Naturally Sweetened Pumpkin Butter

October 16, 2013

If this is the first pumpkin butter recipe you’ve seen this year, then bloggers are doing fall wrong.  There should be apples and pumpkins as far as the eye can see (and I promise I’m bringing you an apple butter recipe ASAP).  If you’ve already seen a million recipes, the main difference with mine is that it’s naturally sweetened.  I was pretty appalled at the recipes I’ve seen online calling for CUPS of sugar.  Cups!  Pumpkin is delicious – I see no reason to add even close to that much sugar.

Naturally Sweetened Pumpkin Butter

I always see pictures, tweets, and general raves about pumpkin butter from Trader Joes.  Unfortunately, there are no Trader Joes anywhere near me.  So I did the only logical thing and bought 8 pie pumpkins  thinking I’d make and can my own pumpkin butter.  FALSE!  The USDA does not recommend canning any sort of pureed pumpkin at all.  Next best thing?  Make a huge pile of pumpkin butter and roll around in it until I smell like fall forever.  Err… or just freeze it.

Naturally Sweetened Pumpkin Butter

I split this recipe between 3 jars.  Keep one in the fridge for quick use and the other two in the freezer for up to 6 months.  Leave at least 1/3 of the jar empty in the freezer to allow for expansion.  If you can’t find naturally sweetened (or unsweetened) apple cider, you can use unsweetened apple juice and increase the spices slightly to suit your tastes.

Naturally Sweetened Pumpkin Butter
Serves: 40

  • 2 small pie pumpkins (total ~ 5 lb whole)
  • ½ c apple cider (naturally sweetened, if possible)
  • ⅔ c pure maple syrup, to taste
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ⅛ tsp ginger
  • ⅛ tsp allspice
  • dash salt

  1. Preheat oven to 425° and fill a large casserole dish with a thin layer of water.
  2. Cut the pumpkins in half (Google for help, it can be a little difficult). Scoop out the seeds (save for toasting, if desired) and place the pumpkins cut side down in the casserole dish and cover in foil.
  3. Bake for 1 hour, until the pumpkin slides easily out of the skin.
  4. Combine pumpkin and all other ingredients in a blender and puree until very smooth (can use a food processor or immersion blender).
  5. Cook in a saucepan over medium low heat for at least 20 minutes, covered or uncovered (covered will prevent splashing but will take longer to thicken) stirring frequently until desired consistency is reached.
  6. Store in the fridge for up to a few weeks or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

If you can’t find naturally sweetened or unsweetened apple cider, use unsweetened apple juice and adjust syrup and spices slightly after cooking.
Any liquid sweetener should work in place of the maple syrup.
Makes approximately 2.5 pints.
Serving Size 2 tbsp

Nutrition Information
Calories: 25 Carbohydrates: 6g Fiber: 1g Protein: 0g


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    rika Oct 19, 2013

    my goodness, I want some now on pastries!

    Gretchen @ Two Healthy Kitchens Oct 17, 2013

    There are so many things wrong with the fact that I have never had pumpkin butter. I was at a party recently that had pumpkin butter, but I just nibbled on something small. Should’ve had some. (kicking myself!)
    Confession … I don’t like scooping out pumpkins. They’re cold and slimy and just blech. GIves me the heebie-jeebies. Think I could use pumpkin puree?? About how much do 2 pie pumpkins yield?

      Kelly Oct 17, 2013

      Pie pumpkins are a little less gross to scoop out (more like a reasonably sized acorn or butternut squash, less like a jack-o-lantern). If you want to use canned pumpkin, I’d recommend starting with around 4 cups.

    Julia Oct 17, 2013

    Oh my gosh, this looks so good! I want to shmear it on eeeeeeeverything! I want to shmear it on a sweet potato muffin! Love that I can make a big batch of this and enjoy it now, plus freeze it for later. I’d totally thaw a jar out mid-summer so I could enjoy yummy pumpkin flavors year round!

      Kelly Oct 17, 2013

      When I read your sweet potato muffins recipe I definitely thought that they’d be heavenly together for breakfast!

    Liz @ I Heart Vegetables Oct 17, 2013

    You know, I don’t think I’ve ever had pumpkin butter! Clearly, this needs to change 🙂 Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    Joanne Oct 17, 2013

    I love TJ’s pumpkin butter but…it is really too sweet!! I love your naturally sweetened version!

    shashi @ Oct 17, 2013

    I adore Trader Joe’s pumpkin butter – yes it is good! But I still find it a little on the sweet side so I eat it with peanut butter or with plain greek yogurt. Love how you have used molasses and sweetened apple cider and not cups and cups of sugar 🙂
    Also find it very interesting that the USDA doesnt recommend cannin pumpkin…I wonder why?

      Kelly Oct 17, 2013

      Pumpkin puree is pretty thick and pumpkin isn’t acidic, so I think there is concern over weather you can get pumpkin hot enough to kill any botulism spores that may be present. I even tried finding advice on making an apple/pumpkin butter or adding more citrus, but the only tested recipe I could find was more than 3/4 pineapple with just a touch of pumpkin.

    cleaneatingveggiegirl Oct 16, 2013

    This sounds amaaaaazing!! Pumpkin butter is one of my favorite things ever, especially on a warm piece of toast!

    Mary Frances @ The Sweet {Tooth} Life Oct 16, 2013

    I tried pumpkin butter last year and this looks WAY BETTER. Yes to the apple cider and maple syrup! More depth of flavor and added bonus of no refined sugars! Your pictures are gorgeous and this recipe is being pinned and put on my baking list!

      Kelly Oct 16, 2013

      Thanks! Let me know if you make it 🙂

    Marcie Oct 16, 2013

    I agree with you, there shouldn’t be cups and cups of sugar in pumpkin butter! I’m pinning this – I’d love to make my own!

    Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl Oct 16, 2013

    I’ve never made my own butter but that has got to change very quickly! Pumpkin butter!!! You just blew my mind, I’m nearly in tears!