Homemade pumpkin butter recipe made from fresh pumpkins, brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Great for spooning over pancakes, spreading on the toast, using as a cake filling or baking with.
As the nights are drawing in and the autumn is settling in I’m always tempted to bake comforting food.
There are many baking recipes, especially around Halloween, that call for pumpkin butter, but the problem is that here, in the UK, it’s very difficult to buy one in the supermarket.
Sure some specialist food shops stock pumpkin butter jars, but they could be quite pricey. That’s is why I thought, why not try to make pumpkin butter at home? I mean how difficult could it be?
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Why make this recipe?
- made from scratch, from fresh pumpkins
- adjust the amount of spices & sugar to your taste (use less if you like)
- make a big batch and keep for later
- great as a gift for your foodie friends
What does pumpkin butter taste like?
The homemade pumpkin butter has a nice thick texture and consistency. The pumpkin has a fairly mild flavour (on it’s own is quite bland), which is slightly sharpened with lemon or apple juice. The pumpkin is spiced with a special blend of warming spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger.
Notes on making the pumpkin butter recipe successfully the first time round
I’ve decided to make this easy recipe for pumpkin butter using raw (fresh) pumpkin, as many recipes I’ve seen used canned pumpkin, which again it’s not something you are likely to have at home.
This homemade pumpkin butter recipe (made from scratch) consists of two parts. In the first one, we prepare our pumpkin puree and in the second one, we make the actual pumpkin butter. You’ll also end up with quite a lot of pumpkin seeds, but you can turn them into these delicious roasted pumpkin seeds with cinnamon and sugar.
If you are lucky enough to have pumpkin puree at home already or your own homemade canned pumpkin, you can skip the first step and carry on with the recipe.
This recipe is also perfect for any leftover pumpkin mush that you discard from carving your pumpkin for Halloween.
Few notes on pumpkin butter from scratch ingredients
What’s the difference between fresh pumpkin mashed up in to a puree and so called ‘pumpkin puree’? I was asking this question myself, but after making several batches of pumpkin butter I can see the difference!
You could technically made pumpkin butter from freshly mashed up pumpkin flesh, add the rest of the ingredients and reduce it to taste and the right texture. But you’d be missing one crucial flavour, which is the slightly caramelised, baked flavour of the pumpkin, which is how pumpkin puree is prepared.
If you use fresh pumpkin without baking it first, you’d be essentially just boiling the pumpkin and the result would be much lighter in flavour and colour. Not impossible to do, but be prepared that you’d end up with a different kind of product.
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I’ve used brown sugar, because it gives a lovely deep flavour and colour, but you are welcome to use any sugar you have, such as white sugar, coconut sugar, maple syrup, honey or anything else you like. You can also make up the 1/2 cup or 100 g with different types of sugar.
This is useful if you are running out of sugar or want to make the flavour slightly lighter (e.g 50 g of white sugar and 50g of brown sugar).
Just bear in mind, that the flavour of the pumpkin butter will change based on what sugar you use. Not dramatically, but still, it will taste different with dark sugar than with light coconut sugar.
You’ll also see that I’ve used the pumpkin spice mix. Again, if you don’t have one already from a shop, it’s very easy to make it at home and you are welcome to use my recipe.
If you can’t get hold of all the spices required for the pumpkin pie mix (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger), you can use alternatives, such as just cinnamon, allspice, gingerbread spice mix or any combination of the above spices.
It will, of course, change the flavour of the butter, but that’s part of the fun of making homemade food!
Pepper & Salt
O.K pepper is totally optional, but I promise you if you add a tiny pinch of freshly milled (fine) black pepper you won’t taste it as such, but it will help to bring all the spices together and give them sharpnes.
A pinch of salt is non-negotiable! Ignore it at your peril! The problem with all things sweet is that sugar doesn’t have any flavour, it’s actually a pretty bland ingredient. That is why you do need a pinch of salt to bring all the flavours together.
If you don’t believe me, leave the salt until the last minute. Taste the pumpkin butter (carefully it will be really hot!) and if it tastes kind of O.K but it could do with ‘something’, add a small pinch of salt dissolved in a hot water.
Stir it in, properly and taste again. Suddenly all the flavours will be much more intense and it will change O.K kind of pumpkin butter into the best one you’ve ever tasted!
Additional (optional) ingredients
You can use apple juice instead of water in this easy recipe for pumpkin butter. It adds extra sweetness and flavour. If you don’t want to use apple juice, you can also use any other fruit juice that compliments the pumpkin flavour. This can include fruit juices such as grape juice, orange juice or mango juice.
If you prefer a slightly sharper taste, swap the water for freshly squeezed lemon juice. It compliments the pumpkin flavour brilliantly and adds a lovely zingy taste.
To keep things nice and round, vanilla essence will make your pumpkin butter more fragrant. Use a good quality vanilla essence, otherwise, you won’t be able to taste it.
How to make pumpkin butter at home
Step 1 – Preparing the pumpkin puree (if you haven’t got one already made or bought)
Cut a small pumpkin to 4 parts (this makes the baking quicker) and scoop out the seeds and fibers.
Preheat the oven to 200 C (400 F) and place the pumpkin quarters on a baking tray (face down).
Bake for 30-40 min or until soft and a little bit browner (but not dark or burned)
When cold enough to handle, scoop out the pumpkin flesh and puree it in a food processor or with a handheld smoothie maker.
Measure out about 450 g (2 generous cups) and store the rest in a jam jar for other uses (last about 2 weeks in the fridge)
Step 2 – Making the pumpkin butter
Place the pumpkin puree into a large saucepan, add all the spices, salt, pepper, juice and sugar and gently heat on a medium heat.
Once the sugar crystals have melted, increase the heat and carry on simmering for 20-30 minutes, whilst constantly steering. The amount of time will depend on how thick (or runny) was your pumpkin puree at the beginning.
When the pumpkin mixture thickens and starts to get browner, taste it to make sure you are happy with the flavour and add more spice or salt if the flavour is not quite there!
Spoon out to a jam jar, close with lid and keep on the kitchen counter until it cools down.
Store in a fridge for about 2 weeks or share it with your friends!
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How long does a homemade pumpkin butter last?
It’s best to use your pumpkin butter within 10-14 days of making it. Make sure it’s always stored in a fridge and keep it in a sealed/closed jam jar.
I’ve used my pumpkin butter for much longer than the 14 days, but even I would try to finish the jar within 3 weeks. You know that it’s definitely off if you see mould developing on the surface and in that case, please throw it away.
If you want to keep your pumpkin butter for longer, you should freeze it in smaller portions (something like a soft ice-cube tray is perfect) and use it within 3-6 months.
What can you use pumpkin butter for?
Think about it as a jam or a marmalade, so anywhere where would you use these, pumpkin butter can be used too. On top of that, you can use it to bake with it and make various puddings.
- Pancakes or Waffle topping
- Breakfast Porridge or Overnight oats topping
- Pumpkin Pie, Muffins or Cakes
- Baking sweet pumpkin rolls
- Pudding topping
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Homemade Pumpkin Butter (from fresh pumpkin)
- 1 fresh pumpkin (medium size) or about 450 g of pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup brown sugar 80 g of sugar (more or less depends on your taste buds)
- 3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice mix (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger)
- pinch fine salt
- pinch finely milled black pepper
- 2-3 tbsp water or apple juice only add if your puree is very thick
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Preparing the pumpkin puree (if you haven't got one already made or bought)
- Cut a small pumpkin to 4 parts (this makes the baking quicker) and scoop out the seeds and fibers.
- Preheat the oven to 200 C (400 F) and place the pumpkin quarters on a baking tray (face down).
- Bake for 30-40 min or until soft and a little bit browner (but not dark or burned)
- When cold enough to handle, scoop out the pumpkin flesh and puree it in a food processor or with a handheld smoothie maker.
- Measure out about 450 g (2 generous cups) and store the rest in a jam jar for other uses (last about 2 weeks in the fridge)
Making the pumpkin butter
- Place the pumpkin puree into a large saucepan, add all the spices, salt, pepper, juice and sugar and gently heat on a medium heat.
- Once the sugar crystals have melted, increase the heat and carry on simmering for 20-30 minutes, whilst constantly steering. The amount of time will depend on how thick (or runny) was your pumpkin puree at the beginning.
- When the pumpkin mixture thickens and starts to get browner, taste it to make sure you are happy with the flavour and add more spice or salt if the flavour is not quite there!
- Spoon out to a jam jar, close with lid and keep on the kitchen counter until it cools down.
- Store in a fridge for about 2 weeks or share it with your friends!
This blog post was originally written on 13 September 2020 and last updated on 11 November 2022