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Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Butter

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Butter

Pumpkin butter coming at you at a dutch angle! Whoa – look out!

There was no question in my mind about which of Trader Joe’s ridiculous list of pumpkin products I was going to try next – the pumpkin butter. I could barely conceive of what this product might possibly look like, but my best guess was something like a stick of butter but orange. I was entirely surprised, and slightly disappointed, to discover that Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Butter was not actual butter butter, but the apple butter kind of butter. A classic, “Ah – of course, I’m an idiot” moment.

Despite my initial confusion, this pumpkin butter is actually rather good, in a fruit butter sort of way. By which I mean that it’s very sweet, very creamy and entirely suited for any of your general or seasonal fruit butter purposes – whatever those might be. Which is to say, again, that it’s nice but pretty unnecessary by anyone’s definition of the word.

Pumpkin butter is a fruit butter – which is basically what you get when you cook down a load of fruit, puree it and thrown in some sugar and spices. What you end up with is a creamy, smooth spread that tastes like a sweet fruit jam, but spreads like a dream.

If you’ve ever had apple butter, you’ll know what to expect from Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Butter. If you haven’t had it, imagine eating a jar of sweet pumpkin pie filling and you’re not far off in both taste and consisetnecy. I’ve tried it on a variety of food products, and each time I’m left with the same sensation – like I’m eating the center out of a pumpkin pie that is subtly wrong somehow.

Other than the pureed pumpkin, there’s not a lot to pumpkin butter. For instance, despite its very smooth consistency there is no butter, cream or fat of any sort in the spread. There’s also much less sugar than you might expect from such a decadent spread. The butter is sweetened with sugar and honey, but only to the tune of 9 grams of sugar per 18 gram serving. While 50% is a pretty considerable sugar to food ratio by most standards, it’s a big improvement over the 70+% you find in most jellies and jams. What that really means is that you’re going to want to come to pumpkin butter for the pumpkin first and the sweetness second.

So what do you do with a pumpkin butter? Well, the jar itself happily suggests you try it as “a pastry filling, a poultry glaze, an ice cream topping, on toast, mixed with fat free cream cheese, and as a soup”. In other words, you can do everything and nothing with it. It’s like we’re talking about a sneed here. Works as an ice cream topping and a soup? Really, TJ? Because nothing else in the world does that. In fact, I’m going to have to give this Trader Joe’s Most Creative Serving Suggestion award – ripping away from the former champion.

So yes, pumpkin butter is probably totally unnecessary – but on the other hand, that can be said of all seasonal holiday products. The real merit of this class of food is how tasty it is and, more importantly, how much it helps you get into the spirit of the season. On those grounds, Trader Joe’s pumpkin butter is reasonably effective, but not a knock out. By it’s very nature as pumpkin butter it’s so rich and thick that it’s hard to integrate into your daily routine.

If you’re planning on baking holiday pastries or hosting a pumpkin themed dinner, this is probably a great purchase for you. As a regular sort of Joe, I don’t plan on doing anything with this other than putting it on the occasional piece of toast and, if I’m feeling particularly fey one of these evenings, making a nice bowl of pumpkin butter soup out of it. Pumpkin Butter on toast has been okay, but  something I could skip in the future.  As for the soup, stay tuned for an update.


The Breakdown

Would I Recommend It: Not unless you’re already a fruit butter fan or can’t get enough pumpkin.

Would I Buy It Again: Sadly, no. I don’t have anything to do with it.

Final Synopsis: Basically, spreadable pumpkin pie filling.

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Butter Nutrition Facts

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Butter Nutrition Facts

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6 Comments on “Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Butter”

  1. amygonigam@uwalumni.com says:

    A sneed? Maybe you meant a snood. I’v been seeing an alarming amount of snoods lately – maybe they’re making a terrible fashion return. Anyway, the pumpkin butter is good stirred in some Greek yogurt.

  2. Maria says:

    I am a little sad, PJ – I have been waiting for this review for a loooooong time. I yearned for your eloquence and wit for the Pumpkin Butter (a food I cannot live without and have to stock a supply of over the lean pumpkin butter months) for so long and now that the day is here….? I am saddened that you hold this luscious concoction in such low esteem.

    More Pumpkin Butter for me, I suppose, but a blow has been felt by the whole Pumpkin Butter Lovers Society.

    • Oh dear. Sorry to disappoint Maria, but I call’em like I see’em.

      What draws you to TJ’s pumpkin butter, do you also like other fruit butters, and have you tried making it into a soup?

      • Maria says:

        I appreciate your honesty,and always read the blog, I just didn’t like it when I feel so much more complimentary for this product. I do like fruit butters for their concentrated and spicy goodness on the whole. I think the soup idea is a bit aggressive in ways to use it, though, too much of a stretch for me. It is simple, a bit spicy, not too sweet and leaves me with a comfortable feeling of autumn, cool days and homespun-ness. It is nice to use in baking, it compliments peanut butter wonderfully on a sandwich, tastes great with apples straight up or mixed with cream cheese for a fruit dip. Not too shabby straight from the spoon in the light of the fridge when you need a little sum-sumthin’ but don’t know what.

        It’s not a replacement of anything, not an exclusionary use such as kicking raspberry jam to the curb. It’s like a good friend – great to have around, can’t be replaced and yet doesn’t rule your life – you just pick up where you left off when last you met.

        Carry on PJ, my disappoint will fade unlike my love of Pumpkin Butter.

  3. Carolina says:

    I am a total TJ’s Pumpkin Butter lover. I hoarded a million jars this fall, to last me until next October. I use it as a jam on buttered toast, to sweeten homemade Greek yogurt, as a topping for ice cream, and to make canapés with wheat crackers and goat cheese. And to spread on apples. And to put in peanut butter sandwiches.


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