Sweet Pumpkin with Walnuts

Sweet Pumpkin with Walnuts Recipe

This sweet pumpkin with walnuts recipe is a striking, easy-to-make Turkish recipe called kabak tatlisi. The cooking method is fascinating: you macerate chunks of pumpkin or winter squash in sugar until they weep, then cook the squash at a low temperature. As they cool, the squash chunks swell with the syrupy juices. This goes beautifully with walnuts and a cultured cream such as crème fraîche. I suggest you use a tasty orange winter squash that’s dense enough to hold its shape through the unique cooking process, such as butternut or Hubbard. Either variety will produce a sweet dessert with an intense flavor and creamy texture.–Paula Wolfert

LC Smashing Pumpkins Note

As noted above, Whatever gourd you go for, bear in mind that oddly shaped squashes can be tricky to peel. We suggest you stick with a relatively smooth butternut squash, which is eminently easier to peel than a bumpy pumpkin of any sort. Here’s all you do: Take a sharp chef’s knife and carefully halve the squash lengthwise. Scoop out those stringy seeds (a grapefruit spoon works really swell for this), then place the squash, cut-side down, on a cutting board or other work surface and run a vegetable peeler along it’s length. Tada! Easy peasy peeling with all fingers accounted for and intact.

Sweet Pumpkin with Walnuts Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 2 H, 15 M
  • Serves 4


  • 1 1/3 to 1 3/4 pounds pumpkin, butternut squash, or other sweet, edible winter squash
  • 1 cup superfine sugar (or you can make your own by blitzing granulated sugar in a blender until fine but not powdery)
  • 1/3 cup walnuts (halves or pieces), preferably freshly shelled
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup cultured cream, such as crème fraîche, whipped cream, or Greek yogurt (optional)


  • 1. Peel and trim the squash. You should have about 1 pound. Cut the squash into 1-inch chunks.
  • 2. Toss the squash with the sugar in a shallow ceramic baking dish and let stand until the squash weeps and the sugar dissolves, at least 30 minutes and perhaps as long as 1 hour.
  • 3. Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C).
  • 4. Use a wooden spoon to toss the squash and sugar. Cover with a crumpled sheet of damp parchment paper and bake for 1 1/2 hours, until the juices bubble and the squash is tender throughout. Turn off the oven but do not remove the dish. Instead let the squash cool inside the warm environment so it can continue to reabsorb the syrupy juices. Store the squash and its syrup in a cool place or in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to meld. Let the squash return to room temperature before serving.
  • 5. Just before serving, melt the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the walnuts and cook, tossing frequently, until they’re glistening. Spoon the squash and a few teaspoons of the syrup into individual serving bowls and sprinkle with the toasted walnuts. Garnish with dollops of cultured cream, whipped cream, or yogurt, if desired.
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Recipe Testers Reviews

Adrienne Lee

Oct 26, 2003

This was so good. It does need the walnuts, but I could see other nuts working here, too. My brother-in-law and husband thought about Thanksgiving. My brother-in-law also thought it reminded him of his grandmother. I couldn't find a 1 1/3-pound butternut squash. I found the smallest one possible and it was 1 3/4 pounds. There's enough sugar to cover this amount. I turned off the oven after 1 1/2 hours and left it in the oven as directed. Then I served it later for dessert. It was perfect. I would definitely make this again—maybe with other squashes and with other nuts.

Elsa M. Jacobson

Oct 26, 2003

Paula Wolfert. If you aren’t already a fan of hers from other terrific recipes on the site—Ribollita in the Style of Siena, Stewed Leafy Greens with Tahini, and Therapeutic Drink to Ward Off Colds—then let this be a marvelous introduction. This recipe is easy, well worth the time it takes, and a lovely dessert which could be served alone or on a little buffet of desserts. It's rich, colorful, and not your predictable Turkish or Middle Eastern sweet ending of baklava; in fact, it was rich enough to serve without the crème fraiche. The directions are terrific, accurate, and helpful. I went right from cooking the squash to cooling the squash and then serving. A little goes a long way! Although it serves 4, it could easily serve more in a smaller, but still satisfying, serving size. What would you eat before this? The site is full of options, of which I will list a few of my personal favorites: Turkish Baked Eggplant with Chile, Feta, and Mint; Warm Lentil Salad; Jerusalem Salad; Rice Pilaf with Dried Cherries and Toasted Pistachios; Middle Eastern Salad; Pomegranate Walnut Relish. Sweet Tea would be a lovely accompaniment.

Cindy Zaiffdeen

Oct 26, 2003

I wasn't sure about this recipe but was intrigued enough to try it. Am I ever glad I did. This is a very simple, refreshing dessert. I used butternut squash and followed the recipe exactly—well not really. I used regular granulated sugar and let the squash sit with the sugar for about an hour before it hit the oven. The syrup was fantastic and the texture of the squash was almost meaty. We served it with plain Greek yogurt and it was the perfect complement to the sweetness of the syrupy squash. I toasted the walnuts just a little longer than called for and the crunchiness was a nice touch to the softness of the squash. I will make this again!


  1. Wow! What a great recipe. It reminds me of some Afghani squash recipes I adore, only sweet. I love Paula Wolfert, but this book was completely off my radar. I’ll have to give it a try, now that we’re in the midst of “pumpkin” season. It’s great that you come up with these things I managed to miss. Thanks David and the LC crew!

  2. I’ve just eaten this in the Istanbul Hilton and was bowled over by it!! So glad to find the recipe here!!!

    1. Wonderful, Lucy! We know how disappointing it can be to have a memory of something and not the know-how to recreate it, so we’re so glad that’s not the case for you!

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