Janet's Notebook
Butternut Squash Perfect Pumpkin Substitute in a Pinch

Necessity is the mother of invention, and last year at about this time I was a grandmother with one serious need for an inventive ingredient swap! That summer's unusual weather had affected the pumpkin crop and made canned pumpkin a scarcity. When you could find the canned stuff on the store shelf, it was very pricey.

As there was no way I was going to settle for a pie-less holiday, I set out to try my hand with various pumpkin substitutions. My skepticism was quickly squashed and a clear winner presented itself: butternut squash!

I had cooked with butternut squash many a'time in the past, but never really appreciated its degree of versatility. Ideal for creamy winter soups or for plumping up pasta and rice dishes, roasted butternut squash is also an ace pumpkin impersonator! I've yet to find a pumpkin recipe where a substitution hasn't worked.

Start by picking the best little squash specimen you can find. I've learned that the trick is to look for a firm squash with smooth, evenly-colored skin. (Blemishes are not our friends, friends!) The ideal butternut has a fairly small rounded end and a thick neck, indicating fewer seeds and more flesh.

To prep for roasting, begin by pre-heating your oven to 350 degrees. Cut the squash in half length-wise and remove all the seeds and any large strings. Place on a baking sheet and brush the whole entire thing with olive oil. Roast for one hour or until the inside is scoopably soft. Once the squash has cooled and is easy to handle, spoon the flesh into a bowl and mash. 1 1/3 cups of mashed butternut squash is equivalent to a standard 15-ounce can of pumpkin!

The results are so surprisingly good that I've continued to use this method in some of my baking this year! Your guests will never know the difference. In fact, the Kitchen Crew and I recently feasted on Marieann Johansen's Pumpkin Dump Cake and no one was the wiser that I had done a switcheroo with the pumpkin!

"This is a tiny bit more work then the regular dump cake, but well worth the effort," explains Marieann.

We couldn't agree more! This recipe exemplifies the flavors of fall and is absolutely delicious whether made with pumpkin or butternut squash.

Whether in a pinch or just looking to experiment, feel free to substitute at will!

More Stories... Subscribe to RSS

Beatrice Abfalter - Nov 13, 2010
oh Hi Bea, I wasn't ignoring you by any means...My mom would cook the carrots till soft, then proceed like using canned pumpkin.
Jean Antosh - Nov 13, 2010
In New England you can purchase canned squash just like canned pumpkin. My mother always made a squash and a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.
I do like to roast a squash or a pumpkin myself. The flavor is beyond compare. I just wanted to share that squash pie is not a substitute for me. I have eaten both all my life. They both are wonderful.
Bea L. - Oct 26, 2010
Cool, I'll do that and yes, i always use evaporated milk in my pumpkin pies. Thanks so much!
sheryl wilcox - Oct 26, 2010
I don't have a recipe, just make the same way I do squash or pumpkin pie. I learned from my Mom and Grandma Sylvia. They never measured. And we always used some sugar and some sorghum. If you have evaperated milk use it or if you didn't use whole milk and or cream.
Bea L. - Oct 25, 2010
So have you posted her carrot pie recipe???
Beatrice Abfalter - Oct 25, 2010
this is a nice place to read and get tips, I'm not supposed to cut my hand...so am relieved to see you can cook the squash then cut into it when it is easier...my mom had a root cellar, and she is a famous pie maker too, one of her specialties...carrot pie..she would make this and get rave compliments on her "pumpkin pie" lol.
JoSele Swopes - Oct 25, 2010
Go to your drawer and click to open and then click on post recipe.....Click each ares to edit and put in the info...then click done editing...make sure the little box is checked at the the top where it says done editing...then click done and will bring you to your recipe and click share to share with your groups you are on and then if you have FB you can click that to share it with your FB friends...I hope this helps....
lisa hayes - Oct 25, 2010
Can anyone help me I'm new to this site and tried to post a recipe , but it would not submit. Thank you
Marianne DeLano - Oct 24, 2010
Not necessary to let the steam escape. I don't do anything but was the outside to get the dirt off and let it cook. The steam helps to get the skin off easier. I just cut it down the middle, scoop out the seeds and peel the skin off. Easy, easy, easy!
Philip Hoel - Oct 24, 2010
I might add prick the skin all over to let the steam escape-just like for 'spaggetti squash'...
Elaine Cobb - Oct 24, 2010
I used to cut my butternut squash in half and remove the seeds to bake it until I saw a whole, cooked one sitting on my father-in-law's stove top, just out of the oven. He told me he always cooked it that way. I tried it and could not believe how good it came out. Wash the squash and place it on a cookie sheet in the oven. Bake it as you do the halved squash. When done let it cool. Cutting a cooked squash is so much easier than cutting a raw one! Scoop out the seeds with no problem, scoop out the squash and mash it up with a spoon. Easy as pie, a squash pie. Sorry.
Philip Hoel - Oct 23, 2010
I remember reading in I think Cooks Illustrated, that very often Butternut Squash, is subbed in canned pumpkin...
JoSele Swopes - Oct 23, 2010
I make fresh Pumpkin and squash pie...people that have not a clue about the difference really can't tell which is which...They are both a squash....I also like to stuff them as you do bell peppers and bake they are really yummy...I also like to use a fork and punch holes inside of the squash and put a little butter and brown sugar and a little nutmeg in it and bake for about an hour...

Thank you for your site Janet, I really enjoy this coming here each day, I have made quite a few friends, not to say displaying our talents....
Butternut Squash Pie
marilyn misleveck - Oct 21, 2010
I love to raise squash because the leaves are so pretty when planted on my little hill side so I use it in all my pumkin recipies, no one knows the difference or at least they never say anything and have no trouble eating it up.I always bake it just before i use it so its freshwhen I use it and it keeps a long time in the pantry.
Myra Christie - Oct 21, 2010
I cook my squash and pumpkin in the microwave. I a large corning ware dish or microwaveable container, cut the squash in half,clean out the seeds and strings, place it pulp side down in dish and microwave until soft. Scoop out the pulp and mash, it is ready to be used or frozen for later use. I do my pumpkin the same way and freeze it for use later. I have a glass lid for my dish which helps steam the squash. If you don't have a lid add a little water just a little so it doesn't dry out. A friend of mine used to make all his pumpkins pies from scratch and he used the small pie pumpkins and cooked them in the microwave this way. Then he would scoop out the seeds and strings, but I clean mine out first.