What's the Difference Between Canned Pumpkin and Pumpkin Pie Filling?

Read this before you start baking for fall.

canned pumpkin vs. pumpkin pie mix
Photo: Getty Images

Even though Thanksgiving is more than a month away, it's never too early to start fall baking. From pies to quick breads, there are so many delicious sweet treats that use pumpkin. Before you grab any can of pumpkin off the shelf in a grocery store, it's important to know the difference between canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie filling. Using the wrong version may yield disappointing results, so listen up.

What Is Canned Pumpkin?

Canned pumpkin (labeled as "100% pure pumpkin") is a purée of pure pumpkin mixed with other kinds of winter squash. It is unsweetened and does not contain any added spices. Canned pumpkin can be used as an ingredient in homemade pumpkin pie filling, pumpkin bread, pumpkin milkshakes, and so much more. In addition to flavor and bright orange color, it also adds tons of moistness to baked goods.

What Is Canned Pumpkin Pie Mix?

Store-bought pumpkin pie mix (sometimes labeled "pumpkin pie filling") is a shortcut for making homemade pumpkin pie. It contains puréed pumpkin plus added spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves; sugar; and other chemical additives. When using pumpkin pie mix, all that you need to add is usually a couple of eggs and evaporated milk. While this is a great substitute for novice bakers or anyone who hasn't made pumpkin pie before, it tastes sweeter than homemade pumpkin pie. And pumpkin pie mix cannot be used as a substitute for pure canned pumpkin since it is already sweetened and flavored.

Is Pumpkin Pie Mix Healthy?

Pumpkin pie mix contains approximately 120 calories and 19 grams of sugar per half cup (one can yields about 2 cups of mix total). Pumpkin pie made with a pre-made mix will most likely have more sugar than pumpkin pie made completely from scratch using pumpkin purée.

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