Best Pumpkin Bread Recipe: Smitten Kitchen

Pumpkin bread recipe by Smitten Kitchen

‘Tis the season for pumpkin bread. It’s the quintessential fall or winter baked good to have for a snack, to bring to the PTA meeting, or pack in a lunchbox. I’ve tried countless pumpkin bread recipes over the years and most disappoint. That’s why I was intrigued to see this recent pumpkin bread recipe comparison on The

I gave their top recommendation, the pumpkin bread from Smitten Kitchen, a try. I found you need the proper sized loaf bread pan to do this recipe justice by reading through the comments. The recipe calls for a 9’x 5’ loaf pan, one that is angled from the bottom and opens wider at the top. I used a straight-sided, large Pyrex loaf pan.

I lined the Pyrex loaf pan with parchment paper hoping it would help contain this batter, but was still nervous that I was going to have a mess in the bottom of my oven. So I divided the batter… filling my loaf pan to the ¾ max and then opting to use what was left to make 3 regular size muffins.

Best pumpkin bread baking. Pumpkin muffins baking.

While the recipe says you can make muffins, don’t. It’s an excellent recipe… but only in loaf form.

Best pumpkin muffin? Looks great, but lacks umpth.

The great thing about pumpkin bread is that moist, cake-like texture in the middle of the loaf. With muffins, you won’t get that. (And I even filled the empty muffin spots with water to help with temperature regulation and lend humidity.) The muffins were meh. In order to get them done, there’s no moist middle. And no, I did not overbake them.


The Smitten Kitchen pumpkin bread loaf was a hit in my house. But there are two caveats. Keep reading.

  1. The thing you must not do with this Smitten Kitchen recipe: Do not cut back on the sugar. Smitten Kitchen’s pumpkin bread recipe is not super sweet, despite the amount of sugar in the recipe. Remember, it’s a colossal loaf. Cutting the sugar will turn it into an enormous pumpkin football and it’ll taste like one, too.
  2. The sugary crust is an absolute must. It makes this recipe. Don’t leave it off.

This Smitten Kitchen recipe is not a “traditional” pumpkin bread. The bread is plain and it’s all about that top. If you want a more complex pumpkin bread, this recipe will not work for you as it is. You may be able to add in some ginger, cardamom, and nutmeg to give it more flavor, but then you might as well go with another recipe.

This recipe worked. The entire loaf was eaten in my house. If you want a pumpkin bread that packs a crunchy, cinnamon-laced, sweet top,  Smitten Kitchen’s recipe is Nancy Approved.

Cinnamon-sugar top on the best  pumpkin bread recipe.

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