Calabaza En Tacha or Mexican Candied Pumpkin

Celebrate Día de los Muertos with Calabaza en Tacha or Mexican Candied Pumpkin.

You’ll love this seasonal pumpkin dessert. It’s perfect as a Day of The Dead altar offering or to enjoy all winter long.

Recipe for Mexican Candied Pumpkin (Calabaza en Tacha)

What is Calabaza en Tacha

Calabaza en tacha, or Mexican candied pumpkin, is a seasonal sweet that forms part of the traditional foods of Día de Muertos.

Day of the Dead is celebrated from the 30th of October to the 2nd of November every year. It’s a very special holiday and among the most important cultural heritages of Mexico.

How to Make Mexican Candied Pumpkin

Día De Muertos is a day meant for honoring, celebrating and remembering loved ones no longer on this Earth.

Read more about it here.

How to Make Mexican Sweet Pumpkin for Day of The Dead

Pumpkin or Calabazas as Part of Day of The Dead Altars

Traditional Dia de los Muertos altars are decorated with photographs, candies such as sugar skulls, flowers, personal mementos, drinks, breads, sweetened pumpkins, and a special meal cooked just for the departed.

These items all have special significance and are called ofrendas, literally, offerings.

Mexican candied pumpkin (calabaza en tacha recipe)
Calabaza En Tacha or Mexican Candied Pumpkin for Day of The Dead | #diadelosmuertos #diademuertos #pumpkinrecipe

Pumpkins (along with corn, beans and chilies) were highly prized staples of the indigenous diet. They were always included in ceremonies and festivities.

Needless to say, calabazas are still included in the altars even today.

How to Make Mexican Candied Pumpkin

How to Make Calabaza en Tacha or Mexican Candied Pumpkin

Before the arrival of the Spanish pumpkins were sweetened with maguey sap before being placed on the altar. After the arrival of the Spanish the technique for sweetening the pumpkin changed.

The pumpkin was cooked in the same caldrons, or tachas, that were used for processing the sugar from the harvested sugarcane.

The pumpkins were then simmered alongside other fruits and spices. This would become the calabaza en tacha we still know and love today.

Modern day calabaza en tacha recipes vary from family to family and across the many regions of Mexico. We could say that each family adapts the recipe to their liking, and that is exactly what I have done, adapted it to my liking.

Traditional Calabaza en Tacha Recipes

The simpler, more traditional recipes will typically only use pumpkin, water, piloncillo, orange juice or peel, and cinnamon. Some will also add cloves and perhaps some guavas.

How to Make Mexican Sweet Pumpkin for Day of The Dead

My recipe is unconventional due to the addition of some non-traditional Mexican spices. We live in a modern age where international flavors and ingredients influence the different cuisines of the world.

My recipe is Mexican at it’s roots and, much like the traditional Aztec recipe evolved to incorporate foreign flavors, so too has my own.

Recipe for Mexican pumpkin dessert
Recipe for Mexican pumpkin dessert

Calabaza En Tacha or Mexican Candied Pumpkin Recipe

Nancy Lopez-McHugh &
A Mexican pumpkin dessert simmered in a piloncillo and spices syrup then drizzled with evaporated milk. This is a traditional Day of the Dead altar ofrenda recipe.
4.20 from 5 votes
Save Recipe
Prep Time 40 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Mexican, vegan, vegan mexican
Servings 4 people
Calories 191 kcal





  • Pour the water into to the pot, then add all the spices, piloncillo or sugar and molasses. Bring to a soft boil. Gently place the pumpkin slices in the pot, the first layer flesh face down the top layer flesh up.
  • Turn heat to medium low and allow to simmer until the pumpkin is tender, you should carefully flip the pumpkin so that both the top and bottom layers cook and absorb the flavour of the spices and piloncillo. Gently remove the pumpkin from the pan and allow to cool on a separate large plate. Alternatively it can be placed in the refrigerator to eat the following day. The remaining liquid from the pot will be reduced done even more.
  • Over medium heat and stirring often reduce the liquid to half of what it was and until it reaches a thicker consistency almost like syrup. Turn heat off, allow to cool and if not using right away store in the refrigerator. Strain the syrup through a fine sieve before using.
  • Once ready to eat the pumpkin you can either eat it cool or slightly warm. Pour some evaporated milk and syrup over it or alternatively serve with vanilla ice cream if desired.



* Some recipes tell you to cut the pumpkin into chunks, as you can see in these pictures I have chosen to leave it in even sized small wedges but for the video I cut into chunks. It’s really up to which way to cut, either works perfectly fine.
Additionally the traditional recipes leave the seeds and stringy bits attached to the pumpkin, but I don’t like to.
Please know too that different pumpkin varieties will cook at different rates, so keep checking on the pot as it simmers.
**Piloncillo can be found at Latin food markets either under the piloncillo or panela name, the later being the Central and South American name for it. In a pinch you can buy it on Amazon.


Serving: 4servingsCalories: 191kcalCarbohydrates: 27gProtein: 9gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 115mgPotassium: 1116mgFiber: 2gSugar: 16gVitamin A: 21449IUVitamin C: 24mgCalcium: 302mgIron: 2mg
Keyword calabaza en tacha, candied pumpkin, mexican pumpkin dessert, vegan pumpkin dessert
Tried this recipe?Mention @MexicanMadeMeatless or tag #mexicamademeatless!
Calabaza En Tacha or Mexican Candied Pumpkin for Day of The Dead | #diadelosmuertos #diademuertos #pumpkinrecipe

You will find that the spices permeate the calabaza slices perfectly to create an aromatic and soothing touch to your senses.

While silky creaminess added by the evaporated milk is the perfect compliment to the sweet and tender calabaza.

Then, to finish it off with an extra pop of sweet aromatic flavors, comes the drizzling of the syrup over the slices.

Truly a wonderful treat to not only honor the spirits of our loved ones, but to also enjoy the best of this quintessential fruit of autumn.

¡Buen provecho amigos!

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  1. Ooh, that molasses picture alone has won me over. I loved all the flavors of Mexico when I was there, and some of the less popular-in-America-dishes aren’t easy for me to replicate, so I’d love to see more posts like this one 🙂

  2. si no hay calabaza en tacha, pues no es día de muertos no?. me gustó la adición de cardamomo (bueno, al menos en mi familia no lo usamos para ésta receta), seguro le da un toque más exótico.

  3. Hi there,
    Very uncommon recipe and a unique combo!And you’ve presented this really nicely:)I had passed an award to you – hope you did get a chance to check that out.Just wanted to make sure you don’t miss it!

  4. This looks amazing and your pictures are (as always) stunning! I love the picture of the molasses on the spoon….. I’m glad you made this and connected with your culture. I’ve heard of the Day of the Dead. Here in the US (for Catholics) we celebrate All Souls day.

  5. Absolutely delicious! I have yet to make something like this and I actually have some pumpkins that would be perfect for this sitting in my kitchen right now!

  6. I have never had pumpkin prepared in this manner, but obviously I am missing out on something quite delicious. Your description as well as that last photo does have me hooked-I definitely will need to try. Glad you shared this one-great post!

  7. I hopped on to your blog through another blog. And boy, was I delighted that I came here! I looked through your posts & I’m in love with your blog! Especially your photographs! 🙂

    Kavi | Edible Entertainment
    Ongoing event: Healthy Lunch Challenge

  8. This made Top 9 because the photos look gorgeous! And the dish must’ve tasted awesome too, you know just how I like my sweets. I can imagine the spices and molasses permeating through the pumpkin slices…so yummy. And paired with evaporated milk too….oh yes, I’ll definitely go for seconds, or thirds!

  9. 5 stars
    I my mom used to make us calabaza en tacha when we where young. There is something so comforting about eating the calabaza with the milk and Piloncillo syrup. I cant wait to make it myself.

  10. 5 stars
    Ƭoday, Ӏ wentt to the beachfrⲟnt witһ my kids.
    I found a ssea shell annd gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said
    “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the sһell to her ear and screamed.

    There was a ermit crab insіde and it рinched heer ear.
    Shе never wantts ttо ggo back! LoL I know this iѕ totally
    off topic butt I had to tell someone!

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