Pumpkin pie filling and pumpkin puree often sit in cans right next to each other on the grocery store shelf. It can be easy to pick up one thinking it is the other because the two products look very similar. However, they have a few key differences that you should keep in mind when you are using them to cook or bake.
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Pumpkin puree, just like it sounds, only contains pureed pumpkin flesh. Some brands of pumpkin puree also have a little bit of salt for flavor. Pumpkin pie filling, on the other hand, includes many of the ingredients that go with pumpkin puree when you make a pie. The pumpkin pie filling usually contains cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, nutmeg and sugar in addition to the puree.
Pumpkin pie filling is best when used in making a pumpkin pie. You only need to add a can of evaporated milk and two eggs to a can of pumpkin pie filling and you can pour the mixture straight into the crust. Pumpkin puree, on the other hand, is a much more versatile product. You can add the spices and sugar and use it just like pumpkin pie filling or you can put it to work in other recipes. Pumpkin bread, pumpkin cake, pumpkin ice cream and pumpkin soup are just a few of the options.
Pumpkin pie filling is packed with sugar, making it significantly less healthy than pumpkin puree. A can of pumpkin pie filling contains approximately 2/3 cup of sugar, which greatly increases the calorie count. A cup of pumpkin puree has only 83 calories, whereas a cup of pumpkin pie filling has 281 calories. If you get the pumpkin puree, you can choose how much sugar to add and make a low-sugar filling to cut calories.
When you have a recipe that calls for pumpkin pie filling and you only have pumpkin puree, you can easily use in place of the canned pie filling. Open the can and reserve 2/3 cup of the pumpkin puree for another recipe. Then mix in 2/3 cup sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ginger, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, 1/4 tsp. cloves and 1/2 tsp. salt into the remaining pumpkin puree. Substitute this mixture in place of pumpkin pie filling.