I Tested 6 of the Best Pumpkin Bread Recipes on the Internet—This Was the Clear Winner

‘Tis the season.

By Suruchi Avasthi
I tried 5 of the best pumpkin bread recipes and this was the winner

Thanks to this bake-off, my year has officially peaked. I’ve always wanted to uncover the best pumpkin bread recipe on the internet to find out once and for all if there really is a difference between them. Like many, I’m a pumpkin bread fiend. At the sight of the first falling leaf, I’m ready to break out my flannel and toss pumpkin spice around like confetti.

To be fair, if you look at the ingredients between most recipes, it’s hard to imagine there would be a difference. They all include some variation of flour, sugar, spice, pumpkin, and eggs. So with a little extra time on my hands (and an extra craving for comfort with the drop in temperatures), I decided it was time to determine which of these popular internet recipes is truly the best pumpkin bread recipe ever.

easy fall baking_best pumpkin bread recipe

For this bake-off, I stuck to well-known food publications that are reliably great recipe sources. And after polling my friends, most have tried at least one of these recipes. (Be sure to scroll to the bottom where I’m sharing a few more of my favorite pumpkin bread recipes from some of the best bloggers and bakers on the internet!)

Here’s how the best pumpkin bread recipe bake-off shook out, should you want to host one of your own.

Rules of the Road

No Mix-Ins

Some of the recipes I baked ask for optional toppings or mix-ins, but for the sake of comparison, I wanted a clean slate.

Must Follow Recipes EXACTLY

As someone who spends a lot of time in the kitchen, I’m used to taking a few liberties and inserting my own interpretations of recipes. However, for the sake of this bake-off, I stuck to the exact directions as written. That meant that even if I disagreed with the method or measurements, I ignored my personal opinions and followed the recipe exactly.

Ranking Guardrails

In the spirit of continuing to find fun and inventive ways to socialize with friends during this fall season, I invited a few friends to participate in the pumpkin bread tasting. My taste testers, my foodie friend Kristin, her husband Mark, and my friend Ka all had different expectations for what they thought made for the perfect pumpkin loaf, so I used their feedback to help guide my decisions.

Testers said that a pumpkin loaf should be different than banana bread. It should be slightly moister and have a nice crust in addition to a sharp pumpkin flavor. The ranking below is MY personal decision based on what I look for in a pumpkin loaf slice, aka, the perfect loaf.

  1. A nice rise and signature loaf look.
  2. A perfectly moist crumb.
  3. Heavy on the spice.
  4. Pumpkin flavor comes through.
  5. Does this loaf pass the second day test?

To be fair, all of the loaves I baked were good. I would even be content baking any of them again with some minor tweaks here and there. It really came down to the small differences that made some recipes better than others.

So without further ado, here is my ranking and the winner of my best pumpkin bread recipe bake-off!

fall baking recipes_best pumpkin bread recipe

#6 Epicurious Spiced Pumpkin Bread: For the Doorstep Drop-Off

This was the densest loaf and it didn’t quite achieve the rise that the others did. Unfortunately, I could barely taste any of the spices. Instead, all I got was an overwhelmingly sweet flavor. Some of my testers enjoyed the flavor a bit more, calling it “molasses-y,” which if you like that kind of flavor is nice.

I didn’t realize until I was getting ready to bake, but this recipe actually makes two loaves. Which hey, is great if you’re down to bake a loaf for yourself and another to deliver to a friend. The recipe also calls for (optional) chopped walnuts. Perhaps I would have liked this one more if it had the added texture of the walnuts and punched up the spices a lot, but overall, this one was average and ranked the lowest among the group based on flavor.

fall baking_best pumpkin bread recipe

#5 Food52 Pumpkin Bread: For the Beginner Baker

Food52 says “Pumpkin bread should be quick to come together, confident in pumpkin flavor, and moist as can be,” all things I was looking for in a pumpkin bread. This was the one recipe that I did not use a stand mixer for. In their directions, Food52 has you add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients in just a bowl (a technique that I was also surprised by as I’m used to adding dry ingredients in parts to wet ingredients). But again, I was following these recipes to a T.

This was also the ONLY recipe to ask for pumpkin pie spice rather than individual spices. Taste testers did like the pumpkin-y flavor here as well. I was super impressed with the bake and rise on this loaf as well. I actually didn’t mind this loaf, but was slightly disappointed as this was the driest crumb of all the loaves. The crumb did not improve in moistness the following days either. Perhaps I would try baking five minutes less than the written directions next time to see if that helps maintain a bit more moistness in addition to punching up the spices. I would have ranked this one higher if it had only delivered on its moist loaf claim.

taste-off fall baking_best pumpkin bread recipe

#4 Food and Wine Pumpkin Bread: For the Basic Loaf

I actually didn’t mind this loaf on its own! If I wasn’t comparing this loaf to others, I would be totally content with a slice of this pumpkin bread. My friend Kristin even ranked this one as her number one loaf and “the loaf I would want to eat with my morning cup of coffee!”

HOWEVER, this recipe only calls for one cup of pumpkin. My biggest pet peeve with any pumpkin recipe during the season is if I can use the whole can of puree or not. It also resulted in a very faint pumpkin flavor. The texture on this loaf is really nice though—it was the only loaf to rely on the creaming method of beating the butter and sugar together which added some nice lightness to the loaf. In the end, this was just a good, basic pumpkin bread recipe. Not disappointing, but not show-stopping either.

#3 Bon Appétit Pumpkin Bread: For the Flavor Fiend

This loaf caused the most conversation of the bunch and it was a close call between having this one be ranked #1 or #2. Some of my tasters loved this one. My friend Mark said this loaf had the best texture of the bunch, but others ranked this one in the middle of the road based on flavor.

Personally, I liked this loaf for a few reasons. It had the most complex flavor among the loaves, leaning on fresh grated ginger and heavy on the spices, in addition to the use of olive oil. It was the most artisanal of the group. My friend Ka didn’t love that the olive oil took away from the flavor of the spices and pumpkin, so my recommendation on this loaf is to ensure that you use really good olive oil because you will be able to taste it. The rise on this loaf was great as well. Some taste testers wanted slightly more moistness from the loaf, but agreed that the complexity in flavor made up for it.

easy fall baking recipes_best pumpkin bread recipe

#2 New York Times: For the Pumpkin Purist

What set this loaf apart from the others was the texture. The sour cream adds to the moist texture while also cutting through the sweetness from the very slight tang. This loaf also had the truest and purest pumpkin flavor. However, that is most likely from the fact that this loaf only uses cinnamon as its spice. This was the only callout from testers who all asked for more spices. As someone who also likes lots of spice, I will definitely add extra pumpkin pie spices to the batter next time.

The loaf stayed moist for days and even a week later which was truly impressive and made for a great morning coffee treat. I would recommend baking for five extra minutes if you prefer a loaf that’s a bit cakeier rather than moist. Overall, this loaf ranked high and won the “best pumpkin bread recipe” accolade for its texture and pumpkin flavor.

#1 Camille Styles: For the Cake Enthusiast

Before you go wondering whether the voting was rigged, let me tell you—one bite of this pumpkin bread and you’ll agree: it’s perfection. This isn’t your typical pumpkin loaf—in fact, it’s so indulgent that Camille calls it a cake. (Related: What exactly is the difference between pumpkin bread and cake? Maybe that’s for another story… ) I’ll get to the loaf in a minute, but first, let’s talk about the incredibly addictive cream cheese frosting. While other pumpkin loaves use oil, this one relies on butter for a moist crumb and dimension of flavor. The spices add an extra layer of toasty fall flavor. And don’t skimp on the walnut garnish—I love the contrast of crunchy texture against the soft loaf. Overall this feels like a truly iconic fall afternoon treat served alongside a cup of coffee.

easy fall baking_best pumpkin bread recipe

Final Thoughts

Pro Tip: If you find yourself getting sick of pumpkin, know that you can sub in sweet potato puree or butternut squash puree and you’ll barely be able to tell the difference.

If you’re in search of some different pumpkin loaves, here are a few more that I have made and loved.

The Best Pumpkin Bread from Camille Styles

Pumpkin Spice Bread with Cream Cheese Frosting from The Vanilla Bean Baking Blog

Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread from Jessica in the Kitchen

Pumpkin Tahini Loaf from A Cozy Kitchen

Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread from Broma Bakery

Comments (24)

  1. Fritz says:

    Great article! Thank you very much.

  2. Judy O'Donnell says:

    Try the pumpkin bread in the book Pacific Natural by Jenni Kayne. It is gluten free and uses coconut sugar for all of the sugar so it is less sweet. It has cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top to give a little crunch. Spices are good also. It is my new go to pumpkin bread. Because some gluten free breads tend to get gooey in the middle, I baked it in three smaller loaves. No goo.

  3. Virginia says:

    Thank you for posting this review of pumpkin breads. I have been looking for a good recipe and have tried a few that have fell short. So, I anxiously went to the NYT recipe you linked in your article and unfortunately, I am not able to get the recipe because I am not a subscriber to NYT. Ugh!!!

    1. Elaine says:

      Same here. No subscription – no recipe

    2. Starlene says:

      If you are quick enough, you can screen shot it before it boots you out !

      1. Kate says:

        Great tip, Starlene!

  4. Janet Lewis says:

    Like you, I love pumpkin bread. And, I’d like to try your #1 winner from The NY Times, but it doesn’t seem to be accessible unless I subscribe to their cooking account.

    I have a digital subscription to their newspaper, but I don’t want to subscribe to cooking section.

    Many thanks!

  5. Susan Thompson says:

    It’s also an option to use fresh pumpkin!

  6. Heather says:

    Would you link the winning recipe please?
    There are several when you search “Pumpkin Bread” in the NYT.

  7. Kassie says:

    Wowowow! What a service! Thank you so much for the doing the work here. Looking forward to making that NYT bread asap!

  8. Kim says:

    Would love the recipe for the NYT pumpkin bread. I was not able to find it on their site. Would you be able to email it to me? Thank you!

  9. Sydney85 says:

    Having trouble getting the recipe from The New York Times article. I would love to try but I do not want to subscribe to them.

  10. Maryann says:

    Smitten Kitchen has a great one with a cinnamon-sugar crust that my son LOVES!

  11. Virginia says:

    Great article. Unfortunately I was unable to view the NYT recipe. You have to be a subscriber to get many of their recipes.

  12. Georgie says:

    I have also made the NYT recipie with added spices. Excellent. Please note; I am not a baker! This was an easy recipe to follow.

  13. Gina says:

    Love this comparison as I also love pumpkin bread. I usually use the epicurious one but have followed many of the comments and decreased the sugar but half and upped the spices. I love being able to freeze the extra loaf or give it away. I also like this one for a treat with the crumb topping.
    I’ll be trying the NYT one since I do have a NYT sub. Thanks so much for doing this comparison!

  14. Lisa Pacello says:

    We cant get the recipie as not a NYTimes subscriber…..

  15. Virginia says:

    Hi there. I tried to download the NYT recipe but I have to have a subscription. Are you able to share it?

  16. KimR says:

    You’ve got me wondering about removing the moisture from the pumpkin puree to concentrate the flavor of it in the one from Bon Appetit. I do this in a cream cheese swirled pumpkin muffin recipe and it makes such a difference. Easy to do between layers of paper towels.

  17. MJ says:

    My friends and I swear by the Smitten Kitchen pumpkin bread. I make it every year.

  18. Karen Manasco says:

    Thank you so much for this great post!

    For those having trouble accessing through NYT, try this link:

    If that does not work, you can always Google the first few sentences, which I was able to capture by freeze-framing a video of the page before the ads popped up on the link in Suruchi’s post.

  19. Rachel says:

    What’s a good recipe if there are no measurements to guide you !?!? What am I missing?

    1. Casey McKee says:

      Hi! Each of the recipes we tested are linked within this article (there are six in total).

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