These healthy pumpkin recipes are total crowd pleasers: from dessert recipes like oatmeal cookies to main dishes like pasta and soup!
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 this healthy pumpkin muffins recipe, pretty much the best fall use of a muffin wrapper that there is! There’s the tender interior, perfectly moist with pumpkin puree and infused with pumpkin pie spice. Then there’s the streusel topping: oats and glittery turbinado sugar. It makes a satisfying crunch, and every bite is just the right sweet and spice. Even better? Each one is less than 200 calories.
These pumpkin oatmeal cookies are 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.
Want to make pumpkin soup, but don’t want to roast an entire pumpkin? This is the recipe for you! All you need is a can of pumpkin puree. It’s got another secret ingredient too, that makes it more filling than a standard creamy soup: red lentils! The lentils thicken this soup and give it creamy body. Top sour cream swirls and crunchy homemade croutons, and well: it’s a cozy masterpiece.
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.
Fuzzy blankets, wool sweaters and hot cider can’t hold a candle to this one. Yes, this vegan pumpkin bread is the ultimate in cozy. It’s perfectly moist and intensely pumpkin spiced. Even better, it’s light and fluffy: so you get your pumpkin spice fix without it being overly heavy or rich. It’s a seriously good pumpkin bread that happens to be plant-based too!
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. Topped with just a drizzle of pure maple syrup, these pumpkin pancakes are heavenly.
Looking for more pumpkin recipes?
Here are a few more ideas for inspiration:Print
These chewy pumpkin oatmeal cookies are over the top delicious: they’re vegan, full of pumpkin spices and drizzled with a simple powdered sugar icing.
For the cookies
- 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
For the powdered sugar icing
- 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons milk or almond milk
- In a medium bowl, combine the rolled oats, all-purpose flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and kosher salt.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the coconut oil, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium high for about 30 seconds, scraping the bowl as necessary, until well combined. Add in pumpkin and vanilla and combine on low for a few seconds until fully combined. Gradually add in the bowl with the dry ingredients, mixing on low, until combined into a dough.
- Place the bowl in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the bowl with the dough from the refrigerator. Make 24 1 1/2 tablespoon-sized balls (a size 40 cookie scoop, if you have it) and place them onto the baking sheet. Lightly flatten the tops of each cookie with your hand.
- Bake for 11 minutes until lightly browned on the bottom. Remove from the oven and allow to set on the baking sheet; after 2 minutes, transfer to a wire baking rack. For best results, bake in 2 batches (refrigerate the dough in between baking); this gets the most even bake. If making the glaze, allow to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
- To make the powdered sugar icing, stir together the confectioners’ sugar and milk until a smooth sauce forms and all lumps are dissolved (if using a thin consistency almond milk, start with 1 tablespoon and increase by little bits until it is smooth). Place the cookies on parchment paper, dip a fork into the glaze and drizzle in a zigzag pattern. Let the cookies sit at room temperature until the glaze is dry, about 20 minutes.
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: Cookies
Keywords: Pumpkin Recipes
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.