This pumpkin bread recipe is moist and tender with the perfect pumpkin spice flavor. The soft crumb and warm spices complement each other perfectly for a fall treat that’s so much better than the Starbucks version. Top with a drizzle of cream cheese glaze for something a little extra special.
**This post was updated September 25, 2022 with new photos & recipe tips**
This pumpkin bread recipe has been tested, retested, and endured so many taste tests that I can confidently say it’s the perfect fall recipe. The bread is extremely moist and tender without ever feeling greasy. But the pumpkin spice flavor is really what steals the show. Hints of brown sugar, vanilla and warm spices complement the pumpkin perfectly. There’s also just a touch of orange zest that really brightens the flavor and makes the pumpkin really shine. It might seem unnecessary, but it really takes the pumpkin up a notch.
I like to add cream cheese glaze on top. Totally optional, but great for something a little extra with your morning coffee or afternoon tea.
Making Pumpkin Bread – Step-by-Step Photos
This recipe is very straight forward. I’ve included a step-by-step photos to show what it will look like. Feel free to scroll down to get straight to the ingredient list and recipe without the explanation.
- Start by preheating your oven to 350F (180C or 170C on a fan forced oven). Then prepare your 9×5 inch (33×12.5cm). I like to line the bottom with baking paper and then lightly grease the sides. I find this helps the loaf slide out effortlessly and works better than simply greasing the pan.
- Then in a medium bowl you’ll whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, orange zest, baking soda and salt. This recipe uses a healthy dose of spices. You could use a combination of cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice blend if you prefer – I’ve included a substitution in the recipe notes in the recipe card below. Whisking the dry ingredients together first is important because it ensures that the spices are evenly distributed and helps to remove any lumps in the flour.
- In a separate large bowl you’ll whisk together the melted butter, sugars, eggs, vanilla, sour cream and pumpkin puree until there are no lumps. The sour cream is one of the secrets to the perfect texture. Note that for this recipe, you do not need to blot the pumpkin with paper towel to remove excess moisture like in many other pumpkin recipes.
- Then whisk the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture. Always do this by hand to avoid over mixing. The batter may have a few lumps, which is OK.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and smooth the top.
- It will bake in your preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean or with a few crumbs. If you notice that the top is already starting to brown but the bread still isn’t done baking, then I recommend tenting a piece of tin foil over the top of the pan to prevent over browning.
- Once the loaf is done baking, remove from the oven and let it cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling. Note that when you do this the pan will still be warm.
Baking Tips & Tricks
- This recipe is designed for a 9×5 inch (33×12.5 cm) pan. There is too much batter for an 8×4 inch (20×10 cm) loaf pan. It will overflow.
- Make sure you’re using pure pumpkin/pumpkin puree. Do not use canned pumpkin pie filling. Canned pumpkin pie filling contains multiple ingredients – such as thickeners to help set a pie – and therefore is not a substitute for pumpkin puree. I always used canned pumpkin puree because it is so much easier than carving a pumpkin, remove the seeds and stringy parts, roasting, and then puree-ing the flesh.
- Sour cream can be substituted with plain Greek yogurt if that’s what you have on hand.
- Oven bake times will vary. I always start watching around the 45 minute mark. Note that the bake time could be over 1 hour, as ovens can vary by 10-20%.
- If you’re adding the cream cheese glaze, make sure the loaf is 100% cooled first. Otherwise the glaze will melt.
- Baked and cooled pumpkin bread can easily be frozen. Wrap tightly in plastic 2-3 times. Then wrap in tin foil or place in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 2 months. Always thaw in the fridge. If the bread has already been sliced, wrap each slice individually.
This pumpkin bread is extremely moist and flavorful and truly makes for the perfect fall treat.
Here’s some of my favorites for fall!
- Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts
- Caramel Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake
- Pumpkin Cheesecake with Caramel Sauce
- Pumpkin Coffee Cake
- Pumpkin Streusel Muffins
Pumpkin Bread - Moist & Flavorful
- 9x5 inch (23x13 cm) loaf plan an 8x4 inch (20x10 cm) loaf pan is too small
For the Pumpkin Bread
- 1 and ⅔ cups all-purpose flour (208 grams) spooned & leveled
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon orange zest finely grated orange rind
- ⅓ cup unsalted butter (75 grams) melted and cooled to room temperature
- ¾ cup packed brown sugar (150 grams) light or dark works
- ¼ cup granulated sugar (50 grams)
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 cup pumpkin puree (240 ml) NOT pumpkin pie filling - it should be labeled pure pumpkin
- 3 tablespoons sour cream (45 ml)
For the Cream Cheese Glaze
- ¼ cup unsalted butter (56 grams) softened
- 2 oz brick-style cream cheese (56 grams) softened
- ½ to 1 cups powdered sugar (55-110 grams)
- 1 tablespoons milk or cream if needed
- Preheat the oven to 350F (180C or 170C on a fan forced oven) degrees. Line the bottom of a 9x5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper and lightly grease the sides
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and orange zest. Set aside.
- In a separate large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, vanilla, pumpkin and sour cream until there are no lumps of brown sugar and it's evenly combined. Note - the mixture may not look smooth due to the pumpkin.
- Pour/spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
- Bake in the middle of the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean or with a few crumbs. If the top is starting to overbrown before the bread is baked through, tent a piece of aluminum foil over the loaf and continue baking.
- Cool the loaf in the pan for at least 20 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling.
Cream Cheese Glaze
- Beat the butter until soft, then mix in the cream cheese.
- Mix in the powdered sugar, starting with ½ cup.
- Mix in the rest of the powdered sugar and milk/cream as needed depending on the sweetness and thickness you'd like.
- Drizzle the loaf with the glaze (I place it in a freezer bag and cut off the bottom corner, then drizzle the glaze over the loaf).
- Flour: Make sure to measure the flour properly, or the loaf can be dry. Whisk first, then spoon into a dry measuring cup and level off the top. Or weigh with a scale.
- Spices: Alternatively, you can use 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice instead of the spices listed (2 teaspoons cinnamon, ½ teaspoon nutmeg and ¼ teaspoon ground cloves).
- Orange Zest: The orange zest really complements the warm spices. Feel free to use up to 2 teaspoons to make the orange flavor more pronounced.
- Pumpkin: You will not need the entire can. Make sure to measure out 1 cup.
- Sour Cream: You can substitute the sour cream with plain Greek yogurt if you prefer.
- Glaze: The glaze is optional, but very delicious. It makes the loaf a little sweeter.
- Storage: Store bread in an airtight container at room temperature for 4 days, or in the fridge for up to 6 days. To freeze, baked and cooled bread (without glaze) and be wrapped 2-3 times in plastic and then wrapped in foil or placed in a freezer bag. Freeze for up to 2 months. Then thaw in the fridge.
- Nutrition: Details provided are an estimate only and based on 1 slice with glaze, assuming the loaf yields 8 equal-sized slices.