One of the great pleasures of the spring months is the infusion of the pumpkin into our diets, whether it’s in the form of a latte, spicy pumpkin soup or, everyone’s favorite, pumpkin pie.
But what about followers of a low carb diet? Does it make the list?
One of the great challenges confronting low carb dieters is that many foods that are well known to deliver health benefits are not allowed due to their high carb count. Many people would put the pumpkin into this category. However, others point out that pumpkin carbs are very low on the glycemic index. So, where does the truth lie?
In this article, we provide the definitive answer to the question Is Pumpkin OK for low carb keto. We’ll also provide a range of our best keto pumpkin recipes (including irresistible cheesecake recipes!) to allow you to fit pumpkins in without blowing through your net carbs limit.
A Pumpkin Primer
If you thought that the pumpkin was little more than a Halloween decoration, then you’ve got another thing coming. This food is, in fact, a nutritional powerhouse, with every part of it providing nutritional goodness for your body.
Firstly, though, how exactly should it be classified? Is it a squash, a fruit or a vegetable?
Actually, it’s all three.
Unfortunately for followers of the keto diet, the net carbs in pumpkin are classified as a starchy carb. It is, therefore, grouped in with such other starchy carbs as potatoes , corn, and parsnips. You are probably well aware that potatoes don’t make it onto the low carb pumpkin list.
Highly nutritious, the flesh of pumpkin and winter squash contains an impressive amount of beta-carotene (vitamin A), fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, B vitamins, and several minerals. These nutrients contribute to skin, eye, and cardiovascular health, as well as sustained energy levels and blood sugar balance. It’s a true “superfood,” whether purchased fresh or canned.
The seeds (pepitas) are a source of healthy fats, fiber, protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin E, a potent antioxidant. Purchase seeds raw and unsalted to minimize the chance of rancidity and keep sodium levels in check for use in recipes.
PUMPKIN SEED OIL
Seed oil is rich in healthy fats including oleic acid, a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid. Purchase raw, unroasted to minimize the likelihood of the delicate fats oxidizing. Use for salad dressings, in smoothies, or as a finishing oil on savory dishes.
Your spice cupboard is home to numerous nutrients that support total body health, and the spice blend in particular, is packed with a few standouts. Containing ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, and more, the spice blend’s antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, blood-sugar balancing, and antioxidant features will benefit you every time you add a sprinkle. To get the most nutritional bang for your buck—as well as ensure quality, potency, and big flavor—make your own blend using high-quality, individually purchased spices
The pumpkin is also officially a fruit because it has seeds. Yet, nutritionally it more closely aligns with vegetables. We know it to be orange and round, though there are a number of different varieties, with variation in color, shape and size. The inside of the vegetable is hollow, apart from its stringy flesh and seeds.
The pumpkin is native to North America. It features prominently in two of America’s most popular holidays -Halloween and Thanksgiving. They are also grown in many countries around the world.
Varieties of Pumpkin:
- Jack-o’-lantern: This is a large variety that’s used for carving.
- Pie pumpkins: This is a smaller, sweeter variety.
- Miniature: These are both decorative and edible
- White: Some of these can be cooked with, while others are better for decoration or carving.
- Giant: These are often grown for contests. They can be eaten but are not as tasty as smaller varieties.
The majority of pumpkin that is sold in the United States is in cans.
The pumpkin is an extremely nutritious food. While low in calories it is packed with vitamins and minerals, which makes it very nutrient dense.
Here is what you get in one cooked cup:
- Calories: 49
- Carbs: 12 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Net Carbs: 9 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Vitamin K: 49% of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 19% of the RDI
- Potassium: 16% of the RDI
- Copper, manganese and riboflavin:11% of the RDI
- Vitamin E: 10% of the RDI
- Iron: 8% of the RDI
- Folate: 6% of the RD
- Niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6 and thiamin: 5% of the RDI
So, is pumpkin Keto Diet Friendly?
The goal of the low carb keto diet is to limit your daily carb intake to fewer than 20 grams of net carbs per day. That allows them to remove the glycogen from their muscle cells, forcing the body to switch to body fat as its primary source of fuel. So, any food, regardless of how healthy it is, that is high in net carbs will end up on the keto diet no go list.
So what about the pumpkin?
Well, just 4 ounces of the stuff will provide you with 9 grams of carbs and 30 calories. Keep in mind that four ounces is not very much at all. So, if you were to down a typical piece of keto pumpkin cheesecake, with its added sugars, you’d be using up your entire net carb allowance.
It is quite likely that most pumpkin keto recipes (that are not modified for low carb keto) are going to have sugars added because, in its raw state, it is not very tasty.
However, that is not the end of the story.
As we will discover in the article, the pumpkin is very healthy. It is considered to be an extremely nutritionally dense food because it is packed with vitamins and minerals and has a relatively low carb count. In addition, as we have already established, it is classified as a starchy vegetable. Yet, it is very low in sugars in comparison to other starchy vegetables. It actually has a rating of 6 on the glycemic index. Contrast this to sweet potatoes, that have a glycemic index rating of 52 – that is more than 8 times higher than pumpkins!
The glycemic index is a crucial measure because it looks at the impact that a food has on a person’s blood glucose levels. The ketogenic diet does a great job of lower and stabilizing blood glucose levels. As a general rule, any food that has a lower glycemic index rating than 10 is thought to be a low carb friendly food.
So, what does all of this mean?
It means that you shouldn’t take the net carbs per serving on their face value? It’s relatively high but it is also low on the glycemic index, which actually means that, in moderation, low carb pumpkin options are available.
So, what’s the bottom line here?
You can make use of pumpkin but you have to do it sparingly and strategically. In other words, you have to eat it in moderation for best low carb keto results. Keep your portions small and be sure to replace other non-keto friendly ingredients in any pumpkin recipes you’re using with their keto-friendly substitutes (think almond flour), such as our keto pumpkin pie recipes. If you are able to do those two things, you will be able to have your keto pumpkin and eat it, too!
The immunity boosting benefits of the pumpkin come from a number of minerals, chief among which is beta-carotene. This converts to vitamin-A in the body. Vitamin A is well known to help the body to combat infection. This has recently been shown to be especially the case with regard to the intestinal lining, which makes the entire stomach more infection resistant. Other immunity boosting micronutrients in the pumpkin include vitamins C, D and E, iron and folate.
Carrots are not the only vegetable that are good for your eyes. Pumpkins are just as good, if not better. The high content of beta carotene that we have already considered helps the retina to absorb light. In addition, the mixture of vitamins and minerals packed into the pumpkin protect against age-related macular degeneration. The main ones in this regard are zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and copper.
The beta carotene, along with vitamins C and E, that are found in this vegetable are great for the health of your skin. Beta carotene has also been shown to help prevent our skin from the sun’s damaging UV rays.
Our favorite squash contains vitamins and minerals that are beneficial for the health of your cardiovascular system. Its high fiber content, potassium, and vitamin C will all improve our heart health.
Beta carotene has been shown to help reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome. Lowering this risk will help to lessen symptoms related to abdominal obesity. These include blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and triglyceride levels.
In the next section, we will present you with some fantastic low net carb keto pumpkin recipes that will satisfy your keto pumpkin cravings without blasting you out of keto.
Low Carb Pumpkin Keto Recipes
In this section, we present delicious low carb keto recipes you can make that allow keto followers to benefit from all of the nutritional benefits of this vegetable without having to ingest the high carbs that will kick them out of keto. Most of these keto pumpkin recipes have a minimal prep time (less than 10 minutes) and a total time to make of less than one hour.
Keto Pumpkin Recipe # 1: Spiced Pumpkin Soup Recipe
This recipe adds in bacon, whipped cream, and butter for a fat bomb treat.
- 1 ½ cups chicken broth
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 4 slices bacon
- ½ cup heavy whipped cream
- 1/4 cup of cream cheese
- 4 tablespoons butter
- ¼ medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon freshly minced ginger
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon coriander
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Once it’s dark golden in color, add the onions, garlic, and ginger to the pan.
- Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until onions are translucent, then add the spices and cook for another minute or two.
- Add pumpkin and chicken broth to the pan. Stir and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Use an immersion blender to puree everything until smooth. Simmer for an additional 20 minutes.
- Cook the bacon, setting aside the grease. Add the cream and bacon grease to the puree and mix well. Crumble bacon over the top. Garnish with chopped parsley and 2 tablespoons of sour cream.
Keto Pumpkin Recipe # 2: Spiced Pumpkin Seeds Recipe
Here’s a recipe for an uber-healthy anytime snack you can make in a matter of minutes.
- 1 ½ tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cups raw whole pumpkin seeds
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. In a bowl, combine the butter, salt, garlic salt, Worcestershire sauce, and pumpkin seeds. Mix thoroughly and transfer to a shallow baking dish. Bake for one hour, stirring occasionally.
Keto Pumpkin Recipe # 3: Pumpkin Cranberry Smoothie Recipe
This is a super fast recipe – to make it, just blend together and enjoy!
- ½ cup fresh or canned pumpkin puree
- ¼ cup cranberries
- ¼ cup raw cashews
- 1 small apple, peeled and cored
- ½ orange, peeled
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup almond or coconut milk
Keto Pumpkin Recipe # 4: Hemp Pumpkin Oatmeal Recipe
Start your mornings on the right note – just make this bowl of oats recipe.
- 3 tablespoons of hemp hearts
- 3 tablespoons of almond milk
- 1 tablespoon of pumpkin purée
- 2 drops of liquid stevia
- 1 teaspoon of chia seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
- Combine all the ingredients thoroughly in a Mason jar or bowl.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.
Keto Pumpkin Recipe # 5: Chipotle Pumpkin Soup Recipe
Here’s an awesome soup recipe that will make terrific use of your puree.
- 32 ounces of vegetable broth
- 2 cups of pumpkin purée
- 1/2 cup of coconut cream
- 1/2 cup of chopped onions
- 1/4 cup of cream cheese
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of chipotles in adobo sauce
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar substitute
- 2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
- 1/8 teaspoon of ground allspice
- In a medium pan, heat oil and sauté the garlic and onions for 3-4 minutes until translucent.
- Add the cumin, chipotles, sugar substitute, coriander, and allspice; cook for an additional 2 minutes.
- Add the broth and puree; let it simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Transfer the soup to a blender and blend until smooth.
- Return soup to pot, add the vinegar and cream and cream cheese; give it time to simmer for 5 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper.
Keto Pumpkin Recipe # 6: Avocado Pumpkin Keto Smoothie Recipe
Here is another great puree soup recipe with avocado added to make for a healthy fat infusion.
- 3 tablespoons pumpkin puree
- ¾ cup full-fat coconut milk
- 1/4 cup of cream cheese
- 1 tablespoon MCT oil, optional
- 1 teaspoon loose chai tea
- 1 teaspoon of alcohol-free vanilla
- ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- ½ avocado, fresh or frozen
- Add all the ingredients to a blender (except the avocado) and then blend to smoothness.
- Now add the avocado and blend well.
- Serve, sprinkled with pumpkin pie spice.
- (to make your own pumpkin pie spice, combine ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg and1/8 teaspoon ground ginger).
Keto Pumpkin Recipe # 7: Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies Recipe
This recipe provides a guilt-free between meal snack you can make anytime.
- 1 cup of almond butter
- 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips, optional
- 1/2 cup of pumpkin purée
- 1/4 cup cream cheese
- 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt 1/4 cup of maple syrup 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Line two baking pans with silpat or parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients together to form a smooth batter.
- Fold in the chocolate chips, if using.
- Drop the batter on the prepared baking pan with a spoon and spread out in circles with the back of the spoon.
- Bake for 10 minutes or until the cookies’ edges are a bit golden.
Keto Pumpkin Recipe # 8: Cream of Pumpkin Soup Recipe
Our third soup recipe is a classic for this vegetable!
- 2 cups of roasted pumpkin
- 2 cups of vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup of cream cheese
- 1 teaspoon of onion powder
- Add the vegetable stock, onion powder, and pumpkin to a large pan. Mix and cook over high heat.
- Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium low.
- Cover the pan and leave to simmer for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whip the cream until it forms soft peaks, cover and keep in the refrigerator.
- Blend the soup until smooth after the 30 minutes has elapsed.
- Pour in the chilled cream and cream cheese gently whisk to combine.
Keto Pumpkin Recipe # 9: Keto Pumpkin Spiced Granola Recipe
Here’s a great low carb breakfast recipe you can make in a few minutes.
- 1 cup of Whole Almonds
- 1/2 cup of Pecan Nuts
- 1/2 cup of Macadamia Nuts
- 1 cup of Flaked Dried Coconut (Unsweetened)
- 1 cup of Shredded Dried Coconut (Unsweetened)
- 1/4 cup of Chia Seeds (Whole or Ground)
- 1/2 cup of Pumpkin Seeds
- 1/2 cup of Vanilla or Plain Whey Protein
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix
- 1/4 cup of Erythritol or Swerve 1/4 teaspoon of Salt
- 1 Large Egg White
- 1/2 cup of Pumpkin Puree
- 1/4 cup cream cheese
- 1/4 cup of Melted Extra-Virgin Coconut Oil
- 15 drops of Liquid Stevia Extract
- Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
- Roughly chop your almonds, macadamia nuts, and pecans and place them in your mixing bowl.
- Add your shredded and flaked coconut, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, protein powder, and Erythritol.
- Add your pumpkin spice mix and salt. Pour in your egg white, cream cheese, melted coconut oil, and add stevia. Mix until well combined.
- Add your pumpkin puree and mix well.
- Place your granola mixture on your baking tray and spread evenly over the surface. Place in your oven and bake for approximately 30 to 40 minutes or until crispy.
- Once done, remove from your oven and set to the side on your cooling rack. Once chilled, transfer into your jar or airtight container and keep at room temperature for up to a month.
- On the side add your cream, almond milk, yogurt, or coconut milk.
Keto Pumpkin Recipe # 10: Keto Pumpkin Carbonara Recipe
Here’s a fresh take on the classic bacon carbonara recipe.
- 1 package of Shirataki Noodles
- 5 ounces of Pancetta
- 1/3 cup of Parmesan Cheese
- 2 Large Egg Yolks
- 2 tablespoons of Butter
- 1/2 teaspoon of Dried Sage
- 3 tablespoons of Pumpkin Puree
- 1/4 cup of Heavy Whipped Cream
- 1/4 cup of cream cheese
- Rinse off your shirataki noodles under hot water for 2 to 3 minutes. Then dry them off completely with your paper towels. Put to the side.
- Chop your pancetta and place into your hot pan to sear on the outside.
- Place your butter into your small-sized pot and let it brown. Once it starts to brown, mix your sage into your butter.
- Once your sage is mixed in, add your pumpkin puree and mix together well. By this point, the pancetta should be browning up nicely. Once it’s crispy on the outside, remove from your pan and save the fat.
- Add your heavy whipped cream to your pumpkin puree sauce and mix together well until everything is combined.
- Add your pancetta fat into your sauce and mix again until well combined. Let your sauce simmer on a medium heat.
- Turn your pan that had you pancetta in it to high and add your shirataki noodles. Dry fry them for at least 5 minutes until a good amount of steam has come out of them.
- Add your Parmesan cheese to your sauce and mix together well. Turn your heat to low.
- Continue to stir your sauce until you can scrape a spatula through the sauce and it takes a moment to come back together.
- Add your noodles and pancetta into your sauce and toss well. Add your 2 egg yolks and mix into your sauce.
- Add some extra Parmesan and pancetta to taste.
Keto Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe
Out of all of our easy keto pumpkin recipes, one of the most popular recipes is pumpkin cheesecake. This easy keto recipe will make enough for six people to enjoy.
Who doesn’t love pumpkin cheesecake? This low carb keto pumpkin cheesecake recipe provides all the taste without the carbs. This keto pumpkin cheesecake recipe can be made in about an hour.
Keto Pumpkin Cheesecake Base
- 2 Tbsp powdered Erythritol
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 cup almond flour or ground walnuts
- 1/2 tsp pumpkin spice
Keto Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling
- 2 cups (16 oz) cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 cup powdered Erythritol
- 1 cup pumpkin puree canned or steamed pumpkin
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 tsp pumpkin spice mix
Instructions to make the keto pumpkin cheesecake base:
- Preheat oven to 325F. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper or grease with butter; set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine melted butter and erythritol, mix until fully blended. Add almond flour and pumpkin spice; stir until combined.
- Transfer mixture to 8×8 pan and press evenly mixture on the bottom of the pan. Cook in the oven for 10 mins, then set aside to cool.
Instructions to make the keto pumpkin cheesecake filling:
- In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and Erythritol until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, eggs, vanilla, and spices. Beat together until well combined.
- Pour into crust. Spread out evenly and bake for 40 minutes or until the edges are firm but the middle still jiggles slightly (it will appear dry completely across the top). Remove your keto pumpkin cheesecake from the oven and let sit for 10-15 minutes then cover with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate for at least 4-6 hours before slicing.
How to Make Pumpkin Puree
This is one of the best puree recipes to make pies, breads, muffins, cookies or any other use you may have for pumpkin puree. The great thing about this is you can freeze this puree until needed. I like to package my puree in freezer-safe bags already measured out to the right amounts I use for my recipes.
The yield will depend on the size pumpkin used. I like the smaller ones but any size will work. Count on 30 minutes prep time, one hour to cook and about another half hour to prep for use or for the freezer, to give a total time of two hours.
- 1 small to medium pumpkin
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Cut the pumpkin in half. Remove seeds and pulp. (I like to use a spoon to scrape off as much of the stringy flesh from the pumpkin.) Cover each half with foil. (save the seeds, see the chapter on pumpkin seed recipes on how to prepare the seeds)
- Place on a cookie sheet and bake in the preheated oven, foil side up for one hour or until tender.
- Remove the meat from the peeling with a spoon and puree in a blender. Remove any remaining stringy pieces by hand or through a strainer. The puree is now ready to use or store in the freezer until needed.
For best keto results be sure to use almond flour in all of your baking pumpkin recipes. Almond flour is low in carbs, making it a great regular flout replacement. The best keto almond flour is Honeyville Blanched Almond Flour. Another good option to use is coconut flour. Our favorite coconut flour is Nutiva Coconut Flour.
I hope you enjoyed our easy keto pumpkin recipes. Find even more keto pumpkin recipes in the below video:
The pumpkin is a classic example of a food that is very good for your health that is, on the face of it, ruled out of the keto diet because it is too high in carbs. However, when you dig a little deeper, you find that, even though it is classified as a starchy vegetable, it is under 10 on the glycemic index, and so, pretty good as far as its impact on your blood sugar levels is concerned.
The bottom line on pumpkin and keto is that it is not as bad as many people make it out to be. Those who say that it is an absolute no-no on the keto diet are probably being a bit dramatic. You can have pumpkin on keto, but, like most things, you need to use it in moderation, follow our keto pumpkin recipes and keep your portions small and manageable.