Best Pumpkin Recipes of 2018

October has always been my favorite month of the year. Portland Septembers are usually so lovely, warm and full of summer air. It’s not until October that the leaves begin to change and fall, and the days become cooler and cloudier. It’s when we finally get to bust out the scarves, boots, and hats, and my usual vanilla iced coffee switches to a warm flavored latte.

Perhaps I love the month so much because growing up my family’s Halloween celebration was bigger than that of any other holiday. My dad would wake up early on the first Saturday of the month and spend all day making the interior and exterior of our home as spooky as possible, even shoveling mounds of dirt into a fake mini-graveyard. By the time evening came he was onto the finishing touch: making sure the fog machine was working properly. As he fussed to ensure the amount of fog dispersed was just right, I would excitedly dance around the yard and end the day tired and cloaked in the very distinct fake-fog smell.

I have fond memories of walking through fields of orange, holding my younger brothers hand, on the search for the perfect pumpkin. I always liked the disfigured and warty ones, while he searched for one perfectly smooth and round. As I got older I began frequenting the local haunted houses, first with a brave parent of my friend, and eventually all on my own. But one tradition that never changed came on Halloween itself, when family and friends gathered at our home to feast on mom’s delicious chili and Aunt Linda’s famous popcorn balls. Even after my parent’s divorce, both sides of the family still gather to celebrate on this one special day where the street comes alive with trick-o-treaters, mostly friends, who would flood in and out of our home filling it with smiles, laughter, and love. Our street was notoriously popular, and each year our tally of kids knocking for candy has grown to over 500 visitors each Halloween (we go through a lot of candy).

Maybe it’s just in my blood to love everything about this season. My father’s side of the family comes from the Pumpkin Capital of the World: Morton Illinois. 85% of the world’s canned pumpkin is produced in Morton, and every year they have their annual Pumpkin Festival, which includes rides, pumpkin contests, and best of all: all the pumpkin food a girl could as for. We frequented the Pumpkin Festival quite often as kids, but now that I’m older and don’t have as much time (or money!), my years of pumpkin-filled treats have become very infrequent.

My love for all things pumpkin, as well as my love for October, inspired me to take on quite the challenge this month. I told myself that I try out a new pumpkin recipe every day, assorted sweet and savory, and share them here so that I can return to them in the following years. Cooking something new every day turned out to be a lot to take on, and I was only able to make it through 21 recipes. Regardless, it was a lot of fun and something I would love to try again in the following years. I picked out my 10 favorite recipes of the batch to share with you all. I also included a link to every recipe and a rating based on taste if any of you feel inclined to give them a try! Just because October is over doesn’t mean pumpkin season has to be!

I have made many pumpkin dishes in the past, but never so many in such a short period of time! Doing so really helped me increase my knowledge of how the ingredient pairs with various dishes. When baking with pumpkin, pastries can end up very moist, and sometimes even dense. I, however, prefer my baked goods to be moister and less crumbly, so perhaps this is why I love baking with pumpkin so much! I learned that in savory dishes, a little pumpkin goes a long way. It’s important not to overpower the dish with pumpkin flavor, but instead add enough so that it blends well with the other ingredients to create a cohesive, flavorful dish. To those of you nervous about cooking with pumpkin remember this: there are so many recipes out there, some good some bad. Don’t give up on an ingredient just because you don’t like it in one particular recipe. Figure out why you didn’t like it, and remember that going forward. I hated the pumpkin stuffed shells, but it’s because the pumpkin flavor and texture was too powerful and took over the dish. I made sure to pick out pasta recipes that used less pumpkin, and had a variety of other flavors and textures included so that it would be something I would enjoy.

I would really like to thank the amazing minds behind all these recipes. I may love to cook, but I’m not one for inventing new recipes, so kudos to those who can. I am grateful to those whose culinary creativity led to one very delicious October. The photos of each recipe belong to their creator and are not mine. Enjoy!

Top 5 Savory Pumpkin Recipes of 2018:

  1. Pumpkin Beer Pretzels – Half Baked Harvest

Pumpkin-Beer-Pretzels-with-Chipotle-Queso-1

Okay, this recipe might be considered cheating a little bit because there isn’t any pumpkin actually in the pretzels, but they’re made with a Pumpkin Beer which I think still counts! With all the great craft breweries in the Pacific northwest I wanted to use a local beer for this recipe. I chose to go with Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale because I loved the great pumpkin taste, perfectly spiced with nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and clove. Working for a German restaurant, my pretzel standards are very high, but these blew me out of the water. They were soft yet chewy, and paired perfectly with the jalapeno cheese dip. Everybody at the house was thoroughly impressed, and the pretzels were gone before we knew it. My grocery store didn’t have any Adobo chili peppers for the Adobo Queso, so I substituted jalapenos instead and it tasted just as delicious! Kneading the dough, letting it rise, shaping the pretzels, and boiling them before baking can all be a little intimidating, but as long as you follow the recipe directly I’m sure they’ll turn out just as good as mine did.

  1. Ravioli with Pumpkin Alfredo – Taste and Tell

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I’ll be honest, while making this recipe I completely messed it up. We had a big group of people over and I decided it’d be best to double the recipe. In doing so, I miscalculated the amount of chicken broth and added way too much! The sauce ended up being significantly runnier than I had liked, but this recipe is so good that even with a runny sauce it still ended up in spot number 2. The cheesy ravioli pairs well with the rich, creamy, flavorful sauce. The pumpkin adds flavor, without being overpowering. I decided not to add the pine nuts on top, because I didn’t want the crunch, but if you want a little more texture to your pasta go ahead and try them! My family is patiently waiting for me to re-make this recipe, correctly this time!

  1. Pumpkin Sausage Soup – Taste of Home

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This soup is not only quick, but super easy to make. I bought the pre-sliced mushrooms so all I had to do was cut the onions, measure the ingredients, and let the stove do the rest of the work. This was the first savory dish I tried, and it set the bar very high for the rest of the recipes. It is creamy, with a subtle pumpkin flavor that pairs well with the Italian sausage. There is no single spice that dominates the dish, instead the ingredients simply flow together harmoniously. It was a big hit around the dinner table too, with everybody going back for seconds. This hearty soup is perfect for a cold autumn evening after a long day of work. Put on your comfy socks, curl up on the couch with a bowl of this, and pop on your favorite scary movie, or at least, that’s what I did!

  1. Creamy Pumpkin and Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes – Cooking for Keeps

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Like every other family, mine has it’s set recipes for each holiday, specifically with our potatoes. Thanksgiving calls for creamy, buttery, mashed potatoes, while Christmas is when we get to indulge in cheesy scalloped potatoes. Like most traditions, I can’t remember how it began, but it hasn’t changed since (one year I tried to switch it up and got swiftly reprimanded). I was excited for an excuse to make scalloped potatoes for an occasion other than Christmas, and these potatoes were perfect. They had just the perfect amount of pumpkin to add flavor without being overbearing. You were still able to enjoy the rich, creamy, cheddar cheese sauce. I will definitely be making these again, hopefully to add some variety to the boring old Thanksgiving mashed potatoes. I recommend you do the same, they add great variety to a Thanksgiving table.

  1. Pumpkin Tomato Basil Meatballs – Wholesomelicious

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These little things are awesome, and not too difficult to whip up! I love the flavor combination of mixing turkey and pork meat to form the meatballs. And the pumpkin sauce adds a great flavor and richness! We made these meatballs for a Halloween party and just stuck toothpicks in them, but they would also make a great meal with some spaghetti or zoodles!

 

Additional Savory Pumpkin Recipes Tested:

Pumpkin Spinach Lasagna – Jess Fuel – 4/5

Savory Pumpkin Pizza – Love Lola – 3/5

Creamy Pumpkin Pasta – Yummy Healthy Easy – 3/5

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese – The Cookie Rookie – 3/5

5-Minute Smokey Pumpkin Hummus – The Every Kitchen 2/5

Pumpkin and Sage Stuffed Shells – Eat Yourself Skinny – 1/5

 

Top 5 Sweet Pumpkin Recipes of 2018:

  1. Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Muffins – The Novice Chef

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I started making these muffins one night with the intention to bring them to work. The oven was heated, the batter was mixed, and I was just about to pour them into the muffin tin when I got a frantic call from my father, reminding me that I had tickets to the blazer game that had started 30 minutes ago! So I turned off the oven, threw the batter in the fridge, and rushed off to the game. Luckily I made it before the start of the second half, but I was so worried that the muffins would be ruined! When I got home I baked them off anyway. The cream cheese didn’t make the beautiful swirl pattern because it was too cold, and because of it I worried they wouldn’t taste very good. I gave my coworkers fair warning that I had yet to try them, but each person that came back from the breakroom raved about them! When I finally had a chance to sneak back, I couldn’t help but eat two! They were flavorful and moist from the pumpkin, and the cream cheese added the perfect amount of sweetness. These muffins make for the perfect morning treat!

  1. Dulce de Leche Pumpkin Coconut Cupcakes – Baker by Nature

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I brought these to work one afternoon, and they disappeared from my Tupperware so fast I hardly had a chance to snag one myself! These pumpkin cupcakes are so moist and delicious! The coconut adds a great texture to them, and pairs great with the creamy, cinnamon frosting. If I were to make these again (which I definitely will) I probably won’t include the dulce de leche filling. While it tasted amazing, I found the cupcakes were sweet enough without it. They’re the perfect dessert for any Halloween Party!

  1. Pumpkin Pull-Apart Loaf – Crazy for Crust

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This recipe is so, so easy! A little messy, but still fun to put together. I recommend flattening each piece of biscuit dough out a little bit, as I left mine the same thickness and it took forever to bake! But once it was out of the oven, Kyle and I stood around the kitchen counter picking pieces off it and completely ruining our appetite for dinner! This is a super fun, kid-friendly recipe. It would make the perfect after-school treat on a cool autumn day!

  1. Pumpkin Pie Crumb Bars – Cooking Classy

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If there’s anything in this world I love more than pumpkin, it’s oats. Oatmeal cookies, oatmeal bars, and anything with oatmeal streusel topping don’t last long in my kitchen. So when I found a recipe by Cooking Classy that contained two of my favorite ingredients I was ecstatic. Although this recipe has quite a few steps it was really quite simple to make, and the result was absolutely amazing. This might just be my new favorite pumpkin dessert recipe. So much more flavorful than pumpkin pie, easy to take on the go, and my whole family loved them! I topped them with a bit of powdered sugar and some whipped cream. So tasty!

  1. Pumpkin Scones – Brown Eyed Baker

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These were the first sweet recipe I tried, and the smell that filled my kitchen as they baked made me endlessly excited for the month to come. The recipe has quite a few steps, as you have to wait for the scones to cool, glaze them, wait for them to dry, glaze them a second time, and then wait for them to dry again. By the time all that was finished I was more than ready to scarf down the whole batch. The Pumpkin adds the perfect amount of moisture to the scones, keeping them from being too dry, while the glaze adds a touch of sweetness without being overpowering. I will definitely be making these again for my Mother’s Thanksgiving brunch.

 

Additional Sweet Pumpkin Recipes Tested:

Pumpkin Swirl Chocolate Brownies – The Comfort of Living – 3/5

Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars – Taming of the Spoon – 4/5

Pumpkin Blondies – I Heart Naptime – 4/5

Pumpkin Cheesecake Snickerdoodles – The Recipe Critic – 3/5

3 Ingredient Baked Pumpkin Donuts – Crème de la Crumb – 2/5

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