These healthy and easy pumpkin recipes are the best ways to use this nutritious orange vegetable! Use it in cookies, pasta, soup, and more.
Once cooler temperatures start to creep into the mornings, it starts: pumpkin mania. Yes, this nutritious orange squash has a cult-like following starting in September. It’s a short season, so the time is here. Let’s make all the pumpkin recipes!
Pumpkin is extremely versatile: it’s most popularly used in desserts, but it’s so much more than that. Try it in a creamy pasta sauce with Parmesan cheese, or even a bright orange hummus that’s perfect for fall parties. Here are all the top pumpkin recipes that are easy to make with healthy, whole food ingredients. Ready to get started?
Here’s the ultimate pumpkin recipe: Pumpkin Cookies! These sweet morsels are lusciously pillowy and chewy, scented with a burst of fall spices and a hint of molasses. The exterior has a subtle sugar crunch and a drizzle of simple sweet icing. Even better, the soft texture holds up for days. They really are the best, if we do say so ourselves: perfect for fall dessert tables, Halloween, Thanksgiving and everything in between.
Here’s a chili recipe that’s jumped to the top of our favorites list: Pumpkin Chili!Pumpkin puree to chili adds an intensely creamy, flavorful body to this classic dish. This one is hearty and healthy, packed with spices, sweet potato and beans. Load it up with all your favorite chili toppings, and it’s a satisfying fall dinner recipe that’s ideal for weeknights or dinner parties.
Here’s a pumpkin recipe to make at least once every fall: cozy pumpkin pancakes! Adding pumpkin puree gives the pancakes a fluffy, hearty texture and satisfying mouthfeel. They’re seasoned with a hefty dose of warm pumpkin spices. Drizzled with pure maple syrup, each bite is lusciously sweet and spiced.
A good pumpkin bread recipe is as essential to fall as a puffy jacket, and here’s our favorite one. The scent wafting through your kitchen transports you to an autumn paradise, and the loaf falls just so into deliciously cozy-spiced slices. It’s tender and moist, but not too fluffy or too dense. The best part? It’s simple to whip up: one bowl, no special equipment; just dump and stir!
What’s one of the best pumpkin desserts? We think it might be these Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting! The bars are perfectly moist and cakey, with just the right warm-spiced interior from cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. They’re topped off with a lusciously creamy layer of cream cheese frosting that gives a tangy lift to each bite.
Looking for a way to use canned pumpkin puree? Try this best easy Pumpkin Muffins recipe! These muffins are the perfect level of sweetness, moist and cozy scented with pumpkin spice: cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg and cloves. The flavor of fall is encapsulated in each bite.
Oatmeal is our go-to for healthy, whole grain breakfasts. So why not dress it up in fall glory? This Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal is like a cinnamon and ginger-spiced hug. It’s full of autumnal flavor, yet at the same time a healthy way to start the day! Whole grain oats provide lots of protein and fiber, and are the perfect backdrop for pumpkin puree and cozy spices. Make up a big pan and eat off of it all week, or make it for guests! This one's a fan favorite.
Try this Pumpkin Ice Cream recipe! Scoop up a bowl and it’s lusciously soft and creamy, scented with just the right hit of cinnamon, ginger, allspice and nutmeg. Each rich spoonful will make you raise your eyebrows in delight. Take it to the next level and add candied pecans for a sweet, salty crunch.
Craving a pumpkin breakfast recipe? Look no further than Pumpkin French Toast! Coat slices of hearty bread in pumpkin puree and warm spices, then fry them until golden on a sizzling skillet. Top with a drizzle of pure maple syrup, and each forkful is heavenly: fluffy, sweet, and perfectly spiced!
Wow, will a beautiful bite of these pumpkin cream cheese muffins have you thinking about it for hours! The moist cake is cozy-scented and just sweet enough, since after all it really is a muffin. Top that with a generous gooey mound of maple cream cheese, and each bite is like eating cheesecake and a muffin all at once. It’s really a bit of heaven in a muffin wrapper. The perfect pumpkin recipe!
This pumpkin recipe is all about using this ingredient to its ultimate savory goodness! This pumpkin pasta sauce is absolutely stunning, paired 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.
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 a pumpkin recipe that’s just right for the season: this classic Pumpkin Cake! It’s thick and moist, scented with cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. The best part? A layer of tangy, fluffy cream cheese frosting is its ideal flavor match. It’s so classic and irresistible, you’ll want to make it for every gathering. It’s great for fall dinner parties, Halloween, Thanksgiving, or really anytime you’re craving pumpkin goodness!
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.
These Pumpkin Waffles are the ideal fall breakfast, featuring cozy spices and pumpkin puree. It uses just enough pumpkin to bring in a light orange hue, but not so much that each bite is weighed down with vegetable puree. They’re just sweet enough and topped with a little pure maple syrup, they're absolutely delightful.
Many of the season’s recipes are sugar loaded: pumpkin cookies, cakes, and of course good old pumpkin pie. But why not enjoy all the flavors in a healthy and delicious way? This Pumpkin Smoothie is creamy and full of pumpkin-spiced flavor: and made with Greek yogurt and fruit! It’s a deliciously cozy way to usher in the season…without the sugar high. It’s also packed with protein from the yogurt.
Of course, no list would be complete without pumpkin pie! This mini version is half the serving of a normal piece of pie, making them a healthy dessert option. Each bite has the perfect ratio of silky smooth filling to flaky pie crust.
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.
Can’t choose between traditional chocolate chip cookies and pumpkin cookies? You don’t have to with these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies! These sweet morsels are an ode to fall: chewy and spiced, they feature cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg with a traditional chocolate chip cookie base.
This healthy pumpkin muffins recipe is pretty much the best fall use of a muffin wrapper that there is! (Except those cream cheese muffins above.) 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.
Here’s a recipe for cool fall mornings when the leaves start to turn crimson: Pumpkin Oatmeal! Why not incorporate pumpkin into the first meal of the day? This oatmeal is perfect for using up that extra little bit in the can after you make pumpkin bread. It’s perfectly cinnamon-spiced and just sweet enough: the ideal fall breakfast!
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.
If there’s one pumpkin recipe that’s perfect for sipping, it’s theIced Pumpkin Spice Latte! Make it at home and it’s even better than at a coffeeshop: creamy and cozy-spiced, with a hint of vanilla and real pumpkin puree. It’s easy to whip up this pumpkin drink and when you take the first sip: you’ll want to make it on repeat.
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!
Here’s an impressive pumpkin recipe that’s got fall entertaining written all over it: Pumpkin Bread Pudding! Imagine, bread cubes baked in a pumpkin-spiced custard until puffed and golden. Drizzle it with a golden bourbon butter sauce and wowza! It’s a little bit of heaven.
Pumpkin puree vs pumpkin pie filling
Let’s get technical for a moment. What’s the difference between pumpkin, pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie filling?
Pumpkin refers the fresh pumpkin squash! All of the pumpkin recipes above don’t call for this because it’s easiest to find and work with pumpkin puree.
Pumpkin puree is cooked pumpkin that has been blended down into a puree and canned. It is unflavored. Take a taste out of the can, and it tastes very bland. When you’re shopping, do not accidentally grab pumpkin pie filling because…
Pumpkin pie filling is sweetened and includes pumpkin spices. Many of the pumpkin recipes above are savory, so you’ll want plain old pumpkin puree. (Remind us to tell you the time we accidentally made our pumpkin Parmesan penne with pumpkin pie filling…!)
Canned pumpkin can contain butternut squash, too
That can of pumpkin puree sometimes has other squashes too! 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. Don’t worry, it’s not cheating: it’s just the best way to that creamy, sweet puree that we can call pumpkin!
What is pumpkin spice?
Now, some pumpkin recipes don’t even use 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 types of recipes simply don’t work with actual pumpkin: like iced coffee or energy bars.
Pumpkin spice can stand in to evoke the flavor in a pumpkin recipe where adding the actual vegetable would be too gooey. What spices are in pumpkin spice? Here’s our Pumpkin Pie Spice recipe. It’s a blend of:
More pumpkin recipes
There are so many ways to include pumpkin in recipes! Here are some more serving ideas:
½ cup pumpkin puree (Libby brand is most consistent for baked goods*)
For the glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
½ tablespoons butter
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Place the butter (sliced into pieces) in a skillet over medium heat. Heat for about 5 minutes until it melts, turns foamy, and then becomes golden brown in color and smells nutty. Immediately remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl. Transfer to the freezer for 15 minutes to cool (you can also do this in advance and cool it to room temperature).
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and salt.
Add the cooled browned butter to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the sugar and mix on High speed for 1 minute, until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk, molasses and vanilla extract, and beat on High speed for 1 minute. Add the pumpkin puree and mix just until incorporated, scraping once. Pour in the bowl of dry ingredients and mix on Low speed until just combined.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place ¼ cup granulated sugar on a plate. Roll the dough in 1 ½ tablespoon balls, using a cookie scoop if possible, then roll the ball into the plate of sugar. Repeat for a tray of 12 cookies. Add a single tray to the oven and bake 12 to 13 minutes, until puffed. Chill the remaining dough while baking (recommended but not required; without it the second batch comes out with slightly more crinkles**). Allow to cool on the pan 5 minutes before removing to a baking rack.
Repeat for the second batch of cookies (baking the trays separately yields more even results).
Allow the cookies to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. For the glaze, mix the powdered sugar, milk and melted butter in a small bowl until a thick icing forms (add slightly more sugar if it’s too runny or a hint more milk if too thick). Use a fork to drizzle the icing over the cookies. Wait for about 20 minutes for the icing to dry before serving.
Store at room temperature for about 1 week, refrigerated for 2 weeks (bring to room temperature before serving), or frozen for 3 months (un-iced cookies freeze best).
*Don’t use pumpkin pie filling! Canned pumpkin can vary in moisture level, and too much moisture makes cakey pumpkin cookies. We’ve found Libby brand canned pumpkin has the best dry texture for baking, while other brands can have more moisture than others.
**You can also chill the dough longer than it takes to bake the first tray, but let it come to roughly room temperature before making the balls. (Baking the dough right from chilled yields different results.)