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18 Things You Can Do with Canned Pumpkin

From veggie burgers to dog treats, there are lots of healthy ways to put leftover pumpkin to good use!
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Get this: 85 percent of the canned pumpkin you see in the grocery store doesn't actually contain any pumpkin. Big brands like Libby's actually grow and then can a fruit called Dickinson squash, which is pumpkin's tan-skinned cousin. The oddest part of all of this is that it's perfectly legal. Because pumpkins and "golden-fleshed sweet squash" are so closely related, the FDA told food companies that they could market their puree products as "pumpkin," regardless of how much of the actual fruit winds up in the cans. How annoying is that!?

While we're not so happy that our Libby's cans have been lying to us all of these years, that doesn't mean that we're going to stop buying the stuff. Not only is it a versatile ingredient that has the power to bring the flavor of fall to just about any dish, the imposter squash is still a potent source of vitamin A. Also, many brands process their squash in such as way that retains a good deal of the fiber. The only downside of stocking up on pumpkin during foliage season? Trying to figure out what to do with all the half-used and leftover cans that will undoubtedly accumulate by the season's end.

And that's where we come in. To help ensure none of your delicious pumpkin goes to waste, we've rounded up some of the most delicious and creative ways to use up your leftovers. Whether you find yourself with a leftover tablespoon or an entire can of puree, here are some of the best ways to use it up. And if you wanna get your hands on even more treats from the pumpkin patch, don't miss these delicious 15 pumpkin spice products to try this fall!


Blend Up a Smoothie


The easiest way to sneak some added nutrition into a busy lifestyle and use up some leftover pumpkin? Blend up a protein-filled weight loss smoothie. You'll need about ¼ cup pumpkin puree to get a full flavor, but if you're a bit short, don't sweat it. Your drink is still bound to be a tasty one. Here's our go-to blend:


1 scoop plant-based vanilla protein powder
¼ cup frozen banana
½ cup frozen pineapple
½ cup frozen peach slices
¼ cup pumpkin puree
¼ cup unsweetened almond milk
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
5 ice cubes


Place everything into a blender and let 'er rip.

RELATED: We found the best smoothie recipes for weight loss.


Make a Pot of Chili


After making some delicious pumpkin energy bites (the recipe is in #9) earlier this season, I had nearly an entire can of pumpkin puree left over! To use it up, I decided to jump into the fall festivities with both feet by making my first chili of the season. Even though the delicious turkey pumpkin chili I made calls for a full 15-ounce can of puree, I just used whatever I had left in the can—and the flavor was still fantastic! If you have at least a half-cup left over, it's totally worth giving it a shot, too.


Jazz Up Mac & Cheese


If 80 percent of your kids' (or your picky spouse's) diet consists of mac and cheese, this vitamin A-infused version is the answer you've been searching for. The pumpkin-y recipe below is a great way to sneak nutrition into an otherwise indulgent dish—which should always be the goal when cooking up treats. Best of all, since there are no visible veggies, they'll never be the wiser.


15 oz. can pumpkin puree
2 tsp. minced garlic
½ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup milk of choice
1 cup American or cheddar cheese, shredded
Noodles of choice


Combine all ingredients in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, and stir until the ingredients are fully melted. While the sauce is cooking, boil your noodle of choice. After you've drained the water from the pasta, transfer it to a bowl, and cover it with the desired amount of sauce. If you prefer a thicker sauce, allow it to fully cool, and store in the fridge overnight before reheating and using it was a pasta topper.


Create Pumpkin Coffee Creamer

They may come in drool-worthy seasonal flavors like pumpkin spice and peppermint mocha, but most coffee creamers are filled with gross things like titanium dioxide (an ultraviolet radiation blocker that doubles as a whitening agent) and hydrogenated oil, which has been shown to increase cholesterol and diminish memory. Seasonal drinks you get from coffee shops may not have quite as many chemicals but they're overflowing with excess calories and sugar. That said, the best way to transform your plain ol' coffee into something more autumnal, is with a homemade creamer, which just so happens to be a great way to use some leftover canned pumpkin. Here's how to make a batch:


1 ½ cups of heavy cream, divided
¼ tsp. of ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. of allspice
4 tbsp. pure pumpkin
14-ounces sweetened condensed milk


Combine a ½ cup of heavy cream with the spices and pumpkin in a saucepan and simmer over a low flame for 15 to 20 minutes. Next, remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool completely. Then, whisk in a cup of heavy cream and condensed milk and store the mixture in a mason jar. It will keep in the fridge for up to a week.

Eat This! Tip

Since this recipe contains added sugar we suggest skipping your usual sugar packet. Your coffee will be sweet enough without it.


Craft a Pumpkin Chai Tea Latte

If you're feeling extra fancy—or if you just prefer tea to coffee, you can use your leftover pumpkin to add some fall flavor to a chai latte. The base of our go-to recipe is black tea, which has been shown to improve cardiovascular function by improving blood flow and blood vessel dilation. However, a study in the European Heart Journal found that adding dairy milk to the tea counteracts these effects, which is why our pumpkin chai tea latte recipe is dairy-free.


¼ cup of pumpkin puree
1 cup milk alternative
1 bag of black tea (one of the most powerful weight loss teas on the planet)
3 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
⅛ tsp. ginger


In microwave-safe cup, warm all of the ingredients, except for the tea bag. Next, add the tea bag to hot water and allow it to steep for a few minutes until the desired flavor is achieved. Combine the warmed milk mixture with the tea, mix well and top with a sprinkle of cinnamon.


Cook Up Some Pumpkin Butter

Pumpkin butter is a sweet, versatile condiment made from pumpkin puree that can be used to dress up everything from pancakes and pudding to oatmeal and grilled cheese. (Make it with goat cheese and Ezekiel cinnamon raisin bread. It's really good!) While making a batch does require a can or two of puree depending on how much you want to make, it's still a great way to use up all those cans you stocked up on the second you spotted the first orange leaf of the season. We love the recipe for the dish by Dana of the Minimalist Baker because it calls for just eight easy-to-find ingredients and doesn't contain any added sugar.


Try Pumpkin Hummus

If you and your family plow through a batch of hummus each week, consider mixing things up a bit by making one that's infused with fall's favorite bright orange gourd. You can simply add whatever leftover pumpkin you have in your possession to your favorite recipe or you can give our go-to blend below a try. No matter what you decide, though, you can rest assured that your dip will be packed with satiating protein, fiber, and healthy fats—the ideal trifecta of nutrients for anyone working toward a weight loss goal.


1 cup pumpkin puree
15-ounces cannellini or garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp. tahini
Juice from half of a large lemon
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. cumin
½ tsp. smoked paprika
Salt, to taste


Put all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.


Bake a Batch of Cookies

If you're a dieter with a sweet tooth, might we suggest using your leftover pumpkin to make a batch of better-for-you cookies!? These bad boys are primarily made from superfoods that can help you lose weight. A series of studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that adding cinnamon to a starchy meal, snack, or sweet (like a cookie!) may help stabilize blood sugar and ward off insulin spikes, keeping you fuller, longer. Another reason we're fans of these treats? They're totally egg-free, so there's no reason to worry if mommy's little helpers sneak a few licks of the batter.


2 cups oats
1 cup pumpkin
4 tbsp. granulated sugar or sweetener of choice
3 tbsp. nut butter of choice
2 tsp. cinnamon


Lightly grease a cookie sheet and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. While the oven is warming up, mix all of the ingredients together with a spoon. Form into cookies, plop them on the cookie tray and bake for 12 to 15 minutes.


Make Energy Bites

Remember those awesome energy balls I mentioned earlier? Well, these are them! In my house, we've been nibbling on these flavorful fall treats for two weeks now—and they're still as good as the first day I made them. All of their sweetness comes from the natural sources like dates, honey, and pumpkin puree, making them a healthy option for those post-dinner dessert cravings. And thanks to the addition of chia seeds and pepitas, they offer up a bit of fiber and protein, too. Desserts with added health benefits, are the very best kind—especially when you'd never guess they're any good for you because they're so darn delicious!


1 cup dates, pits removed
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 tbsp. chia seeds
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
Pinch of salt
1 cup dry old-fashioned oats
1 cup toasted coconut flakes (with no added sugar)
1 cup pepitas


Combine the dates, honey, pumpkin puree, chia seeds, and spices in a food processor and pulse until the mixture becomes smooth and well combined. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients. To make the mixture easier to work with, cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Then, using your hands, roll the mixture into energy balls. Store in a plastic container in the fridge.


Sizzle Up Pumpkin Pancakes


The only thing better than fluffy, homemade pancakes on a crisp Saturday morning? A batch of sweet and fragrant pumpkin pancakes, that's what! If you have a half-cup of extra puree lying around, consider this a must make recipe for your next family brunch. And for even more yummy a.m. meal ideas, don't miss these 17 breakfast ideas diet experts love.


2 tbsp. coconut flour
½ tbsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. baking powder
⅛ tsp. salt
½ cup pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
½ cup fresh egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. sugar


In a small bowl, mix together the coconut flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, egg whites, vanilla extract and sugar. Next, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and thoroughly combine with a whisk. Heat a griddle or frying pan with cooking spray and cook the batter into pancakes. Each side should cook for about 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately and enjoy with pure maple syrup and chopped walnuts or pecans.


Add it to Quinoa

If you have just 5 minutes of prep time to spare you can give new life to quinoa, a healthy ancient grain packed with fiber and protein that health nuts can't seem to get enough of. Evan, the blogger behind the site, The Wannabe Chef, has a great recipe for savory pumpkin quinoa that combines veggies like onions and green pepper with savory herbs de Provence. If you don't have the spice blend on hand at home, simply mix equal parts thyme, rosemary, and sage.


Use it to Make Mashed Potatoes Healthier

One of the best ways to ward off the blood sugar spike—and subsequent surge of hunger—that comes along with something starchy is to combine it with a good source of fiber. That's why we love the idea of mixing in pureed pumpkin into a classic mashed potato dish. For every pound of potatoes you use to make your favorite recipe, add a cup of canned pumpkin. If you don't have that much leftover puree lying around, no big deal, just use what you've got! Serve the dish out of a small hollowed-out pumpkin for a festive addition to your fall dinner table.


Add it to Oatmeal


Transform the morning's most comforting breakfast dish into a fall fiesta with the addition of pumpkin puree, maple syrup, cinnamon, and chopped pecans or pepitas. For even more delicious ways to dress up your morning oats, don't miss these 50 best overnight oats recipes!


Craft a Fall Veggie Burger

Skip those "meh" frozen patties and make a batch of your own homemade veggie burgers with the help of this pumpkin black bean veggie burger recipe. By combining low-cost yet nutrient-rich ingredients like rolled oats, black beans, and pumpkin puree, you can create a low-cost dinner entrée that you can easily work into your weekly dinner lineup—even long after pumpkin season has passed.


Make Homemade "Nice Cream"


Just because fall is upon us doesn't mean you have to give up your ice cream habit. However, if you're trying to ward off winter weight gain, we suggest making the switch to "nice cream." Nice what?! Nice cream, sometimes called banana ice cream, is made by blending frozen fruit into an all-natural ice cream with flavorful mix-ins. Since nice cream has a mild-tasting base, it's the perfect backdrop for canned pumpkin to showcase it's sweet and savory flavor profile.


2 medium bananas, sliced and frozen overnight
½ cup pumpkin puree
2.5 tbsp. maple syrup
¾ tsp pumpkin spice


Blend all ingredients in a food processor until well combined. Transfer to a freezer-safe container and allow the mixture to harden for 24 hours before you dig in!


Freeze It


If all else fails, you can always freeze your leftover pumpkin puree in a freezer-safe container or heavy-duty plastic bag. It will last several months and easily thaws in a bowl of cold water.


Make Fido A Treat

It's a little-known fact but dogs love pumpkin! Give Fido a fall treat by using your leftover puree stash to make him or her a sweet treat. Get all the details at


Enjoy Some Pumpkin Chia Pudding

Never heard of chia seed pudding before? It's essentially one of the tastiest—and easiest—ways to work the fibrous superfood into your daily diet. And better yet, it can be easily adapted to fit nearly any flavor profile, including pumpkin. The basis of every recipe starts by combining ¼ cup of chia seeds and 1 cup of almond or cow's milk in a bowl or mason jar. From there you can add whichever sweeteners and flavors you enjoy the most. To make pumpkin chia pudding add about ¼ cup canned pumpkin, 1 tablespoon of honey, ½ teaspoon cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg to the bowl, too. Then, simply mix everything together, cover the bowl or screw on the mason jar lid, and refrigerate the mixture overnight. While you're sleeping, the recipe liquids expand the seeds, forming a tapioca-like texture—no cooking required!

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