Stop right there! Before you reach for that can opener, make sure you know the difference between pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie filling. Both are super convenient canned pumpkin products that can save you tons of time and effort, but while they may look alike, you definitely don’t want to use one in place of the other. Adding the wrong product to your pumpkin recipe can spell disaster. Here’s why.

pumpkin pie filling

The wording is pretty straight forward. Pumpkin pie filling (or pumpkin pie mix) works for pies or other super sweet dishes, as it’s already heavily sweetened. It’s convenient if you don’t want to worry about adding your own sweetener or spices (or if you don’t have common pumpkin pie spices available to you).

Check out the 6 biggest mistakes you can make when baking pumpkin pie. 

pumpkin puree

For just about any other recipe, it’s probably pumpkin puree you’re after. Pumpkin puree, like the ever popular Libby’s brand, is pure canned pumpkin. You may also find it labeled with terms like “pure pumpkin” or “solid-pack pumpkin.” You can be sure pumpkin is the only ingredient in the can. It’s basically a blank slate for whatever you want to create — savory or sweet. Use it in your pumpkin bisque, pumpkin bread, pancakes, or have ultimate control over your pie. For pie, you’ll need to season it with pumpkin pie spices and sugar, but you’ll be able to decide how sweet your pie is — something you don’t get to do with pie filling.

Watch out for labels

So now you know which product you’re looking for, but be careful! You might go to the grocery store intending to grab one, but still accidentally walk out with the other. This is because the labels are so similar and they’re often stocked right next to each other on the shelf. You’re going to have to pay careful attention, or you’ll be heading back to the grocery store sooner than you would like. (We’ve all been there!)

Happy baking!

Also see, Does pumpkin pie have to be refrigerated?

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Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.