West Indian Pumpkin Fritters (Frituras de Calabaza)

Pumpkin Fritters. Image Credit: timolina / 123RF Stock Photo
  • Total: 25 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 5 mins
  • Servings: 8 servings

A great way to enjoy a West Indian pumpkin or calabaza is to turn it into fritters. You can serve these sweet pumpkin fritters as appetizers, a snack, or even for breakfast the way they do in the Caribbean. Just add a little butter and syrup to start your day off right. 


  • 1 1/2 pounds calabaza flesh with the rind and seeds removed
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 cups vegetable oil for frying

Steps to Make It

  1. Cut the calabaza into pieces of equal size. Place them in a pot and add the water and salt.

  2. Bring the water to a boil and reduce the heat to medium low. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes until the calabaza are soft.

  3. Remove and drain the calabaza in a colander. Let it sit for about 15 minutes to drain off all the liquid.

  4. Place the calabaza in a mixing bowl. Add the sugar, flour and vanilla. Mix well.

  5. Heat the oil to 350 F in a frying pan. 

  6. Add the calabaza mixture to the oil in spoonfuls. Cook the spoonfuls until they're golden on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. 

  7. Drain on paper towels before serving.

Tips and Variations 

  • The exact number of fritters you'll get from this recipe depends on how big your spoonfuls are. Add a little cooking time in the oil to make sure they're warmed all the way through if they're particularly large. If they're on the small side, avoid overcooking them. 

  • The fritters should be light brown and crispy on the outside when they're finished, yet soft on the inside.

  • If you can't find calabaza at your local market, you can substitute butternut, Hubbard or acorn squash

  • Some Latin American markets sell calabaza already cut into pieces, doing a lot of the prep work for you. For optimal freshness, look for flesh that is moist but not wet or soft. The flesh should be bright orange in color. 

  • Calabaza can range from the size of a cantaloupe to the size of a watermelon. The size won't affect taste or quality — it should still be sweet and vaguely nutty. 

  • Calabaza is a great source of Vitamin A and it's low in calories so it's healthy for you, too.

  • You can use cooking spray rather than the oil for a virtually fat-free variation, but you won't get quite the same crispy effect. 

  • Some pumpkin fritter recipes call for nutmeg. This adds a tasty touch and is a common variation in Jamaica.  

  • Add an egg to the mixture for lighter, fluffier fritters.