I can never decide what I’m more excited about when making homemade pudding – especially this spiced squash version!
What’s better… the childlike giddiness of licking the spatula and pot completely clean after pouring the warm, aromatic pudding into the serving bowl, or the ideal final result of enjoying every spoonful of the chilled, perfectly plump custard?
I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s useless to choose between what’s supreme here. In the end, upon much reflection, I’ve realized it’s a win-win situation.
The explanation for this is simple: in both cases, you get to eat pudding.
And what could be better than that?
This recipe is a creamy, comforting fall take on a classic custard – and an impressive upgrade from any boxed version!
It’s made entirely from scratch, but there’s nothing complicated or overwhelming about the ingredients, preparation, or cooking process.
Just mix the ingredients together, cook on the stovetop, then chill to set!
Making your own puree is easy, but I can understand the necessity to take a few shortcuts to save time, especially when you’re busy planning – and surviving! – the ultimate Thanksgiving dinner.
I’ve tested this recipe with both homemade kabocha puree as well as store-bought canned pumpkin puree, both with great success. As long as you are using a plain, flavorless puree of a winter variety of squash, you’ll reach the same end result of a lovely dessert.
The only potential problem is figuring out the final toppings – you have a cornucopia of options, here!
Our favorites included simple dollops of whipped cream, chopped toasted or sugared nuts, crumbled graham crackers, crumbled ginger molasses cookies, pieces of pie crust, shaved chocolate, caramel sauce, or finely chopped candied ginger.
Again, this is another winning situation where you’ll always end up with a happy outcome!Print
Stovetop squash pudding is a creamy and comforting take on a classic dessert, made with pureed winter squash and warming spices.
- 1/2 cup gently packed light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) pureed cooked winter squash (pumpkin, kabocha, butternut)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons room temperature unsalted butter, cubed
- Whisk together the brown sugar, cornstarch, spices, and salt in a medium pot or saucepan. Add the milk, half-and-half, squash puree, and vanilla extract and whisk until a fairly smooth mixture forms. Some lumps of sugar may remain.
- Transfer the pot to the stovetop and heat on medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil, whisking constantly while scraping the bottom and corners of the pan, about 8-10 minutes.
- Once at a boil, immediately lower the heat to low and continue cooking for 5-8 minutes, whisking constantly. The pudding will thicken slightly, but it will still be runny. It should coat and cling to a spoon or spatula.
- Remove the pot from the heat, and whisk in the butter until completely melted and incorporated into the pudding.
- Pour the pudding into a heatproof container and immediately place a piece of plastic wrap that directly touches the top of the pudding to prevent a film from forming.
- Allow the pudding to cool at room temperature for 30 minutes before placing the lid on the container and transferring to the refrigerator. Allow the pudding to cool and set completely undisturbed for 3-4 hours before scooping into individual bowls and serving.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Custard
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Dessert
Keywords: pudding, winter squash, pumpkin, butternut, stovetop
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prep and Measure
Before making the recipe, decide if you will be using store-bought canned pumpkin or a homemade winter squash puree. We have instructions on how to make squash puree in general, as well as a specific tutorial on pumpkin puree.
Measure out 1/2 cup puree, which is roughly 4 ounces.
Measure out and cube the unsalted butter.
You can also use 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice to replace the spices in this recipe, if you have or made a blend you still need to use up before the season ends!
Step 2 – Whisk Ingredients Together
No use dirtying more dishes than necessary during the holiday season – mix your ingredients directly in the pot!
First, whisk together your dry ingredients: the brown sugar, cornstarch, spices, and salt.
Try to break up any larger chunks of brown sugar with the whisk, but there will still be some lumps remaining. No worries, they will all dissolve when you add the liquid and when you heat the mixture.
Then, add the liquid ingredients into the pot: the whole milk, half-and-half, vanilla extract, and squash puree. Whisk all of the ingredients together to form a smooth mixture.
Step 3 – Cook the Mixture
Place the pot on your stovetop and heat to medium heat while whisking constantly.
From this point forward, you will want to continually whisk the mixture – be diligent! The continual whisking motion will prevent the cornstarch from clumping, maintaining the smoothest final result without it looking or tasting lumpy.
It’s helpful to use a metal whisk, rather than one made out of silicone. The rigid metal material will help you more effectively scrape the bottom and sides of the pan.
Continue heating and whisking the mixture until it begins to bubble vigorously. This will take about eight to ten minutes.
As soon as you see the bubbles, reduce the heat to low and continue cooking – still whisking constantly! – for another 5 minutes. The mixture may still continue to bubble slightly during this time.
Here’s what you’re looking for: the pudding is going to thicken slightly, but will still be runny. It should thickly coat and cling to a spoon or spatula when you dip it into the mixture.
Step 4 – Add the Butter
Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the cubed butter.
Stir until all of the butter has melted and is completely incorporated.
Step 5 – Chill and Set
Pour the pudding into a heatproof container – you can save a little in the pot for a small personal reward!
The pudding will still be runny while hot, but it will set into a thicker dessert as it cools.
In order to prevent a film from forming on the exposed surface, lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the pudding and gently press down to make sure the plastic wrap touches the surface.
Let the pudding sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before transferring it to the refrigerator to chill completely. Allowing the hot dessert to cool down at room temperature for this amount of time helps it chill more evenly in the refrigerator.
Allow between three to four hours for it to fully chill and set undisturbed in the refrigerator.
If you know you’re in a hurry, choose to use a long, shallow container – this increases the surface area, speeding the cooling process.
Step 6 – Serve and Enjoy
When ready to serve, transfer generous scoopfuls into cups or bowls.
Garnish with your preferred toppings and serve with a spoon!
Make Layered Parfaits
A bowl of pudding is a lovely delight! But there’s an easy way to make the presentation even more impressive, with just a little extra prep work.
A parfait, served in a tall see-through glass, is a gorgeous individual dessert idea you can customize to your stomach’s content.
And it’s also a smart technique to stretch this recipe to feed more mouths during the holidays!
You can keep it simple by alternating layers of whipped cream and the pudding, or you can choose a more elaborate combination by adding layers of pumpkin cake cubes, caramel sauce, and a topping of pumpkin spice peanut butter popcorn.
How will you choose to dress up your pud? Leave a comment below with your favorite suggestions.
Whoa, you bought a pretty big butternut squash for this smaller dessert recipe! If you need other ways to use it all up without anything going to waste, check out three more butternut squash recipes right now:
Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on November 27, 2013. Last updated on November 20, 2023.
About Nikki Cervone
Nikki Cervone is an ACS Certified Cheese Professional and cheesemonger living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she's not nibbling on her favorite cheeses or testing a batch of cupcakes, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga, wine, hiking, singing in the shower, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.