How many cups are in a 16 oz can of pumpkin puree?

Quick Answer

There are approximately 2 cups of pumpkin puree in a 16 oz can. A standard 16 oz can contains about 29 oz by volume of pumpkin puree. Since 1 cup is equal to 8 oz by volume, dividing 29 oz by 8 oz per cup gives us approximately 3.625 cups. Rounding down, there are about 3.5 cups in a 16 oz can of pumpkin puree. For simplicity’s sake, most recipes call for using 2 cups of canned pumpkin puree when substituting for a 16 oz can.

Measuring Pumpkin Puree

Canned pumpkin puree is a staple baking ingredient during the fall and holiday season. Libby’s is the most popular brand of canned pumpkin puree in the United States. Their 16 oz cans contain about 29 oz by volume of pumpkin puree.

However, recipes calling for canned pumpkin puree rarely require an exact measurement. Most recipes ask for “1 (15 oz) can” or “1 (16 oz) can” of pumpkin puree. They do not specify a precise cup amount.

This is because the density of pumpkin puree can vary slightly between brands and batches. So while a standard 16 oz can contains approximately 3.5 cups of puree, the exact amount can fluctuate.

For consistency in recipes, it’s best to simply use the entire contents of the can, regardless of slight variations in cup measurements. Substituting a measured amount like 2 cups or 3 cups can alter the moisture content and affect the texture of baked goods.

Cups per Ounce Conversion

To determine the cup equivalency of a 16 oz can of pumpkin puree, we need to know how many ounces are in 1 cup.

The conversion is:

– 1 cup = 8 fluid ounces

– 1 fluid ounce = 2 tablespoons

So if a 16 oz can contains about 29 oz by volume:

– 29 oz / 8 oz per cup = 3.625 cups

– Rounding down: 3.5 cups per 16 oz can

For simplicity in recipes, this gets rounded down to 2 cups per 16 oz can, or 1 cup per 15 oz can that some recipes reference.

Performing the Measurement

To empirically test the measurement:

1. Take an unopened 16 oz can of pumpkin puree.

2. Shake the can to distribute the contents evenly.

3. Open the can and pour the contents into a liquid measuring cup.

4. Level off the top of the pumpkin puree at the measuring cup’s liquid level indicator.

5. Read the measurement and record the volume.

6. Pour the puree into another liquid measuring cup to verify the measurement.

7. Convert the volume measured in ounces to cups using the unit conversion: 1 cup = 8 fluid ounces.

For example, if the measured volume is 28 oz, then 28 oz / 8 oz per cup = 3.5 cups.

The resulting measurement should be very close to 3.5 cups or 2 cups per 16 oz can. Slight variations may occur between different cans based on exact density and consistency of the puree.

Why Volume Changes When Measuring Pumpkin Puree

You may notice a discrepancy between the weight and volume listed on a can of pumpkin puree. A typical 16 oz can contains around 29 oz by volume, almost twice the weight.

This is because pumpkin puree is condensed and packs down when weighed. Pureed pumpkin is primarily made up of water and fiber from the squash’s flesh.

When contained in the can, the puree takes up more space because it is able to expand. Once opened, the oxygen allows the puree to spread out and release the extra volume.

So while the condensed weight is 16 oz, the puree can nearly double in volume when free from the constraints of the can. This explains why the volume measurement is greater in cups than what is stated on the can label.

Tips for Measuring Canned Pumpkin Puree

– Always use liquid measuring cups, not dry measuring cups. The puree will coat dry cups unevenly.

– Shake cans well before opening to distribute contents evenly.

– Scrape out every last bit of puree from the can using a rubber spatula.

– Level off the top of the puree with a straight edge or knife before reading cup measurements.

– When a recipe calls for pumpkin puree by volume in cups, do not substitute by weight in ounces. The change in density will alter the moisture balance.

– For accuracy, measure puree amount required rather than dumping in the entire can into a recipe, especially for smaller batched items.

– Don’t forget to subtract the measured puree from the total amount when using only part of a can.

How Canned Pumpkin Puree Differs from Fresh Pumpkin

Canned pumpkin puree differs from fresh pumpkin in a few important ways:

– Consistency – Canned is smooth, creamy, and condensed. Fresh is more stringy and watery before pureeing.

– Flavor – Canned is more mellow, sweet, and pumpkin pie-like. Fresh has a stronger squash flavor.

– Moisture content – Canned is drier than fresh pureed pumpkin.

– Shelf life – Canned lasts 2-3 years unopened vs. 4-5 days for fresh pureed.

– Use – Canned is ready to use in recipes. Fresh pumpkin needs roasted and pureed.

– Volume – Canned purees down significantly more than the same weight of fresh when condensed.

So canned and fresh pumpkin purees cannot be used interchangeably in recipes. The differences in texture and moisture will impact the final product.

Substituting Canned Pumpkin for Fresh Pumpkin Puree

In a recipe calling for fresh pumpkin puree, you can substitute canned using the following conversion:

– 1 cup fresh pumpkin puree = 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree

The decreased moisture content in canned puree concentrates the flavor so you need less volume.

Reduce any additional liquids in the recipe slightly to account for the drier canned product. Then expect a slightly more muted flavor versus using fresh.

Substituting Fresh Pumpkin for Canned Pumpkin Puree

To substitute fresh pumpkin puree for canned:

– 1 cup canned pumpkin puree = 2 cups fresh pumpkin puree

Double the measured volume to allow for the higher moisture content in fresh pumpkin flesh.

Increase any additional liquids slightly to compensate for the added water content. Expect a stronger roasted pumpkin flavor as well.

Keep in mind food safety guidelines for fresh pumpkin puree and don’t swap for canned in any recipe requiring prolonged cooking.

Pumpkin Puree Nutrition Facts

Here is a nutritional comparison between canned and fresh pumpkin puree:

Nutrient Canned (1/2 cup) Fresh (1 cup)
Calories 42 49
Fat 0.1g 0.1g
Sodium 2mg 6mg
Carbs 10.3g 12g
Fiber 1.4g 3g
Sugar 2.7g 3g
Protein 1.4g 1.2g

As you can see, canned and fresh pumpkin have a very similar nutritional profile. Canned contains slightly more vitamin A, while fresh has a bit more vitamin C and fiber.

One benefit of canned is that the pureeing process helps release more carotenoid antioxidants like beta-carotene which converts to vitamin A.

Pumpkin Puree Storage

To properly store pumpkin puree:

Canned – Once opened, transfer contents to airtight container. Refrigerate up to 5 days. Can be frozen in portions up to 8 months.

Fresh – Refrigerate in airtight container up to 4-5 days. Can be frozen in portions up to 8 months.

For freezing:

– Pack puree in freezer bags or containers, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.

– Label with date and quantity.

– Freeze until solid.

– Once frozen, merge bags to consolidate space.

– Thaw refrigerated overnight before using.

Avoid repeated freeze/thaw cycles for best quality and food safety. Use thawed puree within 2-3 days.

How to Make Homemade Fresh Pumpkin Puree

To make your own fresh pumpkin puree at home:

– 1 sugar pumpkin or pie pumpkin (about 3 pounds)
– Water

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Cut pumpkin in half and scoop out seeds and strings.
3. Place pumpkin cut-side down in roasting pan with 1/2 inch water.
4. Roast until very tender, about 1 hour.
5. Let pumpkin cool slightly.
6. Scoop out pumpkin flesh into food processor or blender.
7. Puree until smooth. Add water as needed to reach desired consistency.
8. Use immediately or refrigerate up to one week.

Fresh homemade pumpkin puree has a deeper flavor and aroma than canned. Use within 5 days for the best quality in recipes. Freeze any longer term portions.

Common Questions about Canned Pumpkin Puree

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about canned pumpkin puree:

Is canned pumpkin puree already cooked?

Yes, canned pumpkin puree is already cooked inside the can during the commercial canning process. It does not require additional cooking. Simply stir into recipes raw or heat gently until warmed through.

Does pumpkin pie filling differ from pumpkin puree?

Yes. Pumpkin pie filling contains added sugar and spices like cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg. It is meant for dessert recipes only. Pumpkin puree is unsweetened and plain, intended as an ingredient for savory or sweet dishes.

Is canned pumpkin 100% pumpkin?

Most leading brands like Libby’s contain 100% pumpkin flesh that is cooked, strained, and packaged. No artificial ingredients or fillers. Some generic brands add thickeners and preservatives so check labels.

What type of pumpkin is used for canned puree?

Dickinson pumpkins are the most common variety used. They are a variety of winter squash that have a higher flesh to seed and skin ratio compared to carving pumpkins.

Can you substitute canned sweet potato for pumpkin?

Not directly. They have different flavors and textures. For a swap, replace only 1/4 to 1/3 of the pumpkin puree in a recipe with mashed sweet potato.

Does pumpkin puree need to be refrigerated after opening?

Yes, it’s important to refrigerate canned pumpkin puree after opening to maintain food safety and quality. Use within 4-5 days.


While not an exact science, a 16 oz can of pumpkin puree typically contains around 3.5 cups volume or 2 cups for simplicity in recipes. This is due to pumpkin condensing down significantly when canned.

The exact cup yield can vary slightly between brands. For accuracy, open and directly measure portions rather than substituting weight for volume. And stick to liquid measuring cups, not dry, for best results.

Understanding the relationship between weight and volume will help ensure your baked goods turn out perfectly moist and flavorful. Happy fall baking!

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