There’s always a chilly morning shortly after what was unknowingly your last summer hurrah where you step outside and first smell the unmistakable, earthy scent of fall. You know that soon the leaves will turn, the air will crisp, and by instinct, you crave comfort.
While others are retrieving their chunky sweaters, extra throw pillows, and thicker blankets, I’m preheating my oven. For me, Autumn is prime baking season. It’s finally cool enough to turn on the oven and so many fruits and vegetables are ready to harvest: the last of the summer produce, apples, and, of course, pumpkins.
No pumpkin recipe is complete without spice, and that’s where pumpkin pie spice comes in. While you can find premixed blends at the grocery store, you probably have everything you need in your pantry to make pumpkin pie spice at home. And by making it yourself, you know exactly what’s in it and can customize it to your own tastes.
What Is Pumpkin Pie Spice?
Pumpkin pie spice is a blend of warm baking spices used not only for pumpkin pie but many of your favorite fall baked goods (and even some savory recipes). Pumpkin pie spice adds the sweet, spicy aroma we expect when indulging in pumpkin desserts.
The Pumpkin Pie Spices
You can adapt the blend to suit your preferences, but these are the essentials:
- Cinnamon makes up the bulk of the spice mix. It’s warm and cozy, sweet and woody, and no pumpkin recipe is complete without it.
- Ginger adds a sharp and spicy bite to the blend.
- Nutmeg is warm and nutty and contributes richness to the mix.
- Cloves are robust and fragrant, and a little goes a long way. They are bittersweet and help balance out the sweet spices.
- Allspice is a spice in its own right, despite its name. Its flavor resembles a mixture of other spices, especially cloves and black pepper.
How to Use Pumpkin Pie Spice
Use pumpkin pie spice in your favorite pumpkin and fall recipes, like muffins and quick breads, cookies, homemade lattes, even ice cream. It doesn’t have to be pumpkin either, you can add it to apple pie, molasses cookies, or sprinkle some on your oatmeal.
Don’t limit yourself to sweet recipes. It can bring warming richness to savory meals too. You could try it as part of a spice rub for a pork roast, in pumpkin or butternut squash soup, or add a dash to baked acorn squash. It tends to work best in recipes that have a little sweetness. Just remember, when adding pumpkin pie spice to savory recipes, a little goes a long way.
You can use this mix anytime a recipe calls for pumpkin pie spice, or replace the spices listed in your favorite pumpkin recipes with an equal volume of this blend.
If you’re modifying a sweet recipe that doesn’t already call for pumpkin pie spice, start by adding about a tablespoon and adjust from there. That’s usually the right amount of spice for most loaf cakes, muffins, and other baking recipes.
How to Customize Your Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend
When you make your own spice blends, you can adjust the amounts and customize the blend based on your tastes. If you prefer a cozier, milder flavor, you can increase the cinnamon. If you want it sharper and spicier, you can increase the ginger.
You could also try including any of the following:
- 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom for more of a zesty flavor.
- 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper to add some pungent spice.
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground white pepper for mild spice.
- 1 teaspoon of ground aniseed for a touch of licorice.
How Much Does It Make and How to Store?
This recipe makes 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) of pumpkin pie spice. But if you’re planning a fall baking marathon you can easily double it. The mix will last in an airtight jar for up to 6 months.
A jar of pumpkin pie spice also makes a wonderful fall-themed gift for family, friends, and coworkers.
Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend
- 1/4 cup ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons ground allspice
- 2 teaspoons ground cloves
Combine the spices:
In a small bowl, whisk together the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves until well combined.
Transfer to a container and store:
Transfer pumpkin pie spice to an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.