Pumpkin Christmas Bread

November  9, 2021
18 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 8
Author Notes

We don’t fuss with fancy breakfasts on Christmas. After all, there are more important jobs to attend to that morning, like opening presents. So at our house, we always have this pumpkin bread to nosh on. I’ve adapted this recipe from one I received from my friend Heather. The original made 3 loaves. I adjusted the quantities and spices to suit my taste and one loaf pan. Fair warning, the bread is highly addictive. It’s perfect spread with softened butter, or some fig jam, or softened cream cheese, or just plain nekkid. —mrslarkin

Test Kitchen Notes

Yes, there are more ways to use up that pumpkin purée than just pies whenever Thanksgiving rolls around. Time to think outside of the box. If you're looking for an easy, satisfying bread recipe that will please family and friends for the holidays or just whenever you want your kitchen to smell like homemade bread, this is for you. It's an eggless (!), dairyless (!) loaf cake for breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, dessert... Yep, whenever the mood strikes, whatever time of day, whatever kind of day you're having, you'll turn to this comforting bread. And to make it, all you have to do is dump, stir, bake. A combination of ground cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg will warm you up and keep you satiated, but feel free to experiment with your favorite spices. Just keep in mind as you're mixing that the batter will be very thick, and you may have doubts about what you're doing at that point, but believe in yourself and bake on.

In her testing notes, aargersi called this pumpkin bread "magic"—and she's right. It's soft, it's tender, it's sweet, it's spicy, it's got height, it's got everything we want in a loaf cake. It's so good that two Food52-ers specifically recommended it. Plus, it makes a great edible gift—it is both portable and scalable. Just make sure to make an extra (or two!) for yourself. You can also make it ahead of time and freeze if you'd like. Simply let the loaf defrost at room temperature before digging in. —The Editors

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Pumpkin Christmas Bread
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 10 ounces pumpkin purée (just over a cup-full if you're measuring and not weighing)
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans or walnuts, optional
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  1. Heat the oven to 325°F. Spray one large (about 9-by-5-inch) loaf pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. In another bowl, mix the pumpkin purée, pecans, if using, and oil.
  3. Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture and stir well until smooth. (It's a thick batter!) Spoon into the prepared pan pan and lightly smooth out the top with a spatula.
  4. Bake for about 1 hours and 15 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out dry and clean. Let cool. It'll seem like the loaf doesn't want to come out; just give it a few good slaps on the bottom of the pan, and it'll come right out.
  5. If you'd like to make three large loaves, triple the ingredients, use a 29-ounce can of pumpkin purée, and mix in a great big bowl. Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes. This triple recipe can make 7 mini loaves (6-by-3-inch mini loaf pans). Bake the mini loaves for 1 hour.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Muhlyssa
  • Melanie
  • Barbara Leonard
    Barbara Leonard
  • Adrienne
  • mrslarkin

132 Reviews

Muhlyssa November 4, 2023
My other note is to use your mixer unless you’re looking for an upper body workout today
Muhlyssa November 4, 2023
This was really good. My only change was I added a pinch of salt and I think it needs it.
Elana September 24, 2023
Love this recipe. It’s perfectly moist and wonderfully spiced. I add about 1/3 cup of pepitas and a sprinkling of turbinando sugar on top for a crunchy top.
Kathy P. December 19, 2022
LOVE this recipe and make it often. Not too sweet. Super fast to put together. I add a topping of toasted nuts mixed with a bit of cinnamon and honey for some texture. Definitely add the chopped nuts to the batter. I use pecans.
Gillian December 24, 2021

Loved it. Followed the exact recipe
Melanie December 21, 2021
I love this recipe! I've made it several times and have adapted to my tastes: double the cinnamon and clove, add one teaspoon Chinese five spice and one teaspoon ground ginger. Omit nutmeg. Toasted walnuts before adding to batter. Also chopped dried apricots and mission figs and macerated for 30 mins in cognac. Add to batter and I use a long narrow loaf pan I bought in France. I also sprinkle a tablespoon or so of turbinado sugar over the top of the loaf before popping into the oven. Very nice presentation with or without caramel sauce and cinnamon ice cream! Dress up or down!
mrslarkin December 21, 2021
Ohhhhh my gosh that all sounds fabbbbbbbb! I’m so happy you like it!
ABBY November 12, 2021
It's missing salt and it came out very gummy-ish...not sure how to describe it but the recipe is definitely missing salt and a little more sugar. I
spatula-bob February 11, 2021
I was looking for a low fat, cozy winter dessert recipe, and this did not disappoint! I used EVOO in place of vegetable oil and did opt for walnuts. I used a glass Pyrex loaf pan coated in a misting of olive oil spray.

It turned out great. I think the loaf is particularly good served with something creamy. To keep it vegan, I served it with a small scoop of vanilla Oatly (oatmilk) ice cream, but for morning or alongside coffee I think it would be great spread with cream cheese.
Jennifer G. November 30, 2020
This recipe got a rare dual thumbs up from both my husband (sugarphobe) and daughter (sugarphile). We roasted our halloween pumpkin and used that. It worked beautifully - it wasn't entirely pureed so you get an occasional chunk of pumpkin.
Barbara L. October 30, 2020
What a great simple, satisfying recipe...I reduced white sugar to 1/2 cup, added 1/2 cup of dried cranberries, and 1/2 cup toasted walnuts - then filled 12 muffin tins and baked fo 40 min. Yum!
missshar August 4, 2020
I made this yesterday but the batter turned into a literal dough. I ended up adding some almond milk to loosen the batter a little. I'm just wondering how thick it's supposed to be. It still turned out amazing! Any advice would be appreciated.
mrslarkin August 4, 2020
It’s a VERY thick batter. I would not add more liquid. Just keep stirring!
missshar August 8, 2020
Thank you! I have lots of pumpkin puree leftover so I'll definitely try it again :)
mbobden June 4, 2020
I am wondering if a stand mixer will make quick work of mixing the wet/dry ingredients as it's such a thick batter? By hand, this requires substantial mixing and therefore "overworking" the batter. I suspect this is why my cake didn't get quite the rise I would have liked or as well a rise as pictured here on the recipe. Any thoughts on this or perhaps a "trick" to mixing this thick batter that has been successful for you.
mrslarkin June 5, 2020
Sure! A stand mixer would do the job! I’d use a low setting.

When I mix by hand, I use a wooden spoon and stop when the last bit of flour is incorporated.
mbobden June 4, 2020
This loaf made a vegan friend very happy! Am wondering if I can replace the 10oz pumpkin with mashed banana and make a vegan banana loaf?!
mrslarkin June 4, 2020
I haven’t tried it w banana but I’d totally give it a shot. Maybe drain the mashed banana first and mix w a bit of lime juice to keep it from turning very brown.
Holly January 22, 2018
Oh, mrslarkin: I had huge reservations about this recipe as I scooped the concoction into the baking pan. Shame on me!!!!!
Dee January 7, 2018
Great recipe for pumpkin bread. Knock it out of the park by adding cardommon, golden raisins, juice & zest of one orange and a tbs of Grand Mariner. Deelish! Freezes nicely also.
Adrienne December 17, 2017
A nice easy recipe. I used muffin tins and they took 35 min to bake to perfection. Next time I’ll up the spice content based on my own obsession with cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. Thanks for this one!
Rachel November 29, 2017
Awesome vegan recipe. For a little extra lift throw in a splash of Apple Cider Vinegar. Lining the pan with parchment made for easy removal and clean storage. I used beet sugar and molasses since I don’t buy brown sugar, I also cut the sugar by 10% to 180g, next time I’ll try just 150g. I like the texture you get with a generous amount of toasted walnuts. Thanks for putting this recipe up! Happy baking!!
noknok November 19, 2017
Here are gram weights for those who need them:
245g AP flour
200g granulated sugar (I used 150g)
65g light brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
(I also added 3/8 tsp salt and 1 TBS ground flax seed and 100g ground pecan)
80ml vegetable oil
300g pureed pumpkin
(mine was really dry, so I added 60g full fat yogurt to wet ingredients)
Bake at 160'C and start checking at the 1h mark. Mine was totally & perfectly done by then.

Our family loved this (including my son, who says he hates the entire squash family!) - with my adjustments, it's not too sweet and great for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

There is no pureed pumpkin where I live, so I roasted a kuri squash for 45m (quartered and baked at 200'C, then ran it quickly through a food processor). It may have been drier than normal pumpkin puree, which may account for the need for extra wet ingredients.
Jeremy W. November 16, 2020
When you add yogurt to a vegan recipe O__O
Kt4 December 27, 2020
You respond as if only vegans use vegan recipes. And as if "vegan" has only 1 definition for everybody.
Noknok posted what worked for them. You don't need to be critical of that no matter what your opinion is.
Oyin W. October 26, 2017
A great recipe for my son's toddler class. Split the recipe into 3 mini loaf pans and baked for 50 minutes. I didn't see M.B's comment on possibly adding a little salt. Not a bad idea for the next time.
Marie November 5, 2016
I made this today exactly as written. I wanted to try it because I have a vegetarian friend who doesn't eat eggs and I'm always on the lookout for delicious recipes I can share with her. This is quite good, but it's missing something. I think I've figured it out. There's no salt. I will make it again, but next time I'll add somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 tsp of salt. Otherwise, I agree with other tasters who raved about this.