Slow-cooker Pumpkin Butter, made with either fresh or canned pumpkin puree, is easy to make and packed with warm fall flavors. Enjoy it on toast, waffles, oatmeal; even ice cream! Makes a wonderful holiday hostess gift, too.
What's the Story on Pumpkin Butter?
Pumpkin butter is a luxuriously smooth fruit spread made from pumpkin puree, warm spices, and other fall-forward ingredients. The mixture is simmered for an extended time over low heat, concentrating the flavors and resulting in a rich, spreadable, dairy-free butter, much like apple butter.
Years ago, I started making pumpkin butter when I figured out how easy and inexpensive it is to make, especially in a slow cooker. When cooked on the stovetop, it can be difficult to keep the temperature low enough so as not to scorch fruit butters as they cook, and they require tedious attention throughout the process. A slow cooker on low allows you to go about your day without being tied to the stove.
This pumpkin butter recipe can be made with either canned or homemade pumpkin puree. There are subtle differences in the texture and flavor of the butter, depending on which varieties of squash you use.
Fresh or canned, this easy to make recipe yields a thick, rich, silky pumpkin butter that is absolutely decadent. Nearly everyone loves homemade fruit butters, and it makes a wonderful holiday hostess or neighbor gift, too.
- Pumpkin puree: Use 2 pounds of canned or homemade pumpkin puree, or a combination of both (about 4-5 cups). Do not use canned pumpkin pie filling!
- Orange juice & zest: Many fruit butter recipes use apple juice as a liquid; however, we prefer using orange juice and zest in the pumpkin butter. The citrusy addition gives the fruit butter a fresh taste, the flavors blend beautifully, and the orange complements the squash perfectly.
- Lemon: Use fresh lemon juice. Bottled juice can be substituted.
- Apple: Suggest varieties include McIntosh, Honey Crisp, Pink Lady, Braeburn, Granny Smith, Cortland, or Fuji.
- Brown sugar
- Spices: Be sure to use fresh spices! Spices have a shelf-life; generally, once ground, their intensity of flavor begins to diminish after about 3-8 months.
How to Make Pumpkin Butter in a Slow Cooker
If you would like to make fresh pumpkin puree, be sure visit our Homemade Pumpkin Puree recipe for detailed instructions.
Pour pureed pumpkin into a slow cooker, and add the remaining ingredients on top.
Use an immersion blender to blend until relatively smooth, adding a little water if necessary to get things moving. The mixture's consistency should be like very thick baby food.
Set the slow cooker on Low and cook 4 hours, stirring occasionally.
After 4 hours, remove the slow cooker lid and use the immersion blender again to smooth out any remaining lumps.
Continue to cook uncovered in the slow cooker on Low, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 more hours, or until the puree reaches the desired thickness.
Use the immersion blender one more time to smooth out the mixture.
Note that the flavor of this pumpkin butter may be somewhat citrus-forward immediately after it comes out of the slow cooker, but in a day or two, it will mellow as the pumpkin, citrus, and spice flavors have time to fully meld and marry.
- Pumpkin puree: You can make pumpkin butter using any rich winter squash puree. If you make your own puree, our top squash recommendation is red kuri squash. It results in a fabulously rich and deeply flavored pumpkin butter.
- Orange juice & zest: You can sub in apple juice or white grape juice for the orange juice, and/or use lemon zest in place of the orange zest.
- Brown sugar: You can use white granulated sugar. In this case, consider adding 2 tablespoons of molasses to the mixture.
- Vanilla: Consider using almond or hazelnut flavoring.
Refrigerator: Pour prepared pumpkin butter into canning jars or food-safe plastic containers. Refrigerate for up to a month.
Freezer: Pour in canning jars or plastic freezer containers, leaving ½-inch headspace. Allow the pumpkin butter to cool completely on the counter.
Pumpkin butter can be frozen for up to a year. Allow frozen pumpkin to thaw at room temperature or in the refrigerator before using.
Canning: USDA now recommends against canning pumpkin butter because, due to the density of the butter, the heat may not properly reach the center of the pumpkin butter in the jar.
An immersion blender makes the task of smoothing out the pumpkin butter a snap! With it, you can whip the mixture down right in the slow cooker.
You can also use a stand blender (or even a food processor) but this requires you to transfer hot pumpkin butter between the slow cooker and the blender and back, adding time-consuming, somewhat perilous steps to the process.
I shared this Pumpkin Butter recipe on the Weekend Potluck. Check it out!
More Winter Squash Recipes
Here are a few more of our favorite winter squash recipes.
- Triple Ginger Pumpkin Pie
- Curried Butternut Squash Soup
- Old-fashioned Pumpkin Gingerbread
- Pumpkin Spice Sourdough Scones
- Creamy Pumpkin Pasta with Parmesan & Sage
Visit our collection of recipes for leftover pumpkin puree for more ideas.
Ways to Use Pumpkin Butter
Pumpkin butter isn't just for spreading on toast! It's delicious with oatmeal, biscuits, toast, waffles, pancakes, smoothies, and elephant ears, just to name a few. One of Mr B's favorite ways is over ice cream!
Slow Cooker Pumpkin Butter
- 2 pounds pumpkin puree fresh or canned pumpkin; about 4-5 cups
- 2 cups light brown sugar firmly packed
- 1 large apple peeled, cored, and cubed
- ¼ cup fresh orange juice juice from 1 large orange
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons fresh orange zest zest from 1 large orange
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon fresh nutmeg
- Pour the pureed pumpkin and remaining pumpkin butter ingredients into a slow cooker and use an immersion blender to blend until relatively smooth.Add a little water if necessary: the consistency should be like very thick baby food.
- Set the slow cooker on Low and cook 4 hours, stirring occasionally.After 4 hours, remove the slow cooker lid and use the immersion blender again to smooth out any remaining lumps.
- Continue to cook uncovered in the slow cooker, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 more hours, or until the puree reaches the desired thickness.Use the immersion blender one more time to smooth out the mixture.
- Refrigerator: Pour prepared pumpkin butter into canning jars or food-safe plastic containers. Refrigerate for up to a month. Freezer: Pour in canning jars or plastic freezer containers, leaving ½-inch headspace. Allow the pumpkin butter to cool completely on the counter. Freeze for up to a year. Canning: USDA now recommends against canning pumpkin butter because, due to the density of the butter, the heat may not properly reach the center of the pumpkin butter in the jar.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.
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Originally published November 8, 2012. Post has been updated with new content, images, and recipe instructions to improve reader experience.