Don't toss that half-used can of pumpkin! 
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Credit: Photo: Rebecca Longshore

It’s the holiday season, which means you’re likely filling your shopping cart with festive ingredients such as nutmeg, cranberries, green beans, and of course pumpkin purée. While you can certainly reuse those veggies and spices in other dishes, you’d probably just toss leftover pumpkin purée. That’s a shame, though, as pumpkin purée can be delicious in a variety of ways.

You already know what to do with potatoes, stuffing, and of course, that big ol’ bird, but now it’s time to figure out what to do with this very special ingredient for holiday leftovers.

A Delicious Sauce

Take that leftover pumpkin and turn it into a delicious sauce to dress your meat and greens. This spicy pumpkin sauce “is a great sauce to pour over chicken or tossed with charred vegetables and rice,” says Katsuji Tanabe, Top Chef alum and Executive Chef of Barrio in Chicago.

Plus, it’s simple to whip up. You’ll need one can pumpkin purée, one can chipotle chiles, 2 cloves of garlic, a can of whole peeled tomatoes, 1 cup chopped onion, 2 cups chicken broth, ½ a cup of brown sugar, and a bit of salt to taste.

Sautée the garlic and onion until softened and then add the half of the can of the chipotle chiles and cook until they are dissolved. Add the brown sugar, chicken broth, and can of tomatoes and pumpkin next, and then cook the dish on a low flame for about 45 minutes. Once it’s done, add in some salt.

Make a Pumpkin Butter

This spread is great for pairing with scones, on toast, or for your next cheese board. “I suggest using this spread on day-old toasted cornbread muffins, toast, pancakes, and waffles,” says Corporate Pastry Chef of DineAmic Group, Jimmy MacMillan.

Only requiring five ingredients, 10 oz. pumpkin puree, 2 Granny Smith (peeled cored, and cut into 1" pieces), ¼ cup raw sugar, ¼ cup white grape or apple juice, and some pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla extract for flavor, it’s easy to make as a leftover that’ll last a while and be incredibly versatile.

Combine all ingredients in a heavy bottom medium saucepan and simmer 5-10 minutes while stirring. Then pour all ingredients into a food processor or a high-speed blender and blend on low speed until smooth.

Return to the pot and simmer on low for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Then, let it cool and store refrigerated in a covered mason jar or plastic container.

Stirred Into Oatmeal

Add some seasonal flavor to your morning bowl of oatmeal. You’ll need 1 ½ cup unsweetened almond milk with 1 cup old fashioned oats, ½ cup pumpkin, 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, and a splash of vanilla extract, says Maggie Michalczyk, MS, RD, and author of Once Upon a Pumpkin Cookbook. Stir until creamy and top with sliced almonds, pecans, banana slices, berries or a heaping tablespoon of nut butter. All are delicious, so have some fun!

Add to Yogurt

Stir together ¼ cup pumpkin with 0% plain Greek yogurt and 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, says Michalczyk. Then top with fruit, nut, and seeds for added sweetness, crunch, good fats, and extra protein. You can also go full-fat yogurt, if you prefer it to be a bit creamier in texture. Just make sure it’s plain and unsweetened to keep sugar count down.

Make a Pumpkin Chia Pudding

Mix together ¼ cup chia seeds, 1 ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk, ¾ cup pumpkin, 1 tsp. vanilla, and 1 tbps. maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice, says Michalczyk. “Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight [then] top with chopped pecans, banana slices, or berries,” she says. The toppings will add more protein and fats, although the omega-3’s in chia seeds have you covered in the good fats department.

Make a Mashed Potato Dish

Everyone loves mashed potatoes, but use some leftover pumpkin puree to give it a punch. You’ll need a medium head of cauliflower, broken into florets (about 6 cups), 3 garlic cloves, about 1/3 cup spreadable cream cheese, a can of solid-pack pumpkin, and some spices (like minced fresh thyme, salt, cayenne pepper, or pepper) mixed in.

“Place 1 in. of water in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Add cauliflower and garlic cloves; cook, covered, 8-10 minutes or until tender. Drain; transfer to a food processor. Add remaining ingredients; process until smooth. Return to pan; heat through, stirring occasionally,” says Michalczyk, It’s as easy as it sounds.

Make Sloppy Joes

“Stir 1 cup of pumpkin puree into beef sloppy joe mixture until incorporated. Serve on top of sweet potatoes for an extra seasonal twist,” says Michalcyzk. It’s a great way to add some extra flavor to a basic ground meat recipe, and you can then play with some toppings and spices, as well.

You can also use it to make simple burgers. “Add 1/2 cup pumpkin puree to ground beef mixture. Season accordingly and grill or bake patties for an extra moist burger with fall flavor,” she says.

Make Quesadillas

“Mix 1/2 cup pumpkin and 1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from a can of chipotle chilies). Spread on tortillas and top with shredded cheddar cheese, chicken, sautéed spinach and mushrooms,” says Michalzyk. Top with a second tortilla and sauté on a pan until crispy and golden brown, to make it taste even better. Your kids will love munching on these for a cheesy, pumpkin-flavored finger food.

And if you’re into the Mexican food theme but want something different, use it for tacos, too. “Add roasted pumpkin cubes along with other veggies for plant-based tacos or mix 1/4 cup pumpkin puree into ground beef or turkey while sautéing on a pan,” she says. Season with taco seasonings and enjoy.

Make Popsicles

These popsicles are a healthier dessert that kids will still love, too. “In a small bowl combine 1 cup pumpkin puree, 1 tbsp. maple syrup or honey, and 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice. In another small bowl, combine 1 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, and 1/2 cup milk of choice,” says Michalcyzk. Layer the yogurt and pumpkin mixture in popsicle molds until they are full and freeze for at least 6 hours or until you see they’re done.