Easy Pumpkin Bread: quick and purty.


You know, there’s a reason they call certain breads “quick breads.”

Because they bake quickly?

No, not particularly.

Because they’re easy to put together and, once out of the oven, disappear quickly?

Yes, and yes.

This moist, golden pumpkin bread, a member of our 5-Star Recipes Hall of Fame (a.k.a. top-rated recipes), meets the criteria in spades.

Talk about quick…

When I bake a recipe for a blog post, it can be a long, drawn-out process. Each step needs to be photographed; special ingredients need their individual “beauty shots.”

Pancakes receiving a shower of confectioners’ sugar, a cake whose just-poured icing is dribbling over the edges, the bubbles around the edge of a hot apple pie…

These action shots sometimes require multiple takes. I take my photos in a north window, which reliably offers strong, indirect light. That window is located around the corner and down the hall from the test kitchen, which means round trips from kitchen to window to kitchen to window, over and over again, as cakes settle and popovers deflate and the melting chocolate chips in that decadent cookie firm up and lose their sheen.

As I said, it can be a long process. At the end of which I might have upwards of 30 or so blog-ready photos, showing stirring, beating, kneading, slashing, dolloping, scooping, sprinkling, shaping, and every other possible action that might require illustration.

As I take the photos and groom them for publication, I dump them into an online folder. When I’m ready to write the blog, I open the folder and start adding pictures.

Funny thing; when I  opened my photo folder for this Easy Pumpkin Bread, it contained a scant 11 photos.

My heart sank. Had I forgotten a whole series of steps? Some special ingredients? Had I totally spaced and deleted the photos from the camera before downloading?

As it turned out, none of the above. I carefully went through those 11 photos, and realized every step had its photo.

This blog will be short and sweet, for such is the nature of quick breads. Mix. Pour. Bake.


In fact, your biggest hurdle to making this bread right now might be the ongoing canned pumpkin shortage in the Northeast. Readers in New England are reporting a dearth of canned pumpkin in their local supermarkets.

I was lucky I had a can left over from last winter to make this bread; my local supermarket has been out of pumpkin (and its suitable for subbing sibling, squash) for weeks.

Word to the wise: If you find canned pumpkin, don’t hoard; but DO stock up. Thanksgiving is less than 2 months away…

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Now, you have your choice of what pans to use. For two loaves of plain, unembellished pumpkin bread – no chips, no nuts – lightly grease two 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pans.

For the full monte (both chips and nuts), lightly grease two 9″ x 5″ loaf pans.

For one plain loaf, one with chips and nuts, lightly grease one 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan, and one 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.

If you’re going to use either the chips or the nuts but not both, opt for the larger pan, just in case.

There – you all set?

Let’s continue.

Place the following in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth:

1 cup vegetable oil
2 2/3 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups (or one 15-ounce can) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
2/3 cup water

Can you use your own homemade puréed pumpkin? Sure. Just be aware that it’ll probably be thinner than canned pumpkin, so you’d want to add a bit more flour. Results may vary…

Add the following, beating gently to make a smooth batter:

3 1/3 cups (14 1/8 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Add 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, and 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips. Or not.

Or divide the batter in half, and add 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, and 3/4 cup chocolate chips to one half of the batter.

Here are my two loaves: the plain bread in the smaller pan on the left; the chip-and-nut bread in the larger pan on the right.

Next, sprinkle the top of either or both loaves with coarse white sparkling sugar. It adds compelling crunch, and a bit of sweetness.

Do you have to add the sugar? Absolutely not. I just like what it does to the top crust, taste-wise.

My fellow baker Susan Reid says, “At the bakery, we put pumpkin seeds on top of the pumpkin breads; it’s kind of cool lookin’.”

Bake the bread for 60 to 80 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean; and that same tester inserted about 1/2″ into the top of the loaf doesn’t encounter any totally unbaked batter.

This is the only even semi-challenging issue involved in making a quick bread. Sometimes it’s hard to get that last 1/2″, in the very center of the top of the loaf, to bake all the way through, without allowing the rest of the bread to over-bake.

It helps to tent the loaf with aluminum foil for the final 15 minutes or so of baking – both to protect from over-browning, and to trap heat right over the top crust.

Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack. See how the sugar on top kind of melts and caramelizes?

Be sure to cool the bread completely before slicing. In fact, if your schedule allows, wrap cooled bread, and don’t slice until the following day. That’s what I did with this plain loaf…

…and you can see how much smoother a 24-hour slice is, compared to this chips and nuts loaf, sliced while still slightly warm – I admit it, I couldn’t resist!

Another tip from Susan: Cut quick breads with a vented cheese knife; works like a charm!

One of each is a smart choice – you’ll cover all the bases, as far as pleasing your audience.

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Easy Pumpkin Bread.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...


  1. kedwards71

    I made this recipe last weekend and took both loaves to our family reunion. Everybody LOVED them. (I have emailed the recipe link on your website to several cousins!!) Both loaves were gone in about 10 minutes… This recipe is so easy and so tasty. It will be one of my go to fall favorites from now on. Thanks KAF, no never disappoint. BTW we are enjoying a “pumpkin boom” here in Michigan, as the media calls it.

    Hooray for a pumpkin boom! I’m sure Libby’s will find its way to our shelves ere in New England soon… Glad the pumpkin bread was a ht. it’s SO nice and moist, isn’t it? PJH

  2. Brenda

    YUM! But think mine will have craisins rather than chips. Might be a while before it gets made–in the middle of cutting & chopping for zucchini relish. Once that’s done, have some disappointing apples that will become apple crisp with added boiled cider to compensate for lack of flavor. If there’s any ambition left, maybe some Ippy bread tomorrow-basically a white bread with added oatmeal and wheat bran & germ; a very silky-textured dough. Roll out, spread with brown sugar & cinnamon, roll up, roll out again, more brown sugar & cinnamon, roll up, & bake. Need you ask what it’s like lightly toasted & dripping with butter?

  3. "crowing hen"

    I recently made up a whole bunch of pumpkin goodies and this recipe (I made it both with and without the chocolate) was hands-down everyone’s favorite. I’m planning to make up a bunch of them for an upcoming library fundraiser. :)

  4. "Amanda C"

    Can’t WAIT to try out this pumpkin bread!! Whenever I use my homemade pumpkin puree, I always strain it first, and that has always worked well for me.

    Thanks for the tip, Amanda – PJH

  5. janer01

    I have been making this bread since 1970, got the recipe (okay not exactly this recipe but SO CLOSE as to be the same) from a family friend (I was 9!). Then over time (being that i have a degree in food science), I tinkered with it. If you want less guilt, I mean fat and calories but don’t want to sacrifice any of the flavor, use 1/4 c oil, 3/4 c. unsweetened applesauce, and reduce sugar to 2 cups. I also am curious as to why you only use nutmeg? I use 1 T cinnamon, 1 t ginger, and a dash of cloves. This is one of the top 3 recipes EVER. LOVE!

    Jane, it’s true, I’m sure this recipe has been through a bunch of iterations. I’m betting someone along the way didn’t like cinnamon (yes, it’s possible, surprisingly!), ginger, and cloves. That’s usually the way recipes evolve – everyone tweaks to taste before passing along. Thanks for the hint about less oil and sugar – I’ll definitely give it a try. PJH

  6. melihah

    I want to add toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) but only want them on top (not in the middle)…like those slices they sell at Starbucks. Should I put the pepitas on right away (as described in the steps above) OR wait a little bit and then put them on when the dough is slightly cooked (so they don’t sink in)?

    I’d wait till the loaf is fully able to support the seeds without collapsing. I think they’d still end up sticking, even if you don’t put them on right away. Let us know how it works out – PJH

  7. fran16250

    Brenda, Ippy bread sounds great!
    As for the pumpkin bread, I like the fact that it does not call for pumpkin pie spice, I think simply nutmeg is perfect. I will make this recipe for an upcoming bake sale but I’ll make it as muffins with chocolate chips. If I can’t get pumpkin in a can I’ll use home cooked fresh pumpkin. If the pumpkin seems a bit loose I’d suggest straining it. I made a double batch of Whoopie pies last night, yum. They will be going to the bake sale too.
    Thanks again for another great recipe. I’m getting back into the groove of fall baking after a bit of a hiatus over the summer.
    and PJ….think of all that walking back and forth to the sunny window as a way to work off some of the samples.

  8. Ginger

    How do you think this bread would be baked in the King Arthur Tea Loaf pan? I may give it a try for one of the loaves, since I only own 1 tea loaf pan.
    This is the perfect pan for quick breads. Go right ahead! ~Amy

  9. hendry

    NO CANNED PUMPKIN? Ack. SUBSTITUTE canned YAMS or SWEET POTATOES. (Drain and mash) For fun, I tried this recipe, for the first time, with the canned yams – SUPER. To die for yummy. Then, I used the canned pumpkin (my pantry is kept full year round) – and found not much difference, that I could detect. I do use spices liberally including extra cinnamon. My neighbor (ok, competitor) made to out-do me, so she used cooked butternut squash (mashed) – and BINGO.

    PS. Anyone who gardens – don’t forget butternut squash – they keep for 8-12 months in storage. And then treat it like pumpkin or yams.
    Great substitution tips. Thanks for sharing the bounty of your garden! Happy Baking – Irene @ KAF

  10. epicharis

    I’ve been making this since it was first posted as “Emmy’s Pumpkin Bread”. Thanks, Emmy! I love this recipe to tears and it is a hit wherever it goes. I’ve never made the glaze, as it seems like too much—just the pumpkin and chocolate together is so rich and satisfying. Although it might be good with crystallized ginger instead too!

    Thanks to KAF for the best pumpkin bread recipe I’ve ever made. My only addition is a couple shakes of cinnamon which I think brings it out juuuust right.

  11. aoifeofcheminnoir

    I want to use my two-piece pumpkin cake pan (the one you put the two halves together to make a round pumpkin). I think I’ll try this in it (but not put the halves together). Do you think the recipe will okay in the pans? They are supposed to hold 10 cups, total. I’d also like to add some chopped dates and nuts if they wouldn’t make too much batter.
    Yes, I’m one of those strange people who aren’t fond enough of chocolate chips to put them in everything!
    This recipe should be fine in the pumpkin pans and yes, you can add the dates and nuts. ~Amy

  12. mboone5758

    I can find pumpkin in all the stores around me here in ATL. BUT, I have used sweet potatoes as a substitute for pumpkin. Like–last year, I bought a box of sweet potatoes from the GA Farmer’s Market. That box was 40lb! I split it with a friend and we each got 22 huge sweet potatoes. The cost was well under $20!!!!!

    I’d bake 2 and eat them all week. You can freeze whole after baking-or cut in slices and warm them in the microwave for a great lunch or side dish.

    I used them for souffle, pie, quick bread, and yes–for muffins. I added plenty of spices and they were delicious.

  13. tommix

    Lots of whole and canned pumpkin here in Western PA, too. I’m assuming it would be okay to substitute raisins for the chips. Maybe 1 cup raisins for the 1-1/2 cups chips since the raisins are slightly larger. Or does it matter?

    I think you want to match the total volume of chips/nuts with raisins/nuts (or all raisins, or…) – so long as the volume matches, it doesn’t really matter how large the individual pieces are (within reason). Enjoy – PJH

  14. tommix

    Also…why not mix the nuts and chips in a bowl and then stir into the entire batter before filling up the two pans?

    Feel free to mix those add-ins before stirring them in, Tom – I’m lazy and didn’t want to add an extra step, but no reason not to mix them together first if you like. PJH

  15. ano

    i’ve been making this pumpkin bread since it was featured in a KAF catalogue as Emmy’s pumkin bread (some time in the early – mid 90’s I think) and it’s always a big hit! It also freezes excellently, great to have on hand!

    One question-the original recipe called for creaming the oil and sugar for approx. five minutes, then adding eggs (possibly one by one) then the pumpkin and water. You mix all the liquids at once just till smooth (how long did that take?) Did you decide that it’s necessary to beat the ingredients in stages?

    The original recipe had some type of glaze, that I usually skip – I like the idea of using sparkling sugar on top and expect to try that.

    The recipe, like all recipes, has evolved over the years; at some point, I’m betting one of us just decided not to cream the oil and sugar, it came out fine, and we dropped that step. Often there’s no conscious choice to test a step, in old, well-loved recipes; it just kind of happens, then sticks. So feel free to use the method you’ve always used instead of this shortcut! And thanks for the reminder that this freezes well; it does, indeed. PJH

  16. "Paul from Ohio"

    After the over-nighter tightly wrapped up in the fridge, letting the bread warm to room temperature is perhaps a good thing – relative to better/nicer looking slices?
    Hey there Paul,
    I checked the blog and while PJ does call for wrapping the bread overnight, I didn’t see anything about putting in the fridge, so I’d say you can just leave the bread out on the counter for the overnight rest. No warming needed. If I missed something, definitely let me know. ~ MJ

  17. tdsmothers

    Found this recipe on the KAF website a couple of weeks ago & made two loaves–one with cranberries & the other with a pecan streusel on top. DELICIOUS! I did make a slight substitute concerning the one cup of oil–I used 1/4 c. of oil & 1 c. of unsweetened applesauce instead & it worked out great. This way I don’t feel as guilty eating a larger slice since it doesn’t have as much oil & the pumpkin is so good for you with all of the vitamin A that it contains! I’ve had no difficulty finding pumpkin puree in NC. Hope you will get more shipments headed your way soon!
    Glad to hear the applesauce worked out so well. Thanks for sharing this version. ~ MaryJane

  18. Darla

    I am on a diet to lower my cholesterol and this might actually be ok! I know that it is a bit dessert-like, but pumpkin cannot be denied!

  19. tigerlily09

    I was at Target this afternoon and saw a box of Libby’s pumpkin bread mix. I imagined what it would taste like with all the stabilizers and preservatives – no thanks! Today I roasted the last of my farmers’ market pumpkins. I went to the last market of the year and got half a dozen pie pumpkins for $5 (I got a good price because I cleaned them out.)

    It makes me sad how people don’t realize that it takes about the same amount of time to throw together a quick bread as to use a mix. The homemade is so far superior! I’m glad I’m one of the few who really enjoys home-baking (and home-eating, of course.)

    I’ve made this recipe a couple of times so far this year, each time using my local pumpkins. I put the pumpkin in a sieve with some cheesecloth for a few hours first. Plus I skipped the added water. The results were tasteriffic!

    Tasterrific – love it! You got a good deal on those pumpkins for sure. Now you can put some purée in the freezer and be ready for pumpkin bread, scones, pie, and muffins all winter. Enjoy – PJH

  20. Lynn

    I have problems baking breads and cAkes with our high altitude. Everything seems to fall. Are there any changes with ingredients that need to be made with this pumpkin bread recipe?
    Hi Lynn. Yes, baking at altitude is definitely a challenge. Thankfully, we have excellent high altitude baking tips online that can be a huge help. ~ MJ

  21. Marcia

    Hi I saw the comments about substituting sweet potatoes for pumpkin. Do you have to adjust the liquid added because it seems that sweet potatoes are drier than pumpkin is. The recipe sounds delicious and eventually I’m going to try it. thanks for posting.
    You should be able to use the sweet potato without any adjustments. ~Amy

  22. Charlie O.

    I found this recipe to be very easy and good and tasty. It was made plain with less sugar and was baked in a pound loaf pan. It couldn’t have been better. I can’t find any thing that it needs except restraint.
    What a great comment Charlie, it made my day. If you have extra restraint, I could use some! ~ MJ

  23. Emily Whitcome

    I can’t wait to try this recipe! I am a total beginner in the kitchen and I was curious if glass bread pans work the same as tin bread pans?? Thank you!

    Our website states the following: Because clear glass conducts heat almost too quickly compared to aluminum, it’s recommended you reduce your oven temperature 25°F when using a glass pan. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

  24. Jennifer A Scott

    Loved how easy this recipe was i didnt have nuts or chocolate chips but im sure it would have been good but i added more sugar as suggested by someone else and i too used allspice in place of nutmeg and we made a lemon glaze to drizzle over the top which was a great touch ! Oh and we made pumpkin bread muffins with large tins they came out moist and delicious thank you!

    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Jennifer, so glad this recipe was a hit for you. And thanks for the tips about the lemon glaze, and the allspice – much appreciated! PJH

  25. Bonnie Grady

    I pulled up the pumpkin bread recipe for using self-rising flour and it was using plain. I wanted to make it now and am out of plain flour! Help!

    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Bonnie, if you substitute 3 1/2 cups self-rising flour for the all-purpose; omit the baking powder and salt; and reduce the baking soda to 1/2 teaspoon, I think it’ll turn out fine. PJH

    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Start by substituting white whole wheat for half the all-purpose flour; let the batter rest for 20 minutes before putting the bread into the oven. If you like the result, increase the percentage of white wheat next time around. Enjoy – PJH

  26. Jennifer K.

    Thanks for the recipe! This was the first time I’ve made pumpkin bread and it turned out very well. I made one plain and one with walnuts/chocolate chips. Both are delicious!! Thanks!

    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Jennifer, so glad to hear your first try at pumpkin bread was a success. It’s really easy, isn’t it? And SOOOOO tasty… Thanks for taking the time to post your comments here. PJH

  27. moondog98765

    I had a question about the type of pumpkin to use. The recipe says to use, “2 cups (or one 15-ounce can) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)”. The only thing I find at the store is cans of pumpkin pie filling. Short of actually buying a pumpkin and using the real thing – what are they talking about? Do stores or places on the internet sell canned pumpkin that’s different than pie filling? If so who?

    George M.

    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      I’ve never seen a store that didn’t sell plain canned pumpkin (or squash, a good equivalent) – maybe you’re just misinterpreting? If you find a 15-ounce can that says “pumpkin” on it, I’m sure that’s what you want; “pumpkin pie filling” comes in a much larger can, since it has to fill an entire pie. So check back at your local store, OK? Good luck – PJH

  28. Peggy

    I made this and since I puree my own pumpkin I cut the water to 1/3 and I used applesauce instead of oil. Since i do not like things real sweet i cut back on the sugar to 2 cups and I used pumpkin pie spice. It cooked very nicely with a wonderful aroma and is delicious. i will use this recipe again.

  29. Pat

    This recipe sounds great! But just wondering if a bundt pan can be substituted for the loaf pans? Any changes to temp or baking times if using a bundt pan?

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      You should be able to use a bundt pan for the recipe. The baking will be closer to the 80+ minutes, so keep a close eye on the bread and cover with foil if it is browning too quickly. ~ MJ

  30. Beth

    Can the final bread be frozen? If so, how long will it keep in the freezer? I am making a large quantity for a No Kid Hungry bake sale and would like to make some in advance, if possible. Thanks!

    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Yes, Beth, this bread freezes quite well; in fact, I have some in the freezer right now, for a church breakfast. I suggest not freezing longer than a month, as the bread will start to dry out and could take on off flavors from the freezer. Good luck with your bake sale – and thanks for donating your time and efforts to this great cause! PJH

    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Yes, you can use melted butter, Kathy. Same amount as the oil called for. Good luck – PJH

  31. ccarter756

    I have a pumpkin bread recipe I’ve used for years, and I’m throwing it out for this one. I like the simplicity of using just the nutmeg – the earthy pumpkin flavor comes through better. The recipe is simple to make, and makes a moist loaf. I froze the second loaf, and it thawed and served as though it were freshly baked. I used walnuts in my loaf, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We’re so glad to hear this recipe has become a new member of your repertoire! We hope you continue to enjoy it for many more years to come…Happy Baking! Jocelyn@KAF

  32. Cathy

    Just found this recipe on an email I received. Had to try it right away since it is October. It was utterly amazing. I added chopped kisses since I didn’t have any morsels handy and chopped pecans. It is now my go-to recipe. Plan on making it again this week. Sent it in to my husband and son’s work and it was enjoyed by all. Thank you sooo much!

    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Cathy, our pleasure. So glad we were able to add a “new favorite” recipe to your stash! PJH

  33. Robyn Johnson

    Can anyone tell me how to get these out of the pan? I always grease the pan, but I have never been able to get one out intact. Thank you for any help.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Using a good non-stick pan will certainly help, Robyn. You can also try flouring the pan after greasing. Jon@KAF

  34. Jo-Ann Minishi

    Love love this recipe!
    How many loaves can you make out of this batter to give one serving per person?
    Mini loaf pan, what size?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      The baker’s tips suggest making eight 3″ x 5″ loaves, with the addition of the chips and nuts. Bake the loaves for about 45 to 60 minutes; start testing at 45 minutes, and remove from the oven when a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the loaves comes out free of crumbs. Or you could bake as muffins for a single serving. Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes. Enjoy! Elisabeth@KAF

  35. Anne

    So good, very moist and flavorful. Baked two loaves with golden raisins and dried cranberries, two plain. Both were delish! Thanks for an easy recipe that tastes good.


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