Mashed pumpkin has a creamy texture and delicate flavor. It’s a delicious alternative to mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes.
This particular recipe is so good! It has a more delicate texture and flavor than mashed potatoes or mashed sweet potatoes. My entire family loves it. And just as important – leftovers are great too.
How I discovered this recipe
I was completely unaware that one could make a pumpkin mash until I had dinner at a friend’s house. She served a bowl with an innocent-looking pile of what appeared to be mashed sweet potatoes.
Upon inquiring, she informed me that this was in fact not sweet potatoes, but pumpkin.
I took a tentative taste and was completely and hopelessly enamored with the delicate creaminess of the dish. Now, every year when sugar pumpkins show up at the grocery store, I add this recipe to my weekly rotation.
The ingredients you’ll need
You’ll only need six simple ingredients to make mashed pumpkin. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here’s an overview of what you’ll need:
Small pumpkin: The small ones, marketed as “sugar pumpkin,” taste way better than the large ones.
Heavy cream: Only 1/4 cup, and it adds wonderful creaminess and flavor.
Grated Parmesan: Make sure you use finely grated, not coarsely shredded parmesan (there’s a difference). The parmesan does a really good job of thickening the mash.
Minced garlic: Mince it by yourself or use the stuff that comes in a jar. Freshly minced is tastier, but jarred is obviously easier.
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you should reduce the amount you use, or the mash could come out too salty.
How to make mashed pumpkin
It’s very easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
1. You start by cooking the pumpkin. One way to so that is to cut it in half and bake it in the oven. Another option is cubing the pumpkin and cooking it in the microwave.
2. Then mash it in your food processor with a little heavy cream, Parmesan, garlic, salt, and pepper. That’s it!
I like to flavor this mash with garlic and Parmesan. And I add just enough heavy cream to achieve a smooth, creamy texture.
What pumpkin to use?
Use small sugar pumpkins to make mashed pumpkin. The large pumpkins have watery, stringy flesh and are not very flavorful. They’re great for carving, not for eating.
Can I microwave pumpkin?
Yes! Sometimes, instead of baking it, I cut it first into cubes and then microwave the cubes. The recipe card below provides the full instructions for both options. I never tried microwaving the pumpkin whole (like I do with microwave spaghetti squash).
Variations and substitutions
You can make a sweet version of this pumpkin mash by omitting the salt, pepper, garlic and parmesan. Instead, add a tablespoon of honey (real or sugar-free) and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. If you go this route, you might want to use 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter instead of the heavy cream and perhaps mix in a tablespoon of coconut flour to help thicken the mash.
What about leftovers?
Unlike mashed potatoes, one of the best things about this recipe is that leftovers keep very well in the fridge, in a sealed container, for 3-4 days. Gently reheat them in the microwave, covered, on 50% power.
Sometimes the mash becomes a bit too thick after 2-3 days in the fridge. So I simply stir in a bit more heavy cream, or even just water, to return it to the right consistency.
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- 1 small pumpkin 3 lb. whole, 2 lb. peeled and cleaned
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (not shredded)
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
- 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt or 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- If using the oven for cooking the pumpkin, preheat it to 425°F, set an oven rack to the lowest position, and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Wash and dry the pumpkin. Place it in the microwave and microwave it for one minute on each side to slightly soften.
- Using a very sharp chef’s knife and a back-and-forth sawing motion, cut a thin slice off the stem end. Place the pumpkin on this newly formed flat area and, again using a back-and-forth sawing motion, cut it in half.
- Use a large metal spoon to scoop out the seeds and the pulp, saving the seeds and washing them to make roasted pumpkin seeds if you wish.
- Using a vegetable peeler, peel each pumpkin half, then slice it into 1-inch-thick slices. Cube the slices into 1-inch cubes.
- Place the pumpkin cubes in a large, microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave on high for 15 minutes, stopping once to stir the pieces, until very tender.
- Drain. Add half of the pumpkin chunks to your food processor and process for a few seconds to reduce the volume. Add the second half and process for a few more seconds.
- Now add the heavy cream, parmesan, garlic, salt, and pepper. Process until smooth, about 1 minute, stopping once to scrape the sides with a spatula.
- After cutting the pumpkin in half, place the two halves cut-side-down on the prepared baking sheet. Roast the pumpkin until fork-tender, 30-40 minutes at 425°F.
- Using a large metal spoon, remove the cooked pumpkin flesh from the skin and place it in your food processor. Add the heavy cream, Parmesan, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Process until smooth, about 1 minute, stopping once to scrape the sides with a spatula. Serve immediately.