4 Smart Ways to Make Canned Pumpkin Taste Better

What are your thoughts on canned pumpkin puree? On the one hand, it’s convenient: There’s no need to slow-roast a huge pumpkin and no pulpy-seedy mess to clean up. On the other hand, it is a canned food, and can sometimes taste a little…well, tinny.

Happily, if you’re a baker or cook who doesn’t want to sacrifice flavor, there are some quick and easy tricks for making canned pumpkin taste better.

Here, we’ll guide you through four easy methods that’ll amp up the natural pumpkin flavor and banish any tinny aftertaste.

1. Cook it on the Stovetop

Why it Works:

Briefly cooking your canned pumpkin puree on the stovetop can help improve both the flavor and texture. Two things happen: First, it helps reduce excess moisture, which gives the pumpkin a superior texture. Second, it can release the natural pumpkin flavor and help reduce the metallic flavor that the can tends to impart.

How to do it:

Simply transfer the puree into a saucepan or large skillet and cook for about five minutes on medium-low heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching and sticking. You’re not looking to cook or reduce the pumpkin too much, just to release its flavor a little bit. Once it’s steamy and fragrant, you’re done. Let the pumpkin cool to room temperature before proceeding with your recipe.

2. (Briefly) Roast It

Why it Works:

The overall idea is similar to stovetop cooking, but some find that roasting the pumpkin yields a superior, slightly toasty/nutty flavor to finished baked goods.

How to do it:

Simply spread the puree on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat, and roast in an oven heated to 400 F for several minutes. Keep a close eye on it — you don’t want the pumpkin to burn or even to “set,” just to release a fragrance. Let the pumpkin cool to room temperature before proceeding with your recipe.

3. Combine it with a Diy Spice Mix

Why it Works:

Pumpkin loves spice. But if your canned pumpkin is pre-mixed with spices, the spices won’t do much to combat the tinny flavor. At the same time, pre-mixed pumpkin pie spice mix can lose its luster if it’s been sitting on a grocery store shelf for months. To really make your canned pumpkin shine, combine it with a fresh, homemade DIY spice mix.

How to do it:

Here’s an easy recipe for DIY pumpkin spice mix.

Pumpkin Spice Recipe

  • 1/3 cup ground cinnamon
  • 1½ tablespoons ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1½ teaspoons ground allspice

Mix the above together until completely combined, and place in an airtight jar. Use as garnish, as part of recipes calling for pumpkin pie spice or to sprinkle atop lattes.

4. Infuse it with Flavor

Why it works:

Combining your canned pumpkin with flavorings and letting them sit together for an hour or two will infuse the pumpkin with flavor. A little extra flavor elevates the pumpkin from its taste straight from the can.

How to do it:

Before baking or cooking, mix the pumpkin with any spices or flavorings called for in the recipe. Let the mixture sit for a few hours in the refrigerator.

For instance, if you’re making a pumpkin pie: mix the filling ingredients and let the mixture sit in the fridge for an hour or so before filling the pie shell and baking.

This works for savory recipes, too. If you’re making a pumpkin ravioli, mix the pumpkin, cheese and any other spices together. Then let the mixture sit in the fridge for a while before assembling.

Bonus Tip: Use Other Quality Ingredients

Consider this a “common sense” bonus tip. Regardless of how you’re using your canned pumpkin, combining it with the highest quality ingredients helps improve the overall flavor.

For instance, say you’re making a class pumpkin pie. Combining canned pumpkin with a pre-made pie crust and canned whipped cream can yield “blah” results.

However, combining your canned pumpkin with a homemade pie crust, DIY pumpkin spice mix and topping it with freshly whipped cream will improve the overall quality and heighten the pumpkin flavor, canned or not.