Mexican candied pumpkin, or calabaza en tacha, is a super easy and traditional dessert with a caramelized-spiced flavor and an amazing aroma! This recipe is the perfect treat for fall and is loved by everyone.

Mexican candied pumpkin, or Calabaza en Tacha as we call it in Mexico, is a delightful and traditional sweet treat that we often prepare during the autumn season, especially to celebrate Día de Muertos.

Besides from calabaza en tacha, candied pumpkin is also known as calabaza en dulcedulce de calabaza, and calabaza enmielada, but all those names refer to this delicious treat.

This recipe is somehow similar to camote en dulce, but uses pumpkin instead of sweet potatoes. You’ll find this delicious treat all around Mexico sold in local markets and food stalls, is really a beloved sweet treat for everyone!

Making Mexican candied pumpkin at home is really easy, I’m gonna show you how my abuela taught me to make it. The simple recipe consists of slices of fresh pumpkin cooked slowly along with piloncillo and cinnamon until a thick syrup forms.

Close-up of Mexican candied pumpkin


  • PUMPKIN: The traditional Mexican candied pumpkin recipe calls for calabaza de Castilla, a type of pumpkin from southern Mexico and Central America. If Mexican pumpkin is not available, use another type of winter squash.
  • PILONCILLO: You will also need piloncillo, the rawest form of cane sugar. It comes in various shapes and shades and you can find it easily in Mexican grocery stores or purchase it online.
  • CINNAMON: For aroma and flavor, if you can, use Mexican Canela.

Note: You can find calabaza de castilla in some countries under other names, such as pipián rayado, pipián cordobés, silver-seed gourd, Japanese pie pumpkin, or cushaw pumpkin.

Mexican candied pumpkin ingredients labeled and displayed on a concrete surface.

How To Make Mexican Candied Pumpkin

  • Wash the pumpkin thoroughly under running cold water, then cut it into chunks or slices.
  • Discard the pumpkin seeds, but do not remove the skin.
  • Place the piloncillo and pumpkin in a large stock pot, and add the cinnamon sticks.
  • Cover all ingredients with water and bring to a boil.
  • Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for about 1 hour. *Pumpkin should be fork tender (including the skin) and have a dark-ish color.
  • Remove the pumpkin and place it on a serving plate.
  • Turn the heat to medium-high and boil the syrup until nicely thickened, it will take about 4 to 5 minutes, pay attention as it can overcook and burn easily, you need a light syrup, not a caramel.
  • Once done, allow to cool down, and serve the pumpkin slices drizzled with the syrup.
Mexican pumpkin in a pot with water, cinnamon and piloncillo.

As the pumpkin cooks, your kitchen will be filled with a delicious comforting aroma of spices and caramelized sugar!

Recipe Variations

There are some recipe versions to make Mexican candied pumpkin, some may include orange zest or peel, or other spices like whole cloves and anise star.

In some states like Oaxaca or Puebla, it might include other fruits like figs, guavas, or chunks of sugar cane. The pumpkin can be cut into chunks or even whole, and it might include or not the seeds.

Also, the traditional recipe for calabaza en tacha calls for soaking the pumpkin in water and cal (lime, also known as calcium hydroxide), as this helps the vegetable not to fall apart after cooking for a long period of time.

How to Eat Calabaza en Tacha

The candied pumpkin rind is edible, you’ll notice how it becomes nicely soft after the long cooking.

But it is up to you (and the type of pumpkin used) if you want to eat it or not. Also, there are some traditional ways to eat calabaza en tacha in Mexico.

  • As breakfast with a glass of cold milk. My grandpa (and myself) loved placing the candied pumpkin inside the glass, as in the photo below.
  • As a late-afternoon snack (merienda), with or without milk, just drizzle with the piloncillo syrup and enjoy!
  • As a dessert with a drizzle of condensed milk or cajeta, and sprinkled pine nuts or chopped pecans on top.

How to Store

Mexican candied pumpkin can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 10 days thanks to the sugar that acts as a preservative.

Also, the pumpkin can be left in the pot for up to 24 hours at room temperature. It will give the time to cool down slowly to be stored later.

I don’t like or recommend freezing this candied pumpkin, the texture gets too watery after defrosting and it won’t be as tasty as before.

Mexican candied pumpkin being drizzled with its cooking syrup.


What is the origin of this recipe?

The origin of calabaza en tacha dates back to colonial times when in the sugar mills, pumpkins were placed into a cylindrical basket known as tompeate.
This particular basket was made with palm leaves and then placed in the cauldrons where sugar was produced.
The concentration of the sugarcane —known as guarapo juice, was obtained by combining two cauldrons placed in a large oven called mancuerna (dumbbell).
One of the cauldrons was known as a mancuerna and the other as tacha. After placing the Mexican pumpkin on those, it was cooked until developed a candied-like texture.

More Sweet Pumpkin Recipes

Mexican candied pumpkin recipe.

Mexican Candied Pumpkin (calabaza en tacha)

8 servings
Mexican candied pumpkin, or calabaza en tacha, is a super easy and traditional dessert with a caramelized-spiced flavor and an amazing aroma! This recipe is the perfect treat for fall and is loved by everyone.
prep 10 minutes
cook 1 hour
total 1 hour 10 minutes


  • 3 pounds Mexican pumpkin (or winter pumpkin)
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 9 oz piloncillo
  • water (as needed)


  • Wash the pumpkin under cold water, pat dry it, and cut it into chunks.
  • Place piloncillo and pumpkin chunks in a large stock pot, and add the cinnamon sticks.
  • Cover the ingredients with ½ inch water and bring to a boil.
  • Cover the pot, turn the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 1 hour or until the pumpkin, including the skin, is fork-tender.
  • Remove the pumpkin chunks and place them on a serving plate.
  • Turn the heat to high and allow the syrup to boil until it thickens a bit (about 4-5 minutes).
  • Serve the candied pumpkin warm and drizzled with the syrup.


  • At the end of cooking, the pumpkin should be fork tender (including the skin) and have a dark-ish color.
  • Please pay attention when you boil the syrup as it can overcook and burn quickly, you need a light syrup, not a caramel.
  • You can also replace piloncillo with the same amount of packed brown sugar.
Nutrition Information
Serving: 1 serving | Calories: 158kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 578mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 32g | Vitamin A: 14480IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 2mg
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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I absolutely love this recipe so much. This is one of the candies that remind me of my childhood and now I can get to make and enjoy it with my kids. Just in time for fall!

  2. 5 stars
    What a fun name this seems to me :D and the recipe looks scrumptious, I’d love to give it a try because it doesn’t seem so difficult to make. I am not sure if I can find that kind of pumpkin here where I live, but maybe I can try with other types :)