West Indian Pumpkin Fritters (Frituras de Calabaza)

Pumpkin Fritters. Image Credit: timolina / 123RF Stock Photo
  • 25 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins,
  • Cook: 5 mins
  • Yield: 24 fritters (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. 

What You'll Need

  • 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

How 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.
  1. Heat the oil to 350 F in a frying pan. 
  2. Add the calabaza mixture to the oil in spoonfuls. Cook the spoonfuls until they're golden on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. 
  3. 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.