These healthy pumpkin recipes are total crowd pleasers: from dessert recipes like oatmeal cookies to main dishes like pumpkin gnocchi and stuffed shells!
Are you a pumpkin fan? Once cooler temperatures start to creep into the mornings, mania for that orange squash starts. So why not start the party with some pumpkin recipes? From creamy cheesy pasta to chewy oatmeal cookies with an icy drizzle, pumpkin is a truly versatile ingredient that makes satisfying flavors. Here’s a collection of our top pumpkin recipes that are both easy to make and relatively healthy. In this case, healthy is less about calorie count and more that each recipe is made with real, whole food ingredients. Ready to get started?
What is pumpkin puree?
But first, a bit about our ingredients! Pumpkin puree is cooked pumpkin that has been blended down into a puree. Note that for all of the recipes below, you’ll use pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin: do not accidentally grab pumpkin pie filling! It is sweetened and includes pumpkin spices. Since many of these recipes are savory, you’ll want plain old pumpkin. (Remind us to tell you the time we accidentally made our pumpkin Parmesan penne with pumpkin pie filling…!)
Also, did you know that most canned pumpkin also has butternut squash? (Here’s what’s really in your canned pumpkin puree.) Butternut squash is sweeter and creamier than pumpkin, which can be bitter and stringy. So many times manufacturers add butternut squash. To us, it’s not cheating: we just want a creamy, sweet puree that we can call pumpkin!
What is pumpkin spice?
Some pumpkin recipes don’t have that bright orange puree at all: they rely solely on pumpkin spices! Pumpkin has a fairly neutral flavor: our brains just associate the flavor of pumpkin with the spices in pumpkin pie. Some recipes simply don’t work with actual pumpkin: like iced coffee or energy bars. Pumpkin spices stand in to evoke the flavor; adding the actual vegetable here would make for a gooey texture and bland flavor.
What spices are in pumpkin spice? Here’s our Pumpkin Pie Spice recipe. It’s a blend of:
Just saying the words feels cozy, right? Now that we’re in the right frame of mind…let’s get to those recipes!
Easy and healthy pumpkin recipes
Let’s start with these chewy pumpkin oatmeal cookies, one of our most popular pumpkin recipes. They taste basically like oatmeal cream pies, but a healthy spin! They’re made with nutrient dense rolled oats and are totally plant-based. Made with coconut oil instead of butter, they’re topped with a powdered sugar icing. Omit the icing if you’d like them to be less sweet; they’re just as good!
Here’s our personal favorite of these pumpkin recipes: our pumpkin gnocchi bake! It’s got a savory pumpkin sauce made creamy with a little Greek yogurt. Doughy gnocchi pillows are baked in the sauce along with gooey goat cheese. It’s probably one of the coziest comfort foods we’ve baked up, and it consistently gets rave reviews! Every time we serve it, it very quickly disappears.
This one is our most popular of these healthy pumpkin recipes: pumpkin baked steel cut oatmeal! It tastes like pumpkin pie—really!—but is made of steel cut oats. Who doesn’t want to eat pumpkin pie for breakfast? It’s also fairly healthy, with a minimal amount of maple syrup as a natural sweetener, it’s a nice gluten-free whole grain option for mornings.
So remember that pumpkin gnocchi bake with the creamy pumpkin sauce? This pasta uses the same sauce, but this time pairs it with penne pasta and Parmesan cheese. It cooks up in just 30 minutes! And it tastes like a sophisticated take on mac and cheese. Said one reader: “You NAILED IT! The whole family loved this pasta dish. So creamy and flavorful!” That’s what we like to hear.
This one’s the simplest of the pumpkin recipes in this list: in just 5 minutes, you can make a killer fruit dip that’s pumpkin spiced! Just stir together Greek yogurt, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and some pumpkin spices, and you’re in business! Served with sliced green apples, it’s a tangy and delicious snack. We’ve served it at fall parties and book clubs and it’s the perfect fall treat.
Vegetarian stuffed shells are always a crowd pleaser: especially when they’ve got pumpkin inside! This pumpkin recipe has pumpkin puree mixed with ricotta and fresh sage as the filling for these jumbo shells. Bake them, topped with gooey cheese, in a quick marinara sauce and you’re in business.
Have you tried pumpkin hummus? If you’re a pumpkin fan, this one’s worth a try. It takes just a few minutes to whip up, and adding pumpkin puree makes it extraordinarily creamy. Don’t worry, in contrast to some of the other pumpkin recipes this one’s got no pumpkin spices! It’s strictly savory: serve with pita chips for a tasty fall snack.
Here's one to feed your pumpkin spice latte addiction: pumpkin spice iced coffee! There's no real pumpkin in this one, so it's up to the pumpkin spices to deliver that cozy vibe. And man, do they deliver! It's a serious cinnamon clove flavor that comes through. This one is also a healthy pumpkin recipe because it's basically a healthy pumpkin spice latte. It's lightly sweetened with maple syrup, and has only a hint of milk (dairy-free works too).
Add a sweet treat: Pumpkin Scones with Maple Glaze
Instead of pumpkin pie, why not…a pumpkin mousse that tastes just like pie filling? This unique spin is a vegan pumpkin mousse made by whipping coconut milk. And let’s just forget the crust: serving the pumpkin mousse in shot glasses topped with pumpkin seeds is cuter and easier!
In our list of pumpkin dessert recipes, this one’s a keeper! Greek yogurt that’s lightly sweetened with maple syrup is layered with a pumpkin filling made of pumpkin puree, pumpkin spices and mascarpone cheese. Add a bit of pecan skillet granola, whipped up in just 10 minutes in a skillet, and you’re in business. This one also works as a healthy breakfast or fall brunch recipe.
Speaking of snacks, these pumpkin spice no bake energy bars are a healthy snack fit for fall. Made of Medjool dates, cashews, and pumpkin spices, they’re full of protein and flavor. Make up a batch and keep them handy for when a craving hits.
To round out our healthy pumpkin recipes are these pumpkin pancakes! When Alex and I breakfast, we like oat pancakes: they’re made almost fully of oat flour, they’re heartier and more filling than the typical pancake. These oat pancakes are made with pumpkin puree and pumpkin spices, and for a little flair: a dollop of mascarpone cheese mixed with maple syrup. You can omit the topping for a healthier take and go with just a drizzle of real maple syrup: these pumpkin pancakes can hold their own.
Looking for more pumpkin recipes?
Here are a few more ideas for inspiration:
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.