! I'd be honored ...

Homemade Kabocha Squash Pumpkin Purée ♥ KitchenParade.com, how and why to make pumpkin puree not from pumpkin but from kabocha squash.


Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 2 hours

Allow about 1-1/2 pounds (675g) raw kabocha squash to yield one cup (8 ounces) of pumpkin purée. That adds up to a three-pound kabocha squash to produce the equivalent of a 15-ounce can of 100% pumpkin purée.
  • 1 large kabocha squash
  • A little olive oil

PREP Set oven to 400F/200C. Wash the squash well under running water, paying special attention to the stem and blossom ends and any rough spots. Rub the skin with a little olive oil, just enough to dampen.

ROAST Place the squash in the oven on the center rack. IMPORTANT Line a baking sheet with foil and place in the oven on the rack below the squash, this catches any juices that leach out and can burn.

Roast for 60 to 90 minutes, until a knife slipped deep into the squash cuts through like butter.

REMOVE THE TOUGH SKINS Remove from the oven and let rest until cool enough to handle. Slice the squash into quarters or eighths. Use a grapefruit spoon or tablespoon to scrape out the seeds and “gunk”. Scrape the flesh from the skin using a table knife, discarding the skins.

MASH OR PURÉE Transfer the squash flesh to a bowl. For a rustic purée that works especially well in savory side dishes and every day baking, just mash it with the back of a fork. For a smooth purée that is better for sauces, custards and even some baked goods, use a food processor to process until smooth. Refrigerate and use within three or four days.

HOW TO USE HOMEMADE PUMPKIN PURÉE I have great results making a one-for-one exchange of canned pumpkin and homemade pumpkin purée. Still, the homemade purée is definitely thicker so you might need to add a little extra liquid to baked goods.

FREEZES WELL The purée freezes beautifully. I pack it into quart-size freezer bags in generous one-cup and two-cup volumes, "generous" because it's hard to get all the pumpkin out of the bag after it's thawed.

EXPERIMENTING WITH OTHER SQUASHES Others have luck roasting butternut squash for pumpkin purée. That hasn’t worked for me, the texture is too rough, too fibrous. I recently roasted a calabaza squash, that’s the squash that Libby’s uses for its 100% Pure Pumpkin. It’s got a lovely orange color but is more watery and the flavor just doesn’t compare to kabocha. I won't try it again.

WHAT IF YOUR OVEN IS TOO SMALL FOR A LARGE KABOCHA? This is how I used to make pumpkin purée, before I started roasting the squash whole. It's fussy but effective. Cut the kabocha squash into wedges about an inch thick, no more than a couple of inches. If the squash is too hard to cut into, put it in the microwave for a minute or two to soften the skin. Place the wedges flesh-side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment, leaving room between for air circulation. Roast for as long as needed, checking after 15 minutes and then every 5 minutes, until the flesh is very soft, turning the wedges over midway. Some wedges will finish before others, take them out and return the rest to the oven. With the flat side of table knife, scrape the flesh off the skin and drop the flesh into a bowl. Mash the flesh with a fork for a rustic purée or use a food processor for a finer purée.

ALANNA’s TIPS I usually roast two or three kabocha squash at the same time. Small ones roast in an hour, larger ones take 90 minutes. If roasting mixed sizes, take the smaller ones out first while the large ones finish roasting. It's important to not overbake. When a squash overbakes, dark color leaches into the pretty interior flesh, the flesh can also turn dry and grainy. One squash can turn out a little different than another. If the flesh is a little dry and brittle after roasting, add a spoonful or two of water to the food processor when puréeing. If after puréeing the flesh is loose and watery, drain it through cheesecloth for a few minutes or gently cook down in a saucepan. I've learned that the lighter, creamier purée is better for baked goods like pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins and so on. The heavier squash is better for savory dishes, like soups, macaroni and cheese and so on.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Cup: 82 Calories; 0g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 0mg Sodium; 20g Carb; 3g Fiber; 8g Sugar; 3g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 1 & PointsPlus 2 & SmartPoints 3 & Freestyle 0 & myWW green 0 & blue 0 & purple 0

For Canadian Readers: Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian family and to all the many Canadian readers who will celebrate Thanksgiving this weekend. I'd hoped to cook Thanksgiving on Monday with my sister. Instead, I may cook it here at home on Monday and again with her later in the week. (Yes, Adanna?!)

For pie, I'll make Honey Pumpkin Pie from A Veggie Venture, it's sweetened with honey instead of processed sugar. And yes, I'll use homemade pumpkin purée!

Obsessed with Pumpkin? I Hear You!

~ pumpkin recipes ~

Autumn Pumpkin Bread ♥ KitchenParade.com, moist, flavorful pumpkin bread, my forever-favorite recipe.

Perfect Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins ♥ KitchenParade.com, healthy pumpkin muffins that stay fresh for days. Moist and spicy with great texture.

Pumpkin Cheesecake ♥ KitchenParade.com, a real crowd pleaser, barely sweet with ginger-pecan crust and bourbon.

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Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Alanna,

    Last year a friend of mine was complaining about some volunteer squash that had shown up in her garden. As she's not a squash fan, I said I'd take them off her hands. Turned out I was the happy recipient of 4 large, beautiful kabocha squash! After roasting and pureeing some of it went into pumpkin pie, some into soup, and some into pumpkin muffins (did I get that recipe off your site? Maybe).
    As you can imagine, I've agreed to "help her out" by taking any volunteers she gets this year off her hands. And now I have an easier way to roast them - thanks for the tip!

  2. I had to laugh when I saw this. Apparently, for a number of years, my mother had used some kind of winter squash when making "pumpkin pie." I was about 10 when I had a piece of pumpkin pie at school. "This is not pumpkin pie," I said. Then I found out about the substitution of squash for pumpkin. Different color, different texture, probably a better taste, as I remember.

  3. I love this time of year with all the different varieties of squash. Interesting that you like the kabocha for puree. Supposedly the canned puree is made from Hubbard squash, though I've never actually seen one in the markets.

  4. Kabocha is one of our favorite squash. I grew tons this year on a fence. These are hard to find in the market. With the price of canned pumpkin in the store now, this is a great alternative.

  5. Great idea! I'm roasting mine now... and am going to use my three pie pumpkins as soup bowls. ;)
    Also, where did your lovely measuring cup come from?
    Thanks for such a great site! I'm always looking for amazing veggie recipes, and you have them in spades. :D

  6. Anonymous1/29/2014

    Yesterday, I tried a slightly different method that included 10 minutes of microwaving a pierced pie pumpkin. The piercing was to let out steam. I was very pleased with the results. I've cooked squash/pumpkin entirely in the micro, and entirely in the oven. I like the mixture.
    Anybody who peels a squash & cuts it in chunks before cooking it is doing a lot of very unnecessary work!

  7. Anonymous10/22/2014

    Kabocha squash also has less calories and carbs. It is great for diabetics.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna