Turkish Candied Pumpkin Dessert Recipe

turkish pumpkin
Turkish pumpkins are green or beige on the outside with thick, bright orange flesh and large seeds. Photo © vlas2002_Fotolia.com
  • 90 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins,
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Yield: Serves 8
Ratings (8)

Are you tired of the same old pumpkin recipes? Here is a delicious recipe from Turkey that will take you way beyond pumpkin pie.

Turkish candied pumpkin dessert, better known as 'kabak tatlısı' (kah-BAHK' TAHT'-luh-suh), is not only simple to prepare, it's also fancy enough for company. It's a great way to get the full flavor of pumpkin your whole family will love, without the extra calories and carbs of piecrust.

It's perfect when you have extra pumpkin around. Be brave and try this recipe during the holidays in place of pumpkin pie and you'll never go back.

What You'll Need

  • 2.5 pounds/1 kilogram pumpkin (fresh, trimmed)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 sticks cinnamon 
  • Garnish: crushed walnuts
  • Garnish: Turkish 'kaymak' or clotted cream

How to Make It

  1. The most difficult part of this recipe is the first step - trimming your pumpkin. To begin, cut the top off your pumpkin like a small cap. In the same fashion, cut off the stem at the very bottom.
  2. Using a sturdy, sharp carving knife, cut the pumpkin from top to bottom making slivers about 2 inches wide at the center.
  3. Clean out the seeds and soft middle portions and cut off the outer skin of each sliver. Now you should have several crescent-shaped slivers of pumpkin.
  1. Depending on their length, cut each sliver into two or three pieces. Your goal should be pieces three to four inches long.
  2. Line the bottom of a large, shallow covered skillet or saucepan with the pumpkin.
  3. Pour the sugar evenly over the top. Sprinkle the pinch of salt over the top, add the cinnamon sticks and cover the pan. Let the pan rest overnight.
  4. The next morning, you'll see that the pumpkin has released all its juices. The pumpkin pieces should be nearly covered in their own juice. There should be no need to add any extra water.
  5. Place the plan still covered on the stove and bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat.
  6. Let the pumpkin simmer until it becomes very soft and translucent and the juice and sugar are reduced to a thick, syrupy consistency. This can take from one to even two hours. Check the pan frequently to prevent the sugar from burning.
  7. Once the pumpkin is "candied," let it cool down in the pan for several minutes. Remove the pieces gently and arrange them on your serving platter.
  8. Discard the cinnamon sticks. Drizzle the extra syrup over the top and refrigerate for several hours.
  9. Just before serving, garnish your pumpkin pieces with crushed walnuts and a dollop of Turkish 'kaymak,' or clotted cream.
  10. If you want to spice up your candied pumpkin, you can add whole cloves, cardamom, pieces of ginger and nutmeg to the juice along with the cinnamon sticks before cooking.
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
Calories 234
Total Fat 0 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Unsaturated Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 41 mg
Carbohydrates 60 g
Dietary Fiber 3 g
Protein 1 g
(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)