Kabocha Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Best pumpkin for pie

What’s the best pumpkin for pie? I have 3 pumpkins from Halloween that I’m going to roast and bake into pies for a fun cooking experiment. Two varieties I selected are common during the fall season, a sugar pumpkin and a white lumina. The third variety,  kabocha squash, is frequently used in Taiwanese dishes.

Kabocha is a squat and bumpy squash that makes a nice edible addition to your fall pumpkin arrangement. Unlike the decorative pumpkins, Kabocha is sweet, creamy, and delicious. In Mandarin, it’s called 栗子南瓜 (lìzǐ nánguā) and is the ingredient in Asian pumpkin recipes. ⁠

Best pumpkin for pie - pumpkins

The Pumpkins

The three pumpkins look very different on the outside. Each has a distinct taste, smell, and texture. The sugar pumpkin smells like your everyday pumpkin. The lumina pumpkin has a nice floral scent with just a hint of rose. Kabocha squash has a fruity scent, similar to cherimoya. I was most excited about the lumina for its unique color.

Best pumpkin for pie - cut pumpkins

Hands On Fun For Kids

Cleaning out the seeds is a fun activity for kids. My daughter really enjoyed getting her hands dirty! It’s interesting to note that the largest pumpkin has the fewest seeds. The flesh of the lumina was stringy, similar to spaghetti squash. Once all the seeds are removed it’s time to put them into the oven.

Best pumpkin for pie - Scooping pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin Taste Test

My daughter couldn’t wait to taste the roasted pumpkin. After her first spoonful, she said, “yuck!” Yes, I think plain unseasoned pumpkin isn’t yummy either. The sugar pumpkin tastes just as you expect pumpkin to taste. The lumina was the lightest in flavor. The kabocha is the only variety I would eat plain. It is also the sweetest of the three pumpkins.

Best pumpkin for pie - pie filling

For the next step of the experiment, I made pie filling with each of the pumpkins. As you can see in the photo, the kabocha squash filling has the most vibrant color. The lumina pumpkin batter wasn’t as white as I hoped. I wanted to get a white pumpkin pie! Maybe for the next experiment, I’ll try lighter color spices that won’t affect the color.

Experiment Winner

If you haven’t already guessed, my pick for the best pumpkin for pie is the kabocha squash. It has the perfect taste and texture and is sweet enough to reduce added sugar in the recipe. The resulting pie is rich and full-flavored and will go well with any Thanksgiving meal, even if you prefer crab and garlic noodles over turkey like our family. Please enjoy our kabocha pie recipe below.

Best pumpkin for pie

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Best pumpkin for pie

Pumpkin Pie 南瓜派

Jeanne Chang
What’s the best pumpkin for pie? After testing three different pumpkins, sugar pumpkin, lumina, and kabocha squash, the kabocha is the clear winner with deep pumpkin flavor and natural sweetness.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 8 people


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups roasted kabocha recipe below, or a 15 oz can of pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/4 cups half and half or evaporated milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 pie crust blind baked and cooled


  • Make sure all ingredients are at room tempurature.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • Combine sugar, spices, pumpkin, half and half, and eggs. Mix until smooth***
  • Pour batter into prepared pie crust
  • Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the batter is only jiggly in the center. It will look like it’s not done but the pie will continue to set as it cools. Do not overbake or the pie will crack as it cools.
  • Cool completely (2-4 hours) and serve with freshly whipped cream


*I’ve already reduced the amount of sugar by 15%. If using canned pumpkin, add another 2 tablespoons of sugar.
**For this recipe I use Marie Callender’s frozen pie shells, blind baked (pre-baked) for 12 minutes. I read that Pillsbury pre-made pie crust was the best… but it was a total baking fail for me. The crust rolled down while baking and puffed up so much it was unusable. Long story short, Marie Callender’s works great for pie!
***I use an immersion blender to mix the batter so that I don’t have to puree the pumpkin before mixing. I love my immersion blender so much it has replaced our blender altogether. I’ve used it to make baby food, smoothies, and even 豆花 (tofu pudding). If you are interested I have the Cuisinart 2-speed immersion blender.
Keyword half and half, kabocha, pumpkin pie, 南瓜派

Roasted Kabocha Puree


  1. Preheat oven 400°F
  2. Wash and dry pumpkin
  3. Cut in half and remove the seeds
  4. Place pumpkin halves cut side up on roasting pan, lightly cover with foil
  5. Roast for 45 minutes or until tender
  6. Cool and puree in food processor


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