I Tested 5 of the Best Pumpkin Bread Recipes on the Internet—This Was the Clear Winner

Thanks to this bake-off, my year has officially peaked. I’ve always wanted to uncover the best pumpkin bread recipe on the internet to find out once and for all if there really is a difference between them. Like many, I’m a pumpkin bread fiend. At the sight of the first falling leaf, I’m ready to break out my flannel and toss pumpkin spice around like confetti.

To be fair, if you look at the ingredients between most recipes, it’s hard to imagine there would be a difference. They all include some variation of flour, sugar, spice, pumpkin, and eggs. So with a little extra time on my hands (and an extra craving for comfort with the drop in temperatures), I decided it was time to determine which of these popular internet recipes is truly the best pumpkin bread recipe ever.

For this bake-off, I stuck to well-known food publications that are reliably great recipe sources. And after polling my friends, most have tried at least one of these recipes. (Be sure to scroll to the bottom where I’m sharing a few more of my favorite pumpkin bread recipes from some of the best bloggers and bakers on the internet!)

Here’s how the best pumpkin bread recipe bake-off shook out, should you want to host one of your own.

Rules of the Road

No Mix-Ins

Some of the recipes I baked ask for optional toppings or mix-ins, but for the sake of comparison, I wanted a clean slate.

Must Follow Recipes EXACTLY

As someone who spends a lot of time in the kitchen, I’m used to taking a few liberties and inserting my own interpretations of recipes. However, for the sake of this bake-off, I stuck to the exact directions as written. That meant that even if I disagreed with the method or measurements, I ignored my personal opinions and followed the recipe exactly.

Ranking Guardrails

In the spirit of continuing to find fun and inventive ways to socialize with friends during this fall season, I invited a few friends to participate in the pumpkin bread tasting. My taste testers, my foodie friend Kristin, her husband Mark, and my friend Ka all had different expectations for what they thought made for the perfect pumpkin loaf, so I used their feedback to help guide my decisions.

Testers said that a pumpkin loaf should be different than banana bread. It should be slightly moister and have a nice crust in addition to a sharp pumpkin flavor. The ranking below is MY personal decision based on what I look for in a pumpkin loaf slice, aka, the perfect loaf.

  1. A nice rise and signature loaf look.
  2. A perfectly moist crumb.
  3. Heavy on the spice.
  4. Pumpkin flavor comes through.
  5. Does this loaf pass the second day test?

To be fair, all of the loaves I baked were good. I would even be content baking any of them again with some minor tweaks here and there. It really came down to the small differences that made some recipes better than others.

So without further ado, here is my ranking and the winner of my best pumpkin bread recipe bake-off!

#6 Epicurious Spiced Pumpkin Bread: For the Doorstep Drop-Off

This was the densest loaf and it didn’t quite achieve the rise that the others did. Unfortunately, I could barely taste any of the spices. Instead, all I got was an overwhelmingly sweet flavor. Some of my testers enjoyed the flavor a bit more, calling it “molasses-y,” which if you like that kind of flavor is nice.

I didn’t realize until I was getting ready to bake, but this recipe actually makes two loaves. Which hey, is great if you’re down to bake a loaf for yourself and another to deliver to a friend. The recipe also calls for (optional) chopped walnuts. Perhaps I would have liked this one more if it had the added texture of the walnuts and punched up the spices a lot, but overall, this one was average and ranked the lowest among the group based on flavor.

#5 Food52 Pumpkin Bread: For the Beginner Baker

Food52 says “Pumpkin bread should be quick to come together, confident in pumpkin flavor, and moist as can be,” all things I was looking for in a pumpkin bread. This was the one recipe that I did not use a stand mixer for. In their directions, Food52 has you add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients in just a bowl (a technique that I was also surprised by as I’m used to adding dry ingredients in parts to wet ingredients). But again, I was following these recipes to a T.

This was also the ONLY recipe to ask for pumpkin pie spice rather than individual spices. Taste testers did like the pumpkin-y flavor here as well. I was super impressed with the bake and rise on this loaf as well. I actually didn’t mind this loaf, but was slightly disappointed as this was the driest crumb of all the loaves. The crumb did not improve in moistness the following days either. Perhaps I would try baking five minutes less than the written directions next time to see if that helps maintain a bit more moistness in addition to punching up the spices. I would have ranked this one higher if it had only delivered on its moist loaf claim.

I actually didn’t mind this loaf on its own! If I wasn’t comparing this loaf to others, I would be totally content with a slice of this pumpkin bread. My friend Kristin even ranked this one as her number one loaf and “the loaf I would want to eat with my morning cup of coffee!”

HOWEVER, this recipe only calls for one cup of pumpkin. My biggest pet peeve with any pumpkin recipe during the season is if I can use the whole can of puree or not. It also resulted in a very faint pumpkin flavor. The texture on this loaf is really nice though—it was the only loaf to rely on the creaming method of beating the butter and sugar together which added some nice lightness to the loaf. In the end, this was just a good, basic pumpkin bread recipe. Not disappointing, but not show-stopping either.

#3 Bon Appétit Pumpkin Bread: For the Flavor Fiend

This loaf caused the most conversation of the bunch and it was a close call between having this one be ranked #1 or #2. Some of my tasters loved this one. My friend Mark said this loaf had the best texture of the bunch, but others ranked this one in the middle of the road based on flavor.

Personally, I liked this loaf for a few reasons. It had the most complex flavor among the loaves, leaning on fresh grated ginger and heavy on the spices, in addition to the use of olive oil. It was the most artisanal of the group. My friend Ka didn’t love that the olive oil took away from the flavor of the spices and pumpkin, so my recommendation on this loaf is to ensure that you use really good olive oil because you will be able to taste it. The rise on this loaf was great as well. Some taste testers wanted slightly more moistness from the loaf, but agreed that the complexity in flavor made up for it.

#2 New York Times: For the Pumpkin Purist

What set this loaf apart from the others was the texture. The sour cream adds to the moist texture while also cutting through the sweetness from the very slight tang. This loaf also had the truest and purest pumpkin flavor. However, that is most likely from the fact that this loaf only uses cinnamon as its spice. This was the only callout from testers who all asked for more spices. As someone who also likes lots of spice, I will definitely add extra pumpkin pie spices to the batter next time.

The loaf stayed moist for days and even a week later which was truly impressive and made for a great morning coffee treat. I would recommend baking for five extra minutes if you prefer a loaf that’s a bit cakeier rather than moist. Overall, this loaf ranked high and won the “best pumpkin bread recipe” accolade for its texture and pumpkin flavor.

#1 Camille Styles: For the Cake Enthusiast

Before you go wondering whether the voting was rigged, let me tell you—one bite of this pumpkin bread and you’ll agree: it’s perfection. This isn’t your typical pumpkin loaf—in fact, it’s so indulgent that Camille calls it a cake. (Related: What exactly is the difference between pumpkin bread and cake? Maybe that’s for another story… ) I’ll get to the loaf in a minute, but first, let’s talk about the incredibly addictive cream cheese frosting. While other pumpkin loaves use oil, this one relies on butter for a moist crumb and dimension of flavor. The spices add an extra layer of toasty fall flavor. And don’t skimp on the walnut garnish—I love the contrast of crunchy texture against the soft loaf. Overall this feels like a truly iconic fall afternoon treat served alongside a cup of coffee.

Final Thoughts

Pro Tip: If you find yourself getting sick of pumpkin, know that you can sub in sweet potato puree or butternut squash puree and you’ll barely be able to tell the difference.

If you’re in search of some different pumpkin loaves, here are a few more that I have made and loved.

The Best Pumpkin Bread from Camille Styles

Pumpkin Spice Bread with Cream Cheese Frosting from The Vanilla Bean Baking Blog

Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread from Jessica in the Kitchen

Pumpkin Tahini Loaf from A Cozy Kitchen

Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread from Broma Bakery

This post was originally published on October 12, 2020, and has since been updated.

Need Crust Now? We Tried 8 Store-Bought Pizza Doughs and This Was the Clear Winner

As they say, birds of a feather flock together, and on this team, we are all self-professed obsessives when it comes to all things pizza. What’s not to love? Pizza is a love letter to the seasons, the ultimate entertaining recipe, and a warm hug on a Friday, pajama-clad movie night. And when you add the best store-bought pizza dough to the mix, well, things only get easier (and in turn, better).

While I have my favorite pizza places to order from and there’s nothing like the tactile pleasure of making your own pizza dough, a shortcut option is always welcome. Don’t get me wrong: On Saturday nights when I have all the time in the world, it’s wonderfully satisfying to pinch dough between your fingers and top swirls of sauce with all the cheese and freshly-chopped ingredients.

But when I’m in a pinch and need to cut some corners, ready-made and easy-to-prep pizza dough from the store is convenient to have on hand. Whether it’s a box of dry mix to keep in the pantry or fresh dough that you can freeze and thaw as needed, we tried ten different pizza doughs, ranked them all, and crowned the best store-bought pizza dough to keep on hand when the craving strikes.

Featured image by Michelle Nash.

Image by Michelle Nash

Ranking Guidelines

  • Flavor: For our taste testing team, we said a good pizza crust should have that fermented yeasty flavor that is well salted so it doesn’t just taste like bland flour.
  • Texture: Chewy over bready.
  • Ease of Use: The whole point of a ready made or easy to assemble crust should be that it’s ready in a cinch and makes our life easier.
  • Good Pizza Test: Does the crust work well when topped with sauce and toppings.

Testing Process

  1. This taste-off was slightly different from previous ones in that with pizza, we generally like fresh and hot pizza. Each crust was made fresh and tasted right away with initial notes taken, then tasted again with all finished crusts.
  2. The other callout is that most pizza crusts usually come with toppings. For this taste off, we made half of the dough topped with sauce and cheese to test the dough’s ability to stand up to additional moisture, as well as baking half of the crust plain on its own to focus on stand-alone flavor and texture.

Keep scrolling to find out the winners of this taste-off!

The Best Store-Bought Pizza Dough, Ranked

When it came to the results, one thing was clear: the fresh dough and refrigerated dough options greatly outranked the dry mixes on both texture and flavor. While dry mix gave us the chance to make a crust from scratch, there were a lot of variables that could impact the final product from a dry mixed dough.

We didn’t love the slightly oily flavor on this one, and the texture reminded us more of a roll-out pie dough than a pizza crust. Our tasters thought this might be good to make a quiche with, but not a pizza.

  • Texture: Pie dough
  • Where to buy: Walmart, Kroger, Sam’s Club
  • Average price: $3.50

This dry mix pizza dough ended up being more bready in texture than a chewy dough. The flavor was also reminiscent of white bread more than pizza. Fine if you’re making bread, but alas, that’s for another taste-off to come.

  • Texture: Bready
  • Where to buy: Amazon, Kroger, Meijer
  • Average price: $1.29

In full transparency, I grew up with the ready-made Boboli pizza crusts, so I knew what we were getting into. Most tasters didn’t enjoy the slightly tangy and savory flavor as they felt it was overpowering and too forward when you consider more delicate toppings. However, if we toasted this one in the oven and slathered butter on it, we wouldn’t complain.

  • Texture: Chewy, good air pockets
  • Where to buy: H-E-B, Walmart, Kroger, Jewel Osco
  • Average price: $3.99

While this ready-made refrigerated dough baked up fine, the texture was slightly crispy and a little chewy on the edges. The flavor felt like we were eating Pillsbury crescent rolls and bread dough rather than pizza. I mean, we love the pop tube crescent rolls, but they’re not quite pizza.

  • Texture: Slightly crispy, chewy edges
  • Where to buy: Target, Jewel Osco, Walmart, Meijer
  • Average price: $4.59

We had high hopes for this dough because of the use of beer in place of water in mixing together. While this dry mix still had more chew than some of the others and a nice flavor to it that leaned yeasty, it was still just slightly on the bready side for us. Overall good, but might want to tweak the prep method to ensure chew.

  • Texture: Chewy, but leaned bready
  • Where to buy: Whole Foods
  • Average price: $5.49

Among the dry mixes, Betty Crocker just slightly edged out the competition based on the crispy edges and chewy interiors. The dough had a few air bubbles that we liked our slices, but what kept the dry mixes like this one from reaching the top was again leaning slightly bready. We did have several tasters say they would keep a pouch of this mix in their pantry for just-in-case pizza nights though!

  • Texture: Crispy edges, chewy interiors, and good air bubbles. Slightly bready.
  • Where to buy: H-E-B, Amazon, Jewel Osco, Meijer
  • Average price: $1.54

2. Trader Joe’s

It was a close call between our winner and TJ’s fresh dough. The dough was very chewy with nice air pockets like the ones you’d get at a restaurant pizza oven. While the flavor was good, it wasn’t as yeasty and flavorful as our winner, but still a great option to have on hand for pizza night. This pizza dough held up nicely to the sauce and toppings as well.

  • Texture: Chewy, good air pockets, restaurant-quality.
  • Where to buy: Trader Joe’s
  • Average price: $4

This was a grand slam, everyone-on-the-same-page decision. While there was a little discussion between the WF and TJ’s ready-made dough, what sent Whole Foods over the edge was the flavor and texture. This dough had the most fermented pizza dough flavor that we all enjoyed while also having extra texture from the use of whole grains. You can find it in the bakery section or ready-made food area of your Whole Foods. It held up nicely to the sauce and we loved the chewy crust of each slice. If you’re going to have one pizza dough in your freezer for emergency pizza nights, make it this one.

  • Texture: Chewy, with additional crunch thanks to the use of whole grains.
  • Where to buy: Whole Foods
  • Average price: $4.99
Image by Michelle Nash

Pizza Recipes to Try

Looking for inspiration for your next pizza night? Here are a few favorites I’ll be trying with our winning store-bought pizza dough:

Peach, Pesto, and Balsamic Pizza

Bacon, Apple, and Sweet Potato Pizza

Caramelized Onion and Prosciutto Pizza

Butternut Squash and Arugula Pizza

This post was originally published on October 3, 2022, and has since been updated.

Taste-Off: The Best Pizza Crust