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Candied Pumpkin Dessert with Walnuts, Turkish Style; Kabak Tatlisi

Turkish candied pumpkin dessert, Kabak Tatlisi; so easy and scrumptious

Turkish candied pumpkin dessert, Kabak Tatlisi; so easy and scrumptious

We all have pumpkins in our minds at this time of the year; I love its natural sweetness and comforting, luscious flavor. This scrumptious candied pumpkin dessert is popular in Turkey and it is so very easy to make. Pumpkin is baked here in its very own juice with sugar and the result is an exquisite dessert with the full flavor of pumpkin, also fancy enough to share with family and friends.

This lovely light dessert, Kabak Tatlisi, is wonderful served with crushed walnuts. In Turkey, it is also served with our thick clotted cream, kaymak. If you can’t get kaymak, clotted cream also complements this dessert well. You can also add a few cloves or cinnamon sticks to its juice before baking, if you’d like to spice up this dessert. Butternut squash also works well in this recipe.

Luscious candied pumpkin dessert, Kabak Tatlisi; great for entertaining

Luscious candied pumpkin dessert, Kabak Tatlisi; great for entertaining

I hope you can give this delicious, glistening pumpkin dessert a try; it may also be a lovely addition for your holiday entertaining and a pleasant surprise for Halloween, if you are celebrating. For a delicious variation, drizzle a little tahini over the baked pumpkin when serving.

I love our fruity desserts in Turkish cuisine; this delicious Pumpkin dessert and over 90 authentic recipes are included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland. Signed hardback copies are now 20 % Off via GBPublishing at this link and delivered worldwide. For lower rates of delivery to the USA, Canada and Mexico, please order Ozlem’s Turkish Table cookery book here,  if you like to have a copy or gift to a foodie.

Serves 6 – 8

1kg/2 ¼ lb. pumpkin flesh, peeled, deseeded and cut into chunky cubes or rectangular blocks (about 3” long)

250gr/9 oz. / 1 ½ cup sugar

225gr/1 cup crushed walnuts to serve

Turkish clotted cream, Kaymak or clotted cream to serve (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F

Sprinkle sugar over the pumpkin pieces evenly.

Sprinkle sugar over the pumpkin pieces evenly.

Line the bottom of a large baking dish with the prepared pumpkin pieces and sprinkle sugar over them evenly. Then layer the rest of the pumpkin chunks and pour the remaining sugar evenly over them. Cover the dish and let it rest overnight.

Let the sugar coated pupmkin pieces rest overnight; even after 30 minutes, you notice the juices coming up.

Let the sugar coated pumpkin pieces rest overnight; even after 30 minutes, you notice the juices coming up.

The next day, you will notice that the pumpkin has released all its juices and that the pieces are nearly covered with all that wonderful juice. This liquid is all you need to bake the pumpkin, no need to add any extra water.

Baked, candied pumpkin, utterly delicious.

Baked, candied pumpkin, utterly delicious.

Bake the pumpkin in the preheated oven, uncovered. Every 20 minutes, spoon the syrup in the baking dish over the pumpkin pieces so that they all absorb the syrup and start glistening. After 45 minutes of baking, check the sweetness of the pumpkin; if you like it sweeter, you can sprinkle a few more tablespoonful of sugar. Also, after 45 minutes of baking, turn the pumpkin pieces around so that all pieces keep moist with the juice. Bake for about an 1 hour to 1 ¼ hours in total, until all the syrup is absorbed and the pumpkin pieces are cooked and candied.

Luscious candied pumpkin dessert with crushed walnuts; Cevizli Kabak Tatlisi

Luscious candied pumpkin dessert with crushed walnuts; Cevizli Kabak Tatlisi

Let the pumpkin dessert cool down. Decorate the candied pumpkin pieces with crushed walnuts just before serving; you can serve this delicious dessert as this way or also with Turkish thick clotted cream, kaymak or regular clotted cream aside.

Afiyet Olsun,



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41 Responses to Candied Pumpkin Dessert with Walnuts, Turkish Style; Kabak Tatlisi

  1. jaz October 28, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

    i’ve never seen pumpkin prepared like this but it sure does look delicious!

    • Ozlem Warren October 28, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

      That’s the way my mother makes her pumpkin dessert Jaz, baking adds a nice candied touch to pumpkin. Some folks also simmer the pumpkin chunks in its own juice with sugar in a pan on the stove top – glad you liked the look of them, taste is delicious too : )

  2. seniordogsabroad October 28, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

    [Marked as spam by Antispam Bee | Spam reason: Server IP]
    Özlem, Once again, your recipe comes just in time. My husband and I just had pumpkin soup for dinner and he happened to mention to me that he wanted me to learn how to make “that sweet pumpkin dessert.” Thanks to you, I can get right on it, especially since I know now that it’s so easy.

    • Ozlem Warren October 28, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

      Merhaba Jolee, thanks a lot for your kind comment, I hope you enjoy it; the only tough part of this dessert is really cutting and prepping the pumpkin pieces! It is a delicious, light dessert, and I love the fact that it is baked in its own juice; do hope you both enjoy it – afiyet olsun : )

  3. BacktoBodrum October 28, 2013 at 8:20 pm #

    [Marked as spam by Antispam Bee | Spam reason: Server IP]
    This sounds a much better recipe than the local one here where the pumpkin is boiled in syrup.

    • Ozlem Warren October 28, 2013 at 9:06 pm #

      Thank you; pumpkin releases so much of its own juice once rested over night, and that is enough to cook in; it also has its own natural sweetness, so I don’t overdo the sugar. This is the way my mother prepares her pumpkin and I like my desserts on a lighter side, so this hits the spot : ) Glad it sounded good to you : )

  4. Phil in the Kitchen October 28, 2013 at 11:53 pm #

    This is definitely unlike any way that I’ve used pumpkin in the past. It sounds lovely, especially if I can find some really good walnuts. There’s certainly no shortage of pumpkin at the moment.

    • Ozlem Warren October 29, 2013 at 11:39 am #

      Walnuts and pumpkin go well here Phil; an easy but delicious dessert, thought it would be good to share how we enjoy pumpkin as a dessert in Turkey, especially at the Southern part, glad you enjoyed the post.

  5. Peri October 29, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

    Oooh, this is so yummy and perfectly candied:) Ozlem, love this new use for pumpkin, since it doesn’t work with everything:) and such a unique dessert idea too…keep them coming! XxPeri.

    • Ozlem Warren October 29, 2013 at 5:16 pm #

      Thanks a lot Peri, glad you liked the look of it : ) it is almost effortless – apart from prepping pumpkin pieces!- and delicious – pleasure to share! xx Ozlem

  6. Belinda Y. Hughes October 29, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

    [Marked as spam by Antispam Bee | Spam reason: Server IP]
    This is a marvelous pumpkin recipe, perfect for Gluten Free Tuesday in the face of Halloween and other holidays. I like its simplicity – the pumpkin itself does most of the work. lol Also, the textures are quite nice.

    • Ozlem Warren October 29, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

      thanks for the share!

  7. Erica October 29, 2013 at 10:42 pm #

    I love this ‘pumpkin’ dish. The first time I tried it was about 25 years when I for the first time went to visit my in-laws in Izmir and my MIL made this. I had never had anything like this before, it was so yummy.
    I’m going to see if I can find any ‘sugar’ pumpkins here and make your recipe…thanks for sharing this Blast from the Past for me.

    • Ozlem Warren October 30, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

      Merhaba Erica, you are very welcome – glad it brought back some happy memories. We greatly enjoy it too, hope you can give it a go, my best wishes, Ozlem

  8. Lowrie January 8, 2015 at 11:12 pm #

    This does sound yummy and looks easy to do! I love the taste of pumpkin! Next autumn I will be trying this for sure and thinking of you! Thanks!!

    • Ozlem Warren January 9, 2015 at 5:01 pm #

      How very kind of you Lowrie, lovely to find your note here! So glad our roads crossed, hope you enjoy the recipe!:) Ozlem x

  9. Yvonne Pollard March 1, 2015 at 9:45 pm #

    I am a Belizean American, and love pumpkin, it is a dessert from my country of Belize.
    We do it differently, but will try your method ,which looks very good!

    • Ozlem Warren March 2, 2015 at 10:43 am #

      Merhaba Yvonne, many thanks for your kind note – hope you enjoy our way of making pumpkin dessert, afiyet olsun!

  10. Colorful Canary October 28, 2015 at 10:24 pm #

    Looks delicious! Thanks for the recipe, I featured it on my blog:

    • Ozlem Warren October 29, 2015 at 9:34 pm #

      Many thanks for your note and featuring my recipe, hope you enjoy it!

  11. Joanna October 30, 2015 at 3:20 am #

    Hello, I see some tiny green pieces on your candied pumpkin. What are they?
    Thanks. Looks so delicious!

    • Ozlem Warren October 31, 2015 at 4:12 pm #

      Hello Joanna, they must be my walnuts and perhaps the left over bits of pistachio nuts : ) Hope you enjoy it!

  12. Sharon October 31, 2015 at 9:48 pm #

    If you can’t get pumpkin, I wonder if this would work with squash?

    • Ozlem Warren November 2, 2015 at 4:23 pm #

      Hello Sharon, butternut squash would work – it would be good to adjust the sugar level to your taste, hope you enjoy it.

      • Pinar October 19, 2016 at 6:31 pm #

        Hello Ozlem,
        Kabak Tatlisi is one of my favorite desserts. My mom used to make it ( stove top version) all the time. I never tried to make it when I was in Turkey. Now I’m trying with Canadian pumpkin or butternut squash but I keep failing to make it taste the same as Turkish ones. The problem is pumpkin pieces don’t absorb the sweet juice and it takes many hours to soften. The result is less sweet pumpkins with less pumpkin flavor. It just doesn’t taste the same as the ones I have in Turkey. What could be the reason? I do everything as told in the recipe. So far I used different recipes and different types of pumpkins ( basically they are the same) the result is the same flavourless, less sweet pumpkin dessert. I would like to hear your thoughts. Thank you.

        • Ozlem Warren October 19, 2016 at 8:23 pm #

          Merhaba Pinar, many thanks for stopping by and your note; I am afraid we Turkish food lovers living abroad all suffer from the same thing, it is very had to achieve exactly the same taste as it is back home, purely because the ingredients we access don’t taste the same; I experienced that with aubergines/eggplants and many other things. I haven’t tried Canadian pumpkin, it could be a different variety than found in Turkey. I found cutting pieces of the pumpkin, sprinkle sugar over them evenly then letting it rest overnight really help with absorption. You may need to add more sugar to your variety perhaps? Living abroad, I learned to make do and make the most of ingredients I could get hold of, nuts also add a lovely flavor and texture, hope this helps. Selamlar, Ozlem

  13. Pinar October 21, 2016 at 3:28 am #

    Thanks for your response Ozlem. Next time I will make it with more sugar and make sure that the sugar is sprinkled evenly on the pumpkins. Also will leave it overnight before start cooking. Thanks again for your time.

    • Ozlem Warren October 21, 2016 at 8:36 am #

      You are very welcome sevgili Pinar, persevere, each trial will get better : ) Cok selam ve sevgiler, Ozlem

  14. Gizem Martelli October 22, 2017 at 2:37 pm #

    Özlem, I tried this pumpkin recipe with pie pumpkins and after leaving the cut up pieces coated in sugar over night while it released some juices it really was not enough I felt. What’s the best type of pumpkin to use for this recipe. My mom keeps telling me to use a white colored pumpkin. Could this be a valenciano pumkin? Did I not use enough sugar? I remember this dessert being delicious when I was younger and I’d love to make it for my family to try.

    • Ozlem Warren October 22, 2017 at 3:01 pm #

      Merhaba dear Gizem, thank you for your note – I use regular, orange pumpkin for this dessert and it worked well. Depending on where you are, i guess they may vary – by all means use a white colored one and see what happens, maybe a small one to try. You can also add a little bit – perhaps 120ml/4fl oz extra water to the tray if the released water not enough. I do hope it helps, afiyet olsun, Ozlem

  15. Hülya October 26, 2017 at 2:35 am #

    So excited for your book Özlem! I have been waiting for several years . Can I purchase on Amazon?

    • Ozlem Warren October 29, 2017 at 4:38 pm #

      Merhaba dear Hulya, thank you so much for your kind note – we are getting ready for pre-orders shortly!! You will be able to buy through my website and it will be shipped worldwide, so look forward to sharing with you all, many thanks, cok tesekkurlerimle, Ozlem x

  16. laura wozniak November 25, 2019 at 10:19 pm #

    Hi, I just came back from Turkey and I am going to try this for our Thanksgiving with Adana kebab and your salad. Just FYI, I am going to try it with kobocha pumpkin (the round dark green thin-skinned Japanese type). I will let you know how it goes. My favorite preparation in Turkey used THINLY sliced pumpkin and it must have not been cooked too long since it was not mushy at all. I loved that so I am also going to try thin and watch I don’t overcook it.

    Does it seem like this would work well as a variation?

    • Ozlem Warren November 26, 2019 at 5:28 pm #

      Merhaba Laura,
      So lovely to get your note – do hope you enjoy Kabak Tatlisi here, it is a popular recipe and I think your version will work well – it will be crispier being thinly sliced; Afiyet olsun, Ozlem

      • Melanie November 14, 2021 at 11:28 am #

        Well after many years I’ve finally made this recipe. It was delicious. I think I cut the pumpkin pieces too small as it took a long time to cook. Also some of the pieces were candied & others were like toffee apples. So I think I over cooked in the end. The guests didn’t know what it was but they all enjoyed it. I will definitely make this again

        • Ozlem Warren November 15, 2021 at 11:49 am #

          Merhaba Melanie,

          Many thanks for your kind note; happy to hear you enjoyed making the Pumpkin dessert. It helps if all the pieces are on one layer and mixing a few times during baking and pouring the syrup over. Afiyet olsun, Ozlem

  17. Ozlem Warren May 18, 2020 at 9:50 am #

    Merhaba dear Gizem, thank you for your kind note – yes butternut squash works great too : ) Afiyet Olsun, Ozlem x


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