Pumpkin Pie

How to Make Pumpkin Pie Spice at Home

DIY this fall baking staple.

August  2, 2021
Photo by PHOTO BY TY MECHAM. PROP STYLIST: AMANDA WIDIS. FOOD STYLIST: ANNA BILLINGSKOG.

Picture this: It’s the weekend and you’re baking a pie, not because you have company coming over, but just for fun. You’re wearing a thick sweater, thicker socks, and you turn on the oven. While that heats up, you gather ingredients: flour, sugar, eggs, pumpkin purée, and—oh no. You’re out of pumpkin pie spice. But don’t worry: We can fix this! You can easily make DIY pumpkin pie spice at home using other basic spice staples like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Ahead, we’re sharing a few pumpkin pie spice recipes for when you find yourself in a pinch.


What Is Pumpkin Pie Spice?

Pumpkin pie spice is a cozy, earthy, mildly kicky American spice blend (that, just to be clear, contains absolutely no pumpkin). Even though it isn’t made with pumpkin, it’s a popular ingredient in pumpkin-based recipes like pies, loaves, cheesecake, and more. It’s sold in small jars in the grocery store in the spice aisle, and while it has its moment in the spotlight during fall, you should be able to pretty easily find pumpkin pie spice year-round. So what is in pumpkin pie spice? Odds are, several of the components are already in your pantry. The ingredient list leans heavily on baking spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger, but the specifics depend on the brand. Let’s review a few for inspiration:

The biggest takeaway here is that cinnamon is the first ingredient in every single formula for pumpkin pie spice. Because ingredients are ordered by quantity (from largest to smallest), this tells us that cinnamon is pumpkin pie spice’s dominant flavor. But from there, it’s a free-for-all. So let’s have some fun. Ahead, you’ll find recipes for homemade pumpkin pie spice that are as good as store-bought.


How to Make Your DIY Pumpkin Pie Spice

As long as cinnamon is leading the band—with a few backup instruments like ginger, nutmeg, and cloves—pumpkin pie spice can be made with many different spices. What matters is that the blend tastes delicious to you. Here, we’ll share a few different versions, depending on what you’re baking (or how you’re feeling that day).

Note: You can absolutely scale up these recipes to keep a bigger jar in your pantry. As long as you are using fresh spices (check the expiration date), they will stay good for months. If you’re wondering if your jar of pumpkin pie spice has gone bad, give it a smell. If it’s still noticeably potent, that’s a sign it’s still fresh. However, if it doesn’t smell warm and spicy, it’s sadly not going to give your baked goods tons of flavor.

Classic Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Everything-but-the-Kitchen-Sink Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground star anise
Spicy Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne

How to Use Pumpkin Pie Spice

I’ll be the one to say it: Pumpkin pie spice’s name is holding it back. This blend is good for a heck of a lot more than pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread, so don’t let that jar go to waste. Here are some sweet and savory recipes to get started (for the ones that don’t call for pumpkin pie spice in the ingredient list, just add it to taste).

Add to Any Pumpkin Recipe

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but pumpkin pie spice pairs quite well with pumpkin-based recipes. We’re talking pumpkin bread (Psst: we just published our test kitchen's best version!), pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin brownies, pumpkin flan, and so much more.

Use As a Substitute for Cinnamon

If a recipe calls for cinnamon and you want to up the ante, swap in an equal amount of pumpkin pie spice. It will just add notes of cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and pepper for a cozy depth of flavor.

Make Fall & Winter Vegetables Even Cozier

While pumpkin pie spice was made with dessert in mind, it’s just as valuable when it comes to dinner—especially with vegetables. Add homemade pumpkin pie spice to mashed sweet potatoes or sprinkled into the filling for our roasted vegetable enchiladas.

Spice Up a Crispy Chicken Crust

You’ve probably rubbed spices on a roast chicken or stirred some into the breading for chicken cutlets, yes? Let’s fall-ify that (the Spicy Pumpkin Pie Spice great here). The inclusion of freshly ground black pepper and cayenne pepper works well with savory dishes. We’ve shared a couple of our best ideas here, but experiment with your family-favorite recipes.


Our Favorite Pumpkin Recipes

Meta Given’s Pumpkin Pie

Don’t let this pie’s classic good looks fool you. Its flavor is dialed up, thanks to a Genius step: caramelizing the pumpkin purée.

Pumpkin Pie Cobbler

“Because the pie crust is on the top rather than the bottom,” author Erin McDowell writes, “there’s no fear of soggy bottoms, and no need to par-bake.” Yahoo!

Pumpkin Pudding

Aka pumpkin pie without a crust. If the thought of making flaky pastry gives you goosebumps, this one’s for you—just don’t skimp on the whipped cream on top.

Pumpkin Sugar Pie

The secret to the top of your pumpkin pie never, ever cracking, even if leave it in the oven too long? Mix some flour into the filling.

Pumpkin Cream Pie

A cold, creamy take on pumpkin pie. This version has a gingery graham cracker crust, filled with spiced pumpkin pastry cream, and topped with a tangy sour-cream whipped cream.

Pumpkin Bread

“Pumpkin bread should be quick to come together, confident in pumpkin flavor, and moist as can be,” writes recipe developer Emma Laperruque. This recipe calls for both pumpkin pie spice and ground ginger for extra spiciness. Dark brown sugar introduces deeper caramelized notes that we’ll never say no to.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

This cheesecake recipe doesn’t specifically call for pumpkin pie spice, but rather all of the ingredients to make pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves). Instead of using all four ingredients separately, just use an equal amount of pumpkin pie spice, which should amount to about 1½ teaspoons...plus a pinch for good measure.

What’s your favorite way to use pumpkin pie spice? Let us know in the comments!
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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • AntoniaJames
    AntoniaJames
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Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles on the fly, baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., and writing about the history of pie in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's award-winning column, Big Little Recipes (also the cookbook in October 2021!). And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

3 Comments

AntoniaJames August 3, 2021
When I make my own, I use this combination:

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice (one of my favorite spices)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves

I am crazy about Trader Joe's blend, which is quite cost effective, but limited as a seasonal item (so I stock up when it's in the stores - it sells out early here). That blend includes lemon peel. Its ingredient list says: cinnamon, ginger, lemon peel, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom. Given that federal regulations require the ingredients to be listed in descending order of quantity for each, you can see that the lemon peel is no afterthought. No doubt that's why it's so good.

I use pumpkin spice in the the apple baked oatmeal I make for my husband at least once a week, year round. (He loves the stuff. I've tried making it with strawberries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, etc., in the spring and summer, but he always asks for apple - except in the fall, when I alternate with pears. Pumpkin spice is wonderful with pears, too! Speaking of which, I put whole spices of my basic blend into the pickling brine for the pear quick pickles I serve come autumn.) ;o)

P.S. Karl, it feels like fall here in Colorado this morning, so this topic doesn't seem too early for me. And I'm with you on sweet potato pie - one the all-time great American pies!!
 
Karl W. August 2, 2021
It's literally the middle week of summer. FAR too early for the Scourge of Pumpkin Spice, which should not show up for another 2 months....and endured for the obligatory 2 months. (I love sweet potato pie, one of the great American pies.)
 
judy September 29, 2021
Nah, got to think about it early and get some free ready for baking season. I agree that to some degree it has become a scourge. But I use the full on combination in all kids of things besides pumpkin pie and bread: chai, generic sort of pan-Asian spice great in both sauce and for slaw dressing. Nice in hot cocoa and great in apple pie...so I always do up a batch in late summer early fall for the fall/winter season.