The World Is Finally Over Pumpkin Spice

Apple is entering the ring.

October 29, 2021
Photo by Rocky Luten

Before kids are even getting on the bus for their first day of school, coffee and retail chains have already stocked their shelves and updated their menus with pumpkin spice everything—lattes, pretzels and potato chips, flavored hummus, scented candles, and so, so, so much more. Pumpkin spice started to peak between 2012 and 2016 and hasn’t relented. But honestly, I’m over it and apparently, so is most of the United States. Sure, pumpkin spice products are festive and immediately want to make me put away my shorts forever and only wear my coziest fisherman’s sweater for days on end. But, with the exception of some luxurious pumpkin candles, many pumpkin spice products are not good! There, I said it and I won’t take it back. But don’t get mad at me. According to Pinterest data, most people feel this way.

Searches for pumpkin recipes are decreasing while more and more users are looking for apple recipes. This is not statistics class. I failed statistics class in high school miserably and would not be a worthy teacher. But the data doesn’t lie—pumpkin spice is no longer at the top of the food pyramid, so to speak. According to the social media platform, searches for pumpkin sheet cake is down 30 percent, pumpkin pie cheesecake is down 35 percent, and more generally, “pumpkin foods” is down 42 percent.

On the other hand, Pinterest users can’t get enough apple recipes—searches for apple cider donut cake and country apple fritter bread have more than four times the search volume than they did last year, while apple dumpling recipes and apple pie enchiladas have three times the search volume.

Instagram also examined just how much people care about pumpkin spice, assessing the top pumpkin foods by state. Their findings were based on the likes and mentions of pumpkin over the last month from in-feed and Instagram Story posts. In only four states—California, New York, South Carolina, and Texas—were pumpkin spice lattes the most popular pumpkin food. Overall, pumpkin bread was by far the most popular recipe in 13 different states followed by pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pancakes, and pumpkin pie, which were tied for the most popular in 12 different states each.

So we’re not exactly saying goodbye to pumpkin spice...we’re just saying see you later.

Recipes for Apple Lovers

Apple Crisp

The problem with apple crisp is that there’s just never enough crisp! Recipe developer Ella Quittner understood the assignment and made an extra-big batch with raw almonds, flour, brown sugar, oats, and butter. Use a heavy hand and sprinkle it generously over a jammy apple filling.

Brown Butter Apple Pie Cookies

Two desserts in one! Sliced apples are cooked in a nutty brown butter and then are arranged in individual pieces of pastry for a fall dessert that’s somewhere in between a mini galette and a cookie.

Apple Pie

No baker goes into fall without breaking out at least one apple pie recipe. This classic double-crust version is our personal favorite, thanks to an all-butter crust and a fruit filling made from tart, firm apples.

Easy Apple Galette

Looking for an easy apple dessert recipe? Instead of scouring the internet for just the right one, try this, which is our go-to for quick dinner parties or an easy holiday dessert. The beauty of galettes is that they don’t need to look perfect—in fact, they shouldn’t! A little rustic flair is a must.

Sourdough Apple Cider Doughnuts

For the ultimate fall weekend baking project, use your sourdough starter (remember the one you made at the beginning of the pandemic?) to make these cider doughnuts. Dare I say that they’re better than the ones you’d find at an orchard?

Recipes for Pumpkin Lovers

Pumpkin Bread

“Pumpkin bread should be quick to come together, confident in pumpkin flavor, and moist as can be,” writes food editor Emma Laperruque. The result is this perfect recipe, which gets its flavor from pure pumpkin purée, dark brown sugar, ground ginger, and pumpkin pie spice.

Pumpkin Cream Pie

For this pie, think light and creamy rather than dense or more custard-like. It has a gingery graham cracker crust, pumpkin cream filling, and a sour cream whipped cream. In a few weeks, it may very well have a new spot at the head of the Thanksgiving table.

Our Best Pumpkin Roll

“The Pumpkin Roll is a type of Swiss roll cake baked and shared during the holiday season. The sponge is flecked with pumpkin pie spice and the buttercream, beefed up with tangy cream cheese,” writes Coral Lee.

Sheet-Pan Mac & Cheese With Pumpkin & Brown Butter

Although pumpkin is generally associated with sweet desserts, there are so many savory applications too. And who doesn’t love macaroni and cheese? Pumpkin purée and nutty brown butter bring all the fall feels to this family-friendly recipe.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Caramels

Inspired by everyone’s favorite fall beverage (or is it?), Sohla El-Waylly developed these buttery candies that have genuine (not at all artificial) flavor, thanks to cinnamon sticks, whole nutmeg, whole cloves, fresh ginger, and instant coffee.

Are you team apple or team pumpkin? Sound off in the comments below!
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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • judy
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    Michelle Adele Kenyon
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Former Food52 Staff Editor


judy November 7, 2021
AS I am not a PS late drinker, I don't know the pleasure (not a coffee drinker, either!). But I am not over PS either. In my pumpkin pie. Make pumpkin pie, or just the custard several times during the holidays from Early November to the last one about January 3rd, whatever the first Saturday in January is. My final good by to the holiday foods season for another year. But bring on the apples as well, and fruit cake and cranberry sauce, and poultry season, and all he other traditional flavors of the holiday season....
RamonaT November 6, 2021
Nope! I've bought a ticket to the same train Emily is on - not over pumpkin and its spices. I love the sweet-earthy flavor of the pumpkin, the mouth-tingling spices and the fragrant aromas.
I find all the pumpkin spice products hilarious and it's fun to see what manufacturers come up with. Some are terrible and others are delicious.
I AM 100% OVER the snide and snarky articles and sneering listicles though.
But even that is entertaining...there's truly no middle of the road when it comes to PS!
emily November 1, 2021
I'm definitely still on the pumpkin spice train! Not a big fan of apple cider, apple pie, or artificial apple flavor - although I do love a fresh apple itself. Smitten Kitchen has a great apple cider caramel recipe that I make around the holidays - again, probably wouldn't make them just for myself but all my friends adore them!
Michelle A. October 31, 2021
I love pumpkin bread, but never enjoyed a PSL, which I find the most overrated and disgustingly sugar laden drink of all time. Anything apple related is good though, and a good apple pie cannot be beat!
emily November 1, 2021
I got one recently and had them just do one pump of the pumpkin spice syrup. It wasn't bad - definitely not nearly as cloyingly sweet as the regular version.
Jackie October 29, 2021
If only that were true, and I could stop reading about pumpkin spice everything everywhere I turn.