Stovetop Squash Pudding

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.

Vertical image of four cups filled with a creamy pumpkin treat topped with whipped cream and cookie crumbles next to orange towels.

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.

Vertical top-down image of four glasses filled with a spiced creamy dessert on a wooden tray next to cinnamon sticks and orange towels.

Just mix the ingredients together, cook on the stovetop, then chill to set!

In celebration of the fall season, we use freshly roasted winter squash, brown sugar, and a comforting combination of warming spices in the base. 

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.

Vertical image of four individual desserts in glassware topped with whipped cream and cookie crumbles on a wooden platter next to spices and orange towels.

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!

Vertical image of four cups filled with a pumpkin spice custard topped with whipped cream and cookie crumbles next to orange towels.

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!

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Horizontal top-down image of four glasses filled with a spiced creamy dessert on a wooden tray next to cinnamon sticks and orange towels.

Stovetop Squash Pudding

  • Author: Nikki Cervone
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x



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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat, and whisk in the butter until completely melted and incorporated into the pudding.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Horizontal image of assorted measured ingredients in bowls and mugs to make a fall-themed dessert.

Measure out 1/2 cup puree, which is roughly 4 ounces.

Measure out the brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, salt, whole milk, half-and-half, and vanilla extract.

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!

Horizontal image of a brown sugar dry mix in a 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.

Horizontal image of a milky liquid mixed with assorted spices in a pot.

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.

Horizontal image of testing the thickness level of a flavored creamy dessert in a pot.

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.

Horizontal image of adding cubes of butter into a liquid base in a saucepan.

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!

Horizontal image of plastic wrap on top of a creamy dessert in a large bowl.

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.

Horizontal image of individual creamy desserts in glassware on a wooden serving platter next to spices and orange towels.

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!

Horizontal top-down image of four glasses filled with a spiced creamy dessert on a wooden tray next to cinnamon sticks and orange towels.

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.

26 thoughts on “Stovetop Squash Pudding”

  1. Such beautiful post, I can’t believe I haven’t stumbled on your blog earlier. Thanksgiving is a wonderful reminder to appreciate all things in life, both good and bad, as they makes who we are. Perhaps, it could be more spread?

  2. Just the word “holiday” makes me feel ill this year – I think it’s because I’ve always associated the word with celebration. And we don’t feel like celebrating at all.

    But gratitude can be practiced, and will be practiced, as we gather around our broken table with broken hearts, grateful for each other.

    It’s always a good practice, I think, to stop and remember how difficult this time of the year can be for people, and how important it is to connect with one another at a deeper level than the standard canned greetings.

    When I read this post, I thought of a poem by Gwendolyn Brooks – one that I’ve been reciting in my head for the past month. “my dreams, my works, must wait til after hell” – the image of packing away honey’s sweetness until a time when it can be truly enjoyed again is a powerful one, and speaks to the hard work of hard things. There is so much hope spoken there, just under the surface, and I see that in your writing as well.

    Thank you.

    • Kristin, Such beautiful thoughts you’ve shared here. I’m grateful for them. Big hugs to you in whatever season you’re experiencing, whatever hard things you’re pushing through—May sweetness break through.

  3. Happy Thanksgiving Shanna and Tim. I do thank God for hard things; it makes me sink so deep, that when I come up, I soar, and God is shown strong. I had such a tough October, but November is probably best month of the year, so far, and every step of the way, I felt God’s interference, intervention and and redemption. In what seems like a small way, you guys are part of my redemptive story with Spinach Tiger. I may have given up had it not been for you. xoxo

    P.S. Love your stovetop squash pudding. Happy Thanksgiving.

    • Aw, Angela, we’re thankful for you, too! Rooting for you and rejoicing in the ways God is working, as ever. Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. This looks almost as enticing as your banana pudding – but maybe a little less comfort food, and a little more sophisticated. Love the hazelnut topping too.

    • Yes, I think that’s a good way of saying it, Skye — a little more sophisticated. When we served it to our friend Louie last week, I kept laughing about what a weird thing it was to pull out, “squash pudding,” but there’s something pretty cool about its unique flavor, too. Would love to hear what you think if you try it!

  5. I do so love the idea of Thanksgiving, of taking a day to just be grateful for all that you have. Amid the commercialisation of so many holidays, it still seems to stand for something.

    This pudding sounds wonderful too – rich and silky without being heavy and I love the addition of the toasted hazelnuts on top to make it feel just that bit more special. Beautiful.

    • I read something this week that someone posted online, I wish I could remember who and where, about how Thanksgiving was one of the few holidays hard to mess up with consumerism. I thought that was such an interesting point, too. All the other holidays focus on what to buy and what to want, but Thanksgiving is just about rejoicing with what you have. I love that so much.

  6. Wow, this sounds delicious! I made your banana pudding twice, once with 6 yolks (leftover from another recipe, for chocolate financiers) and next time with 3 eggs as stated in the recipe. They we’re both very good, but I prefered the version with just the yolks. Have you perhaps tried it, too?

    • Interesting! That makes sense that six yolks would work — was that version a little richer? What was the main difference? I’ll have to keep that in mind for the next time we have yolks leftover! : )

  7. This is my first visit to your very beautiful site. My, but we all ought to practice gratitude a bit more often. Our world seems to move so fast these days. We all ought to slow down and say thanks! This pudding sounds completely intriguing. I bet it is delicious! Happiest of holidays to you and yours.

    • I know it, Adri, so true! PS I’m so glad you stopped over to leave this comment because it brought me to your site and your current Southern Italian Desserts book giveaway, and wow is all I have to say about that. !!

  8. I agree with what you said about gratitude — I think a lot of us don’t practice it nearly enough. And that pudding look fantastic! Our Canadian Thanksgiving was several weeks ago already, but still seems like something to be incredibly thankful for!

  9. What a lovely post. It’s definitely easier to be grateful for the easy and happy-making than the hard. I hope your hard thing is something that you can move beyond. Happy Thanksgiving.

    • Aw, Morgan, my old buddy! Have been thinking about you this week and the surprises Thanksgiving threw at you (I think, anyway, based on Instagram?). Thankful there is goodness in every detour. Thanks for saying hi here!

  10. Hey friend, this comes late but Happy Thanksgiving! And I’m thankful for having a virtual friend like you, who shares her sorrows and her joys, celebrating life but not covering up the sadness. Thanks for being so open and honest with us (to the point you are able to), and for always reminding us the God is present and there’s a reason for everything, even if we may not see it.

    Your friend, F.

  11. Hey Shanna! Such a great reminder about gratitude, it’s always hard to remember to be grateful for the hard stuff as well as the fun things. I was wondering if you have tried this recipe with alternative milks? I am severely allergic to cow dairy, but this recipe sounded so good that i had to ask.

    • Hi Jeni, Unfortunately I haven’t tried it with a different milk; however, I think coconut milk would be worth trying. You definitely want a milk with high fat content, which should help it thicken. As it’s cooking, however, you could always add extra cornstarch to see if it helps. Good luck!


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