Pumpkin Bread

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Oh pumpkin season! There’s a chill in the air, kids and adults alike are planning their Halloween costumes, and carving pumpkins are pouring out of the local market. Now’s the time for pumpkin bread, don’t you think?

Not all pumpkins are equal when it comes to cooking. Those large carving pumpkins? Probably best left to carving, and maybe salvaging the seeds to roastJack-o-lantern pumpkins are raised more for their durability than for their taste.

Pumpkin Bread

Most people use canned puréed pumpkin for baking recipes like this because of the consistent results. If you want though, you can easily roast up a sugar pumpkin, butternut squash, or kabocha pumpkin for its purée. You’ll get more roasted and caramelized flavor that way. Steaming also works, though you’ll miss the extra flavor from the roasting.

This pumpkin bread recipe is quite adaptable to different types of pumpkin purée and spice mixes. We took an old recipe from Fannie Farmer as a base and have made several changes to it over the years.

These days we use melted butter instead of vegetable oil (though you can easily use oil if you want), and we’ve added some ground ginger, grated orange zest, and molasses. We have also made a lovely optional glaze for the pumpkin bread—with orange juice, orange zest, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Enjoy!

Recipe updated, first posted 2006. If you are missing the original version of pumpkin bread we had posted, just swap out olive oil for the melted butter, and omit the ground ginger, molasses, and orange zest.

Pumpkin Bread Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Makes one loaf

You can easily double this recipe. If using the glaze, there is enough glaze for two pumpkin bread loafs.

We're using melted butter in this updated version of the recipe. You could easily use light olive oil instead, same proportions. In our opinion, butter tastes better.

Don't have molasses? You can sub the 1 cup of sugar and 2 tsp of molasses with 1 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar, packed.


  • 1 1/2 cups (200g) flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 cup (240 ml) pumpkin purée*
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 4 ounces (1 stick, 112 g) butter, melted (can sub 1/2 cup light olive oil)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons molasses
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest (optional)
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Optional Orange Glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

* To make pumpkin purée, cut a small sugar pumpkin in half horizontally. Use a large metal spoon to scrape out the seeds and stringy stuff. Place the pumpkin halves cut side down on a foil or Silpat lined baking sheet. Bake at 350°F until soft, about 45 minutes to an hour. Cool, scoop out the flesh. Freeze whatever you don't use for future use. Or, if you are working with pumpkin pieces, roast or boil them until tender, then remove and discard the skin.


1 Preheat oven and prepare loaf pan: Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Put in the middle rack of the oven. Butter the insides of an 8 x 4 x 3 -inch loaf pan.

2 Whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice in a large bowl.


3 Mix together the pumpkin purée, sugar, the melted butter, beaten eggs, 1/4 cup of water, molasses, and orange zest (if using) in a separate bowl.


4 Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined and there is no more dry flour in the batter.


Do not over-mix! If adding chopped pecans or walnuts, stir them in.

5 Bake: Pour the batter into the loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for 45 to 60 minutes (depending on your oven and the color of your loaf pan—dark pans cook the contents more quickly than light pans), or until a tester poked in the center of the loaf comes out clean.


6 Remove from pan and cool completely: Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes.

Then run a blunt dinner knife around the edges of the pumpkin bread to gently separate it from the pan.


Invert it to loosen it from the pan and put the loaf on a rack to cool completely.

7 Glaze: If using the glaze, whisk together in a medium bowl the powdered sugar, orange juice, zest, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. If too thick add  a little more juice. If too thin, add a little more powdered sugar.

Wait until the pumpkin bread has cooled completely before drizzling with glaze or slicing. Tip: use a serrated knife to slice. Less crumbs that way!

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Pumpkin Bread


Showing 4 of 111 Comments

  • Ann

    These were great. I subbed 1/3 whole wheat flour, and used half coconut oil and half butter for the fat and baked them in muffin tins. They came out moist and fluffy. I wrap them individually and freeze as a quick snack to have on hand or for lunch boxes.

  • Sharlene

    Thank you so much Elise for this recipe. I have been using the old version for years now at Thanksgiving for a festive treat. In Canada, pumpkin is sold in 3 cup tins, so I almost always make a triple batch. Thank you for adding to our family celebrations and memories!

  • Richard

    i’ve been making this bread for some time now and I can’t thank you enough for this recipe!
    The smell and flavor you get ( especially ) When you puree the pumpkin!
    Makes all the difference!

  • Jeanne Dinker

    I am getting ready to make this recipe and wonder if I might substitute whole wheat pastry flour for some or all of the white flour. Thank you.

  • Don Musselwhite

    In the glaze can I use brown sugar instead of powered sugar? Thanks,Don.

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